One day after finishing the worst season in University of Idaho football history, Vandal coach Tom Cable announced Sunday he was not renewing the contract of three assistant coaches and will hire a new defensive coordinator for next season.
With the poor play of the secondary and special teams, Cable said the contracts of David Hansburg (special teams coordinator, safeties), Tony Crutchfield (cornerbacks, returners) and Todd Hoiness (running backs, kickoff returns) will not be renewed when they expire on June 30, 2002.
Cable also said defensive coordinator Ed Rifilato will not return in the same capacity, and it appears to be up in the air if Rifilato will be back at all.
"Ed and I have sat down and talked and there will be a different defensive coordinator next year,'' Cable said. "Whether he comes back I think that's something he is working through right now. I think he has to see what's best for him and what's best for the program, but we're not at that point in the road yet. I think if it's the right situation (coaching job) Ed will be a part of it.
"He's a very prideful man and there's a certain connection between us. We never wanted to let each other down.''
Cable said the decision about Rifilato's job was mutual.
"We both understand what happened and what needs to happen,'' Cable said. "We're just trying to get through that.''
Both Rifilato and Hoiness are former UI players as is Cable.
The Vandals are coming off a disastrous 1-10 season as they lost their first eight games and wound up finishing last in the first year of the Sun Belt Conference at 1-5. Most preseason polls had UI finishing first or second in the league.
The two biggest problems this year were on defense and special teams. Idaho's defense ranked last among the 115 NCAA Division I schools in points allowed as it gave up 45 a game. It also was No. 113 in pass efficiency defense, No. 109 in total defense at 478.55 yards a game, and No. 108 in passing yards allowed per game at 278.27.
Special teams plagued Idaho throughout the season as the Vandals gave up four kick returns for touchdowns. In its season finale on Saturday, a 33-27 double overtime loss to Montana, Idaho missed four field goals and an extra point, and fumbled twice on returns.
"We have not performed up to the level of expectations in those areas,'' Cable said. "It's time to make some changes.
"I've been a head coach now for two years and I have learned so much about what you can and can't do, and what you have to do. The whole thing is really about understanding the job and what's again you and what you have going for you. The bottom line is you have to do this job the right way and you almost have to be perfect every time out. These changes were necessary because I felt like we could do a better job.''
Cable said he told his staff going into Sun Belt Conference play in the middle of the season that there were some areas where the staff wasn't doing a good job of coaching and he would evaluate what improvement was made during the rest of the season. He told the coaches of his decision to replace them on Sunday.
"It was just time to make decisions that we tough decisions and move on,'' Cable said. "Obviously the guys are disappointing, but everyone said I understand. I'm not sure I have done anything this hard before, not in coaching.''
Hoiness spent nine seasons as an assistant at Idaho, serving first under John L. Smith and later Chris Tormey. He was the only holdover from Smith to Tormey as well as Tormey to Cable. He was also a teammate of Cable's for two seasons at UI.
Crutchfield and Hansburg both finished their second year at UI. Crutchfield graduated in 1992 from Brigham Young University and came to UI after coaching the secondary for one season at the University of the Redlands in California.
Cable knew Hansburg when he was the director of football operations at Colorado when Cable was offensive coordinator there. He held the same job at Northwestern and worked with defensive backs there for four seasons.
Rifilato also was a teammate of Cable's for two seasons at Idaho and served as head coach at New Mexico Highlands for one season before coming to Idaho. He won the league title and his team went 8-4 his only year there.
Cable said he won't reassign his staff, but rather will hire secondary coaches and a defensive coordinator from the outside. He said he won't rush the hires, but is expected to have the new coaches in by February to help them prepare for spring ball. He said he'd also like to hire a coach that only deals with special teams, but that will depend on the budget among other things.
"I just felt like you have to have people around you that can allow you to go the direction you want to go and be difference makers,'' Cable said. "I got great advise long ago that you hire people as good or better than you so you can go manage your job and team so you don't have to worry about other things. That is the right decision for us now.''