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Chuck Landon: Mirabal a good fit on team lacking consistency

Jan. 28, 2013 @ 11:40 PM

Consistency was the concern.

And rightfully so.

Considering how offensive-oriented Marshall's football program remains while new coordinators Chuck Heater and Anthony Midget try to fix the defense and special teams, respectively, the last thing the Herd needed was transition among its offensive coaching staff.

Yet, that's precisely what happened.

Veteran assistant head coach/co-offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Tony Petersen left after molding quarterback Rakeem Cato into Conference USA's most valuable player and Geep Wade departed after one year as offensive line coach.

Those were two key losses.

As Marshall heads into the crucial fourth year of head coach Doc Holliday's tenure and a season that has make-or-break written all over it, consistency on the all-important offensive side of the ball is immensely important.

But would the Herd have that with Legg moving from tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach and Marshall having its third different offensive line coach in three years?

That's a legitimate question.

Well, now, it has been answered. Marshall is expected to hire Alex Mirabal as its new offensive line coach, according to sources. And that means the concerns over consistency on the offensive coaching staff are no longer an issue.

Why? It's because Mirabal should make a seamless transition into Legg's offense. After all, Mirabal was Florida International's tight ends coach during the same 2008 and '09 seasons that Legg was FIU's offensive coordinator.

So, now, they merely are reprising their relationship.

What a great situation. Considering their previous working experience, there's no reason to believe Legg and Mirabal won't be on the same page from the first day of spring practice on March 26 at Edwards Stadium.

And that's precisely what Marshall's football program needed.

Mirabal, a native of Miami, Fla., spent the last six years on FIU's coaching staff. He coached tight ends in 2007-09 and, then, was the Panthers' offensive line coach in 2010-12. Mirabal, who graduated from Florida International in 1993, also was FIU's assistant head coach.

During FIU's impressive run in 2010 and 2011, which included an appearance against Marshall in the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Mirabal's offensive line was regarded as one of the best in the Sun Belt Conference, allowing just 20 and 15 sacks, respectively.

In fact, Mirabal's offensive line was so highly regarded that after an impressive victory over Troy in 2010, which featured a school record 448 yards rushing, the entire offensive line was awarded a helmet sticker by ESPN.com.

Despite those plaudits, when FIU head coach Mario Cristobal was fired after a 3-9 season in 2012, new Panthers' coach Ron Turner didn't retain Mirabal on his staff.

So, it appears FIU most definitely did Marshall a favor by freeing up Mirabal. Besides, he also was a long-time Dade County high school coach in Miami, so he's a great fit for MU recruiting. Mirabal appears to be a great hire all the way around.

The good news is that's the case with all of Marshall's recent hires. Holliday couldn't have done better than enticing Heater to accept the defensive coordinator job. And considering Midget's previous success with special teams, he appears to be the perfect choice to fix that glaring problem.

And, now, add Mirabal to the mix.

So far, so very good.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.



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