Last night, after a couple of days of speculation, USF officially hired Kansas State co-defensive coordinator Chris Cosh to fill their open defensive coordinator job.
This isn't exactly a home run hire. I live in Big XII country and Kansas State was on TV pretty much every week here, so I ended up watching a few* of their games. They were insanely entertaining, but they didn't make very many plays on defense. It was a lot like watching USF play defense against Notre Dame -- they were OK giving up yards and field position as long as they "made them snap it again," in the words of Skip Holtz. And then K-State would get some timely defensive play, or they'd block a kick, or get a big return, or some other kind of sorcery or voodoo would happen, and they'd win.
That all sounds well and good, but remember what I've said over and over again. Winning close games is not a skill and it evens out over time. (See also: 2010 and 2011 USF Bulls.) What happens if they don't make all those big plays and K-State wins seven games instead of 10 and goes bowling in Shreveport? It probably makes this hire a lot less appealing.
But don't just take my word for it. After noticing that K-State fans were not exactly upset to see Cosh leave, I asked TB at Bring On the Cats, SBN's Kansas State blog, to share his thoughts, which he was nice enough to do for us:
Cosh was an underwhelming hire from the beginning (ed. note: he was also the DC in 2004-05, went to Maryland after Ron Prince replaced him with Raheem Morris, and was rehired when Bill Snyder unretired in 2009). He was mediocre at Maryland and most fans in Manhattan had no idea why he was brought on as co-defensive coordinator with someone like Vic Koenning, who is clearly a superior DC. Cosh and his staff have proven to be decent recruiters, as the upgraded talent level at K-State this season was a big reason for the defense's marked improvement against the run. In addition to being only moderately effective, Cosh's defenses are frustrating to watch. He very rarely blitzes, and the blitzes he does employ are obvious and not particularly well designed. His secondaries have shown a remarkably consistent ability to be out of position, and his players are rarely particularly good tacklers. Cosh plays zone almost exclusively, and against most Big 12 quarterbacks, that was a standing invitation to be picked apart.
Hope that helps. For your sake, I'm sorry you guys are going to be stuck with him. But for our sake, I'm thrilled at the possibility of upgrading our defensive coaching staff.
Excellent! It sounds like USF lost Mark Snyder and replaced him with... well, another Mark Snyder.
Let's get into some other things after the jump.
* More like five or six, at least. It was because of EcoKat. As far as you know.
-- One thing Cosh might have going for him: the Big East isn't nearly as prolific on offense as the Big XII. As Greg Auman pointed out the other day, the Big XII had six of the top 13 total offenses in FBS last season (Baylor #2, Oklahoma State #3, Oklahoma #5, Texas A&M #7, Missouri #12, Texas Tech #13), and K-State played all of them because conference play was a round-robin. When they played a less productive offense, like Texas or Iowa State, they fared significantly better. So at least they didn't make bad offenses look good. Only one of USF's Big East opponents finished above 60th in total offense. West Virginia was 15th, and they might not even be in the league next season.
That's still a pretty weak justification. But I don't think USF is going to give up 680 yards in a game the way K-State did to Oklahoma when Ryan Broyles was still healthy. Wait, Mark Snyder gave up 590 to Cincinnati last year? OK, forget I said anything.
-- I am happy about Cosh's prowess with linebackers, as Corey Dowlar details in his Bulls 247 story. Teams made it a point of attacking the USF linebackers last season, especially Michael Lanaris. Anything Cosh can do to help them out will be a perk.
-- We don't know about the money for sure... but when Greg reported that Cosh was the only person that Holtz interviewed, that might tell us that the budget wasn't high enough to bring in some of the other rumored candidates, like Greg Hudson or Wally Burnham. We know Cosh made about $45,000 less per year than Hudson did at Florida State ($290K for Cosh and $335K for Hudson, who was Florida State's linebacker coach). Was there a huge difference between what USF could offer and what other candidates wanted? Was it a smaller difference, and Doug Woolard went cheap again? Regardless of the difference, would it have been worth the money to get Hudson's or Wally's extensive Florida recruiting ties, instead of having to compete against them? Would either of them have been a better fit for the players on hand than someone who plays a very similar style to Mark Snyder? All questions we won't be able to answer, unfortunately.
-- The circle of life is in play, if you're interested in who replaces Cosh.
-- To finish, a series of texts between me and Ken on Tuesday, edited for coherence:
JAMIE: I'm about to set up a macro to finish typing "Kansas State" for me between Leavitt and Ron Anderson Jr. and Raheem Morris and Josh Freeman and Chris Cosh. And the whole UCF schedule thing, too.
KEN: But it's like USF and K-State have a co-op. Grant Gregory too. If only Huggy Bear had left K-State for USF.
JAMIE: We just need our own POWERTOWEL. Or our own Team Catlab.
KEN: We will never have anything as awesome as Catlab.