Five SEC assistants who will make a difference

Everybody has finished spring practice and next week we will break down every team in the SEC and ACC as they head into the offseason.

I’ve always felt that one of the major benefits of spring practice is to get players adjusted to new assistant coaches and their ways of doing things. You can literally change the culture on one side of the ball with the right or wrong hire.

Here are five new SEC assistant coaches I believe will have the greatest impact come fall:

 

John Chavis, defensive coordinator, LSU:  Given the talent that LSU had last season, it is fair to say that the Tiger defense underachieved. They had a pair of All-SEC defensive ends in Tyson Jackson (the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft) and Kirsten Pittman, plus an excellent linebacker in Darry Beckwith. What the Tigers didn’t have was defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who became head coach at Nebraska. Head coach Les Miles thought he could promote from within by naming two loyal assistants—Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto—as co-defensive coordinators. It didn’t work. The Tigers were ninth in the SEC in total defense (325.5 ypg) and scoring defense (24.2 ppg). LSU gave up over 50 points twice (to Georgia and Florida) and allowed over 30 points three other times.

Enter Chavis, who was Phillip Fulmer’s long-time defensive coordinator at Tennessee and was looking for another opportunity. In 14 years under Chavis, Tennessee’s defense finished third or better in SEC total defense nine times.

“There was just a real comfort level because we had played against his defenses,” Miles said. “(Our players) recognize his expertise. It was a pretty good fit.”

 

Monte Kiffin, defensive coordinator, Tennessee: Defense was not the issue last season at Tennessee. Despite their struggles as a team (5-7), Tennessee tied for first in the SEC in total defense (263.5 ypg). Five starters return from that unit and there is optimism because Kiffin, considered to be one of the best defensive minds of his generation, agreed to come to Tennessee and work for his son, head coach Lane Kiffin.

“It’s been great,” the younger Kiffin said about his dad, 69, who recently had back surgery. “When you have a chance to hire the best defensive coordinator in the history of football…it was the easiest hire I’ve made since I came here.”

Kiffin’s “Tampa 2” scheme that he developed in his 13 years with the Tampa Bay Bucs has had an incredible influence at all levels of football.

Kiffin is considered one of the best ever when it comes to organization and teaching players how to maximize their talent within his scheme, which favors speed over size. Kiffin’s resume will certainly help when it comes time for Tennessee to recruit defensive players.   

 

Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator, Auburn: When defensive coordinators become head coaches, they all look for the same thing when it comes time to pick their offensive coordinator.

“I look for a guy who runs the stuff I had trouble stopping,” said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, who was the DC at Auburn and Texas before a two-year stint as Iowa State’s head coach.

Chizik believes that some form of the spread offense is the way to go and that is why he hired Malzahn away from Tulsa. Malzahn was an ultra-successful high school coach in Springdale, Ark., where he won two state championships in five seasons. He went to Arkansas with his prized recruit, quarterback Mitch Mustain, in 2006. Neither Malzahn nor Mustain were compatible with the Razorbacks’ run-oriented offense. Mustain transferred to Southern Cal. Malzahn went to Tulsa, where his offense was ranked No. 1 nationally in 2007 and No. 2 in 2008.

Malzahn’s offense spreads the field in order to create running lanes. He demands that his offensive linemen be very tough and very physical. Auburn, however, may not have a quarterback in the program who can run this offense the way it is intended. No starter has been named.

 

Scot Loeffler, quarterbacks coach, Florida:  Loeffler was the quarterbacks coach at Michigan for six seasons and then left when Rich Rodriguez became head coach. As a grad assistant at Michigan he worked with Tom Brady and Brian Griese. When he returned to Michigan he tutored Chad Henne, who would become the school’s all-time passer. With the departure of OC Dan Mullen (head coach at Mississippi State), Florida coach Urban Meyer promoted offensive line coach Steve Adazzio to OC. Then he hired Loeffler to work with the Florida quarterbacks. He has already changed Tim Tebow’s throwing motion to make it more compact and efficient. He is also working with sophomore John Brantley, who will play significant possessions this season and is expected take over after Tebow departs. “He’s (Loeffler) already had an impact on those guys,” Meyer said. “I can see our quarterbacks getting better.”

