Had a chance to speak with new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gregg Brandon and defensive line coach Danilo Robinson today.
As you would expect, both were excited for the opportunity, and for Brandon this opportunity came up fast. On Wednesday when UW announced its 2011 signing class, there was no indication a change was coming. Offensive coordinator and QB coach Marcus Arroyo introduced the players he recruited, and also talked to me about working with more young quarterbacks (a previous blog post http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2011/02/02/arroyo-knows-young-qbs/).
In case you missed it, Arroyo is now at California, who was looking for an offensive coordinator after Andy Ludwig took a similar job at San Diego State.
You would think if this was in the works for a while Arroyo wouldn’t be talking about these recruits, or there at all on Wednesday. Then again, if he wasn’t there would be some suspecion.
Nonetheless, Brandon described the whole process to me as “bang-bang.”
Brandon was the receivers coach at UW for Paul Roach from 1987-90, and the Cowboys won WAC titles in 1987-88 and played in three bowl games during that time. He knows what it’s like in Laramie and all that. His connection with coach Dave Christensen was the biggest factor, having helped Christensen implement a spread offense at Missouri early in the 2000s, and their relationship goes back the better part of a decade.
Brandon was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2003-08, and his 2008 Bowling Green team embarrased UW 45-16 in Laramie — coach Joe Glenn’s last season. He said what’s impressed him the most about Laramie since he was a coach here is the facilities. He said the indoor practice facility is a heckuva upgrade from practicing in War Memorial Fieldhouse. He also was impressed with the Rochelle Athletics Center and the new Wildcatter suites.
“Wyoming wants to win and it shows with the upgrades in facilities,” he said.
Brandon said the task of finding a starting quarterback among redshirt freshman Emory Miller Jr., and true freshmen Adam Pittser and Brett Smith is “scary” based on their inexperience, but also exciting. Brandon added he will have the biggest learning curve because he needs to learn the terminology. He said the offense Christensen brought here is basically the same to the one he taught him at Missouri. There are some tweaks and changes that Brandon said he likes. But for the players, they will continue to learn what they’ve been learning.
As far as recruiting goes, Brandon said he recruited the Chicago area when he was at UW and said he still has ties there. He expects to recruit in the Houston area, where Arroyo recruited. He also said he has recruiting ties in Colorado.
Like I said in my previous post this morning, the timing of this seems odd since this all went down less than 48 hours after Wednesday’s signing day, but that’s how college football works sometimes. I like the fact Brandon, 55, brings more experience to the table. Not a knock on Arroyo, but it’s nice when your coordinators are the senior members of your offensive and defensive coaching staffs. Arroyo was only 31.
Robinson, 36, came to Laramie as an assistant at Louisiana-Monroe and twice as one at Utah State and lost to the Cowboys when Glenn was the coach.
He told me schemes don’t matter to him in terms of a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, but has worked mostly with the 4-3 which is what UW runs.
Robinson said he’s recruited all over the country in his career and feels comfortable where ever Christensen puts him. He came off as a young, enthusiastic and confident coach, much like Montgomery. This hire didn’t come as fast as Brandon’s. Montgomery’s been gone for nearly a month now. This was in the works for a while.
One last thought from this latest coaching shake-up. I know fans don’t like to see coaches leave UW for bigger and better things — even assistants. But this is a good sign for UW. If coaches are leaving for jobs in conferences like the Pac-12 (Arroyo to Cal) and Big Ten (Montgomery to Indiana and then Michigan) then that means UW is bringing in good coaches and Christensen knows where to find good coaches.
If assistants were leaving for lsimilar jobs at lower division schools then that would be a problem.
Also see my mid-season analysis piece on UW men’s basketball.