10 Offensive and Defensive Coordinators Who Should Be Fired
College football coordinators aren't just about X's and O's these days. The coordinators have expanded roles that often include working with the tools available at any given moment to achieve the maximum possible performance. But it's a talent that can't easily be taught; you either have it or you don't.
And these guys don't.
Some coaches just aren't cut out for the coordinator position. We're results oriented, so after taking a look at the results from the 2012 season, we've put together a list of 10 coordinators who just aren't making the grade.
It's time for these guys to hit the books hard to try and come up with a way to reinvigorate their careers or call it quits altogether.
Either way, if their programs hope to get back to winning games, they should probably be shown the door.
Mark D'Onofrio, Defensive Coordinator, Miami (FL)
Miami finished 2012 with a 7-5 mark and a share of the ACC's Coastal Division title. Considering the play of the Hurricanes' defense, they should count themselves lucky to have even achieved that much.
Last season, Miami had up to 468.4 yards per game—120th in the nation—along with over 30 points per game.
And it's not like Miami is the kind of program that doesn't attract top-tier athletes.
Of course, there will be some transition time when a new staff takes over a program, but the weak link for the Hurricanes is without question the defense.
Mike D'Onofrio has been with head coach Al Golden since his Temple days, but it's time to ask, how good was Temple on defense anyhow? Before Temple, D'Onofrio spent time as a linebackers coach at both Virginia and Rutgers—two programs not exactly known for top-flight linebacking corps.
Is it any wonder our faith in D'Onofrio's ability to dramatically turn things around defensively for the Hurricanes is a bit lacking?
Steve Spurrier Jr. or Shawn Elliot, Co-Offensive Coordinators, South Carolina
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We don't want to harp too much on South Carolina this season. The Gamecocks did provide us with some of the best highlights of the season, and it's hard not to like their chances next season.
But South Carolina's 2012 offense may have been a case of “too many cooks.” Far be it for us to question the head ball coach, but does he really need two offensive coordinators—one of which is his son—when he doesn't spend a great deal of time fretting about offensive play-calling?
“When you're the head coach, you like winning above scoring and a lot of yards,” the HBC said following an Outback Bowl win against Michigan.
There's a certain simplicity to that statement, but doesn't it seem to fit logically that scoring and a lot of yards would lead to more winning?
We assume there's an inherent desire to deflect criticism from his son's direction. We're not suggesting narcissism, but if Spurrier Sr. is truly happy with an offense that ranked 84th in the nation in 2012, he should just come right out and say so. Otherwise, pick a direct, pick a coach and go with it.
Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
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Brent Venables just completed his first season as the defensive coordinator for the Clemson Tigers. Clemson had a pretty successful season, but the Tigers always seem to be just one step away from true national prominence while never getting any closer than they are now.
One of the reasons Clemson can't close that gap is the defense.
A conference that's long been the target of chuckles from football fans and media alike for its “defense optional” style is the Big 12.
It shouldn't come as a galloping shock to anyone to discover that the defensive coordinator who led a program to give up nearly 400 yards per game got much of his formative experience from that conference.
Before landing at Clemson this past season, Venables was a position coach at both Kansas State and Oklahoma before spending much of the last decade as defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops.
Perhaps Venables rode the coattails of Stoops' overall success to a DC gig on his own, but the fact remains that we've yet to see him produce a truly stellar defense at any program.
If Clemson wants to take that next step towards competing for a national championship, it needs to hire a defensive coordinator who can produce a defense better than 64th in the nation.
Tommy Lee, Offensive Coordinator, Hawaii
(Photo: University of Hawai'i)
The University of Hawaii was once known for having a football program capable of moving the ball up and down the field in huge chunks, especially through the air.
Players like Colt Brennan put Hawaii on the map, and even managed to earn the team occasional Top 25 rankings and a 2008 Sugar Bowl appearance.
You almost have to work at it to turn one of the nation's top offenses into one of the worst programs in the country.
The new offensive coordinator under head coach Norm Chow is Tommy Lee. We're not talking about the rocking former husband to Pamela Anderson, but with an offense that accounted for just 297.4 yards per game—121st in the FBS this season—we might as well be.
We wonder if the Mötley Crüe front man would do any worse.
Ed Orgeron, Defensive Coordinator, USC
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When it comes to USC, there's clearly a lot that needs to change.
The Trojans just don't look like the Trojans these days, and while the offensive play-calling from head coach Lane Kiffin gets most of the attention, there's an equal amount of blame that should be heaped on the defense.
The Trojans were spectacularly mediocre on defense in 2012, and even that might be generous. USC gave up 394 yards per game last season, seventh in the Pac-12.
While that puts them just behind Oregon, the Trojans don't have the same kind of explosive offense that makes giving up 30 points not such a big deal. The Ducks do.
Defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron probably isn't the only person to blame for the downfall of the Trojans this season, but if you're going to clean house, you have to start somewhere.
Dan Roushar, Offensive Coordinator, Michigan State
Way back in August, there were more than a few college football pundits who believed Michigan State would stage another strong run to repeat as the Big Ten's Legends Division champion.
In fact, both of ESPN's Big Ten bloggers had MSU winning the division and the conference championship game.
Instead, Michigan State needed all 12 games on the schedule just to earn a bowl berth, where Sparty edged past TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. So where was the disconnect?
Look no further than Dan Roushar's offense.
Like Florida, Michigan State had an absolutely stellar defense this past season. Sparty allowed just 274.4 yards per game, good enough for fourth in the nation in that category.