 

Carl Torbush, defensive coordinator, Mississippi State: Torbush was working at his alma mater, Carson-Newman, when he was hired to become Dan Mullen’s first defensive coordinator in Starkville. Torbush has a strong track record of building defenses every where he has been.  Has been the defensive coordinator at North Carolina, Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. He has been the head coach at Louisiana Tech and North Carolina. He was Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator at North Carolina and became head coach when Brown left for Texas after the 1997 season. Things did not work out for Torbush as North Carolina’s head coach and he was let go after three seasons. Then he went to Alabama with Dennis Franchione and then on to Texas A&M when Franchione took that job. He knows how to build a defense in the SEC. His 1986 defense at Ole Miss led the SEC. His 2001 defense at Alabama also led the SEC and was third nationally (257.3 ypg). A young head coach like Mullen, who is turned 37 on Monday, needs some experience on his first staff. He can turn the defense over to Torbush and concentrate on his expertise, which is offense.

 

76 comments Add your comment

Saint Nick

April 29th, 2009
8:32 am

Papa Smurf aka Monte Kiffin can’t polish a piece of crap!!!! Berry is the only player they have on D… That team has 2 woodshed beatdowns coming and those players have their fearless leader to thank for it!!!!!!!!!!!ROLLS TIDES!!!!!!

Lane "Shirt-Rippin" Kiffin

April 29th, 2009
8:33 am

Where’s Coach O? You should have seen him yesterday after 4 bowls of chili & 3 Red Bulls.

Whopper Dawg

April 29th, 2009
8:44 am

Tony B,

It would be a good column to see where you rank the coordinators in the SEC and why. That one would spark a lot of comments. Obviously there are a lot of unknowns this year, but there will be every year in the SEC.

As a UGA fan, I would put WM in the lower third and MB in the middle to upper third.

THe Whopper

[...] there surely will be some assistants who’ll stink, to be perfectly blunt.The five guys on Barnhart’s biggest positive impact list:1)  John Chavis, defensive coordinator at LSU2)  Monte Kiffin, defensive coordinator at [...]

Kid Ray

April 29th, 2009
8:51 am

From the “Stats Lie” category. Tenn’s defense last year was not dominant, rather they would fall behind by so much the opposing offenses would run the ball exclusively the second half, limiting their total yards per game.
They have a ways to go IMO before they become a top tier defense.

Bull Gator

April 29th, 2009
8:58 am

Coach O?! I think Tony was targeting new assistants that are going to have a POSITIVE impact. Coach O may be able to get the type of recruits Lame Kiffin is looking for by taking his clothes off, but he is a terrible coach. Look what he did at Ole Miss.

I have to agree with Saint Nick. UT has, at a minimum, 2 serious beatdowns coming its way. As far as Lame’s strategy of getting UT’s name out, let’s compare his way and Urban Meyer’s way. Lame goes shooting off at the mouth, first by claiming he can’t wait to sing Rocky Top when they beat UF in The Swamp next year, then by accusing Meyer of committing non-existent violations. They get a couple of stories on Sportcenter, and give Brandon Spikes and that nasty defense all the motivation they need to SHUT OUT UT’s joke of an offense. Meyer, on the other hand, wins his 2nd NC in 3 years and gets an entire week on ESPN’s College Football Live. Lame should sit back and watch how a professional handles his business.

Go Gators.

