"Geoff is an exceptional defensive mind and his energy and passion are remarkable," Mullen said Friday in a released statement. "His experience as a play-caller and previous experience as a defensive coordinator will make this an easy transition."
That transition began the day State reported to Jacksonville, when Mullen turned play-calling responsibilities on defense over to Collins. The change was made after cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith accepted a similar position at Auburn over the Christmas break. Smith, who spent games in the press box, had defensive substitutions and rotations as one of his tasks. His position coaching was taken by safeties coach Tony Hughes.
Because bowl opponent Northwestern operated a tempo type of offense, the defensive line planned to rotate frequently. Both factors went into Mullen adjusting assignments, as he said after the game.
"You know, we'd struggled against some spread teams and tempo teams in the past. So I wanted to try something different, give Geoff an opportunity to call the game. And just see also communication-wise. Because there is a lot that has to go on with rotating the defensive line in-and-out of the game, and getting where you're going with those tempo teams. To be able to make all the rotations you need to make and call the game at the same time with Chris."
Wilson is a three-year State assistant, hired in 2010 as defensive line coach and promoted to coordinator in 2011 when Collins joined the staff. The job split was described often as ‘51/49' in favor of Wilson with the edge given to the sideline play-caller. Now Collins takes the larger role.
Mullen did not refer to Wilson in Friday's release or any other potential staff changes and adjustments. At Jacksonville, he said "I'm going to evaluate that as we move forward. I mean, I'll see where we're at.
"We just finished up the season, we'll hit the recruiting trail and use the full evaluation of where we're at and what directions, what changes and tweaks and all those things we have to make. We'll look at next year's team and see what direction next year's team is going to head."
Collins came to State after a year at Florida International where he coordinated a defense that led the Sun Belt Conference in yardage, scoring, pass efficiency, and turnover margin. Prior to that season he was linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Central Florida. Collins had previous stints at Alabama and Georgia Tech with recruiting his priority.
In 2012, two of Collins' players ranked among the top-five tacklers in the SEC. Senior OLB Cameron Lawrence recorded 100-tackle seasons under the coach, the first Dog to reach that mark consecutive years since 1994 and '95. And redshirt MLB Benardrick McKinney not only was top-five SEC (regular season statistics) overall but top-five nationally among all freshmen in tackles.
This promotion is the first off-season staff move for Mullen. He has to fill the slot left by Smith, though Mullen might choose not to hire a specific cornerbacks coach in favor of going after a special teams coach. Since Christmas break Wilson's name has been bandied about possible SEC openings for a week now but nothing definite is known during this annual rumors-season.
Monday is the start of the college coaches convention. Current Bulldog staff are away from campus on recruiting assignments today prior to the convention and ‘dead' period.