So last week we brought you the Top 10 offensive position coaches courtesy of Dave Matter's blog of the Columbia Tribune and now we're back (by popular demand) with Matter's Top 10 defensive position coaches. Now these kinds of lists are always good this time of year to generate a little conversation, or even stir things up a bit, given how boring things can be waiting for what feels like forever before the start of football season.
You may remember I took a little exception to Matter's #3 ranking of Josh Heupel on his list as I believed, and still do, that given everything he has done with the QBs at OU he deserved the top ranking. Where as with Heupel I felt justified, despite my obvious bias, in proclaiming his #1 ranking I'm met with another dilemma having read Matter's Top 10 defensive position coaches rankings. As you've probably guessed already, based on the picture above, he's awarded his top overall ranking to Longhorn defensive backs coach (and occasional victim of Mack's wandering hands) Duane Akina. The problem I, and many others here I assume as well, is being forced as a rabid OU fan to admit that I can't disagree with Akina at the top of the list. As a Sooner, it makes me sick to acknowledge that but the facts are the facts. I'll welcome anyone to convince me of my horrible mistake, but I don't believe it will be a very easy argument to make.
We'll get into the rest of the list and some additional thoughts after the jump.
So before we get further into Akina and the rest of the candidates, here is the full list as Matter sees it.
1. Duane Akina - Texas - Defensive Backs
2. Craig Kuligowski - Missouri - Defensive Line
3. Brent Venables - OU - Linebackers
4. Oscar Giles - Texas - Defensive Ends
5. Dave Steckel - Missouri - Linebackers
6. Wally Burnham - Iowa State - Linebackers
7. Willie Martinez - OU - Defensive Backs
8. Mo Latimore - Kansas State - Defensive Tackles
9. Terrell Williams - Texas A&M - Defensive Line
10. Chad Glasgow - Texas Tech - Safeties
So briefly back to Akina before I puke in my mouth. There is just no arguing what he's done with the Texas secondary and the talent he has recruited over the last decade. As much as it pains me to admit, he and his track record of putting DBs into the league has been the specifically mentioned reason for multiple recruits to spurn OU for UT in the last couple years. Now, given all that they've lost from last year's secondary, I expect this year to be a true test of just how good a secondary coach he really is and whether he's able to keep their back four from being a major liability. Regardless, one bad year won't be able to erase the last ten no matter how much I'll enjoy it if they struggle (mightily?) this year. Plus he has been primarily responsible for continuing to put Blake Gideon on the field the last three years, so that alone should probably bump him down to the #2 spot (just kidding. Kind of).
So much like I thought Matter was guilty of a little homerism when he put Mizzou's WR coach ahead of Heupel in his offensive rankings, I also feel the same with his #2 ranking of a guy I (and I assume most of you) have never heard of. No offense to the man, but I'm just not sure he has the track record and proven history of success to justify being ahead of a guy like Brent Venables. I know Mizzou fans absolutely love #5 on Matter's list, Mizzou defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, and wouldn't also have him above Kuligowski.
But back to Venables, now I know the guy takes plenty of heat over how he calls a game but few if any question him when it comes to coaching his position group. The OU linebackers under Venables have consistently been a position of strength for the Sooners defense and outside of failing to have a backup for Ryan Reynolds on a miserable day in Dallas, have rarely been called into question under his watch. Heck, he loves his guys so much he refuses to ever not have three of them on the field at one time no matter if the opponent is in a five wide set and he's forced to match up a LB on a WR that he has no possible chance of staying with, 'er my bad I'll save that rant for another day. In all seriousness, few coaches if any on this list have the kind of track record as Venables and while I wouldn't bump him ahead of Akina, I think he's no worse than #2 in my book.
Now this may purely be my hatred shining through, but Oscar Giles? Really? Has there been a position at UT that has more five star talent that has underachieved more than DE in recent years? Oh wait, you mean it's also happened at QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, & DT? Okay, I guess we'll just add it to the list then which only begs the question that besides Orakpo why does Giles belong this high on the list?
In my opinion, the most glaring omission is OU DT coach Jackie Shipp. In addition to being an incredibly dynamic recruiter, he has almost a comparable history to that of Akina at putting guys in the league. So if that is a factor in Akina being #1, it sure as heck should earn Shipp a spot in the top ten. I know Matter mentioned him in his breakdown of Venables, but that's a cop out for not including him on the list altogether. No way in hell he isn't the best DT coach in the conference and seeing the guy from K-State on here and not Shipp is a complete joke.
Was happy to see Martinez get a little love as I really like what he's done with the OU secondary in just a short time in Norman. Personally, I'm really excited about the future of the defensive backs under his tutelage and just hope we can keep him from taking another job for at least a couple years.
So what do you all think of the defensive list? Do you agree (barf) with Akina at #1? If not, who would you put up there. Where is Bill Young's name OSU fans? All kinds of stuff to discuss in the comments, so have at it!