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  • Wommack third with Arkansas ties hired at South Carolina

    Dec. 18, 2004 wire reports

    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina's newest assistant once helped devise a defensive package designed to stop his new boss. Now, Dave Wommack hopes the "Gator" package can help that old Gator, Steve Spurrier, succeed at South Carolina.


    On Friday, Spurrier hired Wommack -- his third assistant with Arkansas ties -- to coach the secondary.

    Wommack was recently fired as Arkansas' defensive coordinator but was called by his colleague and close friend, newly hired Game**** defensive coordinator John Thompson, to join him here.

    "As far as the decision, it was an easy one for me," said Wommack, who's been a coordinator for 14 of his 23 seasons in the game.

    There were no contract terms ironed out yet, South Carolina athletic spokesman Kerry Tharp said.

    In 1997, Wommack was drawing up coverages for Southern Miss to handle Spurrier's high-flying tactics in Florida's first game as defending national champions. Wommack remembered it was a mix of coverages using six defensive backs to check the Gator receivers.

    Current Miami Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain had two interceptions for Southern Miss, which hung tough for much of the game against No. 2 Florida before losing 21-6.

    "We did some nice things," Wommack said. "We had a chance."

    Maybe that's why Thompson called on Wommack.

    Wommack says he's kept some wrinkles of the "Gator" package as Southern Miss' defensive coordinator and, from 2002 to 2004, at Arkansas. "I hope it can help us here," Wommack said.

    Wommack spent four seasons with the Razorbacks, the final three as defensive coordinator. His first year in charge of the defense, Arkansas posted two shutouts (including a 23-0 win over South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium) and led the Southeastern Conference with 36 forced turnovers.

    Arkansas won the SEC's Western Division that year.

    This season, though, Wommack says the team was hurt by the loss of 23 seniors. The defense yielded 397.2 yards per game -- the highest such total since 1990, when Arkansas allowed 402.3 yards per game.

    Wommack says he understood why he was let go and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt remains one of his closest friends. "Sometimes you just have to make a change," Wommack said. "There are no bitter feelings."


    Wommack didn't know whether assistant Ron Cooper, kept on from Lou Holtz's staff by Spurrier, would keep working with defensive backs like last season.

    Besides Wommack and Thompson, Spurrier also has hired former Arkansas star runner Madre Hill.

    Spurrier has one more position on the defensive side to fill.

    "We're excited about the addition of Dave Wommack to our staff," Spurrier said Friday. "He is a solid and experienced defensive coach who has been a coordinator before and has coached in the SEC."

    Wommack's coaching career began in 1979 as a graduate assistant at Arkansas where Holtz was the coach. Twenty-five years later, Wommack thinks he'll learn a lot from Spurrier. "He's got so much knowledge about the passing game, I think he can enlighten us, too," Wommack said.

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  • DJRamFan
    Georgia ponies up to keep recruiting coordinator Garner
    by DJRamFan
    Jan. 19, 2005 wire reports

    ATLANTA -- Georgia assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said Tuesday he has canceled plans to interview for a position at LSU.


    Georgia coach Mark Richt on Monday withdrew from his coaching position in the Hula Bowl college all-star game this weekend in Hawaii to address the situation with Garner. Richt said Garner received a raise to remain in Athens.

    Losing Garner could have created chaos in Georgia's recruiting efforts, with the Feb. 2 signing date only two weeks away.

    "I can tell you coach Garner staying here at this moment is huge for this recruiting class, but it goes way beyond that," Richt said. "Him not being here to mentor his players and to be a part of our overall disciplinary system and being part of the team, we would have certainly felt it for some time."

    Richt said Georgia athletic director Damon Evans and University of Georgia president Michael Adams acted quickly in approving a raise for Garner, the Bulldogs' defensive line coach since 1998.

    Richt did not say if Garner would receive a new title with the raise.

    "We'll just say certainly there has been a raise," Richt said. "We'll talk about those other details in time. For right now that's for certain."

