February 15, 2012
The departure of Keith Heyward back in mid-January left a hole that Coach Riley has since filled. The list of legitimate candidates was somewhat short, however Riley conveyed that he "had a lot of inquiries about the job." Former Beavers made up a good portion of the list, but it wasn't someone who had played for Coach Riley that ended up with the gig, it was someone who had coached with Coach Riley - Rod Perry.
Perry, a two time Pro-Bowler with the then-Los Angeles Rams ('78, '80) brings 22 years of NFL coaching experience, all as a defensive backs/secondary coach. Perry has coached eight Pro-Bowlers in his time in the League and thought that this might be the moment to get back into college football, telling members of the media in his introductory press conference:
"I've been away from the college game for a while, but coaching is coaching, I missed working with young people, and I'm looking forward to being a part of all facets of their lives, not just football."
The debate began immediately after Heyward jettisoned north to join the Washington Husky staff as to what type of coach Riley should hire; an experienced recruiter or a savvy technique-driven fundamentalist. It seems Riley has gone with the latter in Perry, and after the ringing endorsement from former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, Beaver Nation should be elated:
"Rod Perry is a tremendous coach who has a great understanding of defensive backfield play and is an excellent communicator. Rod is one of the best technique teachers I've ever been around."
The only issue left to address is whether or not the 58 year old, two time Pro-Bowl corner will be able to hit the recruiting trail running and pick up where his predecessor left off. It's an interesting dynamic, when comparing the two current and former Beaver coaches, young enthusiasm vs. steadfast NFL know-how. If the quote from Dungy and Perry's excitement to work with kids again is any indication of things to come, Coach Riley hit this one out of the park.
After the three week courting of Perry came to an end on Valentine's Day, most thought Riley was done re-shuffling his staff; au contraire. Not 24 hours later, OSU reportedly snagged former Arizona State linebacker coach Trent Bray who was recently let-go after new head coach Todd Graham took over and announced his staff on the 11th.
The name may sound familiar, and for good reason, Bray was a standout at middle linebacker for OSU back in 2001-2005. Bray started 34 of his 49 career games and was named co-captain in his senior season where he would go on to be named 1st-Team All Conference at the middle linebacker spot.
Bray got his cup of coffee in the NFL, but never stuck on a roster once the regular season rolled around. Bray turned his focus to coaching after he was cut by the Houston Texans in 2007 and has most recently been with the Sun Devils the past two seasons. Should Bray join the OSU staff, it will be in a graduate assistant role and will bring youth, experience and a brand of 'nasty' that has been missing from Beaver 'backers of late. If you have seen the way Arizona State's linebackers play and remember how OSU's linebacking group was a decade ago, there is reason for excitement and hope.
Spring football should be exciting with the two new faces entering the fold, be sure to stick with Beaverblitz.com for your most in-depth analysis of spring practice which begins April 3rd.