James Willis Leaves Texas Tech: I had not turned on my computer for two straight days. Usually by the end of football season, I always feel like I owe my wife my time during the holiday. I woke up early this morning and was a little surprised by the news.
As you guys and gals are fully aware, the way that this usually works is that first there are Twitter rumors regarding a coach possibly being connected to another program, then there blog posts on newspaper blogs that usually state something to the effect of, "according to multiple sources . . . ," then there's an actual story and then there's confirmation, one way or another, about a potential hire.
Well, we went from Twitter rumors to confirmation by Texas Tech. As I'm sure you've figured out by now, Texas Tech released a statement yesterday confirming that defensive coordinator James Willis has left the program:
Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis has left the program immediately to pursue other career opportunities. He will not coach in Texas Tech's New Year's Day match-up against Northwestern in the Ticket City Bowl.
"I wish James the best of luck but it is important for football team to keep pressing forward," said Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville. "We have a great defensive staff here that will carry the load along with my assistance as we prepare for Northwestern."
I find this absolutely fascinating on so many levels. The press release confirms that Willis left the program, but LAJ's Don Williams asked of Blayne Beal if this was Willis leaving the program and a resignation or if he was terminated:
Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said Tuberville would not discuss the situation further until Monday in Dallas, when the Red Raiders have their first on-site bowl workout. Tech and Northwestern, two 7-5 teams, square off at 11 a.m. Saturday at the inaugural TicketCity Bowl, which will be played at the Cotton Bowl stadium.
When asked whether Willis’ departure was a resignation, Beal declined to say.
This is question that I want answered. You almost get the impression that Tuberville asked for three years from their coordinators and also asked that if they decide to move somewhere else, that they talk to Tuberville first. It sounds as if that didn't happen. It's also strange that Tuberville may have done the same thing with Miami, but what we have been told is that Tuberville was just giving the Miami program advice and that he was never formally offered the job. Sure, his name was associated with Miami for weeks. We also had AD Myers state that Miami had not contacted him about Tuberville, which is standard-operating-procedure. Could we shoot holes in these last two sentences all day long? Sure.
And I've already run through the things that you guys and gals have already discussed, which is should it matter as Texas Tech lost the defensive coordinator that was ranked 116th in total defense thus far this year. I think it does matter, but I also think that he's not irreplaceable. If there's one thing that Tuberville has demonstrated over the course of his career is to find guys that eventually become successful coordinators and/or head coaches. I have no doubt that Tuberville keeps a short-list of possible candidates (I'm sure all coaches have a short-list) that can replace Willis. If I had to look at the current staff, I think I take a look at defensive ends and linebackers coach Robert Prunty and maybe defensive tackles coach Sam McElroy, at least for the bowl game. And one more thing to consider, which is a link I remember discussing in the McElroy post, which is that Tuberville hired Don Dunn as director of high school relations at Texas Tech. Dunn was at Auburn with Tuberville as the defensive line / nose guard coach. I think promoting Dunn is a long-shot, but I'm just throwing it out there.
What I do think is that there's someone out there that we don't know about that Tuberville has on his list and I think who Tuberville eventually hires will be similar to Willis in that he will probably be a position coach on that has former ties to Tuberville.
So many more links it will make your head explode . . . after the jump.
DL Colby Whitlock: Texas Tech
Doesn’t always get the attention he deserves and played out of position this year at Tech. But he’s showed the ability to add some weight and play with a little more anchor inside, while still possessing the first step to get up the field, find the football and create havoc in opposing teams’ backfields. Will be a nice mid/late round value.
Northwestern and TicketCity Bowl Links: Sippin' On Purple's Rodger Sherman has Texas Tech on the chopping block . . . LAJ's Adam Zuvanich profiles LB Bryce McNaul, who has a brother currently serving in Iraq . . . Off The Tackle Empire's Jonathan Franz discusses the loss of QB Dan Persa . . . FWST's Jimmy Burch writes that Texas Tech hopes to break the Dallas bowl hex . . . FSSW's Eddie Middleton has three things to watch for in the TicketCity Bowl . . .
Recruiting Stuff: There were some recruiting notes out there over the past few days . . . San Antonio MacArthur's TE Jace Amaro was named to USA Today's All-USA team, there was also this article in the SAEN about the San Antonio offensive POY and Amaro gets consideration. Congrats to Amaro! . . . if you want to know why Prunty may be considered for the defensive coordinator spot then it would hinge greatly on his ability to recruit as there were a handful of players visiting Texas Tech this past week from Pennsylvania, including DT Delvon Simmons (Rivals profile), DE Branden Jackson (Rivals profile) and DE/QB Desimon Green (Rivals profile). I get the impression that these guys are all a result of Prunty, not Willis, we'll see where this goes, but these are guys to watch as signing day approaches. I'm also willing to bet that it's just a matter of time before Prunty establishes the same types of relationships here in Texas that he did in Virginia and Pennsylvania . . .