We will start with the resignation of Bob Wager which became official last week:
I’ve seen quite the debate on social media and message boards about how important or unimportant the TE coach is, and if this is a big deal:
Personally, and I hate to say this, I agree with Sipple here. Let me explain why…
It’s no secret i’ve had access to USC football for over a decade now. I once had Lane Kiffin tell me that “a TEs coach is just the head coaches drinking buddy.” It took me by surprise, but he went on to explain further “just watch practice tomorrow, we are either sending them to work with the OL coach to work blocking scheme with tackles, or we are sending them to do 7 v7 work with the QB and WR coach. Not to mention we only have like 4 of them anyway. They get like 100k per player they coach.”
I get where he’s coming from, and it’s why I agree with Sipple that it’s not a huge loss on the surface. The QB and WR coach can help with the route running and passing game concepts if there was any acclimation period needed, and Raiola/Rhule is going to help with the blocking situation/scheme for the new coach. At minimum, the TEs coach has the most help out of any position group as he can just send the players to a different coach to work on whatever they need to during that practice period.
Just imagine if you lost the QB coach, or DB coach, ya you can send those players to other groups like i’m describing with TEs, but it is much more difficult to have seamless issues. Kiffin went on to tell me “just watch, 95% of practice that group is working in tandem with other coaches or position groups.” He was right, they were running the chutes with the linemen, they did skelly drills with the QBs. I get where he’s coming from, and that’s why I think it’s not that big of a deal with Wager.
But I also understand where people are coming from when they say it’s a difficult position because of what you are asked to do, such as blocking like an OT or running routes like a WR. Personally, I think those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have a position where the coach isn’t as important because they are always working with other groups, but also have it be a difficult position to be good at due to what is expected of the player.
I also don’t want to neglect the fact that arguably the best coach on staff the previous 5 years was TEs coach Sean Beckton. He did an unbelievable job developing the players, and I would also say that if not for him our staff probably wouldn’t have even been showing up towards the end. So I don’t want me saying that this isn’t a bad position to lose a coach at to come off as the TE coach not being important. You only get 10 on the field assistants, the stronger each one of them are, the better it is. The TE coach is just the easiest one to lose and not really miss a beat because there’s a built in buffer with how practices are structured.
And let’s circle it back to Wager anyway… there’s a reason the TEs coach could just be pulled from a Texas high school and put into that spot. The real reason he was hired was to give the Texas pipeline an uptick. Flynt was coming here anyway as his family are alumni, and I would argue that Foley spent more time in Ainsworth to get Nelson than Wager did. Wager was definitely one of the 3 coaches I would be fine with losing and not worry about who we were going to replace him with because almost anyone you hire can be looked at as an upgrade. Heck, you already have people saying it:
We will be fine… Wager wasn’t lighting the world on fire early like a Cooper or Knighton… And I wasn’t all that impressed with the hire to begin with. Onward and upward.
Players absent from the fall camp 120 man roster
Myles Farmer – We will start with the big one, as Myles Farmer is suspended from the team for an undisclosed amount of time. Coach Rhule stated it is up to the player on if he returns and when, so the door seems to be open. Will this be like an Anthony Grant situation where there were issues that the player remedied? Or will this be more like the situations that became far too common the last 5 or so years with players like Maurice Washington, JD Spielman, Wandale Robinson that just didn’t jive with the coaching and transferred out? Rhule gets a pass year 1 as this wasn’t his recruit, but losing your 11 game starter from last year and second leading tackler is a tough blow.
Josh Fleeks – Fleeks was recruited to Baylor by Coach Rhule, and is like a 12th year senior due to Covid, so you thought Rhule was bringing him in sort of like a Tre Neal or Noah Vedral where they were with the previous staff and they can show/set the expectations. But for some reason, Fleeks made it all through summer fine, then took the week off before fall camp and came back so overweight that Rhule just gave him the:
This is tough, as WR is very thin, especially when you consider Washington limited with a broken hand early in camp. But he was a one year band-aid, if he gets back great. If not, it’s not that big of a deal.
Brodie Tagaloa – Tagaloa was absent from fall camp as he was in a severe car accident and had to have season ending surgery on his leg. He is at home in California recovering. This isn’t a big loss, but it is another scholarship player that we were counting on for numbers that is gone.
Jacob Hood – Hood is out with what was termed “chronic ankle issues”. It was no secret that Hood needed a lot of work reshaping his body, but it sounds like things are tougher than originally thought. While he wasn’t going to be starting, tackle is extremely thin and the position we need help and options at.
Nothing too catastrophic in regards to who isn’t here. I’ve never been all that impressed with Farmer, but losing your second leading tackler when he could have been here is no bueno. The good news is, DBs could be considered one of the deepest position groups on the team.
But Rhule needs to be cutthroat year 1. He gets a pass on his record in 2023, so establish your standards and don’t budge an inch. Getting rid of coaches and returning starters who aren’t doing things the way you want them to be done in the first season can give you some power moving forward. Let the players understand that there are consequences (both good and bad) for your actions or inactions.
The story I like to tell is Mo Washington missing from a meeting, they can’t find him, as he is hiding from the staff and just in a corner of a room eating Raising Canes trying to not be found. They end up playing him anyway, and all the players doing things the right way, see the guy they couldn’t find and was missing being a significant part of the team. From Day 1, hold your players and coaches accountable. No one is bigger than the team.
Thursday we will have our QB preview and then sit back on Friday to watch the B1G coverage from camp on Friday. Monday we will have the RB preview.
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