Friday, January 23, 2009

Gary Tranquill as OC? Yet another interesting twist in this drama

When I first heard this rumor floated early Friday that Gary Tranquill might be our offensive coordinator I thought it was a joke. Now, according to the Globe, it is going to happen. In my opinion this doesn't look promising. Let me explain why.

It is not fair but everybody's first reaction is going to be over his age. Tranquill is 68 and will be 69 in April. Age doesn't mean he cannot still coach, but it is going to be used against him and BC in recruiting. He has also retired...twice. So this is his second time coming out of retirement. When he talks to recruits and players, there is going to be doubt that he will be around for their four years shaping the offense.

Track record
This is my bigger concern with Tranquill. Think of BC's 2004 and 2005 games against North Carolina. Watching the Heels did you think they were well coached offensively? Or that the play calling exploited our weaknesses? The first Tire Bowl was right around the time I started this blog and I remember thinking that the Heels' offensive players had good talent but many bad habits.

Here are some of the raw numbers from his stint at UNC.
2001: points -- 337; record 8-5
2002: points -- 223; record 3-9
2003: points -- 317; record 2-10
2004: points -- 319; record 6-6
2005: points -- 198; record 5-6

Not particulary impressive and never any consistency or upward trend.

Here is his go around at Michigan State with Nick Saban

1995: points 287; record 6-5-1
1996: points 358; record 6-6
1997: points 342; record 7-5
1998: points 336; record 6-6

Tranquill retired for the first time after that season. The following year with a new OC, Michigan State scored 378 points and went 10-2.

Tranquill hasn't been around a lot of winning football in a long time. He also has a reputation for very conservative gameplans. This SI article from 1997 went behind the scenes with Michigan State. In a telling moment Tranquill decides that given State's lack of playmakers and Michigan's exotic defensive packages he would go simple and basic. The philosophy is closer to TOB/Bible than Jags/Logan.

I am not as worried about recruiting. Carolina had decent offensive talent while he was there. I don't know how much of that was due to Tranquill, but he obviously wasn't an impediment. However, when you google his name a post from a Michigan State message board comes up with Tranquill as the punchline regarding recruiting:

"a great recruiter" - a description applied to every MSU assistant coach over the past 20 years with the possible exception of Gary Tranquill.

Signal to the other staffers
One of the recurring message board themes of the past few weeks was the importance of keeping Ryan Day. This is probably not encouraging. He may stay, but the other two guys on the staff who just got passed over left. Don't be surprised if Day bolts after getting passed over for a job he thought was his.

What I like about the hire
When Spaz was hired, I said he needed a trusted, veteran presence. He's got one. He's known Tranquill for more than 30 years. Tranquill has seen it all and spent time with Saban, Welsh, and Belichick. He's coached in the NFL, Big Ten, and ACC. He's been a head coach. If Spaz needs someone to talk to and work through things, he can turn to his wise friend and mentor. I would have preferred Tranquill as an assistant head coach or even as a QB coach, but at least he's a resource.

This was an unconventional pick. It will provide plenty of jokes and references (Grumpy Old Men, The Sunshine Boys, Cocoon) but the ultimate test will be on the field. We have talent of offense. If Tranquill can get through to one of the QBs we may surprise people next year.


BCNorCal07 said...

I just don't get it. Such a big part of hiring Spaz was continuity and loyalty. I mean, it's hard to justify the process unless those are prime criteria. So what does he do after he gets hired? He manages to alienate the three top offensive assistants. Now I know that it's important for a new head coach to have freedom in hiring his own staff to implement the HC's overall philosophy. But this is just kind of strange. We will have zero coaching continuity on offense. And on top of that, I don't think Quantrill has a good record as an OC nor do I think that his conservative playcalling reputation meshes at all with the types of players we have on that side of the ball. I suddenly expect next to nothing from our offense until either Quantrill gets his players on campus or he retires. This is not good. And I'm supposed to be the optimistic one around here.

BCMike said...

I think Spaz just wanted to hire someone to make himself feel young.

Mission Accomplished!

BeantownBC85 said...

I think he's also hiring one of his fat friends so he appears slimmer and one of his really gabby friends so he appears to choose his words judiciously.

My 15 year old cousin does the same thing. Works for her.

Erik said...

I saw the Globe article and felt confused, too. I thought Ryan Day would have been a good choice, I wanted a young guy who's played recently -- I thought it would help in recruiting and I thought it would help in play calling.

I don't know much about Tanquill, never payed attention to him at UNC or MSU, so I won't badmouth the hire, but this seems like a hire you'd make if you couldn't find someone, and Day was right there on the staff.

Unknown said...

If Day leaves this is a terrible hire. This hiring upsets me. As shitty as it sounds, young coaches excite recruits, notwithstanding Penn State and FSU, both of which have a stronger tradition than BC.

Thomas said...

"I propose this toast to the next 5 years of underachieving mediocrity." Must've been what Spaz was thinking as he made this decision.

eagle1331 said...

i am choosing not to believe this until i see it on

John B said...

