Yesterday we looked at five new SEC assistant coaches who will make a difference in 2009. Today we will pick five new assistants who will shake things up in the ACC this fall. In all cases these coaches were brought in to address a specific weakness on the team.
Pay attention Georgia Tech fans because your team will go against three of these coaches in 2009 (Clemson, Miami, Virginia) and could face another one if the Yellow Jackets reach the ACC championship game.
Mark Whipple, offensive coordinator, Miami: Whipple, 51, has been successful at every stop. He’s been a head coach at three different schools (UMass, Brown, and New Haven). He won a Division I-AA national championship at UMass in 1998, beating Paul Johnson’s Georgia Southern team. He’s worked with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the NFL. His teams at every level have always been able to move the ball.
Head coach Randy Shannon had grown impatient with offensive coordinator Patrick Nix, who he felt lacked the creativity to go against modern defenses. Miami wasn’t horrible as the Hurricanes averaged 27.1 points per game, No. 3 in the ACC. But the ongoing quarterback controversy between Jacory Harris and Robert Marve needed to be resolved. So Whipple is in and Nix is out. Marve has transferred and Shannon believes that Harris, who completed 60.8 percent of his passes last season as a freshman, will thrive under Whipple.
“He (Whipple) brings a lot of creativity to this job,” Shannon said. “We should be a better offense because of it.”
Kevin Steele, defensive coordinator, Clemson: Steele, a native of Dillon, S.C., is coming home with one of more impressive resumes you’re going to see. He has worked for Johnny Majors (Tennessee), Tom Osborne (Nebraska), Bobby Bowden (Florida State), and Nick Saban (Alabama). He was the head coach at Baylor (1999-2002). He left Alabama to become Dabo Swinney’s first defensive coordinator at Clemson. He will bring an edge and a physical dimension to the Clemson defense. He has improved the defense at every coaching stop. Clemson will be no different.
Gregg Brandon, offensive coordinator, Virginia: In 2008 Virginia finished dead last in the ACC in total offense (299.8 ypg) and scoring offense (16.1 ppg). Brandon took over as head coach at Bowling Green in 2003 when Urban Meyer left for Utah. In four of his seasons as head coach, BGU averaged over 400 yards of offense per game. If Brandon can develop Jameel Sewell, who returns after sitting out last season, the way he developed Omar Jacobs, the MAC player of the year in 2004, Virginia will be much improved over its 5-7 record in 2008.
Gary Tranquill, offensive coordinator, Boston College: Tranquill, a former head coach at Navy, was out of coaching in 2008 and worked in NFL Europe in 2007. In 40 years he has worked at North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Michigan State (for Nick Saban) and the Cleveland Browns (for Bill Belichick). He coached the ACC player of the year in Virginia QB Shawn Moore in 1990. He has a tall order replacing Steve Logan, who left town after Frank Spaziani, BC’s defensive coordinator, was named head coach after the sudden firing of Jeff Jagodzinski. Spaziani said he wanted a veteran OC and that Tranquill is the perfect fit for this team. It will be interesting to see if Tranquill still has the touch.
Don Brown, defensive coordinator, Maryland: The Terps finished 10th in the ACC in total defense (364.9 ypg) and ninth in scoring defense (22.5 ppg). Maryland gave up 100 points in its last three games against Florida State, Boston College and Nevada (in the Humanitarian Bowl). Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh was catching a lot of heat and decided to leave and go back to Kansas State and serve as Bill Snyder’s coordinator. Friedgen tapped Brown, 53, who has been the head coach at Division I-AA UMass the past five seasons. In fact, he was the defensive coordinator at UMass in 1998 when Mark Whipple’s team won the national championship. Head coach Ralph Friedgen sees Brown, who has been a head coach at three different schools, as an innovator. “Don is involved in some cutting edge type stuff,” said Friedgen at the end of spring practice. “Our defense is playing pretty well right now.”