With Ryan Day's departure for the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles, the Boston College football program has a void to fill at offensive coordinator. That means there's going to be a new face commanding BC in a key season of the rebuilding process. As we discussed earlier this week, that means BC should probably avoid reinventing the wheel in the interest of continuity.
Here are some good names and candidates for the offensive coordinator job currently vacant at Boston College:
Current position: Offensive Coordinator, Georgia Southern
Why He Makes Sense: Ruse's offense at Georgia Southern was nearly identical to the Boston College Eagles in its formation, running the spread option. The Eagles averaged 381 yards on the ground, best in the FBS, behind a three-headed attack in the backfield. Matt Breida averaged 8.7 yards per carry with 17 touchdowns, and quarterback Kevin Ellison finished the season with 1,000 yards passing and rushing. Both Ellison and running back Alfred Ramsby finished with 12 rushing touchdowns.
In the interest of putting together an offense that's a continuation of the Boston College offense, Ruse would be a great fit. Since he runs the same option and is used to utilizing a run first identity, he would be able to step in and immediately use the current personnel. Even though GSU wasn't known at all as a passing team (125th in FBS), his prior stints at Sam Houston State and Western Illinois produced some big time numbers. Sam Houston State quarterback Brian Bell finished his career as the all-time leader in passing yards and total offense, while Western Illinois QB Matt Barr was a runner up for the Walter Payton Award.
In two games against the ACC last year, Georgia Southern played close with and nearly knocked off both NC State and Georgia Tech.
Why He Doesn't Make Sense: Ruse doesn't really come from the Addazio Pipeline; his prior stops and his current coaching position don't place him anywhere in the same timeline as the head coach. For a guy who's stacked his team with local guys and coaches he has experience with, Ruse doesn't make a whole lot of sense from that perspective.
Ruse hasn't spent any time at the FBS level, though, with only one season under his belt at GSU. Ryan Day at least had some coaching experience at the top levels, having been at Boston College before becoming Addazio's OC at Temple.
The other knock is that Georgia Southern, while first place and conference champions of the Sun Belt, got absolutely throttled by Navy late in the season last year.
Current Position: Wide Receivers Coach, Ohio State
Why He Makes Sense: Smith fits the bill as a true Steve Addazio guy. He played tight end at Florida, graduating in 2007. His position coach at the time? Steve Addazio.
After graduating, he eventually became an offensive graduate assistant for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. His offensive coordinator? Steve Addazio.
He left Florida for a full-time coaching gig at Marshall in 2010, but he left the Thundering Herd after just one season with former Urban Meyer assistant coach Doc Halliday. Who did he join in 2011? Temple, coached by Steve Addazio.
For the past two seasons, Smith has been at Ohio State as the wide receivers coach. In 2012, he coached Corey Brown to become the second Buckeyes wideout with 60 catches in back-to-back season. That same year, he was named Big Ten Recruiter of the Year. At Temple, his receivers were extremely productive in an offense that led the Mid-American Conference in rushing.
He knows the Addazio system, and he has the Addazio pedigree. He's a guy who knows everything about the offense inside and out, and he can provide the continuity needed after Ryan Day's departure. Having graduated in 2007, he's young and energetic, and the fact that he's a known commodity on the recruiting trail makes him especially appealing.
Why He Doesn't Make Sense: He doesn't have a ton of coaching experience. He's only been a coach for five years, having graduated college eight years ago. In his five years as an assistant, he's already been through three programs, having started at Marshall, then going to Temple, then going to Ohio State. He's bounced around the Urban Meyer Coaching Tree pretty badly in a short amount of time. While that's not uncommon, that's still disconcerting.
He's also never been an offensive coordinator. He's always been a wide receivers coach, but at Temple, he was Addazio's Special Teams coordinator.
That recruiting coordinator of the year thing? It's easy to do when you're coaching at Ohio State. There's something to be said for being able to recruit at Boston College, and that's a challenge we're not sure he would be able to excel at.
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator, Northern Illinois University
Why He Makes Sense: The MAC is the cradle for the dual-threat offense, and Northern Illinois is one of those programs that's REALLY good at it. The Huskies went 11-3 last season and won the MAC Championship. The year before, they put together an undefeated regular season.
Cole helped build an offense around Jordan Lynch, and the 2013 graduate became one of the best dual-threat option quarterbacks in the nation. He set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single season, setting the mark in 2013 with 1,920. That same year, Lynch ran for 321 yards against Western Michigan, also a record, and he averaged 137 yard per game—also a record. In 2012, he had 12 100-yard rushing games. That's not even mentioning his 6,000 passing yards in '12 and '13 combined.
Cole knows how to coach up a quarterback and install an offense that can benefit the team in the spread option. Since that's the offense Addazio wants to run, it would make sense to take the best mid-major coordinator of the system for your team.
Don't discount that he's from the MAC, either. It would be the third hire from the conference under Brad Bates, including Addazio, who coached against Northern Illinois during the 2011 season.
