Tag Archives: Butch Davis

Mark Helfrich Is the Larry Coker to Chip Kelly’s Butch Davis

These days, the only thing more aflame than Oregon’s uniforms is coach Mark Helfrich’s hot seat.

Just two seasons after finishing runners-up in the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Ducks stare down the barrel of extending a three-game losing streak to four in this week’s matchup against the #5 Washington Huskies. They’re allowing 210 rushing yards per game, they’re the sixth-most penalized team in college football, and they’re endangering their shot at earning a bowl invitation.

How have Oregon fans responded? By launching a GoFundMe page to bankroll Helfrich’s massive buyout.

Have faith Oregon fans. At the time of this writing, there’s only $10,999,790 left to go.

To his credit, Helfrich isn’t making any excuses. “Anything that’s bad in this program is my responsibility,” he insisted after a disappointing loss to Nebraska. “Anything you think of that’s bad is my fault.” Don’t get me wrong- that degree of integrity and accountability in a head coach is truly admirable. I like Mark Helfrich. Maybe he doesn’t know a lick about how to play defense (or how to choose a defensive coordinator), but Mark Helfrich is still a quality individual.

Except, quality individuals make awful head coaches. As far as I can tell, that’s the college football reality we live in. Show me a coach with 409 career wins, and I’ll show you someone who reprehensibly covered the tracks of a child rapist. Oh, is it too soon for those questionable Joe Paterno references? Apparently, it isn’t too soon for Penn State to roll out the red carpet in questionably honoring him.

Also, I’m almost certain one of the top five coaches in college football spends his Sundays posterizing middle schoolers at the local YMCA. Is that coach Jim Harbaugh? The world may never know.

Enabling sexual assault. Committing blatant recruiting violations. Hiring coaches recovering from alcoholism. That’s the kind of college-football-isn’t-supposed-to-be-fun mentality you need to coach in college football. Mark Helfrich lacks that mentality. Mark Helfrich looks more like Kermit the Frog than somebody willing to drown a litter of puppies to secure a five-star recruit. When I see Jimbo Fisher, I see a man who would trample a sea of helpless baby orangutans just to re-polish the encased ACC Championship trophies perched so prominently atop his mantle.

Helfrich is clearly more understated than his mentor and predecessor, and while that can have its benefits, it doesn’t help him in either recruiting or developing players and assistant coaches. Helfrich earned his reputation under Chip Kelly by tutoring a number of high-skill quarterbacks, including, most notably, Marcus Mariota. Truth be told, Chip Kelly and Scott Frost (currently at UCF) deserve an enormous amount of the credit assigned to Helfrich. As luck would have it, both men have surfaced in coaching carousel discussions surrounding a potential Helfrich departure.

Helfrich is the Larry Coker to Chip Kelly’s Butch Davis. The latter halves of the comparison each continued onto questionable coaching careers in the NFL. The former half failed to fill the shoes of their coaching mentors. The University of Miami has finally left a downward spiral triggered by inept coaching. If the Ducks don’t act fast, now may be only the beginning of that spiral.

Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti built the Oregon program to stardom in the previous two decades, yet a decision to stand pat with an average coach in Helfrich threatens every last ounce of that stardom. The Ducks are currently trending away from a winning season and trending away from the offensive firepower that led them to a national championship. A handful of graduate transfers at quarterback have kept the program momentarily afloat, but in a matter of years, the full incompetence of the Helfrich regime will become fully exposed.

And by then, it’ll be too late.

Oregon tried and failed to maintain operations in-house. It’s time for the athletic department to expand the coaching search beyond the boundaries of Eugene- and whatever the hell they call that offense- to bring in an regularly-credentialed asshole with some know-how. If the Ducks waste the 2017 season with a proven lost cause at the helm, who knows whether the former glory of the Oregon program can ever be fully salvaged.

Then again, at least they’ll always have those jerseys.

Email Cole Hankins at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Cole_Hankins.

Photo courtesy – Wikipedia

CFB Roundtable #42: Weekend at Bernie’s with Darrell Royal

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This whole thing starts with Damien (@damienbowman) talking to Seth (@SMerenbloom) about Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. It quickly falls off the cliff into Bob Stoops and Charlie Strong, a required Frank Beamer appearance, and Damien asking why Texas props up a dead guy weekly.

