Doug Robinson: Utah Utes football: 'The Kid' Brian Johnson is at the controls of Utes' offense

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  • CG Orem, UT
    July 31, 2012 5:14 p.m.

    Papa Smurf UTE

    As BYU fans have tried to teach our young friends on the hill, one game does not a season make.

    The WHOLE point about Beck and Hall is that Brandon has coached TWO QBs who actually made an NFL roster and who actually played in the NFL.

    That's head and shoulders better success as a QB coach than what BJ has accomplished - an injury-plagued Wynn and a DII Hays who don't have a prayer of even being invited to an NFL rookie mini-camp.

    Calling a few audibles is NOTHING like managing an entire offense, and in that regard, Brian's coaching experience pales in comparison to Brandon's coaching experience, which Utah fans were laughing at just a year ago.

  • Papa Smurf UTE Herriman, UT
    July 31, 2012 11:28 a.m.


    Brian actually came in at the half in 2007 against UNLV, with an injured shoulder no less to try and bring the team back. It was Uncle Rico TOmmy Grady that was the starting QB for that game, and charged with the loss. So by using your stats with Beck making it to the NFL and playing in games, does that make Tommy Grady better than Beck since Grady beat UCLA the week after the Y lost to them?

  • Jenny83 OGDEN, UT
    July 31, 2012 9:17 a.m.

    Doman couldn't be a good OC at the middle school level. He is simply NO good.

  • Spokane Ute Spokane, WA
    July 31, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    I love the hire by Coach Witt. I expect Brian Johnson to do just fine. Assuming he excells as an offensive coordinator, Utah won't have to worry about BJ jumping ship. He's a Ute, through and through and will always be a legend.

    And what in the world does Doman have to do with the article? I could care less about Doughman. I don't recall him ever going 13-0 and beating Bama in the Sugar Bowl! I'll take that over any skewed stats you want to throw out.

  • skywalker Palo Alto, CA
    July 30, 2012 10:27 p.m.


    "Actually, BJ's lifetime QB rating is 144.142... So he's tied with Barkley"

    Actually, BJ's lifetime passing efficiency rating is 144.22

    Unfortunately for U, Barkley's lifetime passing efficiency rating is actually 145.83

    So BJ is NOT tied with Barkley.

    In fact, BJ trails, Brandon Doman, Max Hall, Matt Barkley, and, gasp, Riley Nelson.

    Brandon Doman - 152.03
    Max Hall - 151.08
    Riley Nelson - 146.57
    Matt Barkley - 145.83
    Brian Johnson - 144.22

    Live with it!

    Go COUGS!

  • Uteology East Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2012 7:59 p.m.

    Try 2...


    For a supposed "statistician", you obviously don't have a clue about how to calculate "lifetime" QB rating. The career rating isn't calculated by taking the average rating for each season and dividing by years played; it's calculated by plugging career stats into the QB rating formula. Whether a QB had 20 attempts or 200 attempts during a particular season is irrelevant.

    BJ's lifetime career QB rating, as calculated by the NCAA, is 138.62.

    Live with it.


    Actually, BJ's lifetime QB rating is 144.142.

    I was 0.809 points off by not including the 20 attempt season and you are 4.713 points off by including it.

    So he's tied with Barkley. Live with it!

    Go UTES!!

  • EdGrady Idaho Falls, ID
    July 30, 2012 4:18 p.m.

    Too young - too inexperienced.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 30, 2012 3:15 p.m.


    "Max Hall also couldn't lead his team past Vegas."

    Funny you should say that because brian johnson was the qb on the wrong end of a 27-0 score in vegas, against a very bad vegas team. So he definately has more experience than Doman does on losing to, and getting shut out by, bad teams.

    What does that game say about his "play calling" abilities?

  • Uteanymous Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2012 12:15 p.m.


    "BJ's season one was not included because he only had 20 attempts the entire season."

    For a supposed "statistician", you obviously don't have a clue about how to calculate "lifetime" QB rating. The career rating isn't calculated by taking the average rating for each season and dividing by years played; it's calculated by plugging career stats into the QB rating formula. Whether a QB had 20 attempts or 200 attempts during a particular season is irrelevant.

