Thoughts on three coaches leaving USF ...
First of all, think of your dream choice for USF's next defensive coordinator -- if money weren't a factor, if nobody was off limits, the person you'd like to have running the Bulls defense.
I can report that none other than former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy was at USF on Wednesday, taking in a tour of the athletic facility, hearing Jim Leavitt and his assistants sell the future of Bulls football.
Dungy, you see, is the father of Plant receiver Eric Dungy, who has a scholarship offer from the Bulls and was one of about 45 high school juniors on campus for USF's annual Junior Day, a big day toward next year's recruiting effort. (Again, just to make it clear, Dungy was simply there as a dad.) We'll have more on that later, but the tease allows me to ruminate a bit on three USF assistants leaving in the past week.
-- First, I think it's worth noting where all three coaches were professionally when they came to USF. Defensive backs coach Troy Douglas said yesterday he was "surviving" as a coach, having just taken a job as running backs coach at North Texas after being lost his position at Indiana. Greg Gregory had been out of football for the first time in his professional life, working in pharmaceutical sales in Ohio after coaching the previous 24 seasons. Same for Wally Burnham, who has coached every year since 1971, except 1999, after he'd been fired as part of Brad Scott's staff at South Carolina and was out of coaching for a year. Leavitt remembered Tuesday that Burnham's original salary at USF was just $36,000 in 2000, when he came on as defensive ends coach.
Burnham and Gregory both quickly earned coordinator jobs -- Burnham was co-coordinator after just one season, Gregory after two. They leave a much different Bulls program than the one they signed on to help -- when all three came on board, USF had never been ranked nationally, and except for Douglas, hadn't been in the Big East yet.
I don't want to in any way discount the significance of losing Burnham, who has been revered and adored by USF's defensive players for nearly a decade. Had Burnham left to take this job in December, for instance, I think defensive end George Selvie might very well be working out in Indianapolis this week, and I don't know if the Bulls would have gotten all the defensive standouts they signed two weeks ago, especially Jacksonville linebacker Sam Barrington, who was recruited to USF largely by Burnham and Douglas.
There's something to be said about the turnover in the past week, for sure, but in terms of continuity, Leavitt will do well if the three coaches he hires all stay on his staff three seasons, the shortest tenure of those leaving.
-- Some of you have asked about former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, who was fired by Brian Kelly last week after helping the Bearcats to a Big East championship. Kelly said his team was going in another direction -- Cincy will run a 3-4 defense in 2009 -- but it's also been reported that Tresey was strongly considered for Miami's defensive coordinator job (which has since gone to UNC's John Lovett). Tresey's defense ranked 31st nationally last year, and more significantly, has given USF fits in the past two years -- Matt Grothe has one touchdown and seven interceptions in his last two games against Cincinnati, both losses. Tresey is a 1982 Ohio State graduate who has worked most of his career in Ohio and Michigan, but the Miami interest clearly shows a willingness to move to Florida. I talked with him Tuesday afternoon, and at that point, he hadn't heard anything from USF about its opening.
-- Are Steve Bird and Greg Stevens candidates for USF's offensive opening? Yes, to the extent that both coaches, out of jobs after they weren't retained in coaching changes at Bowling Green and Utah State, have submitted their resumes to USF. Both, reached by phone Wednesday, said they hadn't been contacted by Leavitt about the opening. Stevens played for USF receivers coach Mike Canales (expected to be USF's next offensive coordinator) at Snow College and has talked with Canales in the past week.
-- The count is now at six Big East offensive coordinators moving on to other jobs, now that Rutgers' John McNulty is joining the Arizona Cardinals as receivers coach. The two remaining coordinators have a combined three seasons at their schools -- West Virginia's Jeff Mullen was hired in January 2008, and Cincinnati's Jeff Quinn came in with Kelly two years ago.
The six who left run the gamut -- Pittsburgh's Matt Cavanaugh and McNulty became position coaches in the NFL, but the rest either moved to lower-level schools or took smaller jobs. Syracuse's Mitch Browning is a graduate assistant on Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee, Louisville's Jeff Brohm is now at Florida Atlantic, and Connecticut's Rob Ambrose, like Gregory, moved to the I-AA ranks, as head coach at Towson.