Note: Darrell Royal died in 2012 and the word ‘memorial’ has always been a part of Texas Memorial Stadium name. We obviously didn’t know that when we were recording.

The Pipeline: June Jones Resigns at SMU

Official release: http://www.smumustangs.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/090814aaa.html
Today, June Jones resigned from Southern Methodist. Because of everything else going on today, this is something that will fall to the wayside, but we shouldn’t be under appreciative of what Jones did at SMU. He’s a total out of the box thinker, and in his time at Hawaii was able to guide them to the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Hawaii was smoked by Georgia, 41-10, but hey they were paid well.
Jones is 61 years old, and cited health and personal reasons for his departure. I promise no one in Dallas is upset that he’s leaving. It isn’t that he isn’t a good coach, it’s because he accomplished his goal, and knows when it’s time to leave.
When Jones arrived at SMU in 2008, the program was in shambles. SMU was about to open a new stadium and previous coach Phil Bennett had run the program into ground. Jones was proven and well known. That obviously helped with recruits. However, as June got older his players started to pay attention less and less.
Jones knew it, and so did the administration.
Who’s next? The list is long and strong because SMU has tons of money, and if needs more the alumni are typically more than willing to pay. June Jones was paid a very healthy $1.9 million per season. Yes, 1.9 in the income tax-free state of Texas.

Some names I’ve seen so far: Houston Nutt, Butch Davis, Tom Herman, Jake Spavital and ASU Mike Norvell.
More to come…

The Rooney Rule has Turned Jim Caldwell into a Racist Joke.

Jim CalwellLast week – I have almost no capability to remember days anymore – an email popped up in my inbox from fellow More Than a Fan writer Jason Barron.

So, with [Jim] Caldwell getting interviewed by each of Washington and Detroit, it is pretty clear that the Rooney Rule needs revisiting to avoid gaming the system…

That was the whole message. One sentence, two commas, and an ellipse. At first, I thought Jason was just being a curmudgeon about one of many broken systems that run beneath the shiny façade of the NFL. I never bothered to agree or disagree with Jason. I did not even know that Jim Caldwell had gotten any interviews, anyway.

I mean, really, why would Jim Caldwell have gotten any interviews? I think everyone knows that he is not a serious candidate for an NFL job. But, I digress. Or, I THOUGHT I digressed. I was pretty much done thinking about Jim Caldwell’s status as Rooney Rule token interview until Jason sent a follow-up email. Jason is persistent.

Butch Davis – ACC Record with 2008 and 2009 wins removed as a result of NCAA sanctions: 7-17 (29%)

Jim Caldwell – ACC Record: 12-52 (23%)

Wait? Butch Davis? What does Butch Davis have to do with Jim Caldwell’s unexpected, undeserved interviews?

That’s right.  Butch Davis, who never had better than a .500 winning percentage in the ACC, had two of his four years of ACC wins removed from his record  (both of which were 4-4 marks, which were also his best years) and still has a better ACC winning percentage than Caldwell, who Wake Forest somehow allowed to coach 64 games in the conference.

Okay. Davis and Caldwell both had very suspect stints in the ACC. Now what?

LISTEN: MTAF Podcast #83: Restructuring NCAA Football with Josh Flagner, Jason Barron, and Chris Barron

Now, fast forward to the NFL, where Caldwell was given the reigns to the Colts by his predecessor Tony Dungy.

Oh. This is probably going to get ugly.

Indianapolis with Manning and Caldwell:

2009: 14-2 (Colts lost the Super Bowl to the Saints)

2010: 10-6 (Colts lost the Wild Card game to the Jets, after a huge defensive fourth quarter letdown)

Indianapolis without Manning and Caldwell left to actually run the team:

2011: 2-14 (There’s no note about playoff losses for this one)

Indianapolis with a coach sidelined for cancer [Chuck Pagano] and the Offensive Coordinator [Bruce Arians] running the team with a rookie QB [Andrew Luck]:

2012: 11-5 (Colts lost in the Wild Card game to eventual Super Bowl Champions Ravens)

Bruce Arians, by the way, spent the first three years of his Offensive Coordinator days under the aforementioned Butch Davis in Cleveland. In those three years, Arians’ offenses ranked 31st, 23rd, and 26th in the NFL. Arians had more success after moving to Mike Tomlin’s staff in Pittsburgh, but not enough to start calling him a genius. His offenses have only cracked the top ten once in his 10 year coaching career, and that includes this year’s Arizona Cardinals team he runs from the top as Head Coach.

