According to Bret Bielema, the NCAA could soon be allowing the addition for a 10th assistant coach on a team. I look at where this could really help Arkansas and what we need.
“THERE’S A CHANCE WE MAY HAVE 10 COACHES NEXT YEAR, WHICH WOULD BRING, I THINK, A STRONG CHANGE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL.” “THERE’S A LOT OF DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS YOU COULD GO.” “IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE’S A VERY STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT’S GOING TO PASS. AND IT COULD BE EVEN IMMEDIATE IN THE SPRING, IF NOT FOR SURE BY NEXT FALL.” – Bret Bielema
These were the words spoken by Bret Bielema at a recent SEC teleconference. These comments were made in regards to the NCAA potentially allowing a 10th assistant coach. It is a change that could impact the Razorbacks in a big way if they can make the right hire.
There are several areas in which Arkansas can utilize an extra coach. The one side of the football that I think can do without the help is the offensive side. The offense excels more than it struggles. So, we will focus on defense and special teams for now.
What Are The Must Haves In a New Coach
There are a couple criteria that this coach has to meet. First and foremost is in recruiting. He has to make an instant impact in recruiting.
I have said from the beginning of Bielema’s tenure, he has to recruit at a level Arkansas has never seen in order to achieve the type of success, he not only wishes to have but the success he assured the Hog fans he would have. While he has done better than previous coaches, we are still lacking game changing elite players.
The new coach also needs to be extremely knowledgeable on whatever side of the ball he is coaching. There a lot of good coaches out there but how many are great at what they coach? This guy needs to be great. The offense, defense, special teams, or whatever he is tasked with coaching, he needs to be a specialist.
I would not be disappointed if this 10th man was a Special Teams guru. Special Teams has been lackluster at best. Can you name the last time we returned a kickoff or a punt for a touchdown? Yeah, me either.
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Yes, we have Toby Baker and Dan Skipper, arguably our only two difference makers in Special Teams. Baker booms punts and Dan blocks FG’s. I will give an honorable mention to Ryder Lucas who does a good job in kickoff and punt coverage. We need better coaching and more consistency and creativity in Special Teams.
The elephant in the room is the less than stellar, less than average, less than everything defense.
I refuse to believe any of our defensive players are as bad as the performances they had throughout the season. We had enough pieces returning to field a decent, middle of the pack, defense. We didn’t come close.
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With the recent discussions by Coach Bielema and Robb Smith regarding the 3-4 defense, it seems to me that the obvious choice is a coach with a good or great working knowledge of that defensive scheme. Bielema and Smith both hinted that this wrinkle has been discussed for some time now.
Perhaps this person will be a co-coordinator for the defense. Someone that works closely with Robb Smith on the in’s and out’s of a scheme that relies heavily on the LB position.
I am not of the opinion that this is going to be a wholesale change of the defense to a 3-4. This will be a slow implementation of certain pieces. The addition of a hybrid LB/S like Jericho Nelson or Ross Rasner is probable. I’ve heard Randy Ramsey’s name thrown around, seems like his versatility could prove useful in a 3-4. Jamario Bell is another guy folks think could fit in this defense although he is currently working at TE.
I’m not going to speculate as to who would be good candidates to fill this role, strictly because I don’t have an idea where Bret wants to place a 10th coach. Bret hires good coaches, I think that much is clear. However, this one needs to be great.
In conclusion, whoever they may bring in, he needs to be a top-notch recruiter and a top notch coach. They need to make an instant impact, preferably on the defensive side of the ball.