Grading Ellerson's new hires

New Army coach Rich Ellerson just named 11 assistants to his staff. Armysports.com breaks down what we think of each hire with few complaints. Ellerson did a great job.

Ian Shields, offensive coordinator: Shields seemed like the most logical choice to follow Ellerson to West Point.

Shields served in the same capacity on Shields' staff at Cal Poly. The only thing that likely would have kept Shields from West Point is if he landed the head job at Cal Poly. He will play a big part in making Army's new triple option attack go and played quarterback at Oregon State.

John Mumford, defense: We wouldn't be excited if Mumford was retained as defensive coordinator.

His defense has its share of good moments, but also bad ones. Mumford's also been the part of three failed regimes at Army. In this capacity Mumford should do a fine job. Tucker Waugh, offense: Is in his second stint with Army and is regarded as a smart, young coach.

It' good that Army kept him around. He served as the Black Knights' running backs coach and recruiting coordinator last year.

Robert Lyles, defense: Because of his close relationship with Stan Brock, Lyles might have been ticketed to go.

However, it must have been hard to overlook Lyles' fine work with the Army linebackers last season. Lyles is an eight-year veteran of the National Football League, serving tenures with the Houston Oilers (1984-89) and Atlanta Falcons (1990-91). He also spent two years playing in the Arena Football League (1994-95) before beginning his coaching career in the AFL in 1995.

Tony Coaxum, defense: Coaxum helped Lyles with the linebackers for the past two seasons. He's a great hold over, considering he played for the Black Knights, and served in the U.S. Army. Clarence Holmes, defense: Holmes has done a great job with Army's defensive line, for the most part. Like Coaxum, he brings the experience of having played for the Black Knights.

A two-time team captain who lettered all four of his years at West Point, Holmes has been a part of Army's coaching staff since serving as a graduate assistant in 2003. He has spent the past six years working with Army's defensive linemen.

Chris Smeland/Payam Saadat, defensive coordinator: The two-headed monster at defensive coordinator.

It's a rarity that a coach goes with co-coordinators, but these guys should be a good fit, employing Ellerson's 'Desert Swarm' defense. A member of Ellerson's staff at Cal Poly the last five years, Saadat has held the title of defensive coordinator for the Mustangs the last three seasons.

Smeland hasn't coached with Ellerson since their days together at the University of Hawaii, but has remained well-versed in Ellerson's Double Eagle Flex scheme the past three decades, introducing the system during his stints as defensive coordinator at Utah State University, the University of Louisville and Michigan State University.

Andy Guyader, offense: Looks like a great coach to bring along. Guyader is a smart, young coach, tutoring the slot backs at Cal Poly.

The slot back will be a key position, obviously, in Army's new and true triple option attack. Guyader played quarterback for Cal Poly in the late-1990s and has been on Ellerson's staff there for the last five years.

Gene McKeehan, offense: Another great hire. McKeehan helped Ellerson install a new offensive set for Cal Poly in 2001. The new system utilized the spread-option offense, while still maintaining its dangerous passing attack.

Let's hope they can do the same at Army. Prior to arriving at Cal Poly, McKeehan served as assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Navy for six seasons (1995-2000). He helped to guide a Navy offense that ranked first nationally in rushing offense in 1999 and sixth in 2000. Prior to coaching at Navy, McKeehan was an assistant at Utah State for 13 seasons (1982-94), serving as offensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coach.

Bill Tripp, offense: Tripp hails from West Point's neck of the woods, Newburgh, N.Y.

Tripp has been around the block, but seems like a good addition. served as an assistant coach at Cal Poly for 10 seasons (1989-98) under head coaches Lyle Setencich, Andre Patterson and Larry Welsh, before assuming a stint in the professional ranks. Tripp departed Cal Poly in 1999, joining the staff of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League, then served one year at Nevada in 2000 before returning to the SaberCats for five seasons (2001-05). Tripp returned to Cal Poly to serve under Ellerson in the summer of 2005 and assisted with the defensive line.


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