Pac-12: Aaron Roderick

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To the notes!

Matt from Sunnyvale, California, writes: I'm sure most questions this week will be recruiting-focused, but how about some of the recent DC hires by Wazzu, Utah and Colorado? I must say the Wazzu and Utah hires may fly under the radar as more of an unknown. But the Buffs actually investing in a "name" coach for DC was a nice surprise. There's always more to a name, but a big-time hire can only help excite the fan base. What do you expect Jim Leavitt to bring to the Buffs?

Ted Miller: Colorado, without question, made the most inspired hire, tapping Jim Leavitt to run its defense.

Leavitt had a successful head-coaching tenure building South Florida from the ground up, so he's experienced first-hand taking a program from Point A to Point Win. Yes, things ended badly, but that smirch is probably why Mike MacIntyre was able to land an A-list coach.

Leavitt was Bill Snyder's defensive coordinator at Kansas State from 1990-95, so there's even more significant experience taking a program from Point A to Point Win. And Snyder, a Hall of Famer, is a heck of a guy to learn from. Leavitt's four years with the San Francisco 49ers working for Jim Harbaugh also seems like valuable experience.

This appears to be a huge upgrade from Kent Baer, who was encouraged to break camp in Boulder and head to UNLV. I got a $1 that says the Buffs will be substantially better on defense next fall. Maybe not certifiably good, but better.

As for Utah's and Washington State's, they went in much different directions, from Colorado and from each other.

Washington State coach Mike Leach tapped Alex Grinch to coordinate his defense. Leach went young and promising, as Grinch is 34, and he's never coordinated a defense before. But his work with the secondary at Missouri was impressive. He takes over a defense that was bad last year and has a lot of questions heading into 2015.

We shall see.

As for Utah, it went, well, old and known. Coach Kyle Whittingham promoted 67-year-old Dennis Erickson to assistant head coach and handed over co-offensive coordinator duties to Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding, who were already on staff. Roderick was the Utes co-offensive coordinator in 2010, weathered a demotion and now has a second chance.

As for the defense, Whittingham lured John Pease, 71, out of retirement -- for a second time! -- to run the Utes defense.

Those are all good, proven coaches, but there is little question this is a stop-gap solution after things got a little fractious with coaching attrition and behind-the-scenes politics at Utah this winter. Got another $1 that says the Utes coaching lineup is different in 2016, though this is a great opportunity for Roderick and Harding to distinguish themselves and stop the eight-year flip-flopping on offense.

What's interesting about Utah -- as opposed to Colorado and Washington State -- is it appears talented enough to make a run in the South Division next fall. There's good talent returning on both sides of the ball, though competing for the division title almost certainly will require clarity at QB.


Peter from Tempe writes: We've been seeing some hype around Mike Bercovici and, by all accounts, he has the starting position locked down for next year. I wouldn't say I'm questioning the decision, but as a skeptic on most matters, how optimistic can the Sun Devils be with Bercovici behind center? He definitely played well as a starter this season, but that was three games. Is that enough to be confident? Where do you place him in your way-too-early QB rankings?

Ted Miller: I'd rate Arizona State and Mike Bercovici fifth in my Way-Too-Early QB rankings, behind USC, Cal, Stanford and Arizona, though he'd fall into the "Experienced but Questions Remain" bunch that includes Colorado's Sefo Liufau, Utah's Travis Wilson, Washington's Cyler Miles and Washington State's Luke Falk.

Bercovici has an A-list arm that will open up the Sun Devils down-field passing options, which in some ways compensates for his lackluster running ability. As a fifth-year senior who started key games last year, he brings plenty of experience and knowledge to the offense.

Is he perfect? No. He sometimes thinks his arm can overcome a well-positioned DB. It can't. He's going to need to learn some patience. Good thing his offensive coordinator/QBs coach Mike Norvell is among the best in the business.

Let's just say this: Sun Devils fans should worry more about their young defense maturing than what's coming back behind center, and neither of those issues should keep you up at night.


Kevin from San Jose writes: I'm sorry, I'm not getting enough USC, UCLA, Oregon and ASU blog articles. Thanks for rarely posting anything on the team that I am interested in gives me another reason to phase this site out. Yes, I'm being sarcastic. Go Dawgs!

Ted Miller: So the issue is we are writing too much about the Pac-12 frontrunners heading into 2015 who also landed the Pac-12's best recruiting classes on national signing day?

