A review of the top 2008 first-year assistant coach hires

At the beginning of the season, I tabbed the top five new assistants among the non-AQs that I thought would make a difference for their respective teams. I thought I would look back and see how those assistants fared and grade them on their performance.

1. Tony Franklin, Middle Tennessee, OC: Franklin lived up to all the expectations that were levied on him and his offensive scheme, and made Middle Tennessee a legitimate contender not just in the Sun Belt Conference but across its schedule. The Blue Raiders won 10 games, ranked 27th nationally in total offense and 23rd in scoring offense. He turned Dwight Dasher, who had been thought of as a running quarterback, into a solid dual threat. Dasher ranked seventh in the country in total offense.

Grade: A

2. Herb Hand, Tulsa, OC: Hand had worked side-by-side with Gus Malzahn when it came to designing the Tulsa offense, but when Malzahn bolted for Auburn, he seemed to take Tulsa’s firepower with him. The Golden Hurricane, which had been among the best offenses in the country for the past couple seasons, ranked 35th in the country in total offense and the team went 5-7. Tulsa coach Todd Graham actually hired a successful high school coach to help Hand resuscitate the offense for 2010.

Grade: D+

3. Jeff Brohm, Florida Atlantic, quarterbacks: Brohm used Florida Atlantic as a stepping-stone to a better job and left after just one year. But in the short time Brohm was with the Owls, he did make the passing offense No. 18 in the country with 279.67 yards per game. He also did a good job of preparing 2010 starter Jeff Van Camp, who started the back half of the season because of a season-ending injury to starter Rusty Smith.

Grade: A-

4. Al Borges, San Diego State, OC: In all fairness to Borges, he didn’t have a lot to work with. The passing offense was respectable with 263.58 yards per game and quarterback Ryan Lindley also had a decent season with receiver DeMarco Sampson. But the biggest problem for the Aztecs, and it has been for some time, was the lack of a running game. The Aztecs were 116th in rushing and the lack of diversity really hurt them against better teams.

Grade: C-

5. Rocky Long, San Diego State, DC: Surprisingly, San Diego State picked up Long’s 3-3-5 scheme pretty quickly and became a decent defense. In 2008, the Aztec defense ranked last in the conference and 113th in the country. This season, SDSU was fifth in the conference and 74th in the country. It gave up more than 38 points just once (four times in 2008) and kept the Aztecs in some games throughout the year. Still, it wasn’t enough to net the Aztecs more than four wins.

Grade: B