    Garner said he canceled plans to fly to Baton Rouge Tuesday night for an interview Wednesday.

    Garner said his interest in an unspecified position at LSU was not the result of being passed over when Richt picked another Georgia assistant, Willie Martinez, to succeed Brian VanGorder as Georgia's defensive coordinator.

    "There was never a time I didn't feel like I was comfortable at the University of Georgia," Garner said, adding he is "100 percent committed to Coach Martinez."

    Garner said it was just "bad timing" that new LSU coach Les Miles called soon after VanGorder left Georgia for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and Martinez was promoted by Richt.

    "I've always said Coach Richt has been real good to me and my family," Garner said. "He's been a pleasure to work for. When you look at the situation, it's all about people. I feel comfortable with Coach Richt and the direction in which he wants to take the program with Damon and Dr. Adams."

    Richt called Garner "one of the best coaches I've ever been around" and "one of the best people I've ever been around."

    Garner, 38, was retained by Richt from former coach Jim Donnan's staff at Georgia. Garner is regarded as one of the top recruiters in college football, but he wants to be respected as more than a recruiter so he can move up to be a defensive coordinator and head coach.

    -01-20-2005, 09:13 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Meyer fills most coaching positions at Florida
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 13, 2004 wire reports

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Urban Meyer nearly filled out his coaching staff Monday, keeping two assistants from Ron Zook's staff and bringing four with him from Utah.


    Meyer also named Indiana offensive coordinator Steve Addazio the tight ends coach and hired Notre Dame defensive line coach Greg Mattison.

    Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong will work with Mattison on the defensive side of the ball, but Meyer did not specify their roles. Strong and Mattison were expected to be named co-defensive coordinators, with Strong handling linebackers and Mattison working with the line.

    Meyer also said running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley will remain at Florida in the same capacity.

    Utah assistants Billy Gonzales, John Hevesy, Dan Mullen and Chuck Heater will move with Meyer from Salt Lake City.

    Gonzales will coach wide receivers, Hevesy will coach the offensive line and Mullen will coach quarterbacks. Heater, who was cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Utah, has not been assigned a role.

    "I'm very excited about the group of coaches that are joining our staff," Meyer said in a statement. "They fit in with the vision I have for this program and are quality people."

    Meyer still has one coaching spot open.

    Meyer, who will coach Utah in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, was hired earlier this month to replace Zook, who was fired Oct. 25 but finished the regular season. Zook was hired as Illinois' new head coach last week. Strong will serve as Florida's interim coach when the Gators play Miami in the Peach Bowl Dec. 31.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -12-14-2004, 11:22 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Changing of the guard: Rating the new hires
    by DJRamFan
    Jan. 19, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Now that the desks have been cleaned out and offices redecorated, time to rate the coaching hires:

    1. Urban Meyer, Florida

    The shocker of the season in the college game's changing-spaces industry. Notre Dame thought it had Meyer wrapped up, then had to scramble.

    Meyer liked Florida all along, and he seems a natural fit. Coming off an undefeated season, his boss is the former Utah president. He is young and with a little bit of Spurrier in him. Look for the Gators to rise again in the SEC East.

    Came from: Utah.

    Best-case scenario: Meyer molds some of the best existing talent in the country into an SEC champion.

    Worst-case scenario: The spread option doesn't translate to quarterback Chris Leak's style. But that might be making too big a deal out of the offense that suited Alex Smith. Doesn't every coach adjust to his personnel?

    2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

    Steve Spurrier takes over for retired Lou Holtz at South Carolina. (Getty Images)
    This is a can't-lose hire. By his mere presence, Spurrier raises the profile of a mediocre program.

    He'll surround himself with great assistants and re-shape the offense, and the Game****s will challenge Spur Dog's old team for SEC East supremacy, though not this year.

    Came from: The golf course.

    Best-case scenario: Game****s become a consistent bowl team and challenge for the division title every few years.

