It's all but official at this point: Carolina o-line coach Eric Wolford will be leaving to take the head coaching position at I-AA Youngstown State. (I know it's not technically I-AA anymore. I refuse to acknowledge the change.) The job seems to be a good fit for him- it's in his home town and if offers a 50k a year raise. It's not about the money- I get the feeling that Wolfy probably wouldn't stay in Columbia for the extra 50 stacks. Y-town offers him the chance to be a young head coach, and success there will put him on the fast track to making a name for himself and landing a I-A job as the HC of a smaller school or the OC of a BCS school. So, as much as it's a bummer to see him leave, it's probably the best move for him. Can't really blame the guy- the coaching carousel is rarely slowed by loyalty.
For Carolina, the search now begins for a new coach to head up the O line. What are the most important considerations when looking for a candidate? Here's my list, in order of importance:
- Must be a person not named John Hunt. This is absolutely crucial.
- Must be someone who can retain 80% of Wolfy's OL recruiting class, especially Eric Mack and A.J. Cann.
- Must be someone who focuses on pass protection at least as much as the run.
- Younger than 45 would be preferable.
- SEC experience also preferable.
- The meaner the better. Not a soft 'player's coach'.
Wolford will be missed, and he did a good job in his one year on campus. The numbers don't really indicate that, since Carolina finished last in rushing and 11th in sacks in the SEC. But look at the near complete lack of talent that Wolford inherited. The cabinet was pretty bare. The line lost perhaps its only legit SEC starter in Jamon Meredith, yet still managed to run for over 5 yards a carry.
It was clear from the outset that the run game was Wolford's baby, and pass protection came second. This turned out to basically be a bad idea in the pass happy offense that Spurrier wants to run. It's obviously important for any line to be able to block both the pass and the run, but with a rapidly developing young QB, explosive receivers, and Spurrier at the helm, improved pass protection needs to be at the forefront for the new coach. Just goes to show that giving the offensive line coach the title of 'run game coordinator' can kind of skew his priorities a little.
Really, though, the main thing that the new guy needs to focus on as soon as he steps onto campus is retaining the fantastic OL recruiting class that Wolford put together. Wolfy had convinced eight big men to come to Carolina, including two highly recruited four star guys. Whether or not the new coach can keep these players on board, and how many other players he can bring in, will be an early offseason indication of how much success he'll have in Columbia.