When the news broke yesterday that James Coley had decided to take the Miami offensive coordinator position, Twitter exploded. The immediate reaction was one based around him swapping rivals. Once the dust settled, though, people started to really grasp the overall meaning of this hire.
Hiring James Coley was both risk and reward for Miami. Sure, he's a fantastic recruiter, was at a rival for a long time before flipping, and the timing of the hire (2 weeks or so before NSD) couldn't be better. The play calling, however, is the risk. With only 1 year calling plays at a fledgling university under his belt, and years of working under Jimbo Fisher without the opportunity to call plays, how will he do?
Reaction flowed in from everywhere, and none hit on the offensive coordinator aspect more succinctly than David M. Hale of NoleNation on ESPN:
No one on Fisher's staff had a better working knowledge of his offense than Coley, but there were obvious problems with simply handing over play-calling responsibilities as a form of leverage in negotiations.
While Coley will have some leeway to create his own offensive style at Miami, a similar position at FSU would likely have simply involved implementing Fisher's offense. Moreover, Fisher's looming presence on the sideline could certainly cast a long shadow over Coley if he had struggled in a new role in the early going.
It would be nearly impossible for Coley to work that long under Fisher (and Nick Saban for a few years, by the way) without picking up quite a bit about the play calling responsibilities. He would have literally just had to zoned out every single thing in meetings, practices, game prep, and actual games in order to not absorb some idea on how to perform at the position.
Granted, that does not mean he automatically knows how to do it, and will step in and be fantastic at the job. However, logic says that the installation of his game plan would likely be the major hurdle in the process, and if there is one thing we have learned about Al Golden over his first two years, is that the man knows how to install anything football related. He should make the job an easy one for Coley, without question.
The other thing about the situation is the type of offense that Coley likes to run. He will likely install a more spread type offense rather than the pro-style that Fisch liked (if you can truly say that's what he ran during his tenure). Coley's offense should be build around spreading the defense, gashing them with speed, and keeping them off-balance. It just so happens that Miami may actually have the offense to run that perfectly, with Morris, Duke, and Dorsett, among others.
Coley's more immediate impact will be recruiting. While this year's recruiting cycle is winding down, his hire will have instantaneous ripples through the recruitment of kids like Matthew Thomas, Stacy Coley, and Denver Kirkland. Whether or not his presence will bring in new names (it will, see: Augustus Edwards) or will flip kids that are already committed remains to be seen. The true force of the hire comes in the next few years, where he will be able to work alongside Cristobal and Barrow to essentially cull South Florida for the best talent. Oh, and the timing again comes into play, because as Jaime Newberg of Scout.com will tell you, South Florida is absolutely LOADED next year:
Looking ahead, it’s an absolutely loaded 2014 class in south Florida next season. Virtually every top positional recruit from the Sunshine State will be from south Florida (Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) like running back Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla.), tight end Ravian Pierce (Plantation, Fla.), offensive lineman K.C. McDermott (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central), defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washignton), defensive tackle Khairi Clark (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade Madonna), cornerback Nigel Patton (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington), and safety Quincy Wilson (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School).
I am already swooning over the fact that our staff of recruiters will be picking whichever players they want out of that list and the rest that aren't listed in that blurb (Oh, and there are plenty. You can find the rest by clicking here), and Miami is almost guaranteed to be in the running for their services.
So now we know more or less what a few talking sports heads think about the hire, but what about the local high school coaches? These are the people that will be dealing directly with Coley and Cristobal and the others, right? Well, Pete Ariz got things started yesterday after the hire:
A number of South Florida area coaches I speak to absolutely love Coley and spoke extremely highly of him when he was at Florida State. Here are a couple of the responses I'm getting from a couple South Florida area coaches that I've talked to about the hire:"Awesome, it's huge. I'm a huge fan of his. Crazy.""Coley and Cristobal together...it's on""He puts in work as a recruiter"
"No recruits will get out of Miami now," Green said. "Coley is awesome. That's one of the best aspects about him is his recruiting. Great recruiters don't come along all the time. He's a truly great one. I guarantee you, these kids out of Miami - one thing is he realizes what his talent base is.Coley was still a South Florida guy even recruiting from (Tallahassee) - now he doesn't have to go anywhere because he'll do a lot of recruiting right here in town, will go out of town to get a quarterback, couple of linemen. But Coley, it's going to be like it was in the past where if you were from Miami you stay in Miami."