But the MSU offense, even with Big Ten rushing leader Le'Veon Bell, amassed just 359.3 yards per game—or 97th in the nation.
How could the prognostications be so utterly wrong? Michigan State's woes all dealt with the improper usage of the tools at its disposal. Roushar went to Bell early and often, making MSU's play-calling rather predictable.
If Bell wasn't such a beast carrying the rock, the Spartans would have been completely laughed off the field.
We know that there's a tendency to rely on the run game when breaking in a new, young quarterback, but we have to question the mind set of a coaching staff who never really put much faith in Andrew Maxwell this season.
Calling run play after run play to follow an interception won't do much for a young quarterback's confidence.
But what makes all of this so insidious is the simple fact that MSU was so close in so many games this season. Of their five conference losses in 2012, the Spartans never lost by more than four points, including a one-point loss to Ohio State to open the Big Ten season.
Mark Snyder, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
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Texas A&M had a successful first season in the SEC by most measures. The Aggies knocked off Alabama in Tuscaloosa, won six conference games, finished 10-2 and earned a spot in the Cotton Bowl Classic (which the Aggies won).
Oh yeah, there was also this guy named, “Johnny Football,” who became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy.
So what possibly could have been wrong with the Aggies in 2012? To put it simply, the defense. Despite having one of the most electrifying offenses in the nation thanks to Johnny Manziel, the Aggies struggled on defense, giving up nearly 400 yards per game.
In a conference where defense is king, that kind of performance could keep Texas A&M from reaching the next level: the SEC title game and possible BCS berth.
The really odd thing about the Aggies' lackluster defense this season was that the team wasn't without its defensive stars. Damontre Moore was one of the nation's best defensive linemen last season, recording 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.
The rest of the defense, while not possessing the eye-popping stats of Moore, certainly looked solid for most of 2012. How could Texas A&M be ranked 58th in total defense?
Part of the problem is scheming. The Aggies just didn't have an effective defensive plan in the two losses this past season.
What both Florida and LSU discovered is that the strong front of Texas A&M's defense was vulnerable to outside and deep attacks. By the time the Aggies' defensive coaching staff, led by Mark Snyder (in his first year as A&M DC) adjusted, it was too late.
As the Aggies settle into their SEC surroundings, one incontrovertible truth will have to be acknowledged: In the end, a team's overall grade depends on the defense. While the Aggies clearly passed their SEC entrance exam, the defense gets a “C” at best.
Maybe the jump from South Florida to a budding SEC power was just too much for Snyder. If a change isn't made soon, the Aggies may turn into a perennial “almost” team in the conference.
Brian Johnson, Offensive Coordinator, Utah
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The Utes had high hopes for 2012. After a less-than-promising inaugural campaign in the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham had a genuine belief that the absence of the hoopla of a new conference would benefit an experienced team returning to Salt Lake.
But that experience had little, if any effect on the Utes, who missed a bowl game with a 5-7 (3-6) finish.
Utah wasn't particularly sharp on either side of the football in 2012—strange, considering the number of returning starters—but the offense was where the struggles really cost the Utes.
Averaging just 324.4 yards per game (108th in the FBS) and only 280.7 on the road, Utah never really appeared to be much of a threat to climb above the bottom rung of the Pac-12 ladder this past season.
While there were some small victories, such Utah improving offensively as the season wore on, we were under the impression that was more due to a front-heavy schedule than anything else.
Our major concern with Brian Johnson is the fact that he seemed completely unprepared for the rigors of a coordinator position in the FBS.
He is just 25 years old and just a few seasons removed from his playing days at Utah. We just don't believe Johnson has the experience necessary to be a success as an offensive coordinator in a major conference.
Tommy Spangler, Defensive Coordinator, Louisiana Tech
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In all of 2012, there were just two teams who allowed an average of more than 500 yards per game: Baylor and Louisiana Tech. Of those two, the Bulldogs gave up nearly 25 more yards per game than the Bears.
Still, Louisiana Tech managed a 9-3 record that curiously still wasn't good enough to earn a bowl berth. Maybe the nation's worst defense had something to do with that.
Tech's three losses in 2012 all came by nine or fewer points, including a two-point loss to Texas A&M and an overtime decision dropped against eventual conference champion Utah State.
If Louisiana Tech had even a serviceable defense, it's not unrealistic to think that the Bulldogs could have at least made it to 11-1 this past season.
But being ranked 124th in total defense has a way of catching up with you.
Brent Pease, Offensive Coordinator, Florida
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If you needed help determining if Florida really belonged as one of the nation's elite teams in 2012, look no further than the offensive nightmare that was the 2013 Sugar Bowl.
The Gators were thoroughly manhandled by the Louisville Cardinals, and the Gators should honestly be embarrassed by that performance.
What's more, Florida had a truly special defense this season, and the program was only held back from greater glory—like an SEC East title and maybe even a national championship shot—by an offense that had to be a constant source of frustration for Gators fans each and every week.
Despite fielding one of the nation's top-scoring defenses that allowed just 14.5 points per game (fifth in the nation), the Gators often looked as if they were playing against their own defense when they had the ball.
Florida averaged an anemic 26.5 points per game (78th in the FBS). The run game was bad enough, but the passing game deserves special recognition for just how bad it was this season.
When you're lumped into the same passing offense grouping as option-run team like Army, Navy and Georgia Tech when you don't run the option game, things are bad.
The Gators were 118th in the nation in passing in 2012, averaging just 146.3 yards per game. It doesn't matter what conference you're in, that's pretty bad. When you're in the SEC, that's laughable.