Brad Salem is the new offensive coordinator at Michigan State, announced Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio at a Thursday evening press conference. And this change is just one of many small internal moves.
“I’ve decided that we do need to make changes on that [offensive]side of the ball,” Dantonio said. “I also, though, have decided that we have great coaches on that side. So we’re going to shake up the offensive side of things.”
Salem has spent 12 years as an assistant coach, either as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach. He also spent 2010-12 coaching the running backs, a role he will resume in addition to becoming MSU’s sole OC.
“[Salem’s] been offered an offensive coordinator job for the last three years of Power 5 schools,” Dantonio said. “I feel this is the time [that]warrants his opportunities to coordinate our offense.”
Salem will replace Dave Warner, who is a longtime assistant at MSU, first as a quarterbacks coach from 2007-12. In 2013, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator. In his first few seasons as the primary play-caller, he led the Spartans to a Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, College Football Playoff appearance and two Big Ten titles.
But the Spartan offense has been nothing short of putrid since 2015. In 2016, the offense ranked No. 73 out of 129 FBS teams in total offense. In 2017, they were No. 91. This past season was worst of all, ranking No. 116. In scoring offense, they ranked No. 125. The Spartans also failed to score a touchdown in three of their last four games against Ohio State, Nebraska and Oregon. The Spartans lost all three of those games. They went 7-6 in spite of owning a top-10 overall defense and No. 1 rushing defense.
Many other moves came as a ripple effect with Salem becoming offensive coordinator. Warner will remain on staff and focus on quarterbacks which, according to Dantonio, is his speciality.
“Dave Warner moves to the quarterback position because that is what he is,” Dantonio said. “He is a quarterback’s coach. He played quarterback at a major college. And that’s what he’s been predominantly.”
Former co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Jim Bollman will be the offensive line coach, Mark Staten to tight ends, Don Treadwell to wide receivers and Terrence Samuel to the secondary. Mike Tressel will also replace Staten as the assistant head coach while retaining his positions as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Probably the biggest news besides Salem becoming offensive coordinator is Bollman moving to the offensive line. This means that there will only be one offensive coordinator where there were previously two co-coordinators. Bollman will also move on from coaching a struggling tight end group to focus on the offensive line, an area where he has years of experience both at two different Big Ten schools.
Bollman was originally an offensive line coach at MSU from 1995-97. From 2001-11 he served time as an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Ohio State. He returned to East Lansing in 2013 as co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.
The Spartans return a few big pieces on next year’s offense, including quarterback Brian Lewerke, wide receivers Cody White, Darrell Stewart Jr. and the entire offensive line. Dantonio hopes this “shake up,” as opposed to hiring externally, will allow his staff to use their greatest strengths and compete for another Big Ten Championship.
“I’m not an offensive coach,” Dantonio said. “I have offensive feelings. Strong feelings and offensive concepts that I understand and feel like we need to do. And I want to see certain things done [and]certain concepts. But I’m just not ready after 12 years to just take the care and hand over the keys to somebody and say, ‘here you go.’”