Assuming you are grousing about Washington -- the "Go Dawgs!" being a small clue -- what major news item did you want to read about? Coach Chris Petersen calling signing day "anticlimactic"? Or the Seattle Times calling signing day "drama free."

The reason you saw a lot of signing day coverage of USC, UCLA and Arizona State is all three scored major commitments on ... wait for it... signing day. USC might have signed the nation's best class, which is sort of a big deal around these parts.

Oregon? It didn't have any huge signing day news, but the Ducks keep getting themselves ranked in the nation's top 5 and playing for national titles and all that stuff that tends to attract some news coverage, even when nothing of note happens.

Funny thing: UCLA and Arizona State fans used to send in notes like this. Wonder why they don't any more?

We grade each Pac-12 recruiting class here. Washington got a "B":
Chris Petersen's first full class at Washington came together nicely, led by ESPN 300 quarterback Jake Browning and running back Austin Joyner. Offensive line was a key position in 2015 and the Huskies added a pair of four-star tackles in Trey Adams and Henry Roberts. At receiver, Isaiah Renfro and Andre Baccellia are future targets. On defense, linebacker was also a must-fill position, and three-stars D.J. Beavers and Ben Burr-Kirven, along with Kyler Manu, were key grabs.

Sounds pretty positive.

But if Washington fans want their team to get as much coverage nationally as the Pac-12's leading teams, the Huskies need to do something they once did on an annual basis: Be a Pac-12 leader.

Whittingham's six-coordinator itch

December, 20, 2013
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You can't say Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is afraid of change. You can't say he's not desperately trying to fix his ailing offense. And you can't say that the unexpected hiring of former Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen on Friday to run the Utes offense in 2014 isn't a bold move with a potentially substantial payoff.

Christensen has a great reputation for offensive innovation -- just review what he did at Missouri in 2007 with QB Chase Daniel.

Still, it is fair to wonder if a revolving door at offensive coordinator is a good thing for the Utes' short-term prospects, particularly with growing pressure on Whittingham to reverse a two-year bowl-less slide.

[+] EnlargeKyle Whittingham
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsKyle Whittingham has had a revolving door at offensive coordinator.
Revolving door? Christensen is Utah’s sixth offensive coordinator in… six years:

• Andy Ludwig -- 2009
• Aaron Roderick and Dave Schramm -- 2010
• Norm Chow -- 2011
• Brian Johnson -- 2012
• Dennis Erickson (Johnson remained co-coordinator in name only) -- 2013
• And now Christensen -- 2014

Here's an interesting dynamic: At least as of now, Roderick, Johnson and Erickson will remain on staff, working under Christensen. Erickson will coach running backs, Johnson quarterbacks. There was a void on the offensive staff because tight ends coach Jay Hill was hired as Weber State's head coach. Christensen will coach tight ends. Roderick was receivers coach and passing game coordinator last year. The release from Utah on Christensen's hiring doesn't note any change to his status.

The Pac-12 blog's oft-stated position on why the Utes offense has struggled the past few years, other than a higher quality of opposing defenses in the Pac-12 compared to the Mountain Weast, was the lack of continuity at quarterback. Unless Christensen has a cure for what ails the health of the promising Travis Wilson, that will be the overriding issue in 2014.

Whittingham also probably will need to smooth over some roughed-up egos.

It would seem this move is a surprise to Erickson, who refused to comment to the Salt Lake Tribune, per Twitter, but had said he wanted to return as coordinator. The feeling when Erickson, 66, was hired last winter to play lead with demoted co-coordinator Brian Johnson was he would mentor Johnson, an inexperienced but undeniably promising coach, not to mention a former Utes football great. The seeming ideal scenario there was Erickson retiring after a few years and Johnson regaining his old spot with a new bag of tricks and far more seasoning. That scenario has been clouded by the hiring of Christensen.

It will be interesting to see if this offensive staff doesn't undergo a few more changes before next season.

Christensen was only fired at Wyoming on Dec. 1. He went 27-34 overall in five seasons coaching the Cowboys and 16-23 in the Mountain West. He was Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in 2011, but he went 9-15 the past two seasons.

Before Wyoming, he served 17 years as an assistant for Gary Pinkel at Toledo (1992-2000) and Missouri (2001-08), and he's a no-huddle, spread specialist, the scheme the Utes have been tinkering with with varied results for several seasons.

"As one of the pioneers of the spread offense, Dave Christensen is an innovative coach and was the architect of one of the top offenses in the country during his time at Missouri,” Whittingham said in a statement from the school. “We feel fortunate he was available and interested in joining our program, and he will be a great fit with our staff. We want an explosive offense and that’s been a trademark of Dave’s throughout his career as an offensive coordinator.”