    BJ's lifetime career QB rating, as calculated by the NCAA, is 138.62.

    Live with it.

    Max Hall played in the NFL.

    BJ didn't even make an NFL roster.

    Utah's defense was much more responsible for getting the Utes to the Sugar Bowl, than Utah's BJ led offense.

    Check out BJ's stats from the 2008 Utah-New Mexico game if you don't believe that.

  • raisedaute Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 30, 2012 11:47 a.m.

    I can't wait for the season so all you know-it-all armchair coaches can stop speculating and we can let things play out. BJ will have some growing pains as do ALL OC's when starting with a team. Good luck BJ wish you the best.

    PS GREAT ARTICLE Dnews... thanks

  • Uteology East Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2012 11:44 a.m.

    @Solomon Levi: "Unfortunately for U, a lifetime QB effeciency rating of 138.62 PROVES that Brian wasn't all that successful at audibling."


    Not true.

    QB Ratings per starting QB:

    Max Hall: 151
    Matt Barkley: 144
    Brian Johnson: 143

    BJ's season one was not included because he only had 20 attempts the entire season.

    Max Hall also couldn't lead his team past Vegas.

  • Uteanymous Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Sorry to burst your crimson bubbles Utah fans, but BJ's coaching experience/success pales in comparison to Doman's coaching experience/success.

    Doman - two QBs - Beck and Hall - who were signed to NFL rosters and actually played live games in the NFL

    BJ - two QB - Wynn and Hays - who have absolutely NO CHANCE of even being considered by any NFL team

    Anybody who thinks that a still wet-behind-the-ears coach with only a couple of years of QB coaching experience (with mediocre results), is going as OC in a "major conference" without some severe growing pains is seriously delusional - especially with an injury-plagued starting QB who will be lucky to last through September, and little in the way of backup support.

    Utah's defense is going to have to carry the water for most of the season, and if Utah's defense falters, the Utes will be lucky to qualify for a bowl game.

  • phantomblade Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2012 8:46 a.m.

    The truth is, dear Utah friends, the Utes won many games in 2008 INSPITE of BJ, not BECAUSE of BJ.

    Brian had a great first half against Alabama, but he also stuck it up against lowly New Mexico.

    Luckily for U, Utah's defense was able to bail out the Ute's floundering offense against the Lobos or Kyle would have lost his THIRD game to New Mexico and there would have been no Sugar Bowl winning parade for the Utes.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 30, 2012 8:37 a.m.


    You need to go look up BYU's record Doman's senior year, if you aren't intentionally getting it wrong then you just don't bother to research before you post.

    As far as audibling is concerned, ALL qb's audible, it is part of being a qb. That doesn't make all of them O.C. material. Of course Doman didn't need to audible much because they were averaging 50 ppg that year, things were working just fine as is.

    And yes johnson has less coaching experience and less athletic talent than Doman. I will give you that johnson started more years at qb than Doman but Doman played more years than johnson, that is what going to the NFL does for a guy. So Doman has more experience, on more levels as player than johnson and Doman has more experience as a coach. Not even very close to be honest with you. And the qb's Doman has coached have indisputably had far more success than any of the qb's johnson has coached.

  • Solomon Levi Alpine, UT
    July 30, 2012 6:59 a.m.


    "Anyone who has played football and understands the quarterback position will acknowledge that the ability to audible successfully at the line of scrimmage is a sign of an outstanding quarterback and leader"

    Unfortunately for U, a lifetime QB effeciency rating of 138.62 PROVES that Brian wasn't all that successful at audibling.

    Max Hall had a better QB rating in 2008, his junior year, than Brian Johnson had his senior year.

    Max actually made an NFL roster and actually played some real games in the NFL. Not a great deal of success, but head-and-shoulders better than a player was undrafted and cut in training camp.

    July 29, 2012 11:13 p.m.


    Hey, take it easy, man! There was nothing false about my response to your post. What I wrote was a rebuttal to your assertion that Johnson has less experience and talent. And I used facts to support this, something you rarely, if ever, use in your rants. How was Doman's 12-3 record during his best year false? BYU went 12-2, then lost their bowl game, making it 12-3.

