Exciting news out of Halifax: Monty Mosher of the Chronicle-Herald reports that the Saint Mary's Huskies filled their vacant defensive coordinator position on Monday with the hiring of former CFLer Marcello Simmons.
Simmons is replacing Devin Murphy, who left the same role at the end of the 2012 season. It was rumoured that Murphy and head coach Perry Marchese were not on good terms throughout the season.
This new hire should continue the SMU tradition of strong defence based around match coverage principles. While Murphy and Simmons run different concepts, the Huskies should be able to hit the ground running and build on what should be considered a disappointing season, largely so because of their troubles on offence.
One of the issues that SMU had last year in the secondary was how Murphy's system forced the defence to tattle on itself by moving Neil King out of the free safety position when running the match. Simmons' defence relies more on the strong side linebacker being the adjuster. (Of course this all comes down to personnel: Murphy could have been forced to use King due to the lack of depth they had after their tumultuous offseason. Previously Jeff Hecht was used in this role.)
Simmons, a former defensive back himself in the CFL for seven seasons, mostly in the late-90s, also played for the Southern Methodist Mustangs which puts him on a very short list of people involved with both SMU football programs. He has spent the last decade coaching in the CIS and CFL with the most notable stop in Toronto, where he was special teams coordinator with the Argonauts from 2003 to 2008, including their 2004 Grey Cup win. After a brief hiatus he joined the Acadia Axemen in 2010* and then the Guelph Gryphons in 2011, both times coaching the defensive backs. He went back to the CFL last year as the DB coach for Edmonton, and now moves on to a new challenge in Halifax.
* In the interests of full disclosure: I played under Marcello Simmons during my 2010 season at Acadia.
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