JB

April 29th, 2009
8:59 am

We have ” NO ADJUSTMENT WILLIE” on our staff in Athens. We are hoping the players make us better this year, not the coaching. In his defense a little, we are really lacking at the DE position, but that number 42( Houston, I think ) may change things…He looked unstoppable in the spring game, although I don’t know who was blocking him………..

joe

April 29th, 2009
9:07 am

Sounds to me like Bull(s*&t) Gator and Saint Nick woke up in the same bed together this morning. Everyone, including UT fans, knows that TN will be average this year. However, you gotta give LK his due as he was able to pull the UT recruiting class up to #10 when it wasn’t even on radar when he took over…pretty good for a coach who has not won a game yet. Yes he should not have shot off at the mouth so much, but he was able to get UT exposure, which transitioned into a good recruiting class. UT much like Bama was when Saban took over will be good in year 2 of the new regime after taking their lumps this year. I’ll bet most UT fans will take that as opposed to the status quo that Fulmer had given them over the past 5 years or so…

Miles

April 29th, 2009
9:10 am

Chavis: SEC proven; Kiffin: SEC unproven; Malzahn: SEC unproven; Loeffler: SEC unproven; Torbush: SEC proven.

Alabamadawg

April 29th, 2009
9:52 am

Oh, how I really wanted Georgia to hire Chavis as our defensive cord…

David

April 29th, 2009
10:19 am

Yay! Another article about the SEC!

PTC DAWG

April 29th, 2009
10:28 am

Great hire by LSU…I’m glad he’s gone from the East.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
10:28 am

Little Willie Willie won’t go home. Only took three post for the get rid of Willie crowd to wake up. I think Coach WM has two options this year. Lead the SEC in several defensive catorgories not including points given up. Call Mayflower at the end of the season. It does not appear that there is any middle room. Here is hoping he succeeds because if he does, the team succeeds.

Tony feel free to use this as a burning question. As a Dawg fan would you be willing to have the 2009 season go in the tank just to get rid of Coach Martinez?

bull-gator

April 29th, 2009
10:32 am

from the “old” bull-gator…1) UT defense will not be as good under Kiffin as it was under Chavis. LSU has the edge in the SEC west because of Chavis. 2) Malzahn will get the sputtering offense going at AU and will rack up the points. 3) MSU got a solid defensive coach when they hired Torbush. Mullen made a good hire. Let’s see if they can score some points. 4) Loeffler will have a positive impact on UF QB’s. Tebow will be able to showcase his “pro style” QB potential. Brantley will just be getting warmed up for next year.

LSWho?

April 29th, 2009
10:34 am

Mullen & Torbush didn’t go to Starkville to lose but they’ll learn soon.

chesterar

April 29th, 2009
10:37 am

saint nick,
You do a great disservice to Mr. Barnhart’s blog by spewing low denominator trash that’s become the symbol of message board tiders everywhere. I demand you apologize!

SecIsFootball

April 29th, 2009
10:39 am

joe…the only difference you forget to mention in your comparison with BAMA and UT’s situation is that Nick Saban is a successful head coach and Lane Kiffin is a proven failure as a HC. THings will get worse at UT before they get better!!

Bamafan

April 29th, 2009
10:55 am

LSU got the best defense cordinator that’s been in the SEC the last ten years. He saved Fulmer bacon a lot of times. Carl Torbush is a very good coach that Miss. St. is very lucky to get. Monty
Kiffin just had back surgery last week and was told by his doctor to take a week off. He was back
in the office monday of this week. He is a tough old bird who knows how to coach defense. To me
the best defense cordinator was Bill Oliver of Alabama and Auburn fame. He coached the 92 national championship team at Alabama and played and coached for Bear Bryant!!
GO BAMA AND ROLL TIDES!!

bama12titles

April 29th, 2009
10:57 am

All are excellent assistants that I think will be successful at their new positions, especially Chavis and Monte Kiffin. I had forgotten about Carol Torbush who put together a lot of consistently great defenses at North Carolina before that great D he put together at Bama in 2001. He should do well at Miss. St.