This guy was part of the staff at UNC that refused to play Willie Parker because they felt he needed to bulk up and become a power back to succeed.

BCNorCal07 said...

I was just about to make the point about Parker. You don't have a good eye for talent if a guy you think can't make it as a speed back takes that speed to NFL and instantly becomes one of the top ten backs in the league. And not just a lack of an eye for talent, but a lack of understanding of how to exploit the talent you do have.

eagle1331 said...

now its official... now it sucks...

BCNorCal07 said...

Nice win for the basketball team today. NC State isn't that good, but double-digit home wins are always nice.

Big Jack Krack said...

Is this a joke? Bill - tell me I'm dreaming. I'm afraid that any good feeling I had for the Spaz hire has just evaporated.

Spaziani will have to prove himself immediately now - no honeymoon.

Unbelievable. Why would you hire a guy who has retired twice? He is dated - pure and simple. He has lost any edge he may have had years ago - it's obvious he hasn't had any edge in a long time. Why would you hire a retired old man who has not been very successful anyway? Because you were friends at Navy and Virginia?

I was just thinking today on my way home that we can once again fly under the radar and have a great year.

And now this? Brutal. I am very mad about this - lucky I have already made my Flynn Fund donation.

This guy will make Dana Bible look great.

Gene - your job is on the line. Thanks for making us the butt of many jokes. How do you think the players feel getting laughed at before they even have a chance to play? BC? Hahahahahahah.

Brutal. I dare you to prove me wrong and shut my mouth. Brutal.

Big Jack Krack said...

"Man 73 returns to college to play basketball" Maybe he can transfer to BC.

What a giant step backwards - I can't believe this - I really can't. I REALLY CAN'T.

I have always looked forward to everything about BC Football. For the first time in years, I am now officially pessimistic - and that is bad news for an optimistic person. It goes against my nature so much, that it makes me feel ill.

I think I'm going to puke.

BCNorCal07 said...

I've been thinking about this a lot today and it really doesn't get better with pondering. The thing is, in the ACC most of the defenses are above average and there are a couple - VTech, possibly FSU or Wake - that are great. We already have a very good defense. To win, we need to be able to score against very good defenses. Two of Quantrill's five offenses at UNC were terrible. The other three were average. None of them aggressively used the pass.

Conservative, run-heavy offenses can win you titles in this conference, sure. Tech has perfected that. But our personnel currently favors spreading the field and using misdirection runs and quick passes. We have two small, shifty backs, an athletic offensive line and a profusion of big receivers who should be able to catch over the middle, as well as smaller receivers that are more quick than fast. That is not a power offense. At the same time, our special teams are terrible, so we have to score with our offense. (We can't count on defensive points like last year. Those are highly volatile.)

There is only one really good offense in this league - Georgia Tech (maybe NC State w/ Wilson) - so having a good offense would immediately give us a big advantage. I just don't see how Tranquill will fit our personnel or how we score points next year.

Ted H said...

We are finished. This guy is a joke. Spaz is already known as a below average recruiter and you bring in someone who is completely out of touch with the game and has never been a good recruiter. Spaz has no offensive expertise and you bring in an offensive coordinator who has not been successful in 25 years. Is this a sick joke? I have been a supporter of Gene D but those days are through. Bye bye the next 5 years. In addition, I notice that everyone is talking about how Spaz is such a great defensive coordinator. I disagree. He has no imagination and his defenses until the last 2 years have been average to slightly above average. He had two of the best interior players in the country this year. Lets see him coach without those 2 guys. They will get no pressure on the QB and we all know how he refuses to blitz. The program is dead for the next 5 years period.

mod34b said...

Wow.. the Tranquill picks seriously blows....could it be that Spaz -- a very dubious choice -- could only attract an old has-been...

we are headed for the bottom...

Christine said...

How many of you guys bitching about his age voted for McCain? Why is it OK for an old guy to be the flipping president but insane for the guy to be the OC? Criticize him for lacking offensive creativity or being a poor recruiter but lay off the ageism. Someday, we are going to be that old.

mod34b said...

Big Jack -- your history on this blog of thoughtful responses and interesting points, give you a lot of cred!

....thus your pained responses to the new OC really say it all.... its not a good day for BC...

Does Gene have any ownership here...seems like he is a control freak, so he must...

flutie22phelan20 said...

Bill..."interesting twist" is charitable and I appreciate your restraint.

I was fine with the Spaz hire. I am not fine with this hire. There's a very strong chance that we will have the worst coaching staff in the conference. This is an unmitigated disaster.

BeantownBC85 said...

Hm. Watching ESPN tonight, UCONN and ND. Announcers drooling over ND. An actual loud crowd.

It's safe to say that student body and environment are a little different than here in CH.

I want that.

mod34b said...

CDco --

1. McCain lost
2. McCain lost the youth vote big time
3. old coaches without a storied pedigree are unappealing to recruits.

you are being needlessly politically correct.

70sGuy said...

What a difference 60 days makes in a program.....unfortunately as many have pointed out we have to live with this for five years.

