Posted by Walter
We here at the the323 can be very hard on coaches when they act stupidly (see Smith, John L.) or irresponsibly (see Coker, Larry), but being a former coach myself I think we would be remiss if we didn't recognize some of the outstanding coaching jobs that are currently on display in college football. Now anyone who watches ESPN knows names like Greg Schiano (Rutgers) and Ron English (Michigan D-Coordinator), and I am not here to toot their horns any louder. Instead I would like to focus on two coaches who have done outstanding jobs in very difficult situations:
1) Steve Kragthorpe - Tulsa
I was on the Kragthorpe bandwagon in the preseason when I named his Tulsa Golden Hurricanes as one of the most underrated teams in the nation. Kragthorpe's bunch have not let me down running their record to 7-1 with an impressive 30-20 win over UTEP this past week. Before Kragthorpe showed up at Tulsa four seasons ago they were known as one of the worst programs in Division 1A (think Temple, Buffalo, etc.). They hadn't had a winning season since 1991, let alone a bowl birth. Enter Kragthorpe, who has taken this team to winning records in 3 of his 4 seasons AND has transformed the program into a true Conference USA powerhouse. Unfortunatley for the good people of Northern Oklahoma, however, Kragthorpe is quickly outgrowing Tulsa. His attacking, up tempo offense is the spitting image of some of the great BYU teams if the 1980's, and Kragthorpe is assured to attract all kinds of attention from bigger programs this offseason. He would be an ideal hire for a reeling program like Miami, that lacks discipline and offensive creativity.
2) Paul Johnson - Navy
Like Kragthorpe, Johnson inherited a program that was in absolute disarray. While Kragthorpe was starting his magic at Tulsa, Navy took their place on the mantle as one of the worst teams in 1A football. However, that distinction was short lived thanks to Johnson and his exceedingly complex and creative triple option rushing scheme. Make no mistake about it kids, the offense you see at Navy today is not your father's wishbone or wing-T. It is a creation unique to Johnson that utilizes the intelligence of his players to make up for their inferior athletic ability. This was most evidenced by the first half against Notre Dame this past week. Notre Dame outweighed the Midshipmen by nearly 50 pounds per player in the trenches, but Navy was able to rumble up and down the field to the tune of over 200 first half rushing yards and 14 points. While the end score indicated a blowout (thanks to superior ahtleticism and depth by the Irish), anybody watchin that game had to be impressed with Paul Johnson's offense.
Just a thought, but if the Nebraska brass ever tires of this dreadful Bill Callahan experiment they might consider placing a call to Johnson. His triple option scheme is very different than the Tom Osborne option attacks that endeered themselves to the Lincoln faithful, but Johnson might be the one coach in America who could bring the power running game back to Nebraska at a level that even approximates what they once had.