Michigan State had a terrible offense in 2012. Losing their senior quarterback and virtually every receiver that had caught a pass castrated the Spartans’ passing game. They finished 111th nationally in yards per play, and that was with a powerful tailback who could withstand a 40-carry workload. Maligned offensive coordinator Dan Roushar left for an assistant job with the New Orleans Saints. Faced with an opportunity to implement some excitement, Mark Dantonio is hiring his former Ohio State buddy Jim Bollman. East Lansing groans are audible from here.
Bollman spent his last season as offensive line coach at Boston College, before being hired by former colleague Darrell Hazell at Purdue. He’s best known, though, for his tenure at Ohio State, where he became the poster boy for assistant nepotism under Jim Tressel.
We could rip him for the offensive line output being less than talent input – Mike Adams in 2012 was the one Ohio State guard or tackle drafted in the first three rounds from 2003 to 2012 – or for being part of the brain trust that managed not to have an explosive college offense with Terrelle Pryor at quarterback. But his piece de resistance was the head coach-less year in 2011. Ohio State had Braxton Miller (albeit the freshman version) and future NFL Draft Picks on the line, at running back and at wide receiver. Bollman coordinated that unit to 88th in yards per play (107th in yards per game).
So, after a year of ineffectual offense, MSU hired a coordinator renowned for predictability, for an outmoded mustache and for not getting the most from the talent at his disposal. This has become a disturbing pattern for Big Ten offensive coordinator hires, sans the mustache.
The obvious parallel is Iowa hiring longtime Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis before last season. Davis resigned following the debacle that was the Longhorns’ 2010 season, epitomizing the staleness that had set in under Mack Brown. Iowa brought him in to refresh things in 2012. The Hawkeyes fell from 58th in yards per play to 115th.
Purdue hired oft-maligned offensive coordinator John Shoop. The name alone would make a Chicago Bears fan clench unconsciously. Shoop was coordinator there from 1999 to 2003, a period where the Bears eclipsed 18 points per game just once in five tries. Shoop did develop a couple decent offenses toward the end of his time at North Carolina, after three years not reaching the top 60 in yards per play.
This is a Big Ten conference that also contains Minnesota (107th in yards per play in 2012) and Illinois (119th) and will see the addition of Rutgers (93rd) and Maryland (120th). Such crap-tastic offenses are hardly the route to foster competition with the SEC (or even the Big 12 and Pac 12), unless the goal is to ease the route for the Michigan/Ohio State winner to go undefeated every year.
[Photo via USA Today Sports Images]