Who Will Be On The Football Staff?

After the incredible excitement generated during Friday's introduction of Joey Jones as South Alabama's football coach, focus now has shifted to who will join him in building the Jaguar football program. Jagsjungle.com is aware of four assistant coaching candidates that might be joining the staff.

The first and surest coach to discuss is Prattville High School's Bill Clark. News outlets are reporting that he has been offered the defensive coordinator position for South Alabama. While his answer is supposed to come this week, we know that his input is being requested on other assistant candidates. This strongly indicates that he will be coordinating the Jags defense in 2009. Clark, 39, has been at Prattville since 1999 and in that time he has a record of 106-11. His Lions have won the past two 6A state titles and are on a 30 game winning streak. Before his stint at Prattville, Clark was a defensive coordinator at several high school programs. He is a noted expert on the 3-4 defense and also is respected for his special teams. While his amazing success and popularity in the prep ranks indicate that he will be an asset as a recruiter, the knock on Clark will be that he has never coached at any level of college ball. This hire may be a bit of gamble for Jones, but the potential upside makes the risk a reasonable one.

Next on the list is former Blount High School and Auburn standout Dameyune Craig. Since leaving the pro ranks, Craig has been an assistant at Blount, a graduate assistant at LSU under Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, a special teams coach for Saban with the Miami Dolphins, and for the past two seasons the quarterback coach at Tuskegee University. While at Tuskegee he has gotten rave reviews for his development of Jacary Atkinson. The converted wide receiver led the Tigers' offense to a 46.8 point per game average while putting up individual numbers of 2979 and 34 touchdowns passing and another 584 and seven touchdowns rushing. Atkinson put up these numbers running a version of the spread option, the same offense that Joey Jones has said he would like run. There were indications during the negotiations with Jones last week that Craig had already been approached about the offensive coordinator position and the Jones would be expected to make every effort to include him in the new staff. Affecting this potential hire is the fact that Craig has interviewed for the position of tight ends coach at Florida State. His former position coach at Auburn and direct boss at LSU, Jimbo Fisher, is apparently going to make the decision between Craig and James Colley, the current offensive coordinator at FIU and another former graduate assistant at LSU. FSU is supposed to fill that position in the coming week.

Alabama fans will recognize the name Ronnie Cottrell. Cottrell is the former recruiting coordinator at Alabama during the late 90's when the school landed on probation. Cottrell was fired by the university even though the NCAA had found no direct violations committed by him personally. His subsequent lawsuit against the NCAA and recruiting analyst Tom Culpepper gave him hero status to many in the state, even though the NCAA was released from the suit and his judgment against Culpepper came to naught. Since then he was unable to get a job in the college ranks and was head coach for two years at Carroll High School in Ozark, leading them to a 9-12 record in his two seasons before resigning. He currently is not coaching. Before joining the Alabama staff, Cottrell was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida State and before that he was an assistant at Troy University and T.R Miller High School and a head coach at Kinston, Flomaton, and W.S. Neal High Schools throughout the 80's. Naturally this would be risky hire as Cottrell has reputation, deserved or not, of a coach who will break the rules. However, he is also considered one of the finest recruiters in all of college football and he is eager to get back into the college game. Tony Franklin was considered unhirable after the fiasco at Kentucky that occurred about the same time as Alabama's troubles and he managed to rehabilitate his image at Troy and now is running the offense at Auburn. Perhaps USA could benefit like Troy did by hiring a talented coach that no one else would give a chance.

The final candidate to discuss today is John Turner. What stands out about Turner is that he is the only one of these four who is currently employed as a Division One football coach as he is the offensive line and assistant head coach at UT-Chattanooga. Turner has been a graduate assistant at Auburn and Clemson and his alma mater of Jacksonville State and an offensive line coach at Western Carolina. Before going to the college ranks Turner was an assistant at Daleville High School in Dothan and UMS-Wright in Mobile. Much like Joey Jones, Turner's greatest attribute may be his strong desire to be part of the Jag program. He wants to return to Mobile and has the high school contacts and college experience that Jones is looking for. If Cottrell and Craig are on the staff as offensive coaches, an offensive line coach would complete the staff on that side of the ball and Turner would fit that perfectly.

Between Saturday and Monday Jones will interview no fewer than seven coaches with more no doubt to follow. The schedule of hiring assistants has been accelerated since Jones has come on board with five being hired immediately, two more added this fall and the final two in the fall of 2009. Jones' experience in building a program at Birmingham Southern obviously taught him that a head coach in this circumstance needs more help sooner than later. As Jones seeks and hires that help, count on Jagsjungle.com to keep you in the loop.

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