Pac-12 re-staffed well

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
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Matt Hayes of The Sporting News provides some nice Pac-12 flavor with his look at the top five new coaching staffs in 2012.

In fact, his top three staffs are from the Pac-12: Washington, Arizona and UCLA.

Here's what he said about Washington, which ranked No. 1.
Here's what the Huskies got with new coordinators Justin Wilcox (defense/Tennessee) and Eric Kiesau (offense/California): two of the bright young minds in the game, and two elite recruiters. Both will eventually be head coaches.

Coach Steve Sarkisian also convinced Tosh Lupoi (defensive line/Cal), the best recruiter on the West Coast, to leave two weeks before signing day, and Peter Sirmon (linebackers/Tennessee) who had quickly developed into the Vols' best recruiter to return home to his native Washington.

Sarkisian fired defensive coordinator Nick Holt, and lost offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to Alabama. But the net gain was a staff that can recruit and coach the Huskies into the elite of the Pac-12.

And Arizona, which was No. 2:
Rich Rodriguez is doing his best to recreate the magic he found at West Virginia.

It begins with three critical components from his time in Morgantown: defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, offensive coordinator Calvin McGee and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith. It includes Tony Gibson (safeties), Tony Dews (wide receivers), Bill Kirelawich (defensive line) and David Lockwood (cornerbacks) all of whom coached with Rodriguez as he built West Virginia into a national power that beat Georgia and Oklahoma in BCS bowls.

The key then as it will be now in another non-marquee program was the staff's ability to find fits in recruiting. In other words, specific players who fit what Rodriguez wants to do on both sides of the ball (see: Pat White, Steve Slaton, Jock Sanders).

And UCLA, which was No. 3:
Jim Mora wasn't necessarily the sexiest hire, and wasn't the Bruins first or second choice. And now there's only one relevant question:

What was more impressive: the way he built a staff is such a short time, or how well that staff recruited?

Here's a head coach with zero experience in college recruiting, who was out of football for more than a year, landing a top 15 class by assembling an attractive, experienced staff. Mora got Arizona State's best recruiter (Steve Broussard, running backs) and Washington's best recruiter (Demetrice Martin, secondary), and hired passing game whiz Noel Mazzone (ASU) as offensive coordinator and longtime NFL assistant Lou Spanos (Steelers) as defensive coordinator.

Former coach Rick Neuheisel's biggest problem at UCLA and a critical reason why he didn't win was a lack of chemistry and cohesiveness on the staff.

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