Coaching continuity at Oregon, Washington

February, 22, 2011
2/22/11
1:43
PM ET
Spring is a time of renewal. And change. But at Oregon and Washington, it's the same old boring thing.

At least in terms of coaching staffs. And that's typically -- not always, but typically -- a good thing.

While the other 10 Pac-12 teams worked through or are still working through some staff changes -- whether that's a single, non-coordinator assistant (such as Arizona State, Oregon State or USC) or a new head coach and staff (Colorado and Stanford) -- the Ducks and Huskies head into 2011 spring practices with the same staff that led them through the 2010 season.

We'll be highlighting some of these coaching changes as well as chatting with some new assistants in the coming weeks heading into spring practices, which really start to get cracking the second week of March, but first let's consider Oregon and Washington.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly and Steve Sarkisian
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesChip Kelly and Steve Sarkisian are the only Pac-12 coaches to hold on to all of their assistants this offseason.
What does stability mean for these two?

As a general statement, it means Chip Kelly and Steve Sarkisian are happy with their coaches and their coaches are happy to be in Eugene and Seattle. Both staffs had a couple of flirtations, most notably Ducks receivers coach Scott Frost with his alma mater Nebraska and Huskies quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier with LSU, but neither ended up leaving, for whatever reason.

You could also conclude stability is a good thing for both programs. It's not hard to argue both were well-coached in 2010.

We don't have to spend much time with Oregon, right? It went undefeated in the regular season and played for the national championship. It was elite on both sides of the ball as well as on special teams. Is there an area that underperformed or wasn't sound? To answer that as Kelly would, no.

Washington is a bit trickier because after nine games it was one of the more obvious disappointments in the conference. But coaching isn't only about championships; it's also about getting better. And the Huskies found a way to get better after a 3-6 start, winning their final four games, including getting their first bowl win since 2000. While an easier schedule played a part, it's also fair to say the Huskies refocused and improved in all areas, particularly on both lines, as the season went on. The defensive improvement might have been most impressive due to numerous injuries which forced younger guys onto the field.

The verdict: These were two well-coached teams that are fortunate to keep their staffs intact.

Further, looking forward, no staff changes obviously means every position group jumps into spring practices knowing fully what to expect. While most good coaches like to keep their players on edge with some unpredictability, routine is a part of football: Do it 1,000 times in practice so it works well once in a game.

Both staffs will be on the proverbial same page. Scheme, general logistics and communication don't figure to be issues this spring.

At Oregon, that means full steam ahead rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines with coaches -- Steve Greatwood and Jerry Azzinaro -- who know the strengths and shortcomings of every player on their depth charts. (Hey, which coach seems happier to be in a coat and tie for his mug shot?) That means quarterback Darron Thomas gets Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, 2.0. That means thinking more about LSU than making sure every coach knows the scheme's terminology.

At Washington, it means Sarkisian and Nussmeier should be fully in sync about how they want the quarterback competition to go between Keith Price and Nick Montana. It means defensive coordinator Nick Holt & Co. know what -- and who -- worked last fall and what (and who) didn't and what needs to happen to transform from improving to actually being good.

So if Ducks and Huskies fans are looking for something to be happy about between recruiting and spring practices, this is it.

And I'm shocked that you would be soooooo cynical as to think that grouping Oregon and Washington together in a story might yield some amusing back-and-forth among you kibitzers.

Ted Miller | email

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