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.
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.