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Changing of the Guard

Football head coaches get all the glory, but top assistants can be extremely important in a team’s success or failure. Offensive and defensive coordinators have great influence on game plans and a unit’s effectiveness. In fact, they’re often the NFL star head coaches of tomorrow. A former defensive assistant, Lovie Smith, has helped to turn the Bears around. Bill Belichick lost his top two assistants a year ago, and both impressed: former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is rebuilding the Browns while Charlie Weis electrified Notre Dame with his spread offense. Let’s look at some key coaching changes in the college ranks.

Tennessee: The Volunteers endured a dreadful 2005 season, missing a bowl game for the first time since 1988. The Vols have brought in offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who returns after spending six years as head coach at Mississippi and a brief tenure as a Notre Dame assistant. Tennessee was just 3-3 SU, 0-6 ATS at home. In fact, the last two years they are 8-6 SU, 2-12 ATS at home.

Georgia Tech: Coach Chan Gailey won’t be calling the plays this season, passing those duties on to assistant coach Patrick Nix. Gailey has called the plays for the Yellow Jackets’ offense for the last three years. Georgia Tech has been conservative offensively under Gailey, going 15-7 under the total the last two seasons.

Miami: Head Coach Larry Coker returns, but he brought new assistant coaches. Rich Olson returns as offensive coordinator after leading the attack in the 1990 glory days, and John Palermo will run the defensive line, coming over from Wisconsin.

Michigan: Michigan lost defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann to the NFL and was replaced by secondary coach Ron English. Special teams coordinator Mike DeBord, who used to be the head coach at Central Michigan, is the new offensive coordinator replacing now NFL-bound Terry Malone. Michigan is 3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS as an underdog the last two years.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin begins a new era as Bret Bielema takes over as head coach from being defensive coordinator. The coaching staff has some new looks, with Dave Doeren and former Colorado defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz in charge of the defense. Under head coach Barry Alvarez, the Badgers were 20-7 ATS their last 27 as an underdog.

Kansas State: Ron Prince takes over as head coach, coming over from Virginia, where he served the past three seasons as the Cavaliers’ offensive coordinator under Al Groh. Raheem Morris takes over as defensive coordinator. Morris served in a variety of coaching positions with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. K State is 2-7 SU/ATS its last nine road games.

New Mexico: Expect a very different offensive philosophy from New Mexico as first-year offensive coordinator Bob Toledo (former UCLA coach) and his pro-style offense take over. Toledo ran wide-open offenses that rolled up points while at UCLA.

By Jim Feist

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