Dan Roushar

Michigan State loses offensive coordinator to the NFL


It was reported Thursday that Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar was one of a handful of candidates for a job with the New Orleans Saints.

Two days after interviewing with the NFL club, Roushar is now officially the ex-Spartans OC.

In quotes distributed by the team, Roushar confirmed that he is leaving East Lansing for the running backs job with the Saints.  The move ends Roushar’s eight-year run on Mark Dantonio-led coaching staffs spanning two different programs.

Here’s Roushar’s statement, in its entirety:

“The New Orleans Saints and Michigan State are built on similar models, with a focus on character and people. New Orleans has won a Super Bowl, and over the last five years, the Saints have been one of the winningest organizations in the NFL. I’ve had an opportunity to work for Mark Dantonio – in my opinion, the best college football coach in America – for the last eight years, including the last six seasons at Michigan State. Now, I have an opportunity to work for arguably the best coach in the NFL, in Sean Payton. Professionally, this is an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. Now as a running backs coach, I have the chance to learn the interworking of the NFL.

“Michigan State is poised to have a tremendous year in 2013. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have worked alongside Coach Dantonio, a talented coaching staff and gifted players. The last six years at Michigan State have been quite rewarding: six-straight bowl appearances, back-to-back 11-wins seasons including a Big Ten Championship and a Legends Division title, and four-straight victories over Michigan. It’s difficult to leave because it has been quite a ride, but professional opportunities like this are indeed rare. Coach Dantonio has built something special – it’s a program that pursues excellence in all aspects, not only on the field competing for championships, but also off the field in the classroom and in the community.”

Roushar has been with the Spartans since Dantonio came to East Lansing in 2007.  He was also on Dantonio’s Cincinnati staff the two years prior to that.  After serving as offensive line coach for his first four years at MSU, Roushar was promoted to coordinator when Don Treadwell left for the head coaching job at Miami of Ohio.

In 2012, following the departure of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Spartans’ offense dropped from 37th in scoring in 2011 (31 points per game) to 108th in 2012 (20 ppg), and from 56th (390.4 yards per game) to 95th (359.3 ypg) in total offense.  That significant dip in performance had left many fans wondering if Dantonio would or should take away Roushar’s keys to the offense.

The decision to leave for the NFL made that a moot argument, although it now leaves Dantonio with an important hole in his staff just a couple of weeks before the start of spring practice.

“Dan Roushar has been a loyal and dedicated assistant for the last eight years, including the past six seasons at Michigan State,” Dantonio said in  statement. “He’s a great teacher and a tireless recruiter. Dan certainly played a critical role in helping build a solid foundation here at Michigan State. We’re grateful for the effort and energy he’s invested in our program.

“He’s excited about being presented with the opportunity to coach the game at its highest level. We’re thrilled for Dan and his family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the NFL.”

Former Kansas State head coach Ron Prince, who has been mentioned as a possibility at Rutgers as offensive coordinator, interviewed for the same job with the Saints as well.

(Photo credit: Michigan State athletics)

USC’s Max Tuerk already questionable for Notre Dame game

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 11:  Center Max Tuerk #75 of the USC Trojans prepares to snap the football during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Trojans defeatred the Wildcats 28-26.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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As if the questions about the head coach’s future aren’t enough, now USC could have a rather significant issue in the middle of its offensive line to deal with as well.

Early in the first quarter of what would turn out to be an embarrassing loss to Washington Thursday night, Max Tuerk sustained a sprained knee. Upon further examination, it was determined that the veteran center would be unable to return to the game.

Not only that, Tuerk, who was wearing a brace on his right knee following the loss, is already labeled as questionable for what it in every sense of the phrase a must-win game for Steve Sarkisian against Notre Dame eight days from now.

With Tuerk sidelined for the remainder of the game, he was replaced by Toa Lobendahn. It’s unclear which direction the Trojans would go if Tuerk is a no-go this weekend, although Khaliel Rodgers, who had been dealing with a personal issue, has been Tuerk’s backup.

Tuerk has started 38 games in his Trojan career — 18 at center, 14 at left guard, five at left tackle, one at right tackle. Lobendahn started all 13 games as a true freshman last season, the first eight at left guard and then five at right tackle.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.