I very much wanted to see Jags/Logan years 3, 4, and 5 and am shuddering at the prospect of a return to a plodding TOB style of football.

Ted H said...

This guy looks like Skip Carays brother.

mmason said...

ok, I'm freaking out to a "Back to the Future" flashback where all my polaroids of BC's last ten years of football progress are disappearing before my eyes because our Eagle Gull Wing sportster just blew rods and gaskets and the Professor has gone back to the past and fallen in love with the single wing, and a bunch of old has-been coaches are on the crazy train with him, and Marty is waiting by the Flutie statue as it vanishes before our eyes (and his eyes, too!) and Fr. Hanrahan, S.J., gets out of an old '68 VW in the rain, looking for Matt Ryan's teenage dad who's thinking about becoming a Jesuit...with a note from ME saying, "Don't Do It!"...and then we all wake up outside Gasson in a snowstorm...and the Eagle has Landed.

Gimme a break, guys. Let's not panic on this...All this Armageddon chatter is useless--unless we're all gonna march Fr. Leahy's House and demand football justice, let's see what these old guys can cook up. Ultimately, the team on the friggin' field will be the deciding factor--if we win, the recruits will come--If not, then we're blued, screwed and tattoed. Until then, WTF. We can always play Hawaii in a bowl game next year to feel better about the program...

How 'bout them Eagle B'Ballers? Can they knock out the Terps?

Over'n Out...

Thomas said...

mmason, while i appreciate your optimism for the new staff and wish i could share it, you assume that we will make a bowl game next year. I don't feel as comfortable asserting we will.

bd13 said...

Is Day gonna leave and if so where is he gonna go?

mmason said...

Thomas--I understand your reluctance to embrace the new regime--but we've been thru a weird enough year to know that "nothing's in the bag".Whether it was Jags'two years of wham bam thankyou m'am, here and gone, and then culminating in what I always thought was an astoundingly lackluster final set of performances in the 'ship and the Vandy fiasco--or all the strange that has gone down since then, I'm not so sure I'm so optimistic as I am surrendering to the Zen of all this. We either have arrived at the Old School Jedi Knight Zone or a boneyard for the best intentions of No Country for Old Men. I'm no kid and yet I've seen what can happen when a crafty old pro gets his well as when time has passed someone by.

Yes--ATL's right about the recruiting angles, because kids out there are pumped up by the puer eternalis of Pete Carroll's and Grudin's--but the unavoidable truth is that Here is Where we are. Spaz has to do his thing, now--and like Obama, he's going to make some bizarre moves for his own reasons.
There's method to his madness, perhaps--a need to bring in some wisdom maybe, that he can use to steer his plan. There's alot involved in staffing calls that entails chemistry and the integrity past relationships--I'm hopeful because Spaz seems like he gets what BC is and where it can go. He's witnessed it, for sure.
It's good for us as BC alums and fans to voice our concerns, yes. But we also need to be cool in our early reactions. If it all unravels and BC football tanks from the get-go next year, then we've got to howl about it. Until that time, I'm watching from the West Coast, glad that I don't care about Trojans, Bruins, Lakers or Dodgers--and watch the Eagles on the hardwood and the ice when I can , assuming that all's for the best because we gave Spaz the job and now we'll see what we've got when that first ball get's kicked off.
Crazy, huh?

mod10aeagle said...

Tranquill's record certainly doesn't excite me, but I was really disappointed in Logan, who initially did. He came in with a reputation for innovative offenses that put up a lot of points but, as soon as Ryan left, his offense quickly descended into little more than a high school package - no surprises, no mystery, absolutely nothing "scary" for a defense. I also have not been impressed with Day's receiving corps. Sure, they put up great numbers when they had an NFL-ready QB, but with Crane or Davis, they looked almost useless. When the ball is thrown slightly late, the receivers have to know how to use their body as shields, how to come back to the ball aggressively and hang on to it when they're hit almost immediately. BC's receivers were lousy at all of that. Again, with occasional exceptions, they looked like good high school players, nothing more. So, while I think the Tranquill pick is a missed opportunity, I don't think it's any more of a disaster than keeping Logan or naming Day OC would've been. Perhaps he's here to prepare Day for the job in two or three years when it will be time for Gary to retire again.

blockparty said...

anyone remember when TOB/Bible left BC and Jags was hired? GDF said "WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN NOW!" i dont want to say it, but Tranquill sounds an awful lot like...

Lenny Sienko said...

Maybe the new OC will actually remember the Single Wing and be able to implement it with our personnel. I don't recall any major college program using it since the '60's when Princeton was the last school to running Pop Warner's invention.

Of course, the Single Wing has made a reappearance this year as the so-called "Wildcat" formation. Everything that was old is now new. Maybe it will be the same with the OC. We can only hope.

Now all we need is a center who can master the direct snap. Our quarterbacks may be better utilized as blocking backs anyway.

I, for one, would love to see really "old school" horizontal maroon and gold stripes on our rugby-style uniform sleeves.