Pac-12: Jim Leavitt

New UCLA defensive coordinator Joe Tresey was fired at Cincinnati before the 2009 season, lasted only one year at South Florida and then couldn't get any other job other than with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League last fall.

Ergo: Desperate hire by Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel, right?

Not really. The devil is in the details. As for the numbers from coordinating defenses, Tresey's are solid.

2007 at Cincinnati: The Bearcats led the nation in turnover gained (42) and interceptions (26). They ranked eight in sacks per game (3.23). What about points? They were 13th in the nation: 18.77.

2008 at Cincinnati: The Bearcats ranked 31st nationally in total defense (321.9 yards), 19th in rushing defense (115.0) and 25th in scoring defense (20.1 points). They were ninth in the nation with 2.86 sacks per game. Didn't force as many turnovers, though: Just 22. Of course, that's four more than UCLA forced last year and would have been tied for fourth in the Pac-10 in 2010.

2009 at South Florida: The Bulls ranked 24th nationally in total defense (321.8 yards) and 19th (tied) in scoring defense (19.8 points). They forced 23 turnovers that season.

So what about those details? Well, recall that cryptic "timing issue" that Neuheisel alluded to Tuesday as to why then-Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, now at Notre Dame, fired Tresey? Well, that's mostly what it was.

Following the 2008 season, Tresey thought he had been hired as Miami's defensive coordinator, so much so that he told Kelly that he was leaving. But then Tresey and Shannon couldn't finalize a deal -- it apparently was over what position Tresey would coach -- and Shannon left Tresey at the altar. That interview, combined with Kelly's desire to switch to a 3-4 from Tresey's 4-3, drove a wedge into the relationship, and Kelly then made plans to move on with Bob Diaco, who's now with Kelly at Notre Dame. So Tresey was out of a job.

It's meaningful then that Tresey quickly landed on his feet as the defensive coordinator of a Cincinnati foe in the Big East: South Florida. It's not easy to get a job after national signing day, but Bulls coach Jim Leavitt wanted Tresey.

So why did Tresey last just one year at South Florida? Wasn't his fault. Leavitt was fired in January of 2009 after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.

Incoming coach Skip Holtz brought in his own guy to coach the Bulls' defense: Mark Snyder. So, in mid-January, Tresey was out of work, though he was a good soldier for the Bulls until he got pink-slipped, which Holtz even acknowledged.

That is how he ended up coaching in the UFL.

Is Tresey a spectacular hire? No. Bruins fans would have been more juiced to get Vic Fangio or Rocky Long, Neuheisel's first two choices.

But considering how the nearly two-month search played out in the media -- it didn't seem pretty, did it? -- Neuheisel landed a solid, experienced candidate who figures to bring an attacking, aggressive scheme, which the Bruins didn't have last fall.

And, by the way, it's not like Neuheisel isn't invested in this decision. He's fully aware that 2011 is a win-or-else season for him in Westwood.

Some more stories on the Tresey hire here and here and here.

UCLA finds a defensive coordinator

February, 15, 2011
A lot of names have been attached to the UCLA vacancy at defensive coordinator, but the guy Rick Neuheisel tapped on Tuesday was not one of those names.

Joe Tresey, 52, a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and South Florida, has been named UCLA's defensive coordinator, ending a lengthy and winding search since Chuck Bullough was fired on Dec. 18.

“He has an aggressive style that forces turnovers and negative-yardage plays and I feel our players, especially our youngsters, will benefit greatly from his style of play," Neuheisel said in a statement. "He is a fine teacher and I can’t wait for him to get started.”

Tresey coached at South Florida in 2009 and Cincinnati -- under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly -- from 2007-08. Last year, he was the defensive backs coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. (Recall that Bulls coach Jim Leavitt was fired in January 2010 after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.)

In 2009, South Florida ranked 24th nationally in total defense (321.8 yards) and 19th in scoring defense (19.8 points) while compiling an 8-5 record. The Bulls forced 23 turnovers that season. In 2008, Cincinnati ranked 31st nationally in total defense (321.9 yards), 19th in rushing defense (115.0) and 25th in scoring defense (20.1 points).