    Worst-case scenario: Thirty-one other coaches have tried in 108 years of South Carolina football and produced exactly 11 bowl teams. Does the word "curse" come to mind?

    3. Ed Orgeron, Mississippi

    First, let's make this clear. Firing David Cutcliffe was a mistake. One year removed from a 10-victory season, the administration was way too impatient in getting rid of one of the game's best offensive coaches.

    That being said, Coach O was a great replacement. This native son of the South is a master recruiter and knows how to scheme a defense. Orgeron's personality and recruiting ability should quickly get the Rebels competitive in the SEC again.

    Came from: USC as defensive line coach.

    Best-case scenario: Mississippi's best players stay in state, flocking around one of the best recruiters in the business.

    Worst-case scenario: There are no Mike Pattersons or Shaun Codys among them.

    4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

    The logical choice after Les Miles left for LSU. Gundy was Barry Sanders' quarterback, guiding one of the best offenses in the past quarter century.

    More important, Gundy wants to be in Stillwater and knows the...
    -01-20-2005, 09:08 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Miami (Ohio) elevates offensive coordinator to head coach
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 28, 2004 wire reports

    SHREVEPORT, La. -- Offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery was promoted to succeed Terry Hoeppner as football coach at Miami (Ohio).


    Athletic director Brad Bates made the announcement Tuesday night in the team's locker room just before it played Iowa State in the Independence Bowl. Hoeppner, who has been Miami's coach for six years, took the Indiana job earlier this month.

    "I know I usually have the last word, but now Mr. Bates is going to have it," Hoeppner told his players.

    Bates then introduced Montgomery as the new coach and the team cheered.

    Montgomery, 37, has been Miami's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since March 2001. He helped develop Ben Roethlisberger, who led Miami to a 13-1 record last year and is having a sensational rookie season as the Pittsburgh Steelers starter.

    Shane Montgomery will take the RedHawks' reins in 2005. (AP)
    Miami officials said Montgomery will become the youngest head football coach in Division I-A.

    Before joining the Miami staff, Montgomery was an assistant at Chattanooga for eight years. He played quarterback at North Carolina State and spent one season as a graduate assistant there.

    Under Montgomery's tutelage, Roethlisberger threw for 4,486 yards and 37 touchdowns last season while completing 69 percent of his passes. This season's quarterback, Josh Betts, threw for 3,255 yards and 22 TDs entering Tuesday's game.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -12-29-2004, 03:51 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Fabris third assistant to leave Georgia staff
    by DJRamFan
    Feb. 22, 2005 wire reports

    ATHENS, Ga. -- For the third time this offseason, Georgia coach Mark Richt has to replace an assistant coach.


    Defensive ends coach Jon Fabris, a fiery leader of Richt's staff for four years, is leaving Georgia to accept a similar position at Oklahoma.

    "Jon has done an outstanding job in his four years at Georgia, and I'm glad we had the experience of having him as part of our staff," Richt said. "No one works harder than Jon, and I wish him nothing but the best."

    Fabris, who also assisted with Georgia's special teams, coached such standout defensive ends as David Pollack, Josh Mallard and NFL first-round pick Charles Grant.

    Fabris is the third member of Richt's staff to accept other jobs this offseason.

    Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder accepted an offer to become linebackers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Running backs coach Ken Rucker will take over the same job at Texas, apparently swayed by the prospect of improving his retirement package in that state. He previously coached at Baylor and Texas A&M.

    Richt filled the first two openings on Jan. 17, hiring former Bulldog defensive back Kirby Smart to replace Rucker and Central Michigan defensive coordinator John Jancek to coach linebackers.

    Willie Martinez was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator.

    Smart, who played at Georgia from 1995-98, was a teammate of current quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo. Smart was the secondary coach at LSU this past season, following stints at Florida State and Valdosta State.

    Fabris, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native, coached at Georgia Tech, Washington State, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Kansas State, South Carolina and with the NFL Cleveland Browns before joining Richt's original staff in 2001.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004-2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -02-24-2005, 09:14 AM