Whittingham and Christensen worked together at Idaho State in 1989-90. Christensen played offensive line at Washington from 1980-82 before getting his degree in 1985 at Western Washington.

This is a good hire in many ways. Erickson wasn't the long-term answer, and Christensen's availability and willingness to come to Salt Lake probably was too alluring to pass up for Whittingham. Yet six coordinators in six years is pretty extreme turnover. While there are reasonable explanations for each change, it's impossible to not at least raise an eyebrow.

Of course, the way to lower that skeptical eyebrow is the same for Whittingham/Christensen as it is in all things in big-time college football.

Produce results. Win.
On Oct. 1, Utah went into the halftime locker room trailing Washington 10-7, kicking itself for a pair of red-zone turnovers.

Quarterback Jordan Wynn walked into the locker room with two thoughts. First of all, he felt like he was throwing like his old self for the first time all season with a surgically-repaired right shoulder. Second, there was something wrong with his other, non-throwing shoulder.

Wynn couldn't play in the second half, and the Utes got rolled 31-14 in front of a stunned crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Wynn's season was done and he would again undergo shoulder surgery.

[+] EnlargeWynn
Kirby Lee/US PresswireShould quarterback Jordan Wynn stay healthy for all of the 2012 season, the Utes could be a force to reckon with in the Pac-12.
"I think I was pretty close [to 100 percent], but looking back on it, with the injury I had and surgery I had, it takes time," Wynn said. "I was just starting to feel like I was getting back to my old ways, especially the first half of the Washington game. That might have been one of the better halves of my career."

And when Wynn went down, many saw the Utes' season as doomed. Instead, with Nebraska-Omaha transfer Jon Hays managing a run-first offense that leaned heavily on a tough defense, the Utes nearly stole the South Division crown in their first year of Pac-12 play.

It's fair to ask what might have happened if Wynn had stayed healthy and continued to recover his form from late 2009 and most of 2010. Note that from Oct. 31, 2009 to Oct. 30, 2010, Wynn was 12-2 as a starter, including a dynamic performance in a 2009 Poinsettia Bowl win against California as a true freshman.

Many expect USC to run away with the Pac-12 South Division. Heck, many see the Trojans playing for the 2012 national title.

But what about Utah? Recall that the Utes, in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, lined up for a 41-yard field goal to tie the Trojans in the Coliseum last September (it was blocked and returned for a TD). Sure, USC hadn't really found the mojo at that point that would propel it into the top-five by season's end, but neither had Wynn or the Utes.

If you want to know a game that could have huge Pac-12 and national title implications in 2012 that not many folks are talking about, look no further than USC's visit to Salt Lake City on Oct. 4 — a Thursday night matchup on ESPN.

"It will definitely be interesting," Wynn said. "It was a tough game last year. We came one or two plays short of stealing that thing away."

Of course, there's a lot to do between now and then. The prime objective for Wynn: Stay healthy. And No. 2 is to find a comfort level with his fourth offensive coordinator (Dave Schramm, Aaron Roderick, Norm Chow and now Brian Johnson). Johnson, who just turned 25, is the youngest coordinator in FBS football.

"It's definitely a different dynamic from him to coach Chow [who will turn 66 in May]," Wynn said. "He understands first hand what it's like to be a 21- or 22-year-old in college, and kind of what goes on. It's good for off-the-field stuff. He's easy to relate to."

There's been plenty of speculation about what the switch from Chow to Johnson will mean. Johnson ran a spread-option when he was the Utes QB from 2005-2008, which Chow changed to a pro-style attack during his one-year tenure before becoming Hawaii's coach. While Wynn expects some tweaks — here's a guess that Johnson got the job partly because his suggestions of tweaks intrigued head coach Kyle Whittingham — he doesn't expect dramatic changes.

Read: Him running an option.

"I don't think it's going to be too much different," Wynn said. "He's tweaking stuff here and there, but we're going to keep somewhat of a pro-style system. ... I'm not really known as a runner. To this point, there really aren't any designed runs for me in the offense. I would imagine there probably won't be. But we'll see."

Wynn said both shoulders "feel great." He said he's been working out since December and throwing at 100 percent since January. He also said the frustrations of the past two years have helped him grow.