Tresey is a secondary specialist "with a reputation for forcing turnovers and piling up sacks."

But also consider this paragraph from a Tampa Tribune story on Tresey's hire at South Florida: "Tresey was fired last month by Bearcats coach Brian Kelly, who said he had philosophical differences and was shifting to a 3-4 defense, but the move could have also been prompted by Tresey's talks with Miami."

Recall that one of the reasons Neuheisel dispatched Bullough was a desire to switch to a 3-4 scheme. Tresey is a 4-3 guy.

Here's a Q&A with Tresey, also from the Tampa Tribune.

A 1982 graduate of Ohio State, he also has coached at Central Michigan (2006), Georgia Southern (2004-05), Akron (2002-03) and VMI (1999-2001).

Before Neuheisel tapped Tresey, a multitude of coaches were touted as potential candidates, including Vic Fangio, Randy Shannon, Rocky Long, Chuck Heater, Teryl Austin, Rocky Seto, Jeff FitzGerald and Steve Brown.

Carroll coaching tree takes root -- will it bear fruit?

December, 5, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

Talk about a coaching tree suddenly taking root.

First, Tennessee hires Lane Kiffin. Then, Washington, according to reports, taps Steve Sarkisian.

That's two Pete Carroll disciples landing BCS conference jobs within weeks of each other.

There are many famous coaching trees -- Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh and Dean Smith come to mind. In college football, Hayden Fry's tree ( Bill Snyder, Barry Alvarez, Bob Stoops, Kirk Ferentz, Jim Leavitt, Bret Bielema, among others) is often celebrated.

In the Pac-10, there's Dennis Erickson's tree: Joe Tiller, Tommy Tuberville, Sonny Lubick and John L. Smith. And Mike Bellotti's: Jeff Tedford, Dirk Koetter, Chris Petersen and (in-waiting) Chip Kelly. 

Carroll's coaching tree from USC has previously misfired. Nick Holt bolted to become the head coach at Idaho before returning to the Trojan fold after just two losing seasons. Ed Orgeron proved an outstanding recruiter but couldn't build a winner in three seasons at Ole Miss.

Norm Chow and DeWayne Walker, now the offensive and defensive coordinators at UCLA, have been perennial bridesmaids -- respected assistants who have yet to land a head-coaching job.

Kiffin, 33, and Sarkisian, 34, both have been handed broken former powers. Their connection to Carroll surely played a huge role in the pair of young coaches -- both will be the youngest coaches in their respective conferences by a wide margin -- getting a chance to enthuse their way through reportedly dynamic interviews.

What both Tennessee and Washington see is this: Jeff Tedford, Bob Stoops, Mark Richt, Chris Petersen, Kyle Whittingham, etc. 

Each of them was a touted coordinator who made a successful jump to head coach (should we really count Kiffin's one-plus season leading the Oakland Raiders as true head-coaching experience?).

Most fanbases want a splashy hire -- think Nick Saban at Alabama or Urban Meyer at Florida.

And it's reasonable to worry about an inexperienced youngster taking over a BCS conference team and going nose-to-nose with more accomplished and savvy veteran head coaches.

Ah, but the upside. That's what both programs are crossing their fingers over.

As for Carroll, if his two protégés succeed, it will only add to his already extraordinary college legacy.

Of course, neither situation is a slam dunk. Far from it.

Kiffin has been fed to the wolves -- the SEC boasts an extraordinary collection of coaches. And patience isn't really part of the plan.

Sarkisian takes over a program in complete disarray, a winless season -- pending a loss at California on Saturday -- capping a five-year span of losing the Huskies have never experienced before.

Sark will get far more patience, though his hiring doesn't appear to be inspiring a widespread celebration within a Husky fanbase that was hoping for Jim Mora or Mike Leach or Chris Petersen.

It will take at least a couple of seasons for him -- or anyone -- to lead the Huskies back to a bowl game.

What Husky fans will start dreaming about, though, is Sarkisian, a few years hence, shaking hands with Carroll after a game, and Carroll frowning into the glow of a wide grin from his protégé.



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