Muschamp heads to Auburn, clearing way for Capers
For the second time this week, the Miami Dolphins have lost one of the top lieutenants from a staff that led the defense to a solid season in 2005.
Assistant head coach for defense Will Muschamp left the Dolphins on Friday to become the defensive coordinator at Auburn. Earlier in the week, Richard Smith, who held the title of defensive coordinator on Nick Saban's first NFL staff, was named the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.
Neither of the departures was unexpected, especially since the Dolphins last week hired former Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans coach Dom Capers as special assistant to Saban. The departure of Muschamp now mean that Capers will essentially fill the role for which he was hired, that of defensive coordinator.
With both Muschamp and Smith exiting the defensive staff, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently leaving to become the St. Louis Rams' new head coach, Saban has dramatically overhauled the top spots on his staff, despite a 9-7 record in 2005. Former Buffalo Bills head coach Mike Mularkey was hired as the new offensive coordinator.
The Miami staff remains one of the largest in the league, but the departures of Smith and Muschamp certainly clarify the defensive pecking order. Smith and Muschamp basically shared many of the responsibilities Capers will now wholly inherit. Capers is expected to expand the Dolphins' use of the 3-4 defense.
In moving on to Auburn as coordinator, Muschamp returns to a conference that he knows well and to a school where he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1995. After three seasons at Auburn, he moved to West Georgia (1998), Eastern Kentucky (1999) and Valdosta State (2000), before joining Saban's staff at LSU.
Muschamp, 34, was at LSU four seasons before he followed Saban to Miami in 2005.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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