The only one I would have questions about is Malzahn. I’m just not sold on the guy. Tulsa was scoring lots of points and racking up huge yardage before he got there from what I understand. Plus the one sec defense he faced in Ark. they scored only 23 on what was probably the worst defense in the conference. I’m not sure what they ranked but Arkansas D was pretty bad. I don’t think his offense sees the same kind of speed in whatever conference Tulsa is in as he will see in the SEC. This seems to have Gerry Faust written all over it, especially given the fact that Auburn’s big problem right now is the qb position. Other than that they and UT really aren’t that far behind everyone else in the sec.

Look at the difference from Ole Miss from an Ole Miss team in 2007 to 2008 with Jevan Snead and you can see just how important a good qb is to a team. That seems to be what’s hurting UT and Auburn more than anything else is just bad qb play.

Rolls Tides

Frank

April 29th, 2009
11:01 am

Soooo, by reading these comments, Monte Kiffin is unproven and Coach O did nothing good at Ole Miss? You think Houston Nutt would say the same thing? Coach O was not a good HC, but he is a damn good DL coach and recruiter, which is his job at UT.

Majurzz

April 29th, 2009
11:01 am

Vols recruiting was in top 5 by every account rior to Fulmer being let go. It was only after that that a few names decommitted. To Kiffins credit he did stabilize it and very likely added a few skill players.Some of the guys the decommitted that were highly rated were OL and DL. They will be short there this year, and it will show some in the next year or so to.

Saint Nick

April 29th, 2009
11:15 am

The truth hurts doesn’t it!!!!!!!!! Apoligize for UT getting a beatdown from UF and Bama this year????? Lane and his band of misfits deserve to get beatdown!!! I feel bad for Papa Smurf, he should have stayed in Tampa and remained a legend. BUT, I am afraid that he might get run from UT after a couple of bad seasons. Lane will learn VERY quickly, in this conference you better KNOW you can compete at a HIGH level each and every week before you start calling out coaches!!!!!

BhamWreck

April 29th, 2009
11:22 am

All I’m saying is that if Malzahn is reasonably successful and manages to help beat Bama (its not that far-fetched) then It might get real bad real fast for Saban. Does anyone think he is acting “comfortable” in Tuscaloosa?

bama12titles

April 29th, 2009
11:29 am

Monte Kiffin is widely regarded as a helluva coordinator, one of the great ones in the pro game. Ed O did a fantastic job of recruiting at Ole Miss. He stockpiled some talent there that Ole Miss hadn’t had in awhile. I think his issue was that he just never had the great qb he needed. He had terrible qb talent and this seemed to be the difference in practically every game they played. I can’t ever remember seeing ole miss getting blown out under him. They seemed to always be losing a series of close games and just couldn’t get over the hump.

Saint Nick,

I’m 90% sure Rolando McClain goes pro after this year unless he is convinced we can win it all in 2010 and for that he might stay. But personally if I were him I would take the money and go pro. He doesn’t have anything left to prove after this year. I’m not worried about it though. We are so freaking stacked with young new linebacker talent and with Nico Johnson and Tana Patrick coming in its only getting better. There will be no dropoff if he goes pro.

Saint Nick

April 29th, 2009
11:36 am

Bama 12,

I am sure he will go too. I am not sure why Upshaw didn’t get much time last year, but he will get more time this year and Hightower will take over as leader of that D in 010. I think we have 3 in the first round in 010 draft, Arenas, McClain, Cody.

Otto

April 29th, 2009
11:39 am

Coach O was blown out a few times, 6 losses by 20 or more in 3 seasons.

bama12titles

April 29th, 2009
11:39 am

Saint Nick,

I see that Bham wreck is still hoping against all hope that Saban goes. Perhaps he just didn’t see that Bama schedule a home and home with Mich State in 2016 and 2017 with the “full expectation” from MSU athletic director that Saban will still be at Bama. Bham wreck can always hope though.

murfdawg

April 29th, 2009
11:46 am

Tony,
The title of your column is assistant coaches who will make a difference. I know you are trying to be fair in your coverage of the SEC, but Willie Martinez will have more influence on the SEC than any of the coaches you mentioned.Here is a coach who was responsible for a defense that gave up over 35 points more times than any other coach in UGA history. Here is a coach who has given up 50 points to UT, 49 to fl and OMG 45 to a high school offense. Georgia has to have a good defense this year to be successful, but WM is not the man for the job. OKST will probably but 50 on us, then the evil genius will trip him up (again) and by the time he gets back from Fayetteville, the defense will be back to the same ole defense of the last 5 years.

