Friday, February 12, 2010

Ted Cain replaced by Jimmy Kiser as Vanderbilt offensive coordinator

OK, you can go ahead and celebrate.

Vanderbilt fans have been calling for Ted Cain's head for several years now, and believed there was no way Bobby Johnson would ever fire him. But since our signing day success, made possible in large part by Cain's efforts on the recruiting trail and especially in Atlanta, many fans have amended their wishes, now wanting Cain demoted instead of fired, but believing there was no way Johnson would ever demote him.

We've suspected something might happen after signing day, because so may recruits apparently wanted to come to Vandy BECAUSE of Cain. (Kids these days!)

Well, it's happened. Two weeks after signing day, Johnson has officially stripped Cain of his offensive coordinator job and given it to quarterbacks coach and passing game co-coordinator Jimmy Kiser.

Cain will continue to coach tight ends and will also assume the special teams coordinator job vacated by Warren Belin. Kiser will continue to coach quarterbacks but will surrender his passing game coordinator duties to receivers coach Charlie Fisher. Running backs coach Des Kitchings becomes running backs coach, which kind of makes sense. Robbie Caldwell continues as offensive line coach and assistant head coach. And defensive line coach Rick Logo assumes Belin's recruiting coordinator duties. We're still in the market for a linebackers coach.

I know, it's not what you wanted. You wanted Vandy to get a triple-option guy or bring in some big name we can get excited about during the pre-season.

Instead, the new offensive coordinator, Kiser, is the same guy who called the plays last season, and he'll call the plays this season in the same spread, no-huddle offense.

In today's Tennessean, Johnson explains that Cain was PLANNING the plays last season, and Kiser was CALLING the plays that Cain had planned.

"Jimmy was calling the plays, but he didn't have complete control over what plays were planned," Johnson said. "I thought it was extremely important that the guy calling plays should have the opportunity to craft the game plan around what they like to call in certain situations."

Further proof that more of Bobby Johnson's brain is occupied by defensive knowledge than offensive knowledge. But we knew that already.

It reminds me of what happened at Auburn in 2008, when Tuberville had Tony Franklin calling the plays but didn't actually require the position coaches to coordinate their game plans with his game plan. And because Tuberville coaches at Auburn instead of Vandy, he didn't have a couple of years to get things straightened out. He got fired.

Thankfully, Bobby Johnson's still our head coach. I think he's been the right guy for Vandy and he'll continue to be so, provided he it doesn't take us 10 years to crack the Top 100 in NCAA offensive production.

He needed to make a change after 2008 and he did, having Cain install a spread, no-huddle offense and tapping Kiser to call the plays.

He needed to make a change after 2009 and he's done it, turning the whole show over to Kiser. Hopefully Cain and the other offensive coaches are on board and willing to defer to Kiser. This seems like a close-knit staff — they've certainly been together for a long time — and I think they'll adjust just fine.

"I think with the X's and O's we're pretty good," Kiser told the Tennessean, "but we have to get our players to play better."

That kind of talk makes some fans angry. But I tend to agree. If your line can't block, your quarterback can't throw and your receivers can't catch, it doesn't matter how underrated your running backs are. It doesn't matter what kind of scheme you have. For example, running Kennard Reeves off tackle deep in Mississippi State territory would have been a good idea last season if James Williams wasn't sitting on the sidelines with a broken ankle. Sure, that might have been a bad call under the circumstances, but my point is that when you lose key players — or don't have them to begin with — then your options are severely limited.

For now, I like the move and look forward to seeing how it plays out. What do you think?


Greg M said...

I am good with this move. If Kiser doesn't cut it he can move him back to QB coach and hire a real OC. BJ has accomplished keeping his buddy Ted Cain, who you guys say is a good recruiter, and now has a more expendable person in the OC job so maybe a quicker hook if he doesn't work out. Anyway, can't be any worse so I say the glass if half full.

Geaux Dores!!!


Greg, glad to see you've cheered up a bit.