When Nussmeier left his role as offensive coordinator at Alabama to take the same position at Michigan, he has to adjust on the fly. He had never worked with Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, wasn’t familiar with the Big 10 or the area of the country he was coaching in.
Things are different in Gainesville.
He spent two years as the offensive coordinator for Alabama, recruiting throughout the southeast and playing against some of the same opponents he’ll see with the Gators this fall. But the key is Jim McElwain, who brought Nussmeier on as his offensive coordinator.
“I think that Jim and I are like-minded in the way we think,” Doug Nussmeier said. “Look at the success that he’s had over his career. At the end of the day when you look at his ability to teach and educate young men and make a difference in their lives, I think that’s something that you look at the relationships that he’s built over time with his players and the success that he’s had. That really encompasses who he is -- it’s about the kids, it’s about being an educator and a teacher.”
Their career paths have followed each other around the country. When McElwain left his job as offensive coordinator at Fresno State following the 2007 season, Nussmeier got the job the following year. When McElwain left Alabama after being the offensive coordinator from 2008-11 to become the head coach at Colorado State, Nussmeier followed him as the offensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide.
They’ve only worked on the same staff from 2003-05 at Michigan State when Nussmeier coached quarterbacks and McElwain coached receivers and special teams, but they’ve been friends for much longer and always respected each other.
Noted for their offensive success, the two soon will decide what they want to run offensively at Florida. It’s still too early to make a final decision, especially since the main focus remains on recruiting, but they’ll run whatever system best utilizes the talent on campus.
“We’re going to do what our personnel allows us to do and fit our system to what our people can do,” Nussmeier said. “We’re not going to get stuck in a box. I think the way college football is today, with recruiting, when you can recruit players that can make a difference and the different things that you need to do to put people in position to be successful, that’s what we’re going to do.”
PLAYING CALLING: Just as its too early for McElwain or Nussmeier to give a final answer about the offense they will run, Nussmeier said there has been no final indication for who will call plays. He does expect to be the one making the call, but it’s not something they’ve addressed yet.
“Right now, the assumption is I will call plays,” Nussmeier said. “But that’s what we’ve talked about and we’ll go through that.”
SKIPPER ADJUSTING TO THE SOUTHEAST: While serving as Colorado State’s ace recruiter, Tim Skipper didn’t venture into the southeast or the state of Florida very often. Now that he’ll be the running backs coach at Florida, it will change in a hurry.
Skipper was quick to point out that he was born in New Orleans when his dad, a 41-year veteran running backs coach in the NFL, was working with the Saints. He recalls trips to Baton Rouge to watch LSU play and joked that the Tigers even recruited him for “about 30 seconds and then saw how short I was.”
The transition to recruiting will begin once the dead period ends on Thursday, and the Florida running backs coach is ready to help put this class together.
"But whatever conference you're in, as far as I know, there's 11 guys on offense and 11 guys on defense,” Skipper said with a grin. “So how you put those pieces is what's going to matter. I'm excited for this opportunity. It's going to be awesome. I'm ready to see that Swamp rocking and ready to get it going."