Wanted to try and catch up on the Panthers' most recent assistant coaching staff hires under new coach Pat Narduzzi since I took some time off on that front.
Pitt has four more assistants since we last took a look at new offensive line coach John Peterson and linebackers coach Rob Harley. The new guys are Tim Salem (tight ends coach), Tom Sims (defensive line coach), Renaldo Hill (cornerbacks coach), and Kevin Sherman (wide receivers coach). As of Tuesday night, I hadn't yet seen an official announcement on Sherman, but reports indicate that he's in.
Here's a little bit on each guy.
Salem has about 20 years of experience as a coach. To get someone like that to coach your tight ends is a pretty significant 'get'. Salem has not only coached tight ends for a few years at Central Florida, but he's been an offensive coordinator for a total of nine seasons there, at Purdue, Eastern Michigan, and Phoenix College.
The flipside is that unlike constantly taking on bigger roles, Salem's career has actually included what appear to be a few demotions, for whatever reason. From 2004-2008, he was the offensive coordinator at Central Florida. In 2009-2011, though, he was only in charge of tight ends and special teams. A demotion on a smaller scale was when he went from being in charge of running backs and special teams at Illinois in 2012-2013 to managing only special teams in 2014. There may be very legit reasons for those moves, such as coaching changes, etc. But I figured they were worth a mention.
And it should be noted that he actually had some success at Central Florida, setting a school record for points scored as the offensive coordinator in 2007. He's had lots of ups and downs, so I'm not sure you'd want to hire him as an offensive coordinator. But as a tight ends coach with that much experience, I've got no issue with that. Plus, his stops have included 13 years at major-conference programs, Purdue, Ohio State, and Illinois - always a bonus.
Like the Salem hire, there's a lot to like about the Sims announcement - only for different reasons.
For starters, Sims is a former Pitt player, which always helps. He didn't stop there, though, playing seven years in the NFL. The thing that stands out on his resume is that he's only coached defensive lines - something I consider a big plus. It's clearly his niche and playing on NFL defensive lines only helps that. At his last stop in Youngstown State, he also was an assistant head coach.
Sims' coaching stops have included Youngstown State, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Eastern Michigan, and Western Kentucky. In all, he's got nearly 20 years of coaching defensive lines in college. Couple that with his NFL and Pitt experience and the fact that you're hiring him to, you know, coach the defensive line, and it's really hard not to like that.
Hill brings a few more questions to the table since, like Harley, he's got virtually no coaching experience. His only real experience has come at Wyoming the past two seasons in coaching cornerbacks there. Prior to that, he spent a year as a graduate assistant at Michigan State.
The big benefit to hiring Hill is that he has a lot of experience playing in the NFL with ten seasons logged there. I'm the first guy to note that that doesn't always equate to being a good coach. But I always think it's important to have guys on the staff that can say they've played at the highest level and know what it takes. And plus, ten seasons in the league is just a very long time and means you've had a good career. He certainly knew how to play, so now it's just a matter of being able to communicate it.
We'll really have to see how that hire works out. The secondary is one area that is just in dire need of help and I'd much rather have a guy with loads of experience coming here than at somewhere like tight end. Just one of those 'wait and see' hires (which, aren't they all?). Wyoming's pass defense last year was right in the middle of the pack (No. 61) in the FBS in yards given up. FWIW, those stats aren't always indicative of a team's performance. Pitt, for example, was 24th and we know the problems they had.
Last up is Sherman, the newest addition. SI had the news of his hire first and they say that he is the final hire for the staff.
Sherman, like Sims, has coached practically his entire career exclusively for what he's being asked to do here. He's coached wide receivers at Purdue the past two years and before that, had done the same at Virginia Tech for seven seasons. Before that, he had a combined nine years at that post for both Wake Forest and Ohio University. And before those stops, he coached for six seasons at VMI and Methodist College as wide receivers coach and in a few other capacities.
He was also cited as a 'tremendous recruiter' east of the Mississippi and was also a recruiting coordinator at VMI, per his Purdue bio.
Another solid get IMO with more than 20 years of experience coaching wide receivers.
I'll have more on Narduzzi's final staff a little later, but while there are certainly a small handful of guys with legitimate questions, it's very hard not to like what he's done. Nearly all of the hires have not only experience, but a lot of it in doing what they're going to be called to do here.
Just a really well put together staff as I see it.
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