Browns Constant Coaching Issues: On The Cleveland Browns And Their Three Stooges

So, yeah, Bruce Arians and a rookie quarterback nine games better than Jim Caldwell is not something that should be expected.

So, in light of the foregoing and Caldwell’s recent interviews, it is clear that his highest and best use is either (a) to be used to satisfy the Rooney Rule (which teams will report loudly via social media to show that they have interviewed a ‘qualified’ minority candidate), or (b) to be used as a means to tanking a season so that you can get a franchise quarterback out of the deal.

The last paragraph accomplished two things. First, it showed me that Jason writes emails in lawyer speak, and that scares me.

Second, it became the closing of an argument that proved in my mind that the NFL’s Rooney Rule accomplishes nothing but the turning the NFL into a racist joke that should be saved for episodes of South Park.

There is absolutely no doubt that the head coaching ranks in the NFL need to be prodded into diversity. I honestly cannot explain why. The arguments either center around blatant racism on the part of owners and general managers to running through career statistics to “prove” that the best candidates just happen to be white.

I do not profess to know how to fix the Rooney Rule, or whether it can even be fixed. I do know that if the NFL is going to tackle diversity, the league needs to do it with some dignity. Jim Caldwell is not qualified to be a head coach in the NFL, and it disgusts me that he is getting interviews just because some HR person needs to check off the African-American box on a quota form.


Special thanks to Jason for sending me emails that force me to actually write things. 
Follow Josh on Twitter @Railbirdj and send all of your complaints to [email protected]

Cleveland Needs Real Change

Hiram Boyd may be one of Cleveland’s most controversial personalities, but he struck a chord with me the other night.

If you follow me on Twitter, or simply know me, you’ll know that my good friend, Jake Dungan, and I hosted a weekly radio show for Indians Baseball Insider throughout the summer called Call to the Bullpen.

Hiram would chime in week-after-week, as he normally does with Cleveland radio shows, and offer his thoughts or opinions on the Indians. Hiram seemingly enjoyed calling our show because we wouldn’t cut him off and we’d debate with him for an extended period of time before he insisted on simply listening.

Well, this past week, Jake and I hosted a special offseason edition of Call to the Bullpen, as we will sporadically throughout the winter, and, of course, Hiram called in.

We were in the midst of a conversation about the Indians and closer-extraordinaire, Brian Wilson. I offered my thoughts on WIlson said something along the lines of, “we don’t need a distraction like him on this team.”

“Hayden,” he said. “You disappointed me with something you said earlier. I would love to have Brian Wilson on this team.”

Of course, I was willing to listen to his point and ready to hear out his argument when he said something that struck me to my core.

“You’re just like the rest of them,” Hiram said. “Clevelanders are so afraid of change. Cleveland is afraid of stuff that is different. They’re afraid of people that are different.”

Instantly, the bells and whistles started chiming in my head. The proverbial lightbulb went off. Suddenly, I heard Drew Carey- the newly appointed, Cleveland-born host of “The Price is Right”- say “Hayden, come on down!”.

It all made sense.

Hiram Boyd, Cleveland’s “craziest” fan, made a point that I think hits the nail on the head.

Let me preface this argument by saying that Cleveland fans are the best fans in America. Undoubtedly.

Maybe not the smartest, maybe not the quietest, but they are certainly the most involved, loyal and passionate fans anywhere. Period.

That being said, I want to delve in to Hiram’s point and why it makes so much sense to me and why it’s absolutely true.

Cleveland is afraid of change. It’s afraid of the truly new and uncomfortable. It wants new faces, but the same attitudes and ideals.

Let’s start with the Browns.

How can you say that Browns fans are afraid of change?

