Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 12/5/11
And then there was one. With the announced dismissals of Chuck Driesbach and Rick LaFavers on Monday, Rice coach David Bailiff has just one remaining member from his original staff from 2007: linebackers coach Darrell Patterson. Driesbach, 59, and LaFavers, 38, joined Bailiff in the weeks following his Jan. 19 2007 hiring. Driesbach had served as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, linebackers and safeties coach during his tenure while LaFavers initially coached tight ends and coordinated the special teams before shifting to running backs and coordinating recruiting prior to the 2010 season. Driesbach was part of the second wave of assistants hired by Bailiff on Jan 24, 2007; LaFavers and Patterson were announced as the final staff additions four weeks later on Feb 20, 2007. "I appreciate everything that Chuck and Rick have done for Rice over the past five seasons," Bailiff said via statement. "But after evaluating the program, I felt that we needed to make some changes in order to move the program forward." Driesbach completed his 35th season in coaching on Nov. 26 as the Owls concluded their third consecutive losing campaign with a setback at SMU. After sharing coordinator duties with Craig Naivar for three seasons, Driesbach held the title singularly over the last two years. Despite spending nearly two decades of experience as a coordinator, Driesbach failed to find statistical success leading the Rice defense. The Owls consistently ranked among the bottom 10 nationally in total defense, finishing 118th in 2007, 113th the following season, 117th in 09 and 111th this season despite wholesale changes on the defensive staff. Naivar, the Owls line coach last season, and former cornerbacks coach Jason Washington left for Texas State last winter and were replaced by Derrick Jackson and Chris Thurmond, respectively. Washington, incidentally, was named to the staff on the same day as Driesbach. The 2010 season represented the high-water mark for the Driesbach-led Owls relative to national rankings. They finished 107th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs allowing 448.8 yards per game. However, the grim reality was this: Of the six years in which the Owls surrendered the most yards in a single season, five have come since 07. Before former line coach Darin Eliot departed for Florida State prior to last season, the defensive staff had remained unchanged. That the Owls struggled to improve despite continuity was perplexing, even considering the proliferation of spread offenses in Conference USA. Rationalizing the dismissal of LaFavers is difficult. During his two seasons as running backs coach the Owls averaged 159.4 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry in 2010, and 150.9 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry this past season. Last season Sam McGuffie paced the Owls in rushing with 883 yards and six touchdowns on 197 attempts. This season Tyler Smith led the team with 860 yards and five scores. The only significant drop off in production came in rushing touchdowns, with the Owls producing 13 this season as opposed to 24 touchdowns last season. LaFavers succeeded Eliot as recruiting coordinator in 2010. Patterson, who replaced Naivar as the special teams coordinator, spent two seasons as linebackers coach at Stanford before joining Bailiff. The staff he joined then is no more following the prior departures of Tom Herman (Iowa State), Blake Miller (Utah) and David Beaty (Kansas). While Bailiff offered no indication of when he will fill the vacancies, the annual American Football Coaches Association Convention represents a cattle call for available assistants. The event is scheduled for Jan. 8-11, 2012 in San Antonio. Follow me on Twitter at FSH_Owls
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