Yesterday ESPN’s Andrea Adelson was brave enough to take her individual rankings of each Big East position rankings to the coaches in her Big East blog. Now she somewhat sidestepped actually ranking the individual coaches, and instead took the following approach:
I am going to look at each coach and the likelihood he could be snatched away from the Big East, from highest probability to lowest.
Nevertheless, the debate raged and it was a bloodbath in her blog’s comments section. Now, I somewhat agree with her approach, as if it wasn’t difficult enough to identify who the best current coach in the Big East is – though I have my biased opinion – imagine ranking all eight of them?
So I’ll throw out my own approach. I say “can we all get along?” How about instead of ranking the Big East coaches, we create a super staff of all the Big East coaches? Take all eight – heck I am feeling good so throw in TCU as well – all nine coaches, and create a fantasy coaching staff? Here is my take:
Greg Schiano, Rutgers
Entering his eleventh season at Rutgers Greg Schiano has twice (10) the years of experience with his current team than the rest of the Big East coaches combined (5)! Doug Marrone of Syracuse is the second longest tenured coach in the Big East with just two years under his belt. Of course the knock on Schiano is that after ten seasons he still has not won the elusive conference championship. This rings especially true with the Big East having a down season last year in which a not-so-spectacular rival in Connecticut took the title.
However, while Schiano’s game day coaching can be questioned, no one can doubt that he is a program builder. Rutgers was at the bottom of Division 1 football when he took over and he guided them to their first bowl game in nearly 30 years and only their second ever. The Scarlet Knights went on to go to four more in a row before taking a step back last season.
Schiano is as detailed-oriented as you can come. He runs a clean program – you will be hard pressed to remember the last time a Scarlet Knight was in trouble with the law. He set a foundation for academic support that has led to a #1 and #2 finish in Academic Progress Rate the last two seasons. He created traditions from scratch at Rutgers including helping brand the block R, urging fans to wear red, a pre-game Scarlet Walk, the pre-game burying of the Ax, and promoting a stadium expansion – all elements that have made game day in Piscataway among the best in the conference.
For our coaching staff we want to look at Schiano much like his mentor at Penn State – Joe Paterno. He is the CEO of this program. With so many good coaches on his staff he will take a hands-off approach and leave the day-to-day coaching and game-planning to his staff. This will go on until he decides it his time to retire and ride off into the sunset.
Assistant Head Coach/Head Coach-in-waiting/Offensive Coordinator
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Holgorsen will be Schaino’s Offensive Coordinator. He will also be Assistant Head Coach and the coach in waiting as Schiano ages. Coach H should be happy in this spot as he understands this is what his original role was meant to be when he first arrived at Morgantown.
Of all the coaches in the Big East, Holgorsen is the one who has perhaps the biggest reputation on offense. In his first season at Oklahoma State his Cowboys’ led the nation in total offense, averaging 537.6 yards per game, were No. 2 in passing offense, averaging 354.7 yards per game, and No. 3 in scoring offense, averaging 44.9 points per game. Holgorsen was also offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Houston prior to OSU. During his two-year tenure with the Cougars, his offenses posted impressive numbers, accounting for 563 yards of total offense per game, passing for 433.7 yards per game and totaling more than 42.2 points per game. His offense ranked No. 3 in total offense in 2008 and No. 1 in 2009.
Since we don’t foresee Schiano’s wife digging up stories of Holgoresen partying at the Jersey Shore this marriage should work. Just keep him away from Atlantic City.
Offensive Line Coach & Recruiting Coordinator
Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Marrone will bring a high level of experience as an offensive line coach. Marrone was a three-year letterman at Syracuse as a lineman. He then moved on and played professionally with the Dolphins and Saints for two years.
He also will be a perfect fit as a Recruiting Coordinator. He is young and energetic and Syracuse has jumped out to a decent recruiting offseason in 2011. While possibly an urban legend, it is said that while interviewing for the Syracuse job he impressed when it was learned that Marrone had kept a folder of current high school players in the Syracuse area to get a head start in recruiting. It is in his Wikipedia profile so it must be true.
As a former player in the World Football League he should have no problem logging miles while spanning all over the whole Big East map.
Running Backs Coach
Butch Jones, Cincinnati
Jones has had a great deal of success as an offensive mind as well. However, he only had two years as an actual offensive coordinator at Central Michigan before becoming head coach after a two-year stint as receivers coach for Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia. So when you throw in the fact that he was an accomplished running back himself, this is the perfect position for him. As a player at Ferris State, Jones ran for over 2,000 yards in his junior and senior seasons. He also had 1,000 yards receiving in his senior season.
While never working for Schiano, Jones also has a connection with Rutgers, having earned a job as a defensive assistant right out of college in 1990.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends Coach
Skip Holtz, South Florida
Holtz was actually a walk-on receiver at Notre Dame for his father, Lou Holtz. He can draw on that experience to teach the wide receivers and tight ends on this team. He did also hold the position of receivers coach at Notre Dame at one time as well.
Having Skip on the staff will also help with the ESPN talking heads, as dad Lou will be glad to chat up this Big East All-Star squad in their quest for a National Title!
Charlie Strong, Louisville
This one here was a no-brainer. Strong is the most accomplished defensive coordinator on the staff, having held that role at two SEC schools. Strong was a DC at South Carolina and Florida for nearly a total of ten years before finally getting his chance to be head coach at Louisville.
He is also a very good recruiter with ties to Florida – a pipeline for many in the Big East.
Defensive Line coach & Special Advisor
Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
As the oldest member of the staff, Pasqualoni will be called upon to coach the Defensive Line. He most recently held defensive coordinator positions for the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys over the last two seasons. This is where his consulting will be an asset to Schiano and Strong.
Of course as the former head coach of the Syracuse University football team from 1991 to 2004, and current Connecticut head coach he knows the landscape of the Big East well.
Defensive Backs Coach
Todd Graham, Pittsburgh
For many in the league they know Graham as the guy who will be bringing a spread offense over to Pitt. However, Graham is actually a defensive guy. He was a two-time All-NAIA defensive back. After a brief stint in the NFL and a high school coaching gig he became the linebackers coach under Rich Rodrigues at West Virginia in 2001. The following season Graham was assigned to defensive co-coordinator before being hired by Steve Kragthorpe as the defensive coordinator at Tulsa. He eventually took over as head coach when Kragthorpe went on to lead Louisville.
Graham will be a natural here coaching the position from his playing days.
Gary Patterson, TCU
Ok, we are well aware of Patterson’s accomplishments at TCU. He is also off to a terrific start as a recruiter this season with his BCS conference label on his tie. However, the Horned Frogs are technically not even in the league yet. So he will have to take his lumps and coach the special teams. He is a defensive guy so this shouldn’t be beneath him.
He’ll log plenty of miles recruiting Texas for this all-star staff!
So there you go, a Big East fantasy staff. Now enjoy breaking down how you would put together yours!