Commentary: Are New Coordinators Ready for the ACC?


by - Correspondent -
    |

An interesting question was posed last week by my radio sports talk co-host, Mark Hauser.


Mark wondered aloud if there was any significance in the apparent major hires made by Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden. The question was not so much who the men are - Rob Spence as offensive coordinator and Vic Koenning as defensive coordinator - but from where they come:


Spence from Toledo, Koenning from Troy. The MAC and the Sunbelt, respectively.


Now, to clarify we say "apparent" hires because Clemson has issued nothing official concerning any of the coaching vacancies. However enough has been written, including interviews with Spence and Koenning, that one can surmise the only way the duo won't be Clemson's new coordinators is if one or the other has a last-minute change of heart (such as Spence did with Utah a couple of years back).





Spence Bio



Age: 45 (born 10-10-58) Hometown: Middletown, Delaware Alma Mater: Iona ('81) Coaching Experience: 2001- Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Toledo 2000 Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, Louisiana Tech 1999 Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Hofstra 1997-98 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, Hofstra 1994-96 Quarterbacks, Maryland 1992-93 Inside Receivers/Tight ends, Maryland 1991 Quarterbacks, Holy Cross 1990 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, Hofstra 1989 Offensive Coordinator, Iona 1984-88 Head coach, Iona Prep School, New Rochelle, NY 1982-84 Offensive Coordinator, Iona Prep School, New Rochelle, NY 1981-82 Assistant coach, Pelham Memorial Playing Experience: Iona (1978-81)

The paperwork is in the hands of the school, being processed as we speak. As soon as that's done, the announcements will be made.


But, back to Mark's question.

Curiosity led him to ask if Tiger fans are content with hiring coaches from the MAC and Sunbelt, or if they (fans) should expect a major-conference school such as Clemson to pull any assistant coaching hires from other major conferences.


It was a very good talk radio question, asked with the intent of bringing about response from both sides of the issue. Which it did.


My own personal view is that where the coaches come from doesn't matter nearly as much as who they are and what they bring to the table. If the fit is right, who cares if the new coordinators are from the MAC or Mars?


The two things which matter most, I believe, are philosophy and scheme.


If a potential coordinator doesn't share a similar philosophy with his would-be boss, the marriage almost certainly is doomed from the beginning.



Spence, like Bowden, is enamored with the one-back offense. He has been tremendously successful all four years as Toledo's offensive coordinator, finishing in the Top 20 in total offense each season. His Rockets were No. 11 in the country in 2004, compared to Clemson's finish at No. 110.


Spence has had great success running out of the one-back set, and his quarterbacks complete passes at an astounding rate - no fewer than 66.97 percent during his Toledo tenure. By comparison, Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst completed just 50.14 percent in 2004.




So taken with Spence is Bowden that, apparently, the head coach is willing to relinquish control of the offense. That's quite a step for the man who repeatedly for the last six years has told the press this is "his" offense.


But Bowden could sense the offense needed new blood, and because Spence's philosophy is so similar to his own it appears he's willing to give Spence a good bit of authority over what is or isn't run.


Koenning, too, seems to share Bowden's philosophy concerning defensive football.





Koenning Bio



PERSONAL DATA Born: Feb. 26, 1960 Hometown: Owasso, Okla. Wife: Tracey (Templeton) Children: Kimberly, Brady, Camden and Jackson EDUCATION BS, Communication, Kansas State '83 MA, Athletic Administration, Memphis '88 COACHING EXPERIENCE 2003-present, Troy State University Defensive Coordinator/LB 1999-2002, University of Wyoming Head Coach 1997-99, University of Wyoming Defensive Coordinator/ILB 1991-96, University of Memphis Defensive Backs 1986-90, University of Memphis Graduate Assistant/FB Strength Coach PLAYING EXPERIENCE 1986, Green Bay Packers (NFL) 1984-85, Oklahoma Outlaws (USFL) 1983, Denver Broncos (NFL) 1979-82, Kansas State University 1982 Independence Bowl


For six years Bowden has harped about turnovers, urging his defense to be more aggressive and get better at taking the ball away from the opposition. Instead, Clemson's 16 takeaways in 2004 was the lowest total for a Tiger team since the mid 1950s.


Meanwhile, Koenning's Troy defense was busy forcing 35 turnovers in 2004, 25 of them interceptions. His defense finished 16th in the country last season, a full 10 spots better than Clemson.


Quick impact seems to be Koenning's thing. He had early success at Troy, and back in 1997 - in his first year as Wyoming's defensive coordinator - the Cowboys were 23rd in total defense and set a school record with 24 interceptions.


So the philosophy matches up on both sides. No problem.


But those numbers were achieved at lesser schools in lesser conferences, playing against lesser competition. And herein lies the crux of Mark's earlier question:


Can those coordinators have similar success at Clemson, in the ACC, competing on the national level? Or will bigger schools with better athletes prove too difficult to stop?


