Athlon Sports and the Coordinator Carousel

It is fair to say that Athlon Sports has established itself as one of best, if not THE best, source of college football news before the season begins. Their team rankings are seen as the most viable and accurate in the industry, and the preview magazine edition is a must for any serious college football fan.

This week the magazine took a look at some of the early offseason work from the SEC schools, namely their reaction to the hiring and firing of coordinators within the league. While coordinator news is clearly not as newsworthy as when a new head coach is installed or when a star underclassman declares for the draft any change to a staff will undoubtedly affect the SEC race in 2015. It is interesting therefore that the fourteen schools have made a combination of fourteen moves on the coordinator front, certainly enough to give the whole SEC a new look this fall.

The twelve schools that actually made changes (things are status quo at Alabama and Ole Miss) were grouped into one of three categories: winners, losers, and wait and see. The ‘Dores were classified as a wait and see group with the following analysis.

Andy Ludwig will bring a power offense that has been extremely successful and his ability to coach quarterbacks is a huge need. Derek Mason’s decision to coach the defense is both a win and loss simultaneously. No one can coach, manage and call that defense better than him (win) but it’s nearly impossible to manage every aspect of the game in such a demanding league when you are so focused on one side of the ball (loss). The jury is still very much out on the Dores' moves but there is no doubt they upgraded these two positions from a year ago.”

Based on the wording here the wait and see part of the equation is based squarely on the decision to give Mason the DC position along with the head coach role. There is nothing but positive noise about the hire of Ludwig, something which has been standard in the media since the move was announced. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that this line up of coordinators supersedes the one from last fall, but, and it is a big but, can Mason find a way to juggle the dual roles.

Yes, that combination has been successful in the past, but the point about the SEC being too tough of a league for it to work in is a valid one. We have to remember that this will still only be the second year where Mason has even been a head coach, let alone then taking on the play calling and defensive game plan requirements on top. If it works out then this could be one of the best combination hires in school history, if it fails then Mason could be looking for a new job this time next year.

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