Temple offensive coordinator Ryan Day sat in his office on a recent afternoon and tried to explain a growing trend.
"Does left right red pink purple flamingo corner X mean anything to you?" he asked. "It sounds just the way Chinese would probably sound to you, right?"
Yes. Most times new coordinators come into a program that has a head coach already in place, they bring their own scheme, and their own terminology. But three schools in the Big East have gone about things a bit differently this spring. Rather than have an entire offensive or defensive unit learn new terminology -- otherwise known a new language -- it is the coordinator that is adjusting to what is already in place.
That makes the transition much easier on the players. Instead of 40 or 50 people learning a new way to speak, only one person does. And because the coordinators already have a base knowledge of the scheme, it is simply a matter of learning new words and not new alignments.
Day is one of the three Big East coordinators learning the scheme already in place. Rutgers offensive coordinator Dave Brock and USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh have done the same, as more collegiate head coaches have decided to go this route. Shawn Watson at Louisville and John Jancek at Cincinnati go into the season as full-time coordinators, but they already had positions at their respective schools.
"When Coach [Steve] Addazio called to ask me if I would be interested in the job, he asked if I would learn what was already in place here," said Day, who was hired from Boston College. "I said that was no problem for me. I didn't have very long to get adjusted, but it was much easier on me."
Addazio served as offensive coordinator at Florida, so he has a specific idea about what type of offense he wants to run. Plus, he is going into his second year as the head coach, so he did not want his players to have to learn new terminology for the second straight season. His vision to have a team that can play both smash-mouth and spread, and that is what he wants carried out. Day served as offensive graduate assistant at Florida in 2005, under Addazio, so he already was familiar with the scheme.
At Rutgers, Flood was elevated from offensive line coach to head coach. He lost nearly every assistant under Schiano, including offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti. He purposely went after a coordinator who would come in and keep the same pro-style scheme.
"Dave and I talked about that before he took the job," Flood said. "I know how good a person Dave Brock is, how good a recruiter he is and how good a football coach he is and I wanted him to be comfortable doing that. It’s very similar to the language used at North Carolina."
Brock served as an assistant with the Tar Heels in 2006 under Cignetti, who was offensive coordinator at the time. So it makes sense the language is similar.
"As coaches, after you’ve worked in a couple systems, what you find is the word might be different, but the way things are organized is pretty standard," Flood explained. "It’s not as difficult for the coach to learn it as it would be to teach the offense an entirely new system."
Meanwhile, Cosh is the third different defensive coordinator in the last four seasons at USF. The Bulls run a similar 4-3 scheme to what Cosh ran at Kansas State last season. Cosh and coach Skip Holtz also have a long history together, and he was happy to come in and keep what was in place.
"The alignments and things like that are similar to what I had at Kansas State, so what I try to do is mesh my structure with their words so the learning curve was not as great for the kids," Cosh said. "I've been around. I can adapt and so that will help us build a little faster than getting over the language.
"The word and alignments helps the kids line up, now it's our job to coach the techniques, dynamics and reads within that. It's helped me and I think it's helped the kids, too, in the transition."