Arkansas - Ok, by a show of hands, who all is not happy that John Thompson left to be defensive coordinator at Florida? That guy just owns us. He is one of the top 3 defensive coaches in the nation. Thompson had tremendous defensive squads at USM, Memphis, and Arkansas. It could be downright scary when you think of the talent that should be available to Thompson with a recruiting base as large as the Gators.
Auburn - I must admit I was very surprised when Tubby dismissed his offensive and defensive coordinators, especially Noel Mazzone, at the end of last season. Mazzone turned down head coaching offers to stay with Tubby. Considering how little they returned last year, I thought they did pretty well. They had a chance to win the SEC West in the last game of the season despite the fact that they had to replace over 90% of the previous year's offensive production. The new folks are Bob Petrino on offense and Gene Chizik on defense. Don't know a lot about them, but will do some research before we preview Auburn.
Florida - Spurrier left for the NFL and Ron Zook left the NFL for Florida. Many of Florida's players left for the NFL as well. This changing of the guard has been well documented, but with the offensive players that UF has and John Thompson's solid defense, Zook should have a nice coming out party. However, I am still a firm believer that the glory days are over.
Kentucky - Gerald Carr was named assistant head coach by MSU friend Guy Moriss. Carr was displaced from Indiana when former LSU head coach Gerry Dinardo was named as head coach for the Hoosiers.
LSU - Defensive coordinator Garry Gibbs left Baton Rouge for a position with the Dallas Cowboys. Will Muschamp, former linebacker's coach, was promoted to fill the void left by Gibbs. Kirk Doll of Notre Dame has joined the staff to take over the linebacker coaching position. Lance Thompson was named to coach the defensive line. Saban has made a career of losing assistants and this year was no different.
Ole Miss - Matt Luke is back on campus for the Rebs and he'll be coaching the tackles and tight ends. His spot was created when Rich Bisaccia departed for the NFL to join John Gruden in Tampa Bay. The funniest part of the coaching carousel has been the defensive coordinator position at Oxford. It was announced on December 13th that Don Lindsey would not be back. Lindsey became the subject of much speculation with his pointed comments about the level of talent he had to work with as well as the fact that he never moved to Oxford. Reggie Herring was hired away from Clemson on January 9th and resigned on February 5th to accept a job with the NFL. February 13th, Chuck Driessbach was hired as new defensive coordinator. Driessbach had a one-year stint in the late 80's as an assistant and is familiar with the Rebs. Rumor has it that if Driessbach quits the Rebs will start a new promotion: Before each game the 1st fan through the turnstile can coach the defense!
MSU - With the loss of Melvin Smith, Coach Sherrill went back to his successful roots to bring in former USM and LSU head coach Curley Hallman. Hallman served as secondary coach for Sherrill at Texas A&M before going on to USM. Some may remember Hallman coaching USM to their biggest win, a 30-26 upset of Florida State. An old favorite is back in StarkVegas as well with the return of MSU legend Rockey Felker. The biggest talent Coach Felker had in his days as coach was his ability to recruit. Rockey will take the spot that was occupied by David Wilson, Director of Football Operations. He will also deal extensively with the on-campus recruiting efforts.
Tennessee - With arch rival Florida cleaning the proverbial house, Fulmer nabbed Jimmy Ray Stephens to coach the tackles and tight ends. Stephens was not retained by Zook or invited to Washington by Spurrier. In Fulmer's eyes I would guess that any information from the inside would be considered a benefit.
Vanderbilt - New Head Coach Bobby Johnson enters from Furman. He has worked with the I-formation as well as the 4-3 defense. It's been nearly two decades since Vandy went bowling. Bobby Johnson coached a national title at Furman. The folks at Vandy would be satisfied with a whole lot less....like a winning season.
Well there's been a lot of movement, some big, some small, but the kids always adapt. It will be interesting to see what impact these moves make. With all due respect to Coach Smith, our secondary could have used a tune up. Early reports are favorable. In the JLD system you have to be strong in the secondary, because as much heat as we try to bring, you have to be able to single cover a lot.
The LSU defense is learning their 4th system in four years. The Rebelettes change coaches almost as often as Baskin-Robbins changes their flavor of the month. One would think that after playing for a perfectionist like Spurrier that Zook would be a breath of fresh air for the Gators. Maybe the Gator fans think that as well, because they had almost 40,000 people show up for their spring game. It will all come together one way or the other for all parties concerned in the coming months.
Until next time,
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is email@example.com.