    And you state "Nice try at pretending that audibling some plays in a bowl game somehow makes a guy o.c. material." Anyone who has played football and understands the quarterback position will acknowledge that the ability to audible successfully at the line of scrimmage is a sign of an outstanding quarterback and leader. A little NFL lesson for you: Have you ever watched Peyton Manning? One of the reasons he's been so good is his ability to change a play call at the line of scrimmage. While I don't remember Doman ever doing this much as a player, Johnson thrived on this, basically leading the Utes back in key games such as against TCU and Oregon State.

    Try being rational in your posts.

    July 29, 2012 10:36 p.m.

    "You failed to show how a couple of very bad years as a qb coach, where the qb's you coached actually got worse, is better than several years as a qb coach where both of the qb's you mentored played in the nfl."

    Again with the lies. I could repost all statistical evidence that proves otherwise, but Duckhunter already "knows" better.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 29, 2012 8:47 p.m.


    Despite the actual falsehoods in your post little of what you wrote is even relevent to what I posted. You got Doman's win/loss record wrong, on purpose would be my guess. You failed to show how going undrafted and being cut within a week from th nfl gives "more" NFL experience than actually having a multi year career in the NFL. You failed to show how a couple of very bad years as a qb coach, where the qb's you coached actually got worse, is better than several years as a qb coach where both of the qb's you mentored played in the nfl. Basicly nothing you posted had anything at all to do with the two individuals coaching experience in which Doman is so far above johnson that it isn't even comparable. Nice try at pretending that audibling some plays in a bowl game somehow makes a guy o.c. material.


  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    July 29, 2012 8:16 p.m.

    Well stated, Dutchman. Intangibles can be measured only through performance. There was a reason why all those on your list were selected, but it was hardly based on long experience in the job.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    July 29, 2012 7:30 p.m.

    The comparisons to Doman are laughable and so is the hype for a 'rookie' OC that was found on a 'nation wide' search. And let's not forget the 'uh?' factor when this was all announced a while back.

    The only people going 'uh' were countless Ute fans. The rest of us just laughed and thought how ironic for the Utes to get a nationally recognized OC (not) after Chow was hoorahed into town and leaves one year later.

    Ducky and Rockwell exposed this correctly.

  • localblue Sandy, UT
    July 29, 2012 7:27 p.m.

    As a BYU fan, I wish this guy luck. It could be brutal for a while so I hope they have the faith to stick with him when he makes mistakes, which he will. The racial taunts story is really disappointing and shows that we still have a ways to go before people look past color. Good on BJ for reacting with calm and poise. I'm not sure I would have done the same (but then again I'm not on TV every week either).

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    July 29, 2012 6:54 p.m.

    I am sure glad some critics on this board of BJ's hire where not around when other individuals were selected for big assignments: How about:

    George Washington
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Frank Kush of ASU
    LaVelle Edwards of BYU
    Urban Meyer

    The list goes on and on. Most every critic at the time thought that the list of men above were too young and inexperienced to carry out the job in front of them. Those who hired them saw the "intangibles" that make for winners. Whitt sees this in BJ. It will all play out and I believe it will work out to be a great decision.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 29, 2012 6:40 p.m.

    Like DH says, Doman totally has more talent. Way more. Not even close.

  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    July 29, 2012 6:37 p.m.

    The Utes have Chris B and the Cougars have Duckhunter. I'm sure that both groups would prefer that neither represent them to the media. But then, that's free speech, right?

    I'll go along with the other rational Cougar fans like the Bigsamoan and CougFaninTX and wish Brian the best. There is an interesting parallel between him and Doman - both overachievin winners as quarterbacks with excellent football minds. Some of the best coaches in all sports have been those who as players had to use their hearts and heads to make up for physical lacks. Neither of these to was the prototypical 6'5" 220 lb with a cannon for an arm, but they both won.

  • JohnInSLC Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 29, 2012 5:41 p.m.


