January 13, 2009

Whispers: Plenty of buzz at AFCA convention

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Rumblings from the American Football Coaches Association convention this week:

Zook at work
Ron Zook continues to try to revamp his Illinois staff. He reportedly has offered the defensive coordinator job to Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who is known as a good recruiter. There also are rumblings that Zook is targeting Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett for the same post. It would be a huge coup if Zook landed Trickett.

Changes at Oregon
The Oregon staff is undergoing change. Is it a sign that offensive coordinator/head-coach-in-waiting Chip Kelly will assume command sooner rather than later for Mike Bellotti? Don't be surprised if Kelly is the Ducks' coach this fall, with Bellotti becoming full-time athletic director.

What's next at BC?
With Jeff Jagodzinski out at Boston College in one of the most bizarre firings in history, the Eagles' coaching search has begun with three internal candidates: defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, offensive coordinator Steve Logan and offensive line coach Jack Bicknell.

Steve Addazio, who recently was promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator at Florida, looks like a contender. Addazio also was on the radar of Syracuse during its recent search for a replacement for Greg Robinson. Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell also is on the radar. Norvell was interviewed the last time this job opened. Another possibility is East Carolina coach Skip Holtz.

In the end, expect BC to tab someone already on the staff in hopes of maintaining some semblance of stability.

Ferentz to the NFL?
Some still wonder if Kirk Ferentz will remain coach at Iowa. One scenario that could unfold is that Ferentz would become coach of the Kansas City Chiefs if Scott Pioli becomes the Chiefs' general manager.

Shannon wants an OC
Word is that Miami coach Randy Shannon would like a veteran assistant with NFL experience to be his new offensive coordinator. The most viable candidate to fit that mold is former Cleveland Browns quarterback coach Rip Scherer. Former San Diego State coach Chuck Long also is thought to be involved. And keep an eye on Philadelphia Eagles offensive assistant Mark Whipple, a former head coach at Massachusetts - a Football Championship Subdivision (i.e., Division I-AA) school.

Ole Miss assistant leaves for Auburn
Gene Chizik has hired Ole Miss defensive line coach Tracy Rocker to fill the same post at Auburn; Rocker is an Auburn alum, and his hiring means Chizik has filled six of nine assistant's jobs. The only slots remaining are for an offensive line coach and two defensive assistants.

Louisville looking for a DC again
Newly promoted Louisville defensive coordinator Bill Miller has left to become co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Kansas, which will allow him to be closer to family. Clint Bowen will continue as the Jayhawks' defensive coordinator. Miller was promoted from linebackers coach to coordinator at Louisville last month after Ron English left to take the head-coaching job at Eastern Michigan. To replace Miller, Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe is expected to promote from within. The likely candidate is defensive line coach Ken Delgado, who just finished his first season at the school. Kragthorpe also may offer Middle Tennessee cornerbacks coach Antonio Goss a position.

NFL assistant to Oklahoma State?
It looks as if Oklahoma State may hire Dallas Cowboys linebackers coach Reggie Herring as defensive coordinator. Herring is a longtime coordinator in the college ranks. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy has other holes to fill on his staff with the departures of Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor. South Carolina running backs coach Robert Gillespie and Middle Tennessee running backs coach Willie Simmons could be targets.

Michigan hunting for an assistant
Michigan's search for a defensive coordinator continues. Two names making the rounds: former Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann, who coached linebackers for the New York Jets this season, and Florida safeties coach Chuck Heater.

What will Edsall do?
Connecticut coach Randy Edsall continues to search for an offensive coordinator after Rob Ambrose left to be coach at Towson, a FCS program. Word is that Edsall wants a coach with NFL experience who can oversee quarterbacks as well as recruit Ohio, Maryland and Virginia. One guy who may be on the radar but doesn't meet all the requirements is former Miami University coach Shane Montgomery.

More buzz
It looks as if Notre Dame offensive line coach John Latina has been fired. And word is the dirty deed was done by phone. New Washington coach Steve Sarkisian has hired Purdue running backs coach Joel Thomas for the same post with the Huskies. Former Clemson linebackers coach Ron West is a top contender to become the coach of Presbyterian College, a FCS program in Clinton, S.C. Oklahoma quarterback coach Josh Heupel may be the guy for Minnesota's offensive coordinator job. Maryland recently named Massachusetts coach Don Brown to be defensive coordinator after Chris Cosh left for the same post at Kansas State. Terps coach Ralph Friedgen also considered Maryland linebackers coach Al Seamonson and former Wyoming defensive coordinator Mike Breske. Word is Northwestern offensive line coach Bret Ingalls may be leaving the Wildcats' staff. Look for former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom to return to the NFL. Croom is a former longtime NFL assistant.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.



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