January 6, 2009

Whispers: Auburn hires Roof as coordinator

Ted Roof will be Auburn's defensive coordinator, Rivals.com has learned.

As coordinator at Minnesota in 2008, Roof, 45, rehabbed a defense that finished last in the nation in 2007 (518.7 ypg). The Golden Gophers' defense ranked 79th in the nation (383.6 ypg) this season and ranked 16th in the nation turnover margin, playing a big role in Minnesota improving from 1-11 to 7-6 in 2008.

Before joining Minnesota, Roof was coach of Duke, taking over five games into the 2003 season before being fired after the 2007 season with a 6-45 record. Roof joined Duke in 2002 as defensive coordinator. Before that, he served on the staff at Georgia Tech (1998-2001), his alma mater. He also has coached at West Georgia, Massachusetts and Western Carolina.

New Auburn coach Gene Chizik continues to be methodical in building his staff. He has also added Curtis Luper as running backs coach, Trooper Taylor likely as wide receivers coach, Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator and Jay Boulware as special teams coach. Luper and Taylor came from Oklahoma State, Malzahn from Tulsa and Boulware from Iowa State.

Chizik also retained linebackers coach James Willis.

Prince a wanted man

Keep an eye on former Kansas State coach Ron Prince, who is one of the hottest commodities on the market. He's believed to be a target for the offensive coordinator posts at Notre Dame and Miami. In fact, he may have his pick of jobs. Prince also could end up on an NFL staff.

Neuheisel in search mode

With DeWayne Walker off to be coach at New Mexico State, UCLA needs a defensive coordinator.

Many feel a top target may be Montana coach Bobby Hauck, who has done a masterful job in six seasons as coach of the Grizzlies. Hauck's ties to Rick Neuheisel run deep, having served on Neuheisel's staffs at Washington (1999-2002) and Colorado (1995-98). But Hauck may not be interested.

Two other names are Georgia State defensive coordinator John Thompson and former Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove. Thompson was coach at East Carolina from 2003-04 and has been a defensive coordinator at numerous schools in the Southeast. Cosgrove helped make Wisconsin a national power as Badgers defensive coordinator from 1995-2003. Both are accomplished recruiters, too.

Another possibility is former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson, though he may land back in the NFL.

Who's a good fit for Miami?

There have been rumblings that NFL assistants Dirk Koetter (Jacksonville's offensive coordinator), Mike Shula (Jacksonville's quarterbacks coach) and Rob Chudzinski (former Cleveland offensive coordinator) may be targets of Miami coach Randy Shannon to fill his offensive coordinator spot. Don't believe it. It's highly doubtful any of that trio would take a post that many believe only pays around $250,000.

Miami could make a run at Al Borges, the former Auburn offensive coordinator who recently took the same post at San Diego State, or Mitch Browning, who was offensive coordinator at Syracuse this season. Browning's ability to develop hard-nosed running attacks, which he did at Minnesota, would seem to mesh with the style of offense Miami wants to run.

Former Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer and Alabama quarterback coach Curt Cignetti also could get involved.

Reshuffling with the Illini and Horned Frogs

Illinois coach Ron Zook made a splash by hiring TCU offensive coordinator Mike Schultz to run the Illini offense. Zook also parted ways with defensive line coach Tom Sims.

Zook could tab Steve Stripling a former Michigan defensive line coach to replace Sims or to be defensive coordinator. That would mean this season's co-coordinators Curt Mallory and Dan Disch would return to spots as position coaches. Coordinator or not, Stripling may be on the Illini staff in some capacity next fall.

Meanwhile, with Schultz leaving TCU to coordinate Illinois' offense, don't be shocked if Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson stays in-house to fill the post. The likely candidates would be running backs coach Justin Fuente and receivers coach Jarrett Anderson. If Patterson looks beyond his staff, he could target Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgersen.

Oklahoma State looking for a DC

The only current "hot name" for the Oklahoma State defensive coordinator job is Phil Bennett, the former SMU coach who coordinated Pitt's defense this season. Bennett is one of the nation's top defensive minds, and he has coached in the Big 12 at Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma State is looking for a replacement for Tim Beckman, who took the coaching job at Toledo.

UConn looking to Big Ten for assistant?

There's a good chance Randy Edsall's search for an offensive coordinator at Connecticut could turn to Michigan State quarterback coach Dave Warner. He was Edsall's coordinator in 1999-2000, and Warner and Edsall were college roommates. Another possibility is Browning.

What would Iowa do?

Early word is that if Kirk Ferentz leaves Iowa to coach in the NFL, Arizona's Mike Stoops an Iowa alum would be a top target.

Don't be shocked if East Carolina's Skip Holtz got in the picture, along with former Iowa State coach and longtime Hawkeyes assistant Dan McCarney, who now is the defensive line coach at Florida. North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl and Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell also could be factors.

More buzz

There could be a small staff shakeup at Wisconsin. Don't dismiss Stanford's Jim Harbaugh as being a viable candidate for the Oakland Raiders' coaching job. Keep an eye on Minnesota offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, who may be out the door. Clemson outside linebackers coach Ron West could land on Tulsa's staff. Former Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran, a solid recruiter and teacher, remains unemployed. However, expect him to be scooped up soon. Don't be surprised if former San Diego State coach Chuck Long sits out the 2009 season.

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


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