Imagine, if you will, this scenario: An offensive coordinator at a college football powerhouse puts together a stunningly inept season of offense, takes a year off from taking plays, then shows up at a middling Big Ten program and tries to implement his old offense—only without a relative advantage of talent when it comes to conference play.
If Big Ten fans find that scenario familiar, they should. It's the story of Greg Davis, ousted from Texas after a brutal year of offense only to wind up at Iowa, where the Hawkeye offense horrified the unsuspecting masses of Kinnick Stadium with abject ineptitude en route to a 4-8 record—Kirk Ferentz's worst since he was rebuilding the program more than a decade ago.
We're ready to relive that scenario in 2013. Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, who oversaw one of the most brutal years of offense in recent Buckeyes history in 2011, has just been hired by Michigan State, according to reports from the Detroit Free-Press and various coaching rumor sites. The hire hasn't been officially announced, but all indications are that Bollman will be the offensive coordinator.
Let's just take a look back at Ohio State's offensive numbers when Bollman was the offensive coordinator there in 2011. For old times' sake.
Stat (Big Ten rank / national rank)
Rushing yardage per game: 191.15 (4th/27th)
Passing yardage: 127.00 (12th/115th)
Total yardage: 318.15 (11th/107th)
Scoring offense: 24.46 (8th/81st)
Passing efficiency: 127.77 (6th/63rd)
Sacks allowed: 3.54 (12th/118th)
Now, yes, once Terrelle Pryor permanently excused himself from collegiate eligibility with his role in the scandal that brought unprecedented sanctions to Columbus, Bollman's options at quarterback were limited. He had a hilariously ineffective 26-year-old senior Joe Bauserman and a true freshman by the name of Braxton Miller.
But again, personnel-wise, there wasn't much difference between what Bollman had to work with and what Meyer had. And the Ohio State offense was just an absolute mess; only in 2004 did the Buckeyes score fewer points per game (24.17 ppg), and that total was only scarcely worse than the 2011 version of the Buckeyes.
Stats don't do the disorganization justice. If you're an Ohio State fan, don't watch this. If you're not, you'll probably enjoy seeing Michigan State's defense lay complete waste to everything the Buckeyes held dear in 2011.
That catastrophe was Jim Bollman's offense.
Bollman had Corey Brown and Devin Smith at receiver and couldn't complete more than 12 passes to either of them. Or to anybody else. Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall were Ohio State's backup tailbacks after Dan Herron returned from suspension; Meyer would have loved to have Hyde and Hall healthy at the same time, to say nothing of what Herron brought to the table.
The 2011 offensive line was anchored by Mike Brewster and—again, post-suspension—LT Mike Adams, while the 2012 version doesn't appear to have anybody of such high stature.
So with that track record of misery, Bollman was jettisoned off to Boston College to coach the offensive line and be the running-game coordinator. It probably won't even surprise you to find out Boston College's running game was one of the worst in the entire nation. The Eagles rushed for all of 90.92 yards per game, dead last in the ACC and 115th in the nation.
And Michigan State hired him.
To be fair, Dantonio and Bollman have a history together; the two were coordinators at Ohio State for the first half of Jim Tressel's tenure at Ohio State, so there's familiarity and that can be a life-saver for coaches who need a good rapport with their coordinator. In other words, this isn't entirely a merit-based hiring decision. Clearly.
Unless Dantonio has a plan to guide the offense himself like Tressel did (per the Free-Press, Bollman wasn't the one calling plays while Tressel was still in Columbus), this is a hiring that has the potential to end very, very badly.
And for a fanbase still reeling from the Dan Roushar era of offensive coordination—an era that saw the Spartans give up less than 17 points per game and still go 7-6—another ineffectual offensive coordinator may not be bearable.
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