Greetings, Lion fans, and welcome to the off-season. The past month or two has been eventful, to say the least. Like many of you, we here at The Wire were taken aback by the sudden departure of not only of Head Coach Colby Carthel, but offensive coordinator Matt Storm, defensive coordinator Scott Power, and defensive line coach Caid Faske as well. The hiring of David Baliff did some to ease the collective conscience in Lion Nation, but there were still questions. Who would fill out the rest of the staff? Both coordinators whose units were among the best in all of Division 2? The Texas State High School football championships were finishing up , and with that brings the second football season in Texas- Recruiting. The Lions needed to get it together, and fast.
Let me mention right here that I can’t say enough good things about David Baliff. From taking the time to get away from the playoff scene at Jerry World in Arlington, Coach Baliff drove all the way to McKinney just to tailgate and visit with some Lion Football alums. He took the time to meet with all of us, listen, and swap stories. Lion fans, when Baliff says he’s all in…..he means it. Somehow, in the midst of all of this frenzied activity , David Baliff has managed to put together a coaching staff, and we wanted to let you know who they are. Some, like Famika Anae and Jaylon Finner, we don’t know very much about, but if their personality and character are anything like Coach Baliff, we’ll get to know them really well, really soon.
Anae was a tight ends coach at Dixie State last year, and before that, a graduate assistant at the University of Virgina, where his father is offensive coordinator.
Finner played defensive back for Coach Baliff at Rice, and has been a graduate assistant at Ball State. While at Rice, Finner was a starter on Rice’s first conference championship team in 54 years.
The offensive coordinator is Billy Riebock. Riebock comes to Commerce from Bridgewater College in Virginia, a Division 3 school. He was an assistant for Baliff at Rice in 2017, and before that, was a wide receivers coach at Elon College, a name which should be familiar to Lion fans.
Bridgewater was fifth nationally in Division 3 in red zone offense, and five all conference players. Riebock’s offense, from what I’ve been able to see, is explosive and diverse. He does appear to have more of a run/pass balance than Lion fans are used to seeing. His quarterbacks spend more time under center than just a short yardage/goal line situation. This bodes well for the Lions, giving Kane Wilson, Carandale Hale, Ryan Stokes, and company , to use a golf analogy, another club in the bag. We all know the Lions can throw it, and can light up the scoreboard. The addition of a more pro style as well as a run balance, will only make the Lion offense more dangerous to Lone Star Conference opponents.
The new Lion defensive coordinator is a familiar name to fans who follow pro football. Xavier Adibi comes to the Lions from the University of Arkansas, where he was defensive analyst. During his playing days, he was an all conference linebacker at Virginia Tech in 2006 and 2007, and was a first team AFCA All American in 2007 as well. Playing for the legendary Frank Beamer, and long time defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Adibi brings a passion for defensive play that should get fans excited. This may be the best hire of them all. Beamer and Foster are among the best coaches there all in all of college football, at any level. If you want to see what’s coming, Lion fans, go to YouTube, and search for Xavier Adibi. You’ll like what you see. Adibi had a five-year NFL career with Houston, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Chicago. If he coaches with the same passion with which he played, then we are in for a real treat. He appears to fit right in with the Blue Gang mentality. Every play, a street fight. Every yard and point surrendered, it’s taken personally.
Now when is the spring game?