The Big East Coaching Landscape Shifts Yet Again

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We had been waiting on a decision from Syracuse's Doug Marrone on who would be the school's next running backs coach. That decision was made last evening when it was announced that former University of Tennessee RBs coach Stan Drayton would be coming aboard.

Drayton, in addition to coaching at Tennessee under Phil Fulmer last season, also has coaching stints at the University of Florida, Mississippi State, and Villanova on his resume, among others. With the exception of having coached at Villanova and the University of Pennsylvania, Drayton's Northeast credentials are not all that overwhelming, although coach Marrone insists, "Stan has very strong ties in the Northeast."

Given that Stan Drayton is a native of Ohio and that he played his college ball there, he can be a factor for the Orange in recruiting Midwest players. His experience coaching at three different SEC Conference schools has certainly exposed him to the fertile recruiting grounds of the South. In 2007, he was named by as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country for his work in helping to build the nation's number one recruiting class at the University of Florida. Most notably in 2007, he managed to recruit the Pouncey brothers who were prominently featured on the offensive line of this year's National Champion Gators team.

As far as running backs that Drayton has coached, he can boast about his efforts with Brian Westbrook at Villanova and Jerious Norwood at Mississippi State. Moreover, Florida's rushing attack in 2007 averaged a shade over 200 yards per game, good enough for third in the SEC and 23rd nationally.

Stan Drayton is Doug Marrone's third hire from the University of Tennessee. One can absolutely make the assumption that offensive line coach Greg Adkins and Director of Football Operations Kevin Van Derzee played significant roles in singing the praises of Drayton. Even if Tennessee's offense wasn't all that impressive last season and that Drayton does not have any significant ties to the Big East (or Syracuse), Marrone is at least impressed with the coach's "orange" credentials, having already served stints at two other institutions where orange is an integral school color. Marrone also hopes to recreate the above (right) scene with Drayton in the middle of a pack of Orange players after winning a national title.


University of South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt decided last evening to part ways with offensive coordinator Greg Gregory. Leavitt, citing that, "It is time for our program to move in another direction," will seek to replace a coach who is seen as largely responsible for failing to produce an efficient red-zone offense. The Bulls went 2-5 in the Big East this season, while unceremoniously swooning down the stretch and failing to improve on offense with 10 returning starters.

Gregory (in the above picture -- left), who took the offensive coordinator post after five seasons as the school's tight ends coach, was under consideration for the Army head coach position earlier this year. It's widely thought that current Bulls wide receivers coach Mike Canales will assume responsibility of the entire offense at this point, after having returned to the squad subsequent to a stint with Mike Stoops at the University of Arizona.

It is worth noting that UCONN head coach Randy Edsall is still in the process of filling an offensive coordinator position of his own. He is seeking to replace Rob Ambrose, who took a head coach position at Towson State University.