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Thoughts on Wolford's contract extension

By Joe Scalzo (Contact)

Published January 11, 2014

Untitled document

1. Friday's announcement that Eric Wolford would get a contract extension got a lot of different reactions from fans, from support to skepticism to disbelief.

But, really, athletic director Ron Strollo didn't have a lot of options. YSU wasn't going to buy out the last year of Wolford's contract and you're not doing your program any favors if you force Wolford to coach the final year of his contract. That makes it very difficult to recruit players or assistant coaches.

So, the best option was to give Wolford an extension, but also frame the contract so that YSU can make a change if the program struggles over the next year or two. That's what I expect to see when the contract gets finalized in the next month or so.

Oh, and one more thing: Wolford is Strollo's guy. Unlike Jon Heacock, who was a hand-picked successor to Jim Tressel, Wolford was picked after Strollo interviewed several candidates. (His first candidate, Mark Stoops, was all set to take the job until Florida State offerered him the defensive coordinator position. Stoops has since moved on to become Kentucky's head coach.) Strollo has a lot invested in Wolford and with the program (slowly) moving forward, he didn't want to start from zero again. Let's hope Wolford can reward that patience and trust.

2. Someone on Twitter asked me what I thought of the decision and I said I thought Wolford was a good defensive coordinator away from the playoffs.

When Wolford decided to clean house in his first year, the majority of players that left were on defense, which immediately put the Penguins in a tough spot. Wolford also misfired on his first defensive coordinator, Rick Kravitz, who was a really nice guy with really solid credentials who really struggled. And unlike Jon Heacock, who could compensate for a struggling defensive coach, Wolford's an offensive coach. He couldn't just take the reins.

So far, it looks like Wolford misfired on his second defensive coordinator, too. Joe Tresey was supposed to be the anti-Kravitz, the hometown guy who wasn't afraid to get into his players' faces and hold them accountable. But whether it was due to talent or scheme or Tresey's personality (most likely all three), something hasn't clicked.

YSU gave up 425.4 yards per conference game, which ranked last in the Missouri Valley by 56 yards. (!) By contrast, North Dakota State gave up 227.5 yards per game.

Whatever your opinion of Wolford, he's shown he's not afraid to get rid of underachieving coaches. It'll be interesting to see what happens on that side of the ball because the defense has been an annual problem. He needs to get it fixed.

3. One other point: This is smashmouth Big Ten country. I think YSU fans will take wins any way they can get them at this point, but if they had to choose, I think most Penguin fans would rather see a great defense than a great offense.

4. A lot of fans were hoping Mark Mangino would replace Wolford but most people at YSU felt Mangino was just a rental.

After one year as the tight ends coach/associate head coach/recruiting coordinator, Mangino left to become the offensive coordinator at Iowa State. He'll probably quintuple his YSU salary, which I'm told was around $50,000-$60,000.

(UPDATE: WFMJ's Dana Balash tweeted that Mangino will reportedly make $350,000 in 2014 after making $65,000 at YSU last season. That's $100,000 more than Wolford is making per year at YSU.)

Despite his messy departure from Kansas, Mangino still has a strong reputation nationally. After a three-year layoff, he needed to see if he still had the fire to coach. He did. As Strollo said, "Someone just needed to hire him first." I doubt Iowa State will be the last.

5. The biggest question mark entering this season is over who will replace Kurt Hess at quarterback.
Hess graduates with just about every passing record in school history and his departure creates a big hole, both in production and leadership.

Look for redshirt freshman Ricky Davis to get a long look this spring. He's a little bit of an unknown outside the program because he rarely got reps in the summer and spent the fall running the scout team offense. The other candidates, Dante Nania, Tanner Garry and Nick Wargo, haven't lit the world on fire but maybe Hess' departure will prompt someone to step up.

6. North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl announced he was leaving for Wyoming weeks ago, but his imminent departure didn't seem like much of a distraction for the Bison, who bludgeoned opponents on their way to their third straight FCS title.

But graduation will take a much bigger toll this season than it did last year, and Bohl's departure could open the door for another MVFC team to emerge.


1ysupenguins_com(108 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

I cannot say I completely agree or disagree. However, thanks for bring up point #3. So many people complained about coach Heacock with such limited facts to support ...not the least of which is the fact that we pay one of Wolford's coordinators more than Heacock and his entire staff was paid.

However, the one thing we all knew during Heacock's tenure, was that we were going to give 110% ...and it looked like it on the field. Our defense swarmed to the ball and we were in every game because of this. It was entertaining to even the most senior football fan.

Now, I am old enough to have seen all of YSU's coaches ...although it was really not until Narduzzi that I was old enough to know what football was. I have to accept change like anyone else. I will have to say that coach Shane was a very good pick-up. His offense is very complicated (really NFL complicated), but as we have grasped more of it, our numbers are quite impressive. However, we still need a big package for nickel, dime, and clock-controlling situations. I think this was realized last year and I do expect some recruiting in that area.

However, on defense we must go back to being "Heacock tough". Now I realize that it is difficult to have a "smashmouth" defense, when you run a finesse offense ...so I am not going to throw the weight of the world on coach Tressy, or his predecessor. The I-AA/FCS scholarship limitations do not allow us to field a large and diverse scout squad that will allow our team to practice two football styles. So what is the answer?

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2timmy(1 comment)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Totally disagree Strollo had no option. Its called get a new coach and bring a winner that will bring back the fans. Saying they cannot afford it or it will hurt recruiting is just a way to make it look like this was a thought out decision. This is just being lazy and not going out and do the work..As for the money, two thousand more fans a game ( 12,000) and one home play off game (15,000) at and avg ticket price of $25 is $675,000 more in revenue not to mention parking and retail sales. That buys back Wolfords last year of $250,000 and buys Mangino at $350,000 plus $75k.
Recruiting it would also seem is helped by a new coach who can say I'll be here for another 3-4 years just as easily as Wolford who also has to add, "and I have never won the Conference or been in the playoffs"

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