David Fox Rivals.com College Football Staff Writer
One of writers' favorite things to track is how one person or an idea got from point A to point B to point C and what happened along the way.
That's why Good for Another's thread on the football recruiting board intrigued us. The poster asked other users to talk about the best coaching trees in football.
The NFL has the Bill Walsh tree, which includes Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan and others. The Bill Parcells tree has Bill Belichick, Sean Peyton, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini.
Odds are, if you coach in the NFL, you belong to one of these two lineages of coaches.
College football, of course, is no exception. Assistants learn from their mentors and disperse around the country, building their own legacy.
Let's take the Parcells/Belichick tree and its impact on the college game, for example. Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, Alabama's Nick Saban, Fresno State's Pat Hill and Virginia's Al Groh were all influenced by their time on Parcells' or Belichick's staffs.
Even that group of coaches is building a legacy, with former Groh assistant Ron Prince coaching at Kansas State and former Saban assistants Derek Dooley (Louisiana Tech) and Mark Dantonio (Michigan State ? we'll get to more on him later) taking new jobs this year.
Good for Another started the thread with one of the most prolific modern coaching trees with his home school, Kansas State and former coach Bill Snyder.
As the poster astutely noted, the Snyder tree got its start from Iowa coach Hayden Fry. Snyder was Fry's offensive coordinator before leaving for Kansas State in 1989.
Fry's staffs at Iowa included former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney and Fry's replacement, Kirk Ferentz.
The Fry/Snyder network is a good one to be in, too. There's never a shortage of teams looking to hire someone out of this tree. Chuck Long, a Fry quarterback and Bob Stoops assistant at Oklahoma, just finished his first season at San Diego State. McCarney quickly found a home after being let go by Iowa State. He was snatched up as a defensive line coach by former Snyder assistant Leavitt at South Florida.
But let's not forget our roots.
Pygskyn called the Bear Bryant tree the best coaching pedigree. The Bear's legacy stretches way beyond Alabama. Former Clemson coach Danny Ford, former Auburn coach Pat Dye, former Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger, former Alabama coach Gene Stallings and former Pittsburgh/Texas A&M/Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill all coached for Bryant at one point. Still in the college game is Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom, who played and coached for Bryant.
Here are some other notable coaching trees to add to the list:
Jimmy Johnson: With stops at Oklahoma State, Miami, the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, Johnson's name pops up as a reference for dozens of coaches. Two of the four coaches to follow Johnson at Miami were his assistants: Larry Coker and Butch Davis. Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt were also Johnson assistant. In the two-degrees-of-Jimmy-Johnson category are Rutgers' Greg Schiano (a Davis and Wannstedt assistant), current Miami coach Randy Shannon (an assistant for Coker and Davis) and FIU's Mario Cristobal (played for Davis, coached for Schiano and Coker). Other than Nutt, Coker and Cristobal, all are known for their defenses.
Dennis Erickson: Despite his offensive prowess, Erickson's defensive coaches are listing him as a reference ? Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron. Miami's Shannon played for Erickson before joining Davis' staff.
Earle Bruce: The Ohio State coach counts Jim Tressel, Florida's Urban Meyer and former Minnesota coach Glen Mason as former assistants. New Michigan State coach Dantonio, who served under Bruce and Tressel at Ohio State, also coached with Saban with the Spartans.
Mike Bellotti: If you're looking for offense, why not look for a Bellotti assistant? Jeff Tedford re-energized Cal, Chris Petersen took Boise State to the Fiesta Bowl and Dirk Koetter usually had an effective offense before he was fired at Arizona State this year.
A word about awards
In the last two weeks, Rivals.com released its watch lists for many of college football's major awards.
Naturally, some fans feel their favorite players have been short-changed.
On the Biletnikoff Award watch list, Oklahoma fans didn't appreciate the omission of Malcolm Kelly, who was fifth in the Big 12 in receiving with 993 yards and 10 touchdowns. Texas fans were also upset not to see Limas Sweed (801 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns) on the list.
Rivals.com national writer Olin Buchanan stopped by to discuss the list:
"I agree that Malcolm Kelly is a tremendously gifted receiver, but receivers are somewhat dependent on their quarterbacks. The uncertainty with the OU quarterback situation is a major reason why Malcolm was left off my top 10. ? I've also been criticized for leaving off Texas' Limas Sweed and LSU's Early Doucet. Sweed only had 11 catches over the last five games of 2006, and Doucet's numbers weren't as great as some of the others. Granted, that's probably because of Bowe and Davis, so his numbers will likely spike in 2007. Actually, I felt worse about leaving off Louisville's Mario Urrutia."
In our Doak Walker Award (for the top running back) watch list, readers talked about the difference between the running back tandems at Texas A&M and Clemson. The Aggies' Mike Goodson made the list at No. 5 while the Tigers' James Davis fell into the "others to consider category." Each of their running mates ? Jorovorskie Lane and C.J. Spiller did not make the list.
Buchanan explained why Goodson was rated so highly: "I did list Texas A&M's Mike Goodson even though he has to share time with Jorvorskie Lane. However, for the offense A&M likes to run I'm betting that Goodson's role (and carries) will increase significantly. Also, as I pointed out the Walker Award (which is based in Dallas) has a tendency to pick RBs from Texas, and I thought among RBs from Texas, Goodson has the potential to have the biggest season."
Homer picks paid off this year for Bracket Battles users.
The two team sites leading Rivals.com Bracket Battles going into the Sweet 16 were coincidentally the home sites for two surprise second-round winners. VandySports.com (Vanderbilt, 477.79 average points) and Rebel-Net.com (UNLV, 462.87 average points) led Rivals.com network sites in Bracket Battles.
After two Final Four teams last year and three Sweet 16 teams this year, the SEC has a knack for March Madness. So do the fans apparently.
Network sites from SEC schools make up eight schools in the top 15 in average scores in Bracket Battles, led by VandySports.com.