Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back In The Saddle -- Wilson Can’t Get Away From Offensive Coordinator Role

Okay, Kevin Wilson tried not to be the offensive coordinator. He really did. His plan as Indiana’s new head coach was to run the program and not micro-manage the offense.

Then he got his first curve, which happens to those who coach the Cream ‘n Crimson football program. Brent Pease lasted two weeks as Hoosier offensive coordinator before heading back to Boise State to run the Broncos’ high-powered attack.

So Wilson went to Plan B. He named Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith as co-offensive coordinator along with Kevin Johns, the Northwestern receivers coach who earlier was hired to coach IU receivers.

But then, because Wilson has directed some of the nation’s top offenses while at Oklahoma and Northwestern, he decided he will have a larger offensive role -- at least at the start.

“I will be more involved with the offense initially, and in time we will determine how we call games,” he said in a university release. “I will make sure it starts out with my involvement and those guys splitting the workload that I can’t do.”

So who exactly is Rod Smith? Well, he coached at Michigan for the last three years. The year before that he coached quarterbacks at West Virginia. At both places his boss was Rich Rodriguez, who was just fired after three years at Michigan that included some of the worst defenses in the history of the Wolverines’ storied program. Along the way Smith worked with top outstanding quarterbacks in Denard Robinson of Michigan and Pat White of West Virginia.

Wilson also brought in another Michigan coach, Greg Frey, to handle the offensive line. Frey was the offensive line coach under Rodriguez for the last three years. He also coached the offensive line at West Virginia and at South Florida.

“Coach Wilson is going to get this thing headed in the right direction,” Frey said. “I look forward to getting to work.”

Finally, Jerry Montgomery was hired as the defensive tackles coach. He spent the last two years at Wyoming, the previous three years at Northern Iowa. He also was a three year starter at defensive tackle at Iowa.

“We have deliberately taken time with our hires to make sure we get the right fits, not just coaching backgrounds and pedigrees, but getting the right people to make up a cohesive unit,” Wilson said. “We feel the staff has come together in a very positive manner.”

Mark Hagen was originally hired away from Purdue to coach the defensive tackles. He will now handle defensive ends. Corey Raymond will coach the corner backs. Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler will handle the co-defensive coordinator duties.

“I had previous relationships with Rod Smith and Greg Frey having built some of our past offenses with Coach Rodriguez and having continued to visit and study with those guys,” Wilson said. “It is going to be a natural transition for both of them. They are well-versed in the no-huddle style and know how to coach it.”

Wilson had never met Montgomery before.

“Jerry is the one guy on staff I didn’t personally know, but like six of our assistants, he has a Big Ten background. Jerry was a great player at Iowa. He came highly recommended. When we met him, he lit up the room.”

Lighting up the room is one thing. Igniting the Hoosiers to play winning, bowl-making football is something else.

“I am thrilled to come back to the league,” Montgomery said. “I’m optimistic about the things we can accomplish here. The facilities are awesome. I think we will be successful.”

For all sorts of reasons, the Hoosiers can’t just THINK about being successful. They have to do it.

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