Marshall: Interest In Assistants A Good Thing

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes on a variety of football subjects in his column featuring Auburn, SEC and NCAA sports.

Random thoughts on a winter morning...

It's interesting that seemingly every coaching search at big-time schools starts with a plan to hire a big-time head coach away from somebody. It rarely happens, and disappointed fans often discover they shouldn't have been disappointed at all.

Take a look at the current Top 15 in the AP poll.

Southern California coach Pete Carroll was out of football and was hired only after others turned down the job. Ohio State's Jim Tressell was a Division I-AA head coach. Oregon's Mike Belotti was an assistant. Notre Dame's Charlie Weis was an NFL assistant. Georgia's Mark Richt was offensive coordinator at Florida State. Miami's Larry Coker was promoted from the staff. Penn State's Joe Paterno was also promoted from the staff, though that was almost half a century ago.

Among coaches of Top 10 teams, only No. 2 Texas' Mack Brown, No. 7 Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and No. 10 LSU's Les Miles were Division I-A head coaches when they got their current jobs.

No. 11 West Virginia (Rich Rodriguez), No. 12 Virginia Tech (Frank Beamer), No. 13 Alabama (Mike Shula), No. 14 Texas Christian (Gary Patterson) and No. 15 Louisville (Bob Petrino) are all led by first-time Division I-A head coaches.

In the Southeastern Conference, seven of the 12 head coaches had not been head coaches in Division I-A before getting their current jobs.

The bottom line: Previous head coaching experience doesn't seem to have a lot to do with success or failure...

Speaking of head coaching jobs, three Auburn coaches have been mentioned in connection with some of them in recent days. Offensive coordinator Al Borges was listed in media reports as a candidate at San Diego State. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs, a former Colorado defensive back, was immediately mentioned after Gary Barnett was fired at Northwestern on Thursday. Running backs coach Eddie Gran interviewed for the job at Middle Tennessee State.

Borges would like to be a head coach, but I don't believe he would take the San Diego State job. Gibbs would almost certainly take the Colorado job if offered, but it's not likely it will be offered. Gran knew he was a long shot at MTSU, but he found his first opportunity to go through the interview process to be invaluable.

When a school is as successful as Auburn has been in recent years, it's natural that other schools have interest in hiring its coaches. That's a good thing for the program...

Auburn offensive tackle Marcus McNeill didn't win the Outland Trophy, but I suspect he'll get the last laugh. Big Marcus is going to be a very wealthy man very soon...

Don't count Borges among those who believe Wisconsin will be overmatched against Auburn in the Capital One Bowl. As offensive coordinator at UCLA, he was on the losing side against Wisconsin and outgoing coach Barry Alvarez in the 1999 Rose Bowl and 2000 Sun Bowl. He got a victory over the Badgers in his first season as Indiana offensive coordinator in 2002.

"I have so much respect for Alvarez," Borges says. "This guy has a talent for getting a team ready for a bowl game. They'll play a hundred times better than their numbers will indicate because he'll know how to do it.

"It'll be a great game. You kid yourself if you go the route of thinking it will be a blowout."...

As college football games go, bowls other than the championship game don't often have lasting impacts. They'll affect the final rankings, of course, but rarely have much influence on rankings going into the next season.

In the preseason AP poll, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 LSU, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Virginia Tech and No. 10 Florida all lost their bowl games at the end of last season...

Peach Bowl officials were celebrating late last Saturday night, and with good reason. As the SEC Championship Game ended, they figured to have a disappointed LSU team against a 7-4 Georgia Tech team.

Instead, they ended up with one of just three bowl matchups that will include two Top 10 teams. When Florida State upset Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, No. 9 Miami was knocked from the Gator Bowl to the Peach Bowl. LSU was still disappointed after being blown out by Georgia, but the thought of playing Miami was a lot more exciting than playing Georgia Tech.

LSU head coach Les Miles is wrapping up his first season in Baton Rouge.

One could make the case that the Peach Bowl's game is just as attractive as the Sugar Bowl game between No. 8 Georgia and No. 11 West Virginia that will be played on the same field three days later...

It's just an impression without any real facts to back it up, but Miles might have a hard time keeping LSU's program at a championship level.

The truth is, despite two league championships and a BCS championship, it's not like the Bayou Bengals dominated the SEC in Nick Saban's five seasons. Even in 2003, when they won the BCS title, they lost 19-7 to Florida at home. They lost at least three games in every other Saban season, and had more than their fair share of blowout losses.

And from what I've seen, Miles is no Saban...

Georgia Tech players and coaches were disappointed they were left out of the Peach Bowl, but personally I think it would be kind of fun to cover the Yellow Jackets. In recent years, they have played bowl games in Orlando, Boise, San Jose and Seattle. This year they are going to San Francisco. Those are some pretty good trips. Well, most of them, anyway. I'm not sure Boise, Idaho, is a great place to be in December. But, hey, where else can you see blue turf?...

Until next time...


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