Finding a Defensive Coordinator

The University of Miami will likely have two new coordinators in 2011 under new coach Al Golden. While it's being speculated that Mark D'Onofrio will join Golden at Miami, lets take a look at some possible candidates.

Mark D'Onofrio -- Temple
A teammate of Golden's at Penn State, D'Onofrio has built an impressive resume over the last several years. After an impressive college career at Penn State, he landed his first major coaching job at Rutgers as the linebackers coach in 2001. He spent three seasons there before joining Golden and Al Groh's staff at Virginia. He coached linebackers and special teams for two seasons and helped develop some of the top linebackers to ever come through there. When Golden was hired at Temple for the 2006 season, D'Onofrio went with him. He's been the DC there ever since. Once he had his recruits in place, by 2009, the Owls were among the top defenses around. They ranked 36th in total defense in 2009 and were 17th this season. He's considered a very good recruiter and seems like he'd be a good fit with the current Hurricane program.

Phil Bennett -- Pittsburgh
Bennett is widely considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the college game today. He has a tremendous amount of experience at the major college level and has been successful at every stop along the way. After starting out his coordinating days at Purdue and Iowa State, he became LSU's DC in 1994 and the Tigers immediately became the best defense in the SEC. He then spent two seasons at Texas A&M and was recognized as Defensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Quarterly. In 1997, he helped TCU earn their best defensive ranking in five years. After serving as Oklahoma's secondary coach in 1998, Bennett took over Kansas State's defense in 1999 and got immediate results. In each of his three seasons there, the Wildcats ranked in the top five in total defense. He then became SMU's head coach from 2002-2007 before taking over Pitt's defense in 2008. The Panthers have been a top 30 defense each year and they led the nation in sacks in 2009. Bennett coached under Dave Wannstedt, who was recently fired. He's gotten top notch results at every stop and would likely do so at Miami with the caliber of athletes he'd have to work with.

Clancy Pendergast -- California
One of the most well-respected and proven defensive coordinators in all of football, Pendergast has been at Cal for just one season. After the Bears ranked 72nd in total defense in 2009, he turned them into a top 20 unit (19th) in just one season. Prior to Cal, Pendergast spent 14 years coaching in the NFL. He was most known for his unit's ability to create turnovers. He spent seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys from 96-02 and the team made three playoff appearances. After spending a season coaching linebackers with the Browns, Pendergast moved on to run Arizona's defense. The team went from 32nd to 12th in scoring defense in his first year on the job. In year five, his unit helped the Cardinals play in the Super Bowl. Following his time in Arizona, he spent one season as DC under Todd Haley in Kansas City and his unit was among the best in the league at creating turnovers. His units put a lot of pressure on opposing offenses and create lots of big plays. Those things would work quite well with the caliber of athletes Miami has.

Micheal Barrow -- Miami
One of the best defensive players to ever play at the University of Miami, no one knows the area and the program better than this guy. After an outstanding college career at Miami, which included two national championships, Barrow spent 13 years in the NFL. After retiring from the league, he spent one season as defensive coordinator at his former high school (Homestead HS). In 2007, Randy Shannon hired him to coach the team's linebackers. It didn't take long for Barrow to make a big impact. Tavares Gooden finished the season with 117 tackles and became a third round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. A year later, freshman Sean Spence became the ACC's Defensive Rookie of the Year. Following the season, Spencer Adkins was drafted in the 6th round by the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Darryl Sharpton had over 100 tackles and was drafted in the 4th round. The former 2-star recruit is now Houston's starting middle linebacker. In 2010, the Hurricanes had two 100+ tacklers in Spence and Colin McCarthy. It marked just the fourth time over the last 20 years at the school in which that's happened. Barrow, who Urban Meyer tried hiring on at least one occasion, is one of the best young defensive coaches in the college game and is widely considered Miami's best recruiter. His lack of experience as a DC could raise some questions but this defense could do big things under his leadership. His knowledge of the current program, his recruiting ability, his high intensity energy levels, and his passion for coaching will be tough to beat by anyone.

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