The criticisms of the Eli Drinkwitz hire were obvious from the moment the announcement was made. He doesn’t exactly have the requisite seasoning to be a head coach in the SEC, does he?
It’s a question we don’t know the answer to. And we won’t for quite some time. That reality is why the hire comes with a huge risk, but also a massive potential reward. The risk and the reward comes in the unknown.
Drinkwitz has been ultra successful at a lower level of competition, but he did so with obvious caveats. He was only successful for one season with someone else’s players without really establishing his program and his culture. Reasonable minds can look at that resume and wonder if he’s prepared to take such a dramatic step to a place like Missouri.
All of these reasons are why I was curious what direction Drinkwitz would go with his staff. Would it be a bunch of hold-overs from his time at Appalachian State? Was he going to bring in “yes men” who wouldn’t question his direction? Or would he have the confidence in his own leadership and direction that he could have coaches reporting to him who had done the job at a high level in the past?
This is a question we now have the answer to. And I, for one, am pleased with the direction things have gone.
Seven of Drinkwitz’s assistants have at least one year of experience as a coordinator at the power-five level. Two of his assistants have served as a recruiting coordinator. This staff is full of experienced coaches who have done it at a high level before. They’ve seen all there is to see at this level. They know what it takes to recruit at this level. They know the level of athletes it requires to be competitive in a conference like the SEC.
Here’s a quick look at the coordinator experience Drinkwitz has hired since he was announced as Mizzou’s next head coach:
- Charlie Harbison - Louisiana DC (2015-2017), Auburn DC (2013-2014), Clemson DC (2009-2012), Mississippi State DC (2008)
- Ryan Walters - Mizzou DC (2016-2019)
- David Gibbs - Texas Tech DC (2015-2018), Houston DC (2013-2014), Minnesota DC (1997-2000)
- Erik Link - App. State ST Coordinator (2019), Louisiana Tech ST Coordinator (2018), Auburn ST Coordinator (2013-2015)
- Curtis Luper - TCU OC & Recruiting Coordinator (2017-2019), Auburn Recruiting Coordinator & RB’s coach (2009-2012), TCU RBs/WRs & Recruiting Coordinator (2013-2017)
- Casey Woods - UAB Run Game/Recruiting Coordinator (2017-2019), Arkansas State Recruiting Coordinator (2012)
- Bush Hamdan - Washington OC (2018-2019), Davidson OC (2014), Arkansas State OC (2013)
- Brick Haley - Baylor DC (1999-2001)
These hires don’t answer every question we have about Drinkwitz. There is still plenty left to prove. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. We have no idea how this collection of coaches will do on the recruiting trail, or how well they’ll be able to develop the players they get to commit to Missouri.
But at the very least they bring something Drinkwitz doesn’t: Experience. If you were concerned about the job being too big for Mizzou’s new head coach, I think these hires can alleviate some of those worries. He’s put together a staff that knows what it takes to recruit and coach at this level.
Now it’s time for the real test.
Now we get to see if they can recruit and coach well at this level.