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LSU Defensive Coordinator Candidate: Brick Haley

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Current LSU DL Coach Brick Haley is one of the top candidates for the DC job. What does Haley bring to the table?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

When John Chavis left for Texas A&M, many people, including defensive end Jermauria Rasco, assumed Brick Haley would follow suit. Chavis coached Haley from 1986-1988 at Alabama A&M, and the two remained close thereafter. Chavis hand selected Haley to coach our defensive line when he was hired in 2009. However, rather than follow Chavis, which remains a possibility, Brick stands a chance to be elevated to the vacancy left by his mentor.

History

Haley's primary experience comes along the defensive line, which he's coached 19 of his 23 years in the profession. The other four years, Haley coached linebackers at Houston, Clemson and Georgia Tech. Doing some digging, I can't quite confirm Haley's full resume. His wikipedia lists that DL at Troy State from 94-96 and served as Defensive Coordinator at Baylor from 99-01. However, I found this old article, which states the following:

Andrea Haley -- Defensive Ends

Andrea Haley comes to the Bears from Clemson University. He has been coaching in the college ranks since 1989 and was the defensive coordinator at Troy State from 1994 to 1996. Haley has also spent time as an assistant head coach at Austin Peay and at Alabama A&M, where he was a Division II all-American linebacker as a player.

Now, first things first, Haley was hired to Baylor to coach defensive ends, but was promoted to Defensive Coordinator three months later, when Mickey Matthews left the program to take a head coaching job. So that resolves that slight conflict of info. However, his wikipedia doesn't reference him being defensive coordinator at Troy State. I'll take his Baylor bio at word, though.

All told, Haley's put together six odd years of coordinating.

Performance

Here's where it's tough to parse through things. Haley's coordinating experience all comes from over a decade ago at much lesser opportunities, one of which he was practically thrust into by necessity. Let's touch more on this later.

At LSU, Haley's been a fairly successful DL coach. Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Lavar Edwards, Bennie Logan, Ego Ferguson, Anthony Johnson, Al Woods, and Michael Brockers can all be counted as pupils under his tenure as DL coach, who are now in the NFL. Sending eight players to the league in six seasons is a success by any measure. Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter could make that number 10 in six, if Hunter declares.

On the other hand, there's some valid concerns about his ability to teach quality technique. LSU's DL don't always seem to play the most sound technique, and some players, like Anthony Johnson, never seemed to match their lofty potential. Whether that's the coach or the player can be difficult to discern. An additional point here is that coordinating a defense and coaching a defensive line require different skillsets. It's entirely probable to be great at one and marginal at the other. Football, like most industries, frequently falls victim to the Peter Principle.

The Peter Principle is a concept in management theory in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate's performance in their current role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role.

The point here is that the two jobs require different abilities, so to say "well he can't coach the DL well..." (debatable) "...how could he coordinate the defense well?" is to really say nothing at all.

Now, let's get back to that coordinating experience. The numbers aren't quite as readily available, and there's no advanced metrics, but here's some raw figures. Keep in mind, from 94-96, Haley was DC at Troy State, an FBS program at the time. 99-01 was his time at Baylor.

Stat 1994 1995 1996 1999 2000 2001
Total Defense 397.3 272.4 280.5 422.5 441.6 418.18
Scoring Defense 25.5 13.1 14.0 37.6 36.1 32.5
Rushing Defense 155.9 130.8 129.4 219.7 209.0 171.2
Pass Efficiency Defense 138.84 95.77 94.49 131.0 129.54 134.58
Yards Per Play 5.7 4.3 4.6 5.32 5.9 5.46

There's nothing here that will bring you to your knees. The defense at Troy State improved from an abomination to a solid unit. The defense at Baylor show some improvement, but nothing to ring a bell about.

Philosophy

Who knows? We can presume he'll run a scheme similar to his mentor's, but that's also a presumption. It's hard to imagine Brick would run a scheme all that different to what we currently practice, though. If you want to take the time to dig up 99-01 Baylor film and study the tendencies, well, let me know what you expect.

Recruiting

One of the primary rationales for promoting Brick would be his recruiting ability. Brick earned a stellar reputation early in his LSU tenure for his ability to lure players like Sam Montgomery and Ego Ferguson to Baton Rouge. Based on his 247 profile, Brick's lured 34 commits, which includes his three-year stay at Mississippi State.

The trouble, in recent years, is that Brick seems to finish second... a lot. Champions will acknowledge that Brick gets LSU in the running for many top prospects. Antagonists would acknowledge that... well... if you ain't first, you're last. Hearing a recruit talk up LSU in countless interviews is great, until you are watching that player dominate at another school.

Brick ranks 198th in 247's 2015 National Recruiter Rankings. He ranked 51st in 2014, 121st in 2013, and 64th in 2012. Does this make him an elite recruiter? I don't know. How a website like 247 breaks out recruiters is up for debate. They likely aggregate information from recruits themselves, but that doesn't make it binding. For instance, Steve Ensminger played a heavy part in pulling Jamal Adams to LSU, though he's rarely credited for his efforts.

I remain torn on Brick's recruiting ability. His ability to get LSU in the mix on many recruits is impressive. But his inability to close on those same names keeps me from throwing him into that "elite recruiter" mix.

Staff Fit

Brick is already a working member of the staff, and currently the most senior member of the defensive staff. In that sense, his promotion would be natural.

The bigger question with Haley is that promoting him doesn't complete the coaching staff. Haley can and will coach LBs, though he's coached DL primarily. Could a shift to DC mean Haley moves to coaching LBs and the hiring of a new DL coach? That could pave the way for Ed Orgeron. And really, wouldn't that be the primary rationale for moving Haley to DC?

Summary

if I'm being entirely honest, this isn't a move I'd like, but I also see it as the most probable. Haley is an okay coach, and a solid recruiter, with unremarkable results as a defensive coordinator. Even if your end game is just getting Ed Orgeron on staff, to what end is it worth it? John Chavis was an average to poor recruiter, but generally knew how to maximize his talent on hand. What could we expect from Haley?

Another thing worth noting is that behind the scenes reports suggest Haley played a heavy hand in developing gameplans and breaking down tape, while essentially serving as Chavis' second hand man. The learning curve from positional coach to DC may not be as steep for him as your typical positional coach.

That said, this isn't a hire I could approach with a ton of confidence. If it lead to the hiring of Orgeron, something controversial in itself, I could maybe justify. But ultimately, if this is the route Miles opts to go, I'm not sure it's the wisest plan to stake your claim on.