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Changes are coming to the Florida football staff. Geoff Collins has taken the Temple HBC job and that means it’s very likely Randy Shannon will be elevated to defensive coordinator. One more assistant coach will be added but there is plenty of speculation that year three of the Jim McElwain era will produce some serious staff upheaval.
Let’s start with running backs coach Tim Skipper. He coached linebackers at Colorado State and with the exception of three years (2006-08 at Fresno State) he’s been a defensive coach. Collins worked with both linebackers and safeties. Skipper got his start coaching secondary so it’s a logical fit if he were to move over to the defensive side of the ball.
Skipper to defense would mean an opening for a running backs coach. If I were a gambling man (I don’t bet on anything that talks), I would wager a hefty little bundle that Mike Locksley is coming back to Gainesville with the title of co-offensive coordinator. Nothing is final until the ink dries on the dotted line of the contract, but there are people who are rarely wrong about assistant coaches who tell me this is as close to a done deal as it gets. But, we won’t know for sure until Alabama finishes up its season since Locksley is on the Bama support staff.
There is a lot of speculation that offensive line coach Mike Summers will be moved into a supporting role or retire. I’ve heard some wishful speculation out there that Joe Wickline would come back home to Florida, but he’s the offensive coordinator at West Virginia where his Mounties averaged 506 yards per game, 239 on the ground and 267 through the air. He’s not going anywhere. However, I believe Jeff Stoutland might be willing to come to Florida. He’s coaching the OL for the Philadelphia Eagles currently, but he worked as the OL coach for McElwain (2011) and Doug Nussmeier (2012) for Alabama national championship teams and spent three years as Randy Shannon’s OL coach at Miami.
Finally, I’m going to pass along a rumor – and at this point in time it is totally unsubstantiated – but four different people, none of them friends, all asked me about this one today. Brace yourselves. Ron Zook comes back to Gainesville to take over Florida’s special teams. He’s got a home on Lake Weir. It’s considerably warmer in Florida than it is in Green Bay Wisconsin. Jeremy Foley is no longer the AD. Locksley and Zook together on the recruiting trail?
Oh be still my beating heart.
ONE HBC’S MAXIMS FOR ASSISTANT COACHES
Since we’re talking a major shuffle on the coaching staff, I thought it’s a good time to recall an over lunch conversation with a former UF head coach about what makes a good assistant coach. I’m paraphrasing the conversation, but he made such valid points that I think it’s well worth repeating the list.
Here are Ten Maxims for Good Assistant Coaches.
1. There is nothing more important to you than loyalty – loyalty to your head coach, loyalty to your fellow assistants, loyalty to all the support staff, loyalty to the University of Florida and of course, loyalty to the players you will be coaching. Kids are perceptive. If they suspect you aren’t loyal to your boss, fellow coaches, staff and school, then they won’t be loyal to you. If the players aren’t loyal to you then you and your position are the weak links on the team.
2. Know there is always room for improvement. No matter how good your unit is, no matter how many players you are sending to the NFL, make sure you are always improving. The moment you think you know it all is the moment you lose your edge and it will show both on the field in your coaching, in your relationships with players and in recruiting when you are in the living room of prospective players and their families.
3. Like it or not, you are a father figure to many of these kids. To some, you will be the closest thing to a dad he’s ever known so be the man he needs. You can be his friend but you can’t be his buddy. A buddy will let you get away with something. A friend will tell you to stop and tell you the truth. Lead by word and by example so that kid will have the burning desire to play as hard as he can and do all that he can to improve to justify your faith in him.
4. Know the kid you are coaching. Know his parents first names, where they work and where they go to church. Know his brothers and sisters by their first names. Know his high school coach, his guidance counselor and his teachers. Know his girlfriend. Know what he likes to do for fun and know what his study habits are. Know him so well that you spot the problem before it’s a problem.
5. Don’t lie to the kids. Tell them straight to their face what has to be done to improve every day, not just on the playing field or the weight room, but in their academics and in their lives away from football. Be an encourager without pumping the kid up with lies.
6. Don’t lie to the kids, part II. If you lie to a kid and his family on the recruiting trail, sooner or later it will catch up to you and once word gets around that you’re not a man of your word, the good kids you need to play the position you’re coaching will be looking somewhere else.
7. Sweat the small stuff. If you aren’t concerned about the details, the details will kick you in the butt. So much of winning and losing is about the small stuff, so be a master of the details.
8. Be focused on your job, the kids you coach and helping your unit do its part to help the team achieve its goals. Starting with yourself, eliminate the distractions. If you are focused and keep the distractions to a minimum, the kids who play for you will do the same thing. Remember that old saying: When you are up to your ass in alligators sometimes it’s difficult to remember your goal is to drain the swamp.
9. When you are recruiting, remember you’re the only Gator these kids will see. To them you are the University of Florida. You are the head coach, the coordinator, the assistant coach, the compliance guy and the academic advisor all rolled up into one. So know your boss, know your fellow assistants, the complete support staff and the University of Florida. If the kid asks a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t make one up on the spot. Whip out your cell phone, call the person who knows the answer and let the kid or his parents hear the right answer for themselves.
10. Also, when you are recruiting, remember the only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask. Don’t be the guy who brought a cancer into the locker room or a kid who is a problem on and off the field because you didn’t ask questions when you were talking to his high school coach, guidance counselor, teachers and family.
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
Ole Miss: Matt Lubick, formerly the offensive coordinator at Oregon, is joining the staff as the wide receivers coach. Former LSU special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto will be joining the staff to coach linebackers.
Georgia: Special teams coordinator Shane Beamer has been fined $25,000 and reprimanded by the school for a Wakeyleaks incident that happened when he was at Virginia Tech. Wake Forest radio analyst Tommy Elrod passed along a few plays that Wake Forest might run against VaTech in 2014. Beamer says he didn’t share the info with anyone. Uh-huh.
Arkansas: Center Frank Ragnow will return to Arkansas for his senior year.
LSU: Brandon Harris has dismissed speculation that he will be transferring by announcing he will return to compete for the QB job in 2017.
BOWLING FOR DOLLARS
Thursday night’s game: Idaho beat Colorado State, 61-50, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (I didn’t make that up, honest) in Boise.
Friday’s games: Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl in Nassau; Louisiana Tech vs. Navy in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth; Ohio U vs. Troy in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile.
Duke coach Mike Kryzyzewski suspended All-American guard Grayson Allen indefinitely for tripping an Elon player during Wednesday night’s game. It’s the third time this season that Allen has been lit up for tripping a player.
On Mike and Mike, Jon Gruden addressed the rumor that he might be lured to Los Angeles to coach the Rams, saying, “Right now I have no intentions of coaching. I really enjoy what I am doing. I’m close to the fire and I’m getting plenty of satisfaction from what I’m doing.”
KC Joyner of ESPN.com believes the myth of Big Ten Conference superiority will be exposed during the bowl season
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What is your over/under for staff changes for Jim McElwain in the offseason? Who needs to stay and who needs to go in your opinion?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Merle Haggard died back in April, but his music lives on and will never die. I still listen to Merle. Today’s music is a concert he did at Church Street Station in Orlando from back in 1988.