If you were wondering why the ground was trembling under your feet back on January 7th, look no further for the answer: It was the collective (and aggressive) headshake of disapproval from the city of Athens, GA, along with the majority of the Georgia Bulldogs fanbase.
It was then when Mark Richt announced that St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would take over the same position – with the additional title of quarterbacks coach – as a new member of the Georgia family, replacing the departed Mike Bobo.
Understandably, frustration was the initial reaction for most. Schottenheimer certainty has the big-name pedigree and credentials to bring to the table but has lacked on-field results throughout his coaching career as an OC; from 2006-14 with the New York Jets and then St. Louis Rams, his offenses have averaged 21.2 points per game, ranking no higher than no. 21 in the 32-team league the last three seasons.
Brian Schottenheimer should not call plays on offense.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 29, 2013
That doesn’t mean anything to former Jets quarterback and current ESPN analyst Greg McElroy, who believes Schottenheimer is a great fit for Georgia and the transition from the NFL to the college level will be a smooth one.
“I really like Brian Schottenheimer, because you look, an NFL offensive coordinator transitioning into the college ranks. All you have to do is look and see what Lane Kiffin was able to do a year ago,” McElroy said while on The Paul Finebaum Show last week. “He took a receiver who had underperformed, relatively speaking, the year before, and made him into an All-American, Heisman Trophy contender and top draft pick. That’s what can possibly happen at Georgia. You don’t have the talent at wide receiver right now, but they do have the offensive line and running game. That’s what he’ll feature.”
It would be a little unfair to presume St. Louis’ offensive woes over the last few years were due to a result of Schottenheimer’s incompetence. The Rams have been stricken with injuries – including several to former first-round pick Sam Bradford – and poor offensive line play.
“Brian Schottenheimer, he does have a little bit of an extreme system. It’s a tough system to understand. Since he’s gone to St. Louis, he’s simplified everything. He’s made it a little more streamlined,” McElroy added. “As a result, guys have been able to adjust. Rookies have had more of an impact than what they had in years past. I would expect him to do a really nice job. He does outstanding with quarterbacks. He’s a nice temperament. He gets on guys, but not really to the point where they lose confidence.”
A move to a pro-style system (less sophisticated than what Schottenheimer is used to running, mind you) might be the best thing for Georgia’s offense, which says good-bye to Hutson Mason and welcomes Brice Ramsey under center, who was the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the recruiting class of 2013.
“When Jim McElwain took the job at Colorado State, Brian Schottenheimer’s name was mentioned in Tuscaloosa,” McElroy said. “I have it on good authority that that was a difficult decision for him to turn down. He had that opportunity if he wanted it. There have been moments when he looked into getting into college. I know he’s passionate about college. He’s familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has coaching in his bloodlines. He’s going to do just fine,” said McElroy.
The proof will be in the pudding. Georgia is expected to once again contend for the SEC East Division, and to do that it will need to carry the offensive momentum as the country’s no. 8 scoring offense in 2014 while developing the program’s third starting quarterback in as many years.
Whether Schottenheimer can help the Bulldogs get to the next level remains to be seen, but for now, it certainly will remain a storyline to pay attention to as spring practice approaches.