Questions and Answers with Gerry DiNardo
Gerry DiNardo went from an All American guard on Ara Parseghian’s National Championship in 1973 to the “Father of The I-Bone” during an successful coaching career in college football. DiNardo had a first hand look at what a championship football team looks like under Ara and joined Bill McCartney at Colorado and was part of the “worst to first transformation of the Buffs’ football program. It was at Colorado where as the Offensive Coordinator DiNardo created the I-Bone Attack.
DiNardo took the I-Bone to Nashville and led the Commodores of Vanderbilt to a successful stretch in the competitive SEC. Vandy was 5 -28 the 3 years prior to DiNardo’s arrival and 18 -28 with I-Bone with 2 upsets over top 25 teams.
The next stop was Baton Rouge to bring back the sagging LSU football program. DiNardo had immediate success and went to a bowl game in his first year. LSU had suffered through 6 straight losing seasos prior to DiNardo’s arrival. Gerry went 20 -4 in his next 2 seasons including a huge upset over #1 Florida.
Dinardo’s last stint was an short-lived shot at turning around Indiana in the Big 10. Dinardo was making progress but patience was not in abundance in Bloomington and Dinardo was dismissed after only 3 seasons. Ironically Bill McCartney during CU’s turDeptnaround was 1-10 in his 3rd season with the Buffs, but the administration stuck with him & it paid off in a National Championship.
Gerry is now involved in head-hunting for Universities’ Athletic Department searches. He’ll bring a great perspective to a very inexact process.
Tony: Gerry who were the three biggest influences in your coaching career?
Gerry: Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame. I saw Ara at his best. He was very charismatic and a great motivator. Bill McCartney was a first time Head Coach and I saw first hand how to turnaround a football program. Vinny O’Connor and his staff at St. Francis Prep were also big influences on me.
Tony: What was your Offensive Philosophy?
Gerry: It depends on the situation. If I am coaching at a “have not” situation like Vanderbilt, I like the Option, but if I’m at “have” school like LSU, I like a more traditional offense, because you want to attract potential NFL quarterbacks and skill players. I think the option hurts your chances of landing those type of recruits. At Indiana we ran a 2 back West Coast offense with a great OC, Al Borges but we should have been running the option. Not being an option team at IU was a mistake.
Tony: You are the architect of the I-Bone Offense, how did this happen?
Gerry: The I-Bone is a combination of The Wishbone Option Attack and the “I” downhill power attack. At Cu we had a spring where our starting Wishbone QB was out and our back up couldn’t run the option so we put in some “I” plays for the spring. When our option QB returned in the fall we had the option and the “I” package. We felt that if a team was playing soft vs. the option we could run at them with ISO & if they were pinching vs. the ISO we could run option. This gave us a great attack to the 3 & 5 technique side. I was always concerned with attacking the 3 & % technique side with just the triple.
Tony: This was prior to the coming of the mid-line.
Gerry: Mid-line hadn’t come along yet so we liked to attack the 3 & 5 with ISO. Our Philosophy evolved as the year went on & really came to fruition in Iowa City vs Hayden Fry & his Iowa Hawks. We upset Iowa and after the game Coach Fry said they couldn’t stop both the ISO and the Triple. So our philosophy of” easy to read, hard to block and hard to read, easy to block” came to be. The Iowa game was really our turning point at CU. If the defense was getting upfield we ran ISO & if they were pinching we ran option. It was a simple but great combination.
Tony: The thing I liked about the I-Bone is that you could feed the ball to your feature back inside or outside.
Gerry: You get the ball to a guy like Eric Bienhemy 30 times. You couldn’t do this in the Wishbone. Plus you attack the shade side or the eagle side of the defense.
Tony: With Paul Johnson’s success at Georgia Tech, do you think there will be a resurgence of the option?
Gerry: A.D.s will hire spread coaches who run the option but stay away from pure option guys. But if Paul Johnson is really successful, he might change the thought process.
Tony: What are the trends you see in college football?
Gerry: I see the Spread losing popularity because it is not good training for the NFL. If the NFL shuns spread QBs then it will be harder to recruit them. I see Florida going to a more conventional offense after Tebow leaves. I see teams going back to a 2 back West Coast passing game and a power run attack with the emphasis on being efficient on first down.
Tony: Great catching up & thanks for your input.