Why He Doesn't Make Sense: The only thing I have, which is really a stretch, is that Cole's been a coordinator his entire life. He's been an offensive coordinator at Sonoma State, Portland State, Montana, Utah State, Florida A&M, Wyoming, Western Kentucky, and NIU. At some point, the guy probably wants to be a head coach somewhere, and BC would only be a stepping stone to the next level. Other than that, I really have no idea why BC couldn't go after this guy.
Current Position: Head Coach, UMass
Why He Makes Sense: The Whiplash offense is one of the most dynamic in all of college football. In one season, Whipple took the world's worst offense and turned it into a legitimate threat. The Minutemen averaged the 11th most passing yards in college football at over 311 yards per game, and Blake Frohnapfel threw for 3,345 yards and 23 touchdowns. Tajae Sharpe and Jean Sifrin combined for 2,000 yards receiving.
UMass's problem had nothing to do with the offense; the defense couldn't stop anyone. There's no reason why you should score 42, 41, 40, 36, and 35 points in consecutive weeks and only win two games. Earlier in the year, UMass scored 38 and 31 points in losses. After getting throttled by Boston College, the Minutemen were one of the best offenses in the nation statistically and only struggled either when they had to play Penn State or when Frohnapfel got shattered by his offensive line.
Whipple has connections to BC, even if they're not always positive. It's no secret Boston College wanted Whipple for its head coaching job after Tom O'Brien, and Don Brown is his trusted friend and assistant coach. Steve Addazio could finally be the guy that brings a New England legend to roost under his umbrella with his former assistant in an attempt to recreate the magic they've made pretty much everywhere together.
Why He Doesn't Make Sense: The Whiplash offense is innovative, but there is nothing run-first about it. Whipple is as pass happy as they come, and that could not be any more of a 180-degree turn away from the Addazio offense. Pairing the two is asking for a problem because I don't see either of them all of a sudden changing. BC's recruited players who aren't well suited for that pass-happy offense, and while Whipple's done a lot with nothing at UMass, it would take a major shift in the mentality of his entire life to get Addazio to switch out of the spread option run.
Whipple is also unlikely to leave UMass. He was brought back as a last resort by the Minutemen, a guy to stabilize and fix the FBS transition without a real desire to leave. It's going to be such a huge process there that his departure would deep-six the program even more than Charley Molnar (and that's saying something). UMass is relying heavily on Whipple's desire to stay and not leave, to build UMass and not go anywhere for the rest of his foreseeable coaching career. It would take a dump truck full of money to get him to leave Amherst's head coach job, where he's as identifiable as anyone else, for a coordinator's job at BC.
I can see Whipple as a head coach of BC, not an assistant. Unlikely move here, no matter how much I've always wanted to see him in Maroon and Gold.
Current Position: Wide Receivers Coach, Boston College
Why He Makes Sense: Fitch is one of the position coaches to the Ryan Day offense, and he's already familiar with Boston College. He has offensive coordinator experience, having coached the position at both South Florida and East Carolina. At the 1-AA level, he helped lead UConn to one of its best national showings.
He's familiar with the academic requirements, the recruiting opportunities and challenges, and the entire atmosphere presented by Boston College.
There's also something to be said for handing the reigns to someone internally in order to maintain continuity.
Why He Doesn't Make Sense: When was the last time we talked about the passing game at Boston College without groaning and debating? He's been the passing game coordinator of a team that's been terrible at throwing the football. To an extent, there's only so much you can put on the personnel; we haven't talked about anything BC's done in the passing game without getting into arguments galore, and that's a strike against.
Fitch specialized in running offenses that could do drives in less than a minute. That doesn't exactly sound like a Boston College/Steve Addazio offense. He also threw the ball a ton at ECU and USF. BJ Daniels had something like 10,000 total yards under center for the Bulls, second best in Big East history in terms of total accumulations.
Current Position: Running Backs Coach, Boston College
Why He Makes Sense: Al made the switch to offensive coach in 2013 after coaching defensive players for the first several years of his career. He played at Boston College, and he was a strong presence on the defense as a four year letterman. He played during some of the best years of BC football, from 2002 through 2005, and honestly, his toughness and attitude is something that can't be denied. At age 29, he's young and has the raw passion to really stick things out. He's one of those guys who, if developed as a coach properly, could eventually take over for Addazio.
In terms of knowledge about the BC recruiting and coaching room, he's on par with Fitch.
Why He Doesn't Make Sense: Al's barely coached offense for two years as a product of a run-first scheme. That essentially means all he had to do was coach up the guys and make them healthy. As a recruiter, he did a good job, but he's too raw and green. You don't know how much of that was assisted by Addazio's presence.
Although Al's a great guy and unquestionably will make a good offensive or defensive coordinator one day, you have to ask yourself if a 29-30 year old coordinator with barely any prior coaching experience is worth the investment. After all, that was the knock against Zach Smith from Ohio State listed above.