This is the assistant who will influence the SEC more than any other coach.

Ghost

April 29th, 2009
11:48 am

That’s a great list. I sure wish the Vols had Scott Loeffler, too. That almost happened last year. Would have been a whole lot better than Clawson.

Check out this Kiffin fark, by the way:

http://www.3sib.com/2009/04/29/pearl-giving-tutorial-on-how-to-overshadow-lane-kiffin-but-not-for-long/

Braveshater

April 29th, 2009
12:01 pm

WILLIE MARTINEZ SUCKS, AND MARK RICHT IS CLOSE BEHIND IF HE CANT FIGURE THIS OUT BEFORE WE GIVE UP ANOTHER RECORD NUMBER OF POINTS NEXT SEASON.

Saint Nick

April 29th, 2009
12:04 pm

As Snoop once said, “haters keep hating, to hell with all the hear-say”!!!!!!!!!ROLLS TIDES!!!!!!!!!

MonVol

April 29th, 2009
12:11 pm

Chavis will be good at LSU…on 1st and 2nd downs. Tiger fans will come to know why UT fans hated 3rd and Chavis (5+ yds.). Hope for their sakes, he learned to make adjustments as the game went on.
Kiffin will teach and coach ‘em up just fine. It’s a shame the previous coach, whoever that guy was, didn’t recruit for crap the last few years. UT won’t be UT and by that I mean SEC Champs until at least 2011 given the dearth of talent there.

Lord of The Lizards

April 29th, 2009
12:42 pm

John Chavis is a great addition at LSU and will do a great job there. I always respected the job he did at Tennessee, their problems were primarily on the other side of the ball. Monte Kiffin, it will be interesting to see how he does on the big time college stage and how much of the Tampa 2 he uses. Like I said though, UTs problems are primarily on the other side of the ball. Malzahn, same situation as Tennessee, I think we’ll just have to wait a couple of years to see what happens there. Loeffler will have much more impact on Brantley in 2010 than on Tebow in 2009. Thats when I think you will really be able to fully judge his impact. And Miss State? Hey, don’t sleep on Miss State because in a couple of years, they’re going to be a very tough “out”. For 2009 expect more GatorNation Domination. In 2010, there will be more of a level playing field with Fla, LSU, and Bama leading the way…

ReptilesRule

April 29th, 2009
12:53 pm

Ghost…I checked out your link and was some pretty good and funny stuff on Bruce Pearl. He IS entertaining and adds color to the game. But that illustration of Kiffen as a puppetmaster??? Now THAT was funny, unfortunately it didn’t show the NEXT illustration with Kiffin all tangled up in his own puppet strings!!! I’m afraid you guys are confusing a loud mouth moron for some kind of clever manipulator!!!

SEC Fan

April 29th, 2009
12:53 pm

Gus Malzahn will be a difference maker at AU. He is proven in the SEC, his one year there, Arkansas won 10 games, did you see what he did at Tulsa the last two years? His offense is a form of the spread but has a power running game feel. He did create the “wild hog” deal that everyone does now. Chavis is an awesome hire for LSU as well, he will have twice the players this year than he had at UT the last three years. LSU/UF in the championship game for sure this year.

Willie H

April 29th, 2009
1:12 pm

Malzahn did not create ” wild hog” formation. Im not sure who created but the first team i ever saw do it was the Carolina Panthers back in I believe 05 while Gus was coaching high school ball in Arkansas. The Panthers OC back then was Dan Henning who is currently the oc for the Dolphins.

