The last time Army went into the world of Division I-AA (er, FCS) football for a new coach, it was an unmitigated disaster. Todd Berry tried to install a one-back, "traditional" offense, and failed miserably.
Former Detroit Lions coach Bobby Ross came aboard for two years, and assistant Stan Brock took over after that. Brock was fired after consecutive 3-9 seasons, even though he appeared to getting the program moving back in the right direction by re-installing the option offense in 2008.
This time around, Army wasn't fooling around. They knew they needed a coach well-versed in the triple option, and they got one.
They're optimistic that dipping into the I-AA ranks for a coach will prove more fruitful this time.
Army announced Friday that they have hired former Cal Poly coach Rich Ellerson. You might remember Cal Poly as the team that lost to Wisconsin only because they blew three (!) extra points, including one in overtime.
"I know that the offense that we run was the hook that got me into the middle of this search," Ellerson said in a school-issued news release. "The reason the offense is so successful and the reason it's so appropriate at Army is that it carries over to every phase of the game and carries over into recruiting. We're going to find some novel solutions to problems in order to give our cadet-athletes the best possible opportunity to be successful on Saturday."Ellerson's attack averaged over 475 yards and 40 points per game this season with the Mustangs, who made the I-AA playoffs.
This is a great hire for Army. Ellerson has ties to the academy, and he runs the offense Army needs to have to be successful. You could argue that he won't be able to recruit the kinds of athletes he was able to get at even a I-AA school, and he won't be able to bring in Division I-A transfers who don't like their playing time. However, it's an offense that requires great discipline and execution, and Ellerson will find players who are plenty capable of playing that kind of football.
Brock didn't get enough time to turn Army around, but he left Ellerson a pretty good situation to be successful quickly.