The Browns have had 20 different quarterbacks and 7 different head coaches since 1999. How are they afraid of change?

Look at the 20 different quarterbacks we’ve had. Was any one of those guys different than the other in terms of performance or demeanor?

Was Tim Couch any different, really than Derek Anderson? Was Derek Anderson any different than Brady Quinn? Was Brady Quinn any different from Colt McCoy? Was Colt McCoy any different than Brandon Weeden?

Of course, they all had different styles of play, but they were all cut from the same mold. They were all “safe”. None made any trouble, kept their mouths relatively quiet, etc, etc. None was really a risk taker, on or off the field.

Look at the couple of times when the Browns did take “risks” in the draft. Braylon Edwards was probably the best receiver the Browns have had since 1999 and Kellen Winslow was certainly a playmaker and the best tight end since Ozzie Newsome.

Ultimately, they didn’t pan out for a while, but that’s because Cleveland fans helped to drive these “risks” out of town.


Lets move on to Browns head coaches.

If you really, really look at it, was Chris Palmer different from Butch Davis? Was Butch Davis any different from Terry Robiskie? Was Terry Robiskie any different from Romeo Crennel? Was Romeo Crennel any different from Eric Mangini? Was Eric Mangini any different than Pat Shurmur? Was Pat Shurmur any different from Rob Chudzinski?

Again, they all had different styles of coaching and treated the media differently, but again, they were all safe. Nothing exciting, nothing different. Cut from the same cloth.

Rob Chudzinski, in his first season, has shown an aggression that we’ve never seen from Browns coaches prior. Is it a coincidence that the Browns are 4-5 and on the brink of a winning record against the AFC North division for the first time since 1999?

Again, interesting.

Finally, when the Browns regime was finally changed, as the Lerner’s left town, Clevelanders, for the most part, were already skeptical of Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi. They wanted change, but at the same time, they really didn’t. The Lerners stunk, but at least they were comfortable.

They “understood” us. That’s another phrase that’s comfortable for Browns fans. It makes outsiders immediately disliked and makes Browns fans feel as if they are somehow special, despite never having seen a Super Bowl appearance.

Anyways, as soon as the new regime took hold, Browns fans became uncomfortable and at the slightest sign of trouble from Haslam, were already calling for his resignation. “Bring back the Lerners,” they said, despite the years of misery caused by Randy and the family.

Already, with the new and uncomfortable regime, the Browns have shown signs of vast improvement in just one season. Again, looking at a chance to have a winning record in the AFC North for the first time since 1999.

Alas, interesting.

Even the other day, as the Browns announced big time stadium renovations, fans were already pointing out the flaws with the system.

Again, just another example of Clevelanders and their inability to cope with change.

The Browns are the most glaringly obvious example of this attitude problem in Cleveland, but it comes with the Indians and Cavs as well.

Many fans clamored for Sandy Alomar Jr. rather than Terry Francona to manage the Indians.

Francona won the Mananger of the Year award.

Fans whined about Nick Swisher’s massive contract.

Swisher lead the Indians in home runs, despite dealing with injury throughout the season.

Cavaliers fans wanted Mike Brown fired when LeBron became a free agent.

Three years later, we welcome him back with open arms.

Kyrie Irving was far too risky a pick to make over the established Derrick Williams.

One is Uncle Drew and one rides the bench.

The bottomline is this: no fan-base is more vocal about change but less willing to actually change.

Browns fans are constantly calling for a new quarterback, yet, won’t consider Johnny Manziel or anyone out of the ordinary to do the job. We constantly bash the quarterbacks that come in and yearn for the old days with Bernie.

Indians fans are constantly calling out for big time free agents, yet complain when we finally bring them in. We constantly say, “why can’t we just develop talent in the 90’s?” rather than appreciating the big time free agents we bring in.

Cavs fans constantly called for a new coach, yet missed the old one when they realized what they had. We say, “why did we get rid of Mike Brown in the first place?” when just years before we said, “get rid of Mike Brown, he’s obviously not a good coach.”