And, yeah, he's looked around. He sees the pieces coming back on both sides of the ball. This is a talented team with plenty of experience. The idea that his health is the critical cornerstone is not something he embraces or says himself, but he's aware that more than a few folks already are putting it atop their analysis of the Utes in 2012.

"If people want to say it lies on me, that's fine, he said. "If you look at any great college team, they usually have great quarterback play."

It's fair to say that speculating on potential endgames in 2012 for the Utes gets far more optimistic if Wynn starts all 12 games.

Kyle Whittingham goes young for OC

February, 2, 2012
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When Utah coach Kyle Whittingham tapped Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator last year, he got a celebrated, experienced veteran. With Chow off to the islands as Hawaii's new head coach, Whittingham is going with youth, energy and potential this go-around.

Whittingham has promoted has promoted Brian Johnson from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.

Johnson, who will turn 25 on Feb. 16, has been the Utes quarterbacks coach for just a year. He will continue to coach quarterbacks, and it seems likely that the Utes will use more of a spread-option scheme in 2012 as they did before Chow arrived with a pro-style offense.

"After spending the past month conducting a national search for an offensive coordinator, it became very apparent that we had the best candidate for the job right here on our own staff," Whittingham said in a statement. "Brian is a leader and a special coaching talent, just as he was a special player, and he is the right person to lead our offense."

The winningest quarterback in Utah history, going 26-7 as the Utes' starter, Johnson was the MVP of the blowout victory against Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, which capped a 13-0 season.

This is a bold move for Whittingham -- if there are any 24-year-old coordinators with any other AQ team, none come immediately to mind -- and a huge career boost for Johnson. Simply put, if he's successful he will become a head coach before he turns 30.

"I am excited that Coach Whittingham has given me this opportunity and I am prepared for the challenge," Johnson said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working with a great coaching staff and putting together a productive offense that will help us win a conference championship. I've had many good mentors as a player and a coach, including Dan Mullen, Andy Ludwig, Aaron Roderick and Norm Chow."

Whittingham also announced other staff moves. Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake was given the title of assistant head coach. Aaron Roderick, in his eighth year coaching the receivers, will also serve as the passing game coordinator.

Sitake, 36, has become a hot defensive coordinator since being promoted from linebackers coach in 2009. Roderick was the Utes' co-offensive coordinator before Chow arrived, and he applied for the job that went to Johnson.

Dan Finn, a Utah graduate assistant from 2004-06, has been hired to coach the centers and guards. Finn spent last season as the offensive line coach at San Diego State, and the previous four years as the offensive line coach at Idaho (2007-10). Tim Davis, Utah's offensive line coach in 2011, will now concentrate on coaching the tackles and tight ends.

Jay Hill, in his eighth season as a full-time assistant, takes over the running backs for Dave Schramm, who was hired as Fresno State's offensive coordinator. Hill has served two different stints as the cornerbacks coach, most recently in 2010 and 2011, and oversaw the tight ends from 2007-09. He remains Utah's special teams coordinator.

Sharrieff Shah, a starting safety for the Utes from 1990-93 and a three-year team captain, returns to his alma mater to coach the cornerbacks. Shah, a Salt Lake City attorney since 2001, was a certified NFL agent from 1996-2002, representing players in the NFL, CFL and NFL-Europe. He received his bachelor's, master's and law degrees from the University of Utah. Shah has also served as the team's sideline reporter for ESPN 700 radio for the past 12 years.

Pac-12 links: Colorado QBs, Utah OCs

January, 30, 2012
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So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.

Staff changes: Utah

March, 10, 2011
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Only Oregon and Washington didn't experience any staff turnover this offseason, so we're running through the staff changes for the other 10 Pac-12 teams.

Next up is Utah, which brought in a big name to run its offense

Team in parenthesis is where the departing coach ended up.

Out
Dave Schramm, co-offensive coordinator/tight ends (now running backs coach)
Aaron Roderick, co-offensive coordinator (now receivers coach)

In
Norm Chow, offensive coordinator/tight ends

Out
Blake Miller, Offensive line (Memphis)

In
Tim Davis, offensive line

Out
Aaron Alford, running backs (now Director of High School Relations)

In
Schramm, running backs

Out
John Pease, defensive line (retired)