    Thanks for breaking down the stats, but they don't measure the intangible qualities BJ has in adundance--heart, character and instinct. St. Heaps had all the stats, but the Y has nothing to show for it.

  • 54-10 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 29, 2012 5:21 p.m.

    ..and Cougar fan still has the courage to comment on a Utah article.

    Worry about your team beating a team that matters first, or better yet, worry about your team not quitiing half way through the game.

    July 29, 2012 4:52 p.m.


    You posted "This kid has less experience on every single level Doman had, and less talent.”

    Really?. Let's compare the two.

    Johnson was a three year starter at the University of Utah; Doman was a two year starter at BYU.
    Advantage Johnson.

    Johnson was 2-0 in bowl games (2007 Poinsettia Bowl victory over Navy and 2008 Sugar Bowl victory over former #1 Alabama); Doman was 0-1 (a 10-28 loss to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl).
    Advantage Johnson.

    Johnson was a two-time bowl MVP (2007 Poinsettia Bowl and 2008 Sugar Bowl MVP); Doman earned no MVP honors during his playing career.
    Advantage Johnson.

    In Johnson's best year, he led Utah to an undefeated 13-0 season and a final ranking of #2; in Doman's best year he led BYU to a 12-3 season, ending the season unranked.
    Advantage Johnson.

    And as to comparing talent, as the article states, Johnson did much of his own play-calling. Doman, to my understanding, did not.

    When you make unsubstantiated comments like the one you did above at the beginning of my post, you'll have to admit it ruins your credibility.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    July 29, 2012 4:40 p.m.

    My first reaction to the hire was " is Kyle out of his mind?" I didn't know Brian was calling his own plays in the Alabama game. If you're out-coaching Nick Sabin, maybe you are ready for the OC position.

  • Rockwell Baltimore, MD
    July 29, 2012 3:47 p.m.

    "[Brian Johnson] was a great QB..."

    Brian is a class act, a tough competitor, and a good QB for Utah's greatest season ever, but he fell far short of being a great quarterback.

    QB Ratings:
    2004 - 124.42 (59th)
    2005 - 151.01 (11th)
    2007 - 129.61 (54th)
    2008 - 149.43 (16th)
    Lifetime - 138.62

    - a two star recruit coming out of high school. Johnson was recruited by Utah, Illinois and Louisiana Tech.
    - not a serious contender for any national individual awards
    - undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft, he was invited to the Green Bay Packers rookie mini-camp along with Tulsa quarterback David Johnson; he was not subsequently signed by an NFL team

    Not a knock on Brian's potential coaching abilities, but let's not get carried away with a QB who was roundly criticized by Utah fans for nearly costing the Utes games at Air Force and at New Mexico in 2008 because of his ineffective quarterback play.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 29, 2012 3:06 p.m.


    Doman was the qb coach at BYU for 6 years before assuming the offensive coordinator position. That was after his 3 year NFL career. He was older, more experienced and much more qualified in any unit of measurement you would care to apply to the two of them.

    That said, my point is not whether or not brian johnson will ever be a good coordinator, as I tell you deluded utah "fans" ad naseum none of us knows how any of it will turn out. My point as always is exposing utah "fan" hypocrisy, and we have it here in spades. It is extremely funny, and fun, for me to do this. Go ahead and go back and read the comments from utah "fans" from before last season when Doman got the promotion. Then come on back and we can have a conversation.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    July 29, 2012 2:45 p.m.

    I have no doubts Brian Johnson will be successful as Utah's OC. I think instead the question will become how long can Utah hold on to him before another school wants him as their head coach? At only 25 years of age, he may yet become the youngest head coach in FBS history, which I predict he will do before the age of 30. Current holder of that title is Matt Campbell of Toledo (32).

  • Uteology East Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 29, 2012 2:18 p.m.

    I wasn't thrilled about hiring an inexperienced coach.

    You can gain experience not talent. If he is as talented as Kyle believes he is then I'm looking forward to seeing him grow into a legit PAC-12 offensive coordinator.

    Go luck Brian!!

  • Utahute72 Tooele, UT
    July 29, 2012 1:07 p.m.

