Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Judging — and digging into — the David Elson hire
David Elson was hired at New Mexico State University as the team's new defensive coordinator. Click here for the Sun-News story online.
You know, I feel pretty comfortable with this move.
Some are going to look at the fact that Elson coached in high school last year.
Well, I say get over it.
The truth is that it shouldn't matter where Elson coached last season — as long as he can coach. Which DeWayne Walker is betting on by bringing him on board.
Lets dig beneath the surface before judging Elson's hire strictly on his tenure at Franklin-Simpson High School in Franklin, Ky.
He was a longtime assistant under Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky University, and the defensive coordinator on the Hilltoppers I-AA National Championship team in 2002.
He was the head coach at WKU during their transition from FCS to FBS — a stretch where the team lost 20 straight games and went 0-12 in 2009, his final year with the program. Ouch.
But the truth is that the Aggies have to think outside the box when hiring assistant coaches and coordinators. I've written on this blog 100 times: if you're going to pay your top coordinators below average salaries — which in Elson's case is $100,000 next year — you might have to dip into guys who are in the high school ranks. You might have to get guys who have struggled elsewhere. And that's OK. Neither of those factors should necessarily be determining factors if they can coach or not. And, when hiring at NMSU, no matter what route you go, you're going to take some level of risk.
After all, Elson does have some experience on the Division I level and should know what he's getting into at NMSU — Western Kentucky is similar in that it's a bottom-tier Division I football program. In many ways, Elson's hire is similar on the surface to last year's offensive coordinator Doug Martin, who came to NMSU after being let go as head coach at Kent State, and on the verge of being a head coach in the high school ranks. Like Elson, he was relatively unknown. And all he did was lead an offensive turnaround at NMSU and then hit the jackpot — one good year in Las Cruces and then off to Boston College as OC. If Elson can get similar production from the Aggie defense, it will be a good hire for the team.
Walker said Elson has a “background” in the 3-4 defense. I wrote on this a few weeks back when the Aggies first began their search (click here for the blog entry). Maybe the 3-4 is a good fit at NMSU, maybe not. But the Aggies haven't had a dominant pass rusher in 25, 30 years. Walker has maintained that he wants his team to be multiple and that he and the defensive staff will work their base defense around the personnel they have.
On the offensive coordinator search
The search continues at NMSU for an offensive coordinator to replace Doug Martin, as does the search for a new defensive line coach.
Walker said he will interview three, possibly four coordinator candidates - all with Division I coaching experience - at the
American Football Coaches National Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
The convention will be held Jan. 8th through the 11th.
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