In
Chad Kauha’aha’a, defensive line

Reaction: Obviously, the big news is Chow. He's one of the all-time greats, but he's coming off an unsuccessful tenure at UCLA. It's interesting that he's not coaching quarterbacks, which continues to be Brian Johnson's post. That will allow Chow to play a more supervisory role, which might be a good thing as he gets a feel for his personnel and transitions the Utes from a spread to a more West Coast attack. Johnson, who turned 24 in February and is the Pac-12's youngest full-time assistant, has a great opportunity to learn from Chow and put his career in the fast lane. An obvious question is how Schramm and Roderick handle what functions as a demotion. You'd suspect that head coach Kyle Whittingham is pretty confident both will be good soldiers, because it falls on him if they are disgruntled. Davis, a former line coach at USC, was a Ute offensive tackle from 1978-80 and a Utah offensive line coach from 1990-96. Kauha’aha’a was Utah State's defensive line coach for the past two seasons. He's a former second-team All-WAC player for the Utes in 1996. Whittingham was the defensive coordinator during Kauha’aha’a’s last three years at Utah.

Utah reshuffles staff

February, 4, 2011
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Norm Chow: Utah tight ends coach.

Sorry. Just wanted to type that.

Here's how Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has reshuffled his staff after hiring Chow away from UCLA, per a press release:

[O]ffensive coordinator Norm Chow will also coach the tight ends, while Dave Schramm takes over at running back -- a position he managed during his first four years at Utah (2005-08). Aaron Alford, a Ute assistant since 2007 and the running backs coach for the last two seasons, moves into an administrative role as the director of high school relations. The rest of Utah’s offensive staff has Aaron Roderick beginning his seventh year with the receivers, Brian Johnson coaching the quarterbacks for the second year, and Tim Davis taking over the offensive line.

[+] EnlargeNorm Chow
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport - US PresswireNew Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow will bring a lot of experience to the staff.
Utah also announced that Chad Kauha’aha’a will take over as defensive line coach. He replaces John Pease, who retired after the season. Kauha’aha’a was Utah State's defensive line coach for the past two seasons. He's a former second-team all WAC player for the Utes in 1996. Whittingham was the defensive coordinator during Kauha’aha’a’s last three years at Utah.

But back to the offensive shakeup. Here's how Whittingham explained it:

“We took our time re-positioning the offensive staff and made sure that we got everybody into the roles we felt were best for the program. Aaron Alford did a nice job with our running backs, and the cornerbacks before that, but as the director of high school relations, he will fill a critical role for us in our move to the Pac-12.”


It seems like Whittingham tried to limit the shock to his staff's system as best he could, seeing that Schramm and Roderick shared the coordinating duties last year and are functionally getting a demotion because of the arrival of Chow.

Most interesting: Chow is not coaching quarterbacks. That's been his specialty since his BYU days in the 1970s. That decision feels like tip of the cap to Brian Johnson, as well as a way to allow Chow to serve in a more supervisory role. A graduate assistant can put tight ends through drills. Coaching quarterbacks is far more involved.

Further, Chow turns 65 in May. It seems unlikely he'll be Utah's offensive coordinator for the next decade, though you never know. You'd think the rest of the offensive staff, even if they are grumpy at present about the changes, could absorb plenty of knowledge from Chow over the next few years that will benefit them down the road.

While Chow's tenure at UCLA wasn't successful, he's still on a short list of the best offensive minds in college football history. You'd also think he'll be plenty motivated to wash the bad taste out of his mouth over how things went in Westwood.

And who isn't excited about UCLA's visit on Nov. 12?

UCLA QB struggles? Now it's on Neuheisel

January, 23, 2011
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And so the uncomfortable Norm Chow-UCLA-Rick Neuheisel tango ends. Chow is off to Utah after reaching a "mutual agreement on the terms of their separation with the school," and the Bruins' offense moves on with Mike Johnson as offensive coordinator in what appears to be a make-or-break season for Neuheisel.

Neuheisel's staff vacancies aren't all filled, however, which is why he and former Miami coach Randy Shannon are going to chat about a vacancy at defensive coordinator.

Chow and his new team will play host to their new Pac-12 South rivals on Nov. 12 in a game primed for media folk -- who me? -- who like to stir things up.

Everyone put a good face on this weekend. Neuheisel and Chow expressed their admiration for each other as well as disappointment that their pairing failed to create even mediocre offenses.

"We're disappointed it didn't turn out the way we hoped it would, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort or a lack of teamwork," Chow told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles. "Rick and I are friends. I feel like we worked very, very well together and it's just unfortunate that the results didn't show that.

"I told Rick, when all this settles down, the four of us [Chow and his wife, Diane, and Neuheisel and his wife, Susan] should all go out to dinner. "

For Utah, it looks like a big win. It gets an offensive coaching legend who knows the Pac-12 and really knows the Bruins' personnel, which will help in the head-to-head meeting.