    As a Ute fan I understand the comment by Duckhunter, and I would expect some growing pains with any new offensive coordinator. However, this is a bold move by Whitt, and one that could have a great payoff in the end. Contrary to what Ducky says, however, I think this year's Utes will be stronger at every position that Doman's cougars were last year, with the possible exception of the tackle position. This will be offset by a clearly much tougher schedule, particularly at the end of the season than Doman had to deal with.

    As pointed out in the article, what may a bigger difference is Johnson's readiness for the job as compared to Doman's. I have no knowledge how involved Doman was in BYUs game planning and execution prior to his being elevated to OC. Johnson, however, has been intimately involved in this aspect since the 2006 season when he spent the entire year in the coaching box with Ludwig while rehabbing his knee injury. Continuing on through his entire playing career and coaching time. That's plenty of time to learn the job.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    July 29, 2012 12:52 p.m.

    re: Duckhunter 8:42 a.m. July 29, 2012

    The only "advantage" Doman has over Brian is that his stay at the next level was somewhere between Hall's & Beck's.

    Is K Whit taking a chance? Yes.

    Is it a *legacy* pick in a pathetic grasp at trying to recreate glory days like In Utah Co? No!

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    July 29, 2012 11:38 a.m.

    Anyone who watched the unbelievable play of the Utes in the first two quarters of the Sugar Bowl and knows that Brian Johnson was calling the shots, would have to understand what kind of an offensive mind this guy has. The entire team played superbly, but it was Brian--pitching short and pitching medium--who had the Crimson Tide screaming at each other with confusion.
    I don't claim to know what kind of OC he'll be, but I would never bet against this kid. That ain't healthy.

  • UteJunky70 midvale, UT
    July 29, 2012 11:14 a.m.

    I must admit to feeling a great deal of shock and disappointment upon hearing about the hiring of Brian Johnson as our OC. I still find it highly dubious whenever I hear coach Whit say that he conducted a "National Search". That having been said I attended the spring game and was very impresed with the performance of the offense. They looked about as crisp as I've ever seen the Utes look in a spring game. Several big plays, multiple formations, getting in and out of the huddle quickly. But there is a big difference between a spring game and life in the Pac-12. My concern is in-game and halftime adjustments and the number of experienced and talented DC's he'll be matching wits with. Heres hoping it all works out but there will be growing pains.GO UTES!!!

  • JohnInSLC Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 29, 2012 10:52 a.m.

    Ducky's "experience" as a casual oberver of Pop Warner games played next to his mom's house must qualify him to be critical of BJ'. He forgets that Doman lost his last game to Lousiville in the Liberty Bowl, while BJ curb-stomped Alabama in his last game.

    Get it all out, Ducky, the Pac12 Network is coming soon and you'll be gone.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    July 29, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    I love Brian. However, the NFL career doesn't add up for perhaps a top 5 quarterback. I still can't get the whole story.

  • Anne26 West Jordan, UT
    July 29, 2012 9:45 a.m.

    My youngest son has been involved in multiple sports for many years now, and we have had our share of great and terrible coaches. It wasn't the knowledge of the game nor was it playing experience that made the difference between a bad and good coach. Some coaches just had something intangible about them that raised them to a higher level. Brian Johnson has that intangible. I'm looking forward to many great years ahead!!

  • mussingaround Palo Alto, CA
    July 29, 2012 9:43 a.m.


    "spending a few more years around an NFL team would have been very valuable to him"

    How about spending any regular season time around an NFL team?

    July 29, 2012 9:26 a.m.

    "This kid has less experience on every single level than Doman had, and less talent."

    Tell me, how is coaching "talent" measured, and what would convince one that either has more or less than the other? Experience, sure, spending a few more years around an NFL team would have been very valuable to him, but there are plenty of instances of guys who never even played college ball who are fantastic coordinators.

  • skywalker Palo Alto, CA
    July 29, 2012 8:44 a.m.

    Hope springs eternal for every football program before fall camp begins, but any Utah fan who thinks that the Utes are unique and will be able to seemlessly adjust to a brand new OC, who has absolutley no prior offensive coordinating experience, is going to be sorely disappointed. Be prepared for the unavoidalbe gafs that will inevitably cost the Utes a game or two or three this coming season.

