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Cooper Leaves LSU For NFL; Coaching Carousel Keeps Spinning

Round and round and round it goes.  The SEC’s coaching carousel just can’t seem to come to a stop this offseason.  The latest change: Ron Cooper is leaving LSU’s staff.

The Tigers’ secondary coach for the past three seasons has resigned to take a position on Greg Schiano’s new staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Whether it was the talent he had to coach or his coaching that improved his players’ game, Cooper certainly did right by Les Miles.  Under Cooper’s tutelage, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne all racked up major awards.  (And we’re talking All-America honors, Bednarik Awards and Thorpe Awards… not leg lamps.)

It’s a little late in the hiring/firing cycle, but don’t expect Miles to have too much trouble luring in a good replacement for Cooper.  Recruiting Louisiana is a breeze and inheriting a Heisman candidate like Mathieu will cause any defensive backs coach to look seriously at LSU’s opening.

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UF’s Quinn Turns Down NFL’s Bucs

Will Muschamp has been maintain stability in his program this offseason.  He got good news on that front today.

The Gainesville Sun reports today that Gator defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has passed on an offer to join Greg Schiano’s new staff with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He served in the NFL with the 49ers, Dolphins, Jets and Seahawks from 2001 through 2010 before joining Muschamp’s first staff in Gainesville.

The Gators will return 10 starters on defense this fall.  Last season they ranked fifth in the SEC in scoring defense, fifth in rushing defense, third in passing defense, and fifth in total defense.

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AU’s Boulware Believes Coaches’ Approach Can Help With Player Safety On Kickoffs

While there’s been some discussion of possibly eliminating the kickoff from football — as proposed by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano — the proposal hasn’t gained much traction.  Still, just about every coach will acknowledge that the kickoff is a dangerous play.

Auburn special teams coordinator Jay Boulware believes it could be made less dangerous by coaches:

“It’s just my opinion, and take it for whatever it’s worth, but when you’re telling a kid to run down and run down into another blocker full speed, then you have basically eliminated that kid from being part of the tackle.  When you eliminate that thought process from what you’re doing and you teach kids to cover the kick and cover the returner as opposed to run into blockers full speed, that’s the type of thing that should be taught in the game. …

There are times when you have to run into a guy, but we’re not looking to go knock him out.  We’re looking to shed the block and go make a play… I don’t want to go one-for-one and lose one of my potential tacklers.  Then that blocker has essentially done his job even if he got his butt kicked.  I think if you can eliminate those type of mentalities in coaching kids, you’ll see a big change.”

That’s an impressive take.  Somebody get this man some speaking time at the next convention of college coaches.

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Richt Ready To Drop Kickoffs From Football

While much of the national media focuses on oversigning and plans to pay players, another potential change to college football is gathering steam.  And it just so happens that less talked about proposal is more important than oversigning and a more realistic change than paying players.

This offseason, the NFL voted to change its kickoff rules to cut down on the number of kicks that will be returned next season (whenever the season starts).  The league is serious about cutting down on concussions and other serious injuries.  The most dangerous play in football is the kickoff.  Therefore, cutting down on kickoff returns should cut down on a lot of injuries.

Last month, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano suggested the NCAA dump kickoffs altogether in an effort to protect its players, too.  And now Georgia coach Mark Richt is giving a little bit of support to Schiano’s proposal.  According to Seth Emerson of The Columbus Ledger, Richt said today:

“I think if it went to a vote, I would vote for no kickoff also.  I would just place the ball on the 23-yard line, or whatever it is, whatever the average has been.  I’m sure defensive coaches would it on the 18, and offensive coaches would want it on the 30.

Being up in the booth (as an assistant coach) you just can’t sense the speed and the violence of the hits.  Then when I became the head coach at Georgia and now I’m standing on the sideline, and I’m watching it from me to you, it is violent, it is very physical.  You’ve got a bunch of guys that can run strong.  They’re fast, and they’re not afraid.  It’s kind of a manhood thing: No one’s gonna back down.”

Get ready for change, folks.  Unlike paying players, this issue is a simple fix.  And proponents can point to player safety as a reason for the move.

We’ve all grown up watching kickoffs.  They’re exciting.  But they’re also dangerous.  If more coaches like Schiano and Richt come out in support of this proposal, then it’s a safe bet that kickoffs will someday go away from the game.

For those who say such a move would “wussify” the game, you might feel differently if it were your son running full speed into a 250-pound man who is also running at full speed.

For those who say the game couldn’t make such a large-scale change, remember that players once donned leather helmets with no facemasks and that clothesline tackles were once legal.

Football would still be football without kickoffs.  It would just be safer football.

We at aren’t fully in support of this measure, but we understand the rationale behind it and, therefore, we defer to the coaches who know what’s good and bad about their game.  If major college coaches say kickoffs have become too dangerous, who are we to argue?

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