It’s not even simply the sports teams that Clevelanders complain about. When city officials want to bring this city to the 21st Century, add new buildings, create parks and opportunities for employment, many argue and complain. When there’s an election and many complained about mayor Frank Jackson, they re-elected him anyway. Even something so trivial as a name change for Cleveland Browns Stadium created an uproar, despite the fact that it brought in added funds for the organization.

As Hiram said, Clevelanders clamor for change yet change nothing. They do the same things over and over again, without any difference in their actions. As Hiram said, this is literally the definition of insanity.

I just want to thank Hiram for helping me to see what I was completely blind to before. Again, this doesn’t go for all Clevelanders, but there’s certainly a large majority to whom it applies.

I love Cleveland and that’s why I’m saying that it’s time for Cleveland to actually change. Change the mentality, change the city and change the culture.

Accept the change and embrace it.

Cleveland’s best times weren’t in the past. They lie directly in the future.



Lovie Smith – the Name That Should End the Browns Coaching Search

by Ryan Isley

One of my favorite acronyms is KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. And that is exactly what the Cleveland Browns should do with their head coaching search.

If the Browns would just follow that simple acronym, former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith would have already been interviewed and possibly hired. While the Browns were busy interviewing Chip Kelly and Doug Marrone – and landing neither – the right fit for their head coaching position just might have been staring them in the face the entire time.

If this was high school, the Browns would be the guy who already went after the class flirt (Kelly) and the girl who is sneaky hot (Marrone) while completely ignoring the girl who was perfect relationship material (Smith).

In his nine years as head coach of the Bears, Lovie Smith had an overall record of 81-63 – a winning percentage of .563 – and led the Bears to the postseason three times. The Bears won nine or more games in five of his nine seasons and only finished worse than 7-9 once – Smith’s first season when they were 5-11.

To put that in perspective, the Browns are 47-97 in that same time period and have had one season with nine wins in those nine years and finished with five or less wins seven times. The best winning percentage of any head coach since the Browns returned in 1999 is .407 (24-35) by Butch Davis from 2001-2004. The Browns have failed to make the playoffs since 2002 – two seasons before Smith took over in Chicago.

While the Browns have seemingly been targeting offensive coaches for their head coaching vacancy, going with a defensive guy like Smith would still make sense. Instead of forcing the wrong guy into the position just because of what side of the ball he coaches, the Browns should consider all options available to them – especially when they make this much sense.

Smith became a head coach in the NFL after making his name on the defensive side of the ball and continued doing so as the head coach of the Bears.

In his last eight seasons as the head coach of the Bears, the team’s defense finished in the top-5 in both points allowed and yards allowed in three of those seasons and finished a combined 34-14 in those three seasons. That included this past season when the Bears finished 10-6 and finished third in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed per game. The Bears were also fourth in points allowed while ninth in yards allowed in 2010 and finished 13-3 that season.

One of the seasons in which the Bears were in the top-5 in both yards and points allowed – 2006 – they also made the Super Bowl, which they lost to the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning 29-17. Smith guided the Bears to two other postseason appearances as well, losing in the division round in 2005 and then to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the 2010 NFC Championship Game. The Bears missed the playoffs by one games this season despite winning 10 games.

While you can look at the Bears offense – which the Bears front office did when firing Smith – it would be a mistake to formulate an opinion on him based on the struggles the Bears had offensively. After all, he was never an offensive coach. The reasons that Smith was fired were because of the offense and the personnel decisions the Bears made – neither of which were Smith’s main responsibility.

Obviously hiring Smith would not answer the problems with the Browns offense. That is where the front office and Smith would need to collaborate on a plan to hire an offensive coordinator who can take the offensive reins while Smith does his work on the defense. It would probably need to be a group decision because the one thing Smith can be blamed for with the offense in Chicago is that he was the person who promoted Mike Tice to offensive coordinator for this past season after Mike Martz left following two disappointing seasons.

But wouldn’t you rather hire a head coach with positive head coaching experience in the NFL regardless of what side of the ball he coaches and then find an assistant coach to handle the other side of the ball instead of just hiring a guy as the head coach because he coaches a certain side of the ball? I know I would.

It really doesn’t seem that difficult to me. As I said – Keep It Simple Stupid. But despite the new owner and front office, this is still the Browns – which means they will continue to try forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at [email protected]