Willie H

April 29th, 2009
1:17 pm

Chavis will have by far the biggest impact of any of the 5 coaches. Kiffin has revolutionzed defesne at the NFL level but as many posted earlier UT has done pretty well on that side of the ball.Malzahn will be a flop at Auburn. Loffler is probably a pretty good coach but the ship hes on was also running pretty well before he jumped on board. Torbush at Miss State .Well hes at Miss St

ThereIsADoddinHeaven

April 29th, 2009
1:17 pm

Tony…your knowledge of the SEC appears pretty good. Good article for those folks!

Unfortunately your tag name is incorrect. You do not appear to know more than myself (indeed probably less since I am an avid fan as a hobby rather than pay) since you rarely cover the ACC or teams of interest outside the SEC with any depth. Shoot, why not cover ASU and OSU in depth since both play your beloved dawgs this year and it would give us NCAA fans something other than the same ol’SEC crap all the time. Oh yeah! Be sure to write an article next year on which conference has more at stake in the draft (ACC or SEC) since you offered such a piece when the ACC was at its worse in years (and still came close to beating the SEC). Next, year the ACC will be loaded with NFL prospects.

[...] SEC assistants who will make a difference Chief and Monte head the list. Five SEC assistants who will make a difference | Mr. College Football __________________ Everyone’s perception of reality is [...]

SteveAgolfer

April 29th, 2009
1:37 pm

Malzahn Did not create the wild hog it was Danny Nutts idea well before Malzahn set foot on Arkansas campus…Darren McFadden and Felix Jones were well established as well….Gus Malzahn never kept a job more than a couple years.

Saint Nick

April 29th, 2009
2:01 pm

Aubbies…..Hummers……wild hog…….Saban……Sounds like its gonna be a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong year for the cow college!!!

Dawg Fan in Johns Creek

April 29th, 2009
2:43 pm

Make or break year for Willy Martinez for sure, I’m afraid LSU has a great fit for DC. Say what you want about Malzahn’s limited experience but his one year at Arkansas was good and his last two years at Tulsa were amazing. AU’s offense was the worst I have seen in a long time so it has to improve. I think Bobo is very underrated and is in the top third discussion.

TommyL

April 29th, 2009
2:52 pm

OK, I must have missed the memo. What is this “ROLLS TIDES” or “ROLL TIDES” business ?

Otto

April 29th, 2009
2:58 pm

Why all the hype around Chavis? Did anyone watch UT at UCLA last year. He made CWM look agressive on 3rd down.

Fan of the SEC

April 29th, 2009
3:13 pm

H Nutt took over play calling mid year away from Malzahn. This caused Malzahn, Mustain and Williams to leave the program. Ark fans got so angry at Nutt that he bolted the next yr.

Fan of the SEC

April 29th, 2009
3:15 pm

As far as Malzahn being at Tulsa, Ark played them last yr. Tulsa only scored 23 pts. Ark’s defense was ranked last in the SEC. I think somethink like 80 in the country.

DawginLex

April 29th, 2009
3:16 pm

Here’s hoping that Willie M is te biggest difference maker in a positive way for the Dawgs.

Cuz, I’ll answer your question. NO, I don’t want a train wreck of a season just to get rid of WM. I want him to succeed so you and others that bash him have to eat a big plate of crow.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
3:42 pm

Lex, I am playing devils advocate. I like Coach Willie. He has a community here in Augusta named after him.

matt

April 29th, 2009
3:52 pm

how could kiffin be successful as a head coach when he wasn’t even allowed to pick his own coaches. you see the raiders, who picked the 3rd best receiver on the board (at best) with the 7th pick. coaching oakland is a recipe for disaster for a head coach. he has brought in top notch coaches and recruits and its only a matter of time before the Vols make noise again in the SEC.

DawginLex

April 29th, 2009
4:16 pm

Been to Mar ti nez many times. He is Martinez. I just don’t want a bad year period for a lot of reasons. The Tech owns the state crapola is bad enough now after 1 win in 8 years.

I want 12 wins and a return trip to atlanta after win 12.