But Utes fans shouldn't do a celebratory back flip just yet. You may want to wait for results. Start with this from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Terms of [Chow's] contract and salary with the Utes are unknown, as is the fate of current Utah co-coordinators Dave Schramm and Aaron Roderick.

Chow will be the fourth coach to serve as Utah’s offensive coordinator under [head coach Kyle] Whittingham, who just completed his sixth year as the Utes’ head coach.

Two Utes assistants will either get dumped, demoted or leave on their own (both are highly thought of). Or, if Schramm and Roderick stay, how will the offensive staff mesh? The lack of offensive continuity also is notable.

Further, Chow, 64, has now completed his third uncomfortable exit, starting with USC in 2005 and the Tennessee Titans before he arrived at UCLA. His three years at UCLA were not successful. He is one of the all-time greats, without question, but he hasn't been his all-time great self for a while.

As for UCLA, this probably feels like old news because it was reported here weeks ago. Still, there is a notable takeaway. While the headlines were about Chow leaving and the "chemistry issues" that caused it, the more important change going forward is Neuheisel taking over as his own quarterbacks coach.

Think about that for a moment. The best way to illustrate Neuheisel's frustration with the offense (Chow) the past two seasons is by playing highlights of him constantly berating his quarterbacks after they trudged off the field. Neuheisel has said this offseason that he recognizes he needs to change that -- yelling at struggling QBs typically is a recipe for disaster -- but now he'll have to hold up a mirror when he wants to hand out blame.

Chow and Neuheisel clearly had different ideas about the position. Now there's one less person at whom to point the finger.

The chief reason UCLA is 15-22 in three seasons under Neuheisel is poor QB play (poor offensive line play is a close second, which is a horrible combination to have). Neuheisel will be coaching two guys -- Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut -- with starting experience (Prince might not be 100 percent this spring after knee surgery). A third option is true freshman Brett Hundley, an elite recruit who is already enrolled and who is the future of the program.

That means Neuheisel, as head coach and QBs coach, faces a huge question this spring and preseason that might ultimately decide his fate: Who's his QB? Does he go with experience, which should be more reliable if less talented, or does he go with youthful upside that might be infuriatingly inconsistent when his job status is almost entirely about the present?

Neuheisel likely needs seven or eight wins to coach into his fifth season. The single-biggest factor in whether the Bruins get there is likely QB play.

And that will be on Neuheisel.

Michalczik bolts Huskies for Raiders

February, 9, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

This is a big blow for Washington: New Huskies offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik is leaving Washington for a job with the Oakland Raiders.

We're on record with our esteem for Michalczik, who is clearly one of the best offensive line coaches on the West Coast.

He created the Pac-10's most consistent rushing offense at Cal, and his line was equally impressive as pass-blockers. A lot of times a line is good at run blocking or pass blocking but not both.

He also took a number of under-the-radar line recruits and got them to the NFL, most recently All-American center Alex Mack, who could be a first-round draft pick this April. 

Michalczik also was an impressive hire for Sarkisian because Sarkisian will call the offensive plays. That typically is an impediment for hiring a top-notch coordinator -- consider that's a chief reason Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt cited for bolting USC for Washington (other than a big raise, of course).

It's hard to imagine Sark being able to lure such a "name" guy for the post now, but we shall see.

Wonder if he'll try to tap the USC staff again? Perhaps he could attract USC offensive line coach Pat Ruel to Montlake with the offensive coordinator title and a three-year contract worth $350,000 annually?

Not likely, but who knows?

Or what about Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh?

This is the second hire to accept a job with Sarkisian and then bolt without coaching a game. Utah receivers coach Aaron Roderick accepted a Sarkisian offer to take the same post with the Huskies but then changed his mind a few days later.

This leaves Washington with two openings on the offensive side of the ball, and offensive line and receivers are two areas where the Huskies underachieved last year.

Pac-10 lunch links: Recruiting getting hot

January, 27, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

When you read these, just remember: With great power comes great responsibility.

Roderick backs out of Washington deal

January, 26, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Aaron Roderick won't be joining the Washington coaching staff after all, the school announced Monday.

It was announced last week that Roderick would leave Utah for Washington to become the Huskies' receivers coach.

The Washington release Monday said that Roderick changed his mind because of "family-related reasons."

That means Steve Sarkisian now has one vacancy on his nine-man staff.

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