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NCAA Coaching Shifts

   by Bryan Leonard - 08/27/2005

NCAA Coaching Shifts

Each August various publications and power ratings examine the strengths and weaknesses of each team on the field. Returning starters, offensive line and skill positions, new quarterbacks stepping in, and even home field advantage rankings are some of the many topics examined. One area that’s sometimes overlooked is coaching staffs. Each year some teams have new head coaches, or assistants are replaced because they moved on or were let go because of some failure in the team’s play. The season kicks off next week, so let’s take a look at some personnel changes on the sidelines at some college football programs.

Florida: This was the most talked about coaching change, with Urban Meyer replacing up-and-down Ron Zook. Meyer was the most sought after coach in the off-season, getting offers from almost everywhere. He had phenomenal success at Bowling Green and the last two years at Utah. Now he moves to the land of BIG TIME college football. What’s going to be most interesting about this is the offense. Meyer has an innovative offensive mind, and he happens to have some fabulous offensive pieces to work with, especially at QB with talented junior Chris Leak. The Gators will likely look more like the wide-open attack under Steve Spurrier than the unpredictable Zook. If you like to bet totals, keep close tabs on the Florida offensive production in September.

South Carolina: And speaking of Steve Spurrier, old “grumpy with the visorâ€쳌 is back on the college football sidelines after two dismal seasons with the Redskins. On the one hand, Spurrier likes to run it up whenever he can, which should change the fortunes of the Gamecocks 12-22 spread mark the last three years. On the other hand, it will take some time to teach his offenses, and South Carolina doesn’t have a lot of offensive speed or talent.

L.S.U: Think there’s pressure on new head coach Les Miles? Nick Saban was adored on campus since winning the national title two years ago. The most significant change to keep an eye on is offensive philosophy. Saban loved old fashioned football and LSU was a power running team. Miles ran a pass-happy attack at Oklahoma State. Following in the footsteps of an idol is often no fun, so Miles won’t get much sympathy from Tiger fans if things go sour early.

U.S.C.: Wide receivers coach Lane Kiffin takes over as offensive coordinator. He replaces the best in the business, Norm Chow, who’s in the NFL (Titans). If USC’s offense isn’t quite as explosive as a year ago, especially right out of the gate, that would be a major reason.

Notre Dame: Charlie Weis takes over as head coach for Tyrone Willingham. Willingham ran a conservative ground attack, but expect a very different look this fall. Weis ran the New England Patriots offense the last four years, winning three Super Bowls, with a spread formation, wide-open attack. He has a good veteran QB to work with, too.

UNLV: This is certainly not a big-name program, but the Rebels could be one of the more interesting teams in the Mountain West. Head Coach Mike Sanford takes over, and he spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator at Utah with Urban Meyer. Don’t look for this team to run the ball every play like departed dinosaur John Robinson.

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