It's been a long time since there was success on the football field for the Army Black Knights. However, after three straight head coaching failures at West Point it looks like Army has finally found a gem.
The nightmare started before the 2000 season when Army hired Todd Berry, who quickly ditched Army's option offense, for a drop back passing offense. The option offense is the only offense that has been successful in academy football in the last 30 years.
Four years and five wins later it was apparent that Berry wasn't getting it done after a 0-12 season in 2003, the worst record in the history of college football. Army then brought in highly experienced Bobby Ross. The Cadets showed flickers of success but Ross couldn't maintain the momentum and resigned in 2006 after just three seasons at the helm.
Enter Stan Brock, a veteran NFL offensive lineman with no college head coaching experience. Brock wasted his first season trying to continue Ross' offensive style but decided after the 2007 to switch to an option offense. Trouble is his staff had limited experience at best with the option offense and Brock wasn't willing to bring in experienced assistants to help run the new offense. Shortly, after a 34-0 loss to Navy on December 6, Army fired Brock.
The hiring of Ellerson today is significant because it shows that Army is finally ready to get back to the business of winning football games. The Army head coaching position will no longer be a retirement hobby as it was for Brock and Ross. The Cadets will have a head coach who will give them the absolute best chance at achieving victory and one who knows the correct offense that a service academy should be running: the option offense.
Richard Ellerson brings solid experience as a head coach and has extensive knowledge of both defensive, offensive and special teams aspects of the game. As a former defensive coordinator at Arizona he brings the experience of having engineered the famous Desert Swarm Defense. As a head coach at Cal Poly and a former assistant with Paul Johnson at Hawaii he knows the triple option well. He's even had a couple of stints as a special teams coach so he'll be able to keep control of that important aspect of the Black Knight program as well.
It's imperative that a head coach has a diverse amount of experience so he can keep tabs of his assistants to ensure that they are doing it right. Ellerson's experience and wide range of positions and institutions he's served at over the years also gives him the benefit of a solid network of coaching connections that will enable him to build a effective staff at West Point.
Most important of all, Ellerson has connections to Army and wants to help rebuild the Black Knights into a winning program. His father and two of his brothers attended the Academy. One brother was a team captain on a winning Army football team. Ellerson has dreamed of coaching at Army for a long time; this is no stepping-stone or retirement hobby for him. Army needs someone with a true passion for helping to build a winner and it looks like they've finally got their man.
Will Ellerson be successful at Army? That remains to be seen. However, one thing is for sure: it looks like Army got it right this time.
Army got it right in Ellerson
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