  • Spencer W. Morgan Riverton, UT
    July 29, 2012 8:42 a.m.

    I remember hoping they would call a draw on that play :) Brian is going to be a great O.C. I think the only thing up for question is how soon, but I have high hopes and would not be surprised given his history to see the Utes tear it up this year.

  • Go Utes! Springville, UT
    July 29, 2012 8:34 a.m.

    I was beyond excited when BJ got the job. Best decision coach whittingham ever made, it will define Utah football for years to come. Coach Johnson is an investment choice that will pay off for years to come.

  • tdlawton Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 29, 2012 8:21 a.m.

    First off, kudos to Doug, frankly as a Ute fan I have NOT been happy with the coverage of the Utes from the local press, but this was exactly the kind of work I want to see.

    Informative without being either a "puff-piece" or an attempt to "stir-up" some controversy.

    It acknowledges a legitimate and natural question (was a 25 year-old really the best choice for this position?) give information and viewpoints from those involved with the decision and lets the reader make up his/her own mind, but at least the reader will be making up their mind with more information than before reading the article.

    As for how I personally answer the question, I am nervous and I expect some growing pains, but think Brian Johnson has a bright future, I just hope "the future starts now."

    July 29, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    Great article and insight into Brian, can't wait to see it all in action in 4 weeks

    Go Utes!

  • PAC12Fan South Jordan, UT
    July 29, 2012 8:01 a.m.

    Nice job Brian. Couldn't have happened to a classier person. Looking forward to a great season.

  • Proud Ute ,
    July 29, 2012 7:51 a.m.

    Good luck Coach Johnson.
    Alot is expected of you but you've always been up to the challenge.

  • CougFaninTX Frisco, TX
    July 29, 2012 7:43 a.m.

    I think Brian has a great future. The first year is always the toughest trying to get everything figured out.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    July 29, 2012 6:13 a.m.

    He's obviously a very special young man destined for much greater success. I hope he soars as high as he can and only have a hiccup when playing BYU...and I say that only because I'm a die hard Cougar fan. It looks like this is just the start of a great coaching career for him. Kudos to C. Whit for recognizing the great potential in that special young man.

    So my hat's off to you Brian and the Utes! May you roar in the Pac 12 and whimper only against the cougs this Sept. To be honest I can't stomach a repeat of last year's epic beat down at our house. So on that note, may the game be a thriller with fortunes reversed in our favor.

    Go Cougs! Are you up to the challenge?

    July 29, 2012 2:53 a.m.

    A very nice article about a great young man. I totally agree about the assessment about Johnson having the "intangibles" to call the right plays at the right time. I saw this in person in these two games: against Oregon State, where the Utes rallied from being down by 8 with only one minute to go, and how he confidently led the Utes back to the TD, the 2-point extra point, then down the field again to set up Sakoda's winning field goal. Later, perhaps even more impressive, was his game against TCU where he converted that pass on 4th and 5 keeping the final drive alive, and then later threading the needle to Freddie Brown for the final go-ahead TD.

    Brian, you've got one heck of a football mind. Good luck to you this year! We're in good hands with you as OC, going into what is shaping up to be another memorable year.

  • Qwest Perfected Salt Lake City, UT
    July 28, 2012 10:51 p.m.

    Brian is a true class act. He was a great QB and has always been a skilled play caller.

    I will never forget the look on Nick Saban's face as Brian quickly put up 21 points in the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl.

    I look forward to a great season with him as the OC! Well deserved Brian!

    Go Utes!

    July 28, 2012 10:33 p.m.

    Bravo, Doug. Really cool article. Excited to see the passion and energy BJ can bring to the team this year. In spite of the numbers, I was a fan of Coach Chow and the wisdom he brought to the team, but for anyone who's ever met Brian, how can you not love BJ and be anything but excited for him and the team? For any duck --err anyone-- who hasn't and tries to make unfounded criticisms about his coaching ability, they're obviously not in any position to judge that.