Rams tab Croom to lead running backs, hire four other assistants

ST. LOUIS -- Sylvester Croom, who resigned under pressure as Mississippi State's head coach in November, is returning to the NFL as an assistant coach for the new-look St. Louis Rams.

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo announced the hiring Monday, along with four others -- Tom McMahon as special teams coordinator, Rock Gullickson as strength and conditioning coach, Brendan Daly as defensive line coach and Matt House for defensive quality control.

"We are closing in on completing our staff," said Spagnuolo, who has hired 14 coaches since he was named the Rams' coach on Jan. 17. The latest hires "bring a wealth of knowledge and a wide variety of experiences."

Croom became the first black head coach in Southeastern Conference history when he took over the Bulldogs in 2004. Mississippi State was 21-38 in his five seasons. Before that, Croom spent 17 seasons as an NFL assistant.

Croom's final season at Mississippi State ended with a 4-8 record, punctuated with a 45-0 loss to archrival Mississippi in the season finale. He resigned one day later after a meeting with the athletic director.

Croom's tenure there included four losing seasons. But the Bulldogs were 8-5 in 2007, when Croom was named SEC Coach of the Year.

Croom was among the first black players to play for coach Bear Bryant at Alabama from 1971 to 1974, where he was the starting center. Croom was a Crimson Tide assistant before beginning his NFL career as running backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987. He also coached running backs for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers. He was the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator from 1997 to 2000, when he coached running back Barry Sanders.

In St. Louis, Croom will work with Steven Jackson, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past four seasons despite missing several games with injuries.

McMahon was assistant special teams coach for the Atlanta Falcons for the past two seasons. He previously coached at Carroll College, Utah State and Louisville.

Gullickson is a 32-year coaching veteran, including 10 in the NFL. He was strength and conditioning coach for the New Orleans Saints from 2000 through 2005 and for the Packers the last three seasons. He was among six assistants released by Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy after this season.

Daly spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant and defensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings. Their defense ranked first against the run during that three-year span.

House was a special teams assistant and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Carolina Panthers last season.

Spagnuolo, the former defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, is remaking a Rams team that was 2-14 in 2008 and 5-27 over the past two seasons.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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