2021 wasn’t our best year. Yes, the Rose Bowl was deceptively fun, and watching the three-headed monster liquify defenses was a treat. But in a fanbase that frequently argues within itself like every day is Thanksgiving dinner, we can all generally agree that last season isn’t what we hoped for. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
I expected Day would make some changes, but this is a whole different level. Problems with the defense? Every single defensive coach not named LJ is out the door. Don’t like runblocking? Bye Stud.
You’d be hard pressed to find a coach who has overhauled his staff this dramatically, especially after a 2-loss season. Sure, Scott Frost turned over his entire offense, but that was a middle-of-the-season slam on the panic button to save his own job, and from a depleted talent pool given most coaches were engaged. Day did this thoughtfully, strategically, and seems to have gone out and secured his specific targets.
The way he did it is notable too. He could’ve rationalized about the need to move fast, made his hires and then told Knowles to make it work. Instead he waited, let Knowles participate in interviews and selection; and now the defense is utterly his. These are now his guys - plus LJ, who any DC in college football would want to coach their line. Whatever the result is, you can’t argue Knowles is setup for success.
It‘s just worth taking a minute and appreciating what just happened. We have a young coach in his first, incredibly high profile gig. This is when you’d think he’d be the most conservative and cautious. And he’s not, replacing over half your staff after a Rose Bowl win is about as “swinging for the fences” as I’ve ever seen. And he did it in a thoughtful, strategic way.
Day’s rightly caught criticism this season, and a few in the paint huffing and bleach chugging section of the fanbase have even gone so far as to question if he should continue. Sure, that’s an idiotic take, but it’s a little reflective of the ennui we all felt after TTUN this year. We’ll see what his decisions yield come September, but any (small) doubt I may have had in my mind about Day is settled. This is a man committed to winning, and who goes about his business in an intelligent, strategic way. It’s an incredible privilege to have him as our coach, and I can’t wait for this season.