Behind the Stripes Dave Matter ranks the Big 12's best coordinators (Matter listed the top assistant coaches in the Sunday paper as well) and breaks them down on the blog between defense and offense:
3. Ruffin McNeill, Texas Tech: Longtime respected special teams coach took over Red Raiders defense midway through last season and made defense a priority in Lubbock.
1. Dana Holgorsen/Mike Leach, Texas Tech: Disclaimer time. Yes, Leach is TTU’s head coach, but he also designs the offense and calls the plays. Holgorsen, who’s listed as the coordinator, has been with Leach for eight years, meaning he’ll probably be plucked away as a head coach soon.
This could be an important list to tuck away as almost any program could face the prospect of losing their head coach. A few folks mentioned Christensen's name if Leach were to leave and I suppose that KU's Ed Warinner would also be an option if he maintains the same type of success at KU this year.
I'm also somewhat surprised to see McNeill at #3 of the defensive coordinators, especially considering the length of time that he's actually been a coordinator. Of course, I'd probably move Missouri's and Colorado's defensive coordinators above McNeill, just because of what has happened the previous few years when those teams met Texas Tech. Still, pretty nice to see.
As far as Matter's ranking of assistant coaches, McNeill checks in at #9 amongst all assistant coaches:
9. Ruffin McNeill, defensive coordinator, Texas Tech: That’s not a misprint, and yes, they do play some defense in Lubbock. After Mike Leach made McNeill made his interim coordinator midway through last season, the Red Raiders gradually developed a potent defense, enough to produce the Big 12’s third-ranked unit by season’s end. In January, Leach removed the interim tag.
"What impresses me most," Leach told the Dallas Morning News, "is the energy he creates."
Who else gets the feeling that Matter genuinely respects McNeill, which, by the way, is incredibly refreshing.
The only other names that I'd throw out there, are perhaps offensive line coach Matt Moore and Dennis Simmons and Lincoln Riley. They've all had pretty productive units, despite relative inexperience at coaching.
Who am I missing and would you add anyone else?
RedRaiderSports is running down the top 25 most important players for Texas Tech and Bront Bird checks in at #19. This one is free, so go check it out.
If you want good football reading, then check out Smart Football, but Chris just posted a really interesting and incredibly in depth analysis on Pass Protection, the Super Bowl, Tom Brady, and the Blind Side and Texas Tech's Mike Leach gets some credit for innovating the wide linemen splits and a highlight of a jailbreak screen, which we are all familiar with:
This approach obviously requires offensive tackles with some ability, but the logic is sound: I will make the path to my QB as far for you as possible. And if we run our offense correctly, the ball should be gone. (Remember what I said at the beginning about how most sacks are the result of the QB holding onto the ball too long? Leach has transformed this rule of thumb into a philosophical mantra.)