My guess is no, and it goes back to the scheme.


If the scheme is solid, offense or defense, it will be successful at any level of football as long as the players execute properly. Yes, Spence and Koenning will be facing much better athletes (in theory) than they did at the smaller schools.


But don't overlook the fact that the athletes at their disposal at Clemson (again, in theory) should be superior than what each coached at Toledo or Troy.


So again, it comes back to scheme and execution. All a coach can do is, by scheme, put players in position to make plays. After that it's up to the young men in question.


Then, ultimately, it comes back to one man. Bowden.


He told the press he knew what he wanted in his next hires, and apparently these are the coordinators who best fit his criteria. As the captain of the ship, it's his call.


Now all we can do is wait for the smoke to clear, the discussion to pass, and the team to hit the field for spring practice.


Then, and only then, will these early questions about 2005 begin to be answered.


Spence By the Numbers

Total Offense
	Rank Name  Gms Plys Yds  Avg  TD Ydspgm W L 
2004 	11  Toledo  13 976  5970 6.12 58 459.23 9 4 
2003	11  Toledo  12 875  5553 6.35 55 462.75 8 4 
2002	 5  Toledo  14 1033 6611 6.40 66 472.21 9 5 
2001	13  Toledo  11 822  4889 5.95 50 444.45 9 2 
2004	110 Clemson 11 735  3252 4.42 27 295.64 6 5 

Scoring Offense
	Rank Name Gms Pts Avg   TD 
2004 	15 Toledo  13 432 33.23 58 
2003	24 Toledo  12 389 32.42 55 
2002	11 Toledo  14 495 35.36 66 
2001	16 Toledo  11 384 34.91 50 
2004	90 Clemson 11 236 21.45 27 

Passing Offense
	Rank Name Games Pat Pcom Int Papct Yds Yatt TD Ydspgm  
2004	8  Toledo  13   449 308 10  68.60 3879 8.64 28 298.4  
2003	19 Toledo  12   423 298  8  70.45 3339 7.89 29 278.3  
2002	29 Toledo  14   443 309  9  69.75 3611 8.15 25 257.9   
2001	52 Toledo  11   327 219  8  66.97 2541 7.77 18 231.0  
2004	78 Clemson 11   355 178 17  50.14 2069 5.83 7  188.1 

Rushing Offense
	Rank Name Games Car Net Avg. TD Ydspg  W L  
2004	53  Toledo  13 527 2091 3.97 26 160.85 9 4  
2003	28  Toledo  12 452 2214 4.90 22 184.50 8 4 
2002	16  Toledo  14 590 3000 5.08 38 214.29 9 5 
2001	17  Toledo  11 495 2348 4.74 30 213.45 9 2 
2004	100 Clemson 11 380 1183 3.11 15 107.55 6 5 

Passing Efficiency
	Rank Name  Gms Att Com Papct Int Yds Yatt TD TD Pct Rating 
2004	8   Toledo  13 449 308 68.60 10  3879 8.64 28 6.24 157.29  
2003	6   Toledo  12 423 298 70.45 8   3339 7.89 29 6.86 155.55  
2002	3   Toledo  14 443 309 69.75 9   3611 8.15 25 5.64 152.83  
2001	11  Toledo  11 327 219 66.97 8   2541 7.77 18 5.50 145.55  
2004	113 Clemson 11 355 178 50.14 17  2069 5.83 7  1.97 95.99 


Koenning By the Numbers

Turnovers Gained
	Rank  Turnovers Gained 
2002	59 Troy St. 25 
2003	6  Troy St. 35 
2004	2  Troy     32 
2004	97 Clemson  16 

Rushing Defense
	Rank Name  Gms Car Net  Avg TD Ydspgm W L 
2002	13 Troy St. 12 456 1263 2.77 9  105.3 4 8
2003	28 Troy St. 12 438 1506 3.44 20 125.5 6 6
2004	8  Troy     12 444 1211 2.73 12 100.9 7 5
2004	41 Clemson  11 466 1492 3.20 15 135.6 6 5

Rate this Story:
82 votes

Send Feedback to Dan Scott: Email | Comment
    |
Loading...

Alabama quarterback hopes he's shown enough for a Clemson offer

Swinney Ball: Will Swinney realizes a dream come true

Tigers look to stay in championship hunt

Clemson continues to lead the way in ACC heading into 2017 season

Clemson offers 4-star WR

Nation's #1 RB picks Georgia over Clemson and UNC

Father of record-setting baby wants him to play at Clemson

WATCH: Clemson Football helps out children in Haiti

ACC announces Student-Athletes attending the 2017 ACC Football Kickoff
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Updates
Daily Digest