Pac-12: Mike Sherman

Rating the Pac-12 coaching hires

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
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Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel rated the coaching hires across the country this week, and he's clearly split on how the Pac-12 did.

He likes Mike Leach to Washington State — a lot — and Rich Rodriguez to Arizona. He's not so impressed with Todd Graham to Arizona State and Jim Mora to UCLA.

Here are his Pac-12 grades and takes.
Washington State (Mike Leach, former Texas Tech head coach): A+

AD Bill Moos looked past the controversy surrounding Leach's bizarre 2009 ouster in Lubbock and focused more on his 84-43 record and 10 straight bowl trips. The quirky offensive mind is a perfect fit in remote Pullman and already has the quarterbacks (rising senior Jeff Tuel and sophomore Connor Halliday) he needs to lead the dormant Cougars to their first postseason berth in nine years.

Arizona (Rich Rodriguez, former Michigan head coach): A-

AD Greg Byrne knew exactly who he wanted, pouncing early (Nov. 21) in naming Mike Stoops' replacement. While Rodriguez's three-year tenure in Ann Arbor did not end well, the pressure is much lower in tradition-starved Tucson. He's reunited the majority of his staff from West Virginia, where he led the Mountaineers to two BCS bowls. Arizona is still waiting on its first.

UCLA (Jim L. Mora, former Seattle Seahawks head coach): D

After striking out with Chris Petersen, Al Golden and Sumlin, AD Dan Guerrero turned to an unemployed NFL lifer. Mora has assembled a nice staff and will likely make initial waves in recruiting, but history does not bode well for NFL-bred coaches. UCLA hopes Mora will become its Pete Carroll, but odds are much higher he emulates Bill Callahan, Charlie Weis, Chan Gailey, Mike Sherman ...

Arizona State (Todd Graham, Pittsburgh head coach): D

Forget the unseemly way he exited Pitt. Why exactly Graham is a hot commodity to begin with? It's certainly not due to his one 6-6 Big East season. He had three 10-win seasons at Tulsa, but much of the credit belongs to respected offensive coordinators Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris. His one season without either, he went 5-7. But perhaps his fourth dream job in six years will be the one.

These divergent grades shouldn't be surprising. Just about everyone — yes, there is always some contrarian wackiness — believes Washington State and Arizona made great hires. And both Mora and Graham have baggage.

A lot of rating a coaching hire is about process: Did the AD get his or her first choice? Washington State and Arizona appeared to do just that and UCLA and Arizona State didn't. The lesson, taught over and over and over again, is that ADs always need to have a solid list of coaching candidates and Plan Bs in their desk drawer, and they need to move proactively and aggressively from the moment they decide to fire their coach — even taking steps in advance of the pending termination.

And, most important, the fewer people involved in the process, the better. The best search committees are made up of one person — see ADs Greg Byrne at Arizona and Bill Moos at Washington State.

Mandel also looks at "Ten impact coordinators/assistants," and two from the Pac-12 make the list, as well as a former conference head coach and QB.
Jeff Casteel, Arizona (defense): Defense was the bane of Rodriguez's existence at Michigan. It was critical he reunite with his highly effective former West Virginia coordinator.

Mike Stoops, Oklahoma (defense): Bob's brother returns to Norman, where he produced some of the nation's most dominant units from 1999-2003. The Sooners needed him.

Tosh Lupoi, Washington (defensive line): Steve Sarkisian sent shock waves through the Pac-12 by luring away Cal's ace recruiter, considered the best on the West Coast.

Jonathan Smith, Boise State (quarterbacks): Petersen tabbed the former Oregon State standout and Montana offensive coordinator to help mold Kellen Moore's successor.

What's up with ASU, UCLA searches?

December, 5, 2011
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While the bowl games were big news over the weekend, UCLA and Arizona State continue to look for new head coaches.

Here's some skinny.

At UCLA, ESPN LA's Peter Yoon reported that interim head coach Mike Johnson would like to be considered for the job. Here's his update on other candidates:

UCLA has been turned down by Boise State coach Chris Petersen, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions, and eliminated Houston coach Kevin Sumlin as a candidate after meeting with him on Saturday, according to a source. Al Golden of Miami is considered the next top target, though Golden recently signed a four-year contract extension at Miami.


There's some chatter out there about former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks coach Jim Mora, Jr. My take: That would be a good hire. While things went badly for Mora in Seattle, let's recall that he was the first choice to replace Tyrone Willingham at Washington. He's a charismatic guy with an NFL sensibility that would translate well at UCLA. Recall that the last time a team in LA hired a charismatic guy with an NFL sensibility who had folks scratching their heads turned out OK.

Here's Jon Gold's take in the LA Daily News.

Sources have said that UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, who met with Sumlin in Houston on Saturday, is essentially rebooting the search and at this point, there are no clear-cut favorites. Miami head coach Al Golden, whom Guerrero interviewed for the job during the post-Karl Dorrell vacancy, is among the candidates, along with SMU head coach June Jones. Sources indicated on Saturday that there was minimal interest in former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti.


UCLA has been the sort of job that more than a few folks thought might lure Bellotti back into coaching. But it doesn't seem, at least at this point, that he's high on the Bruins' list.

Meanwhile, at Arizona State, it appears that Sumlin might not be completely out of the picture, but that SMU coach June Jones' name is front-and-center at present. Still, there are plenty of other names in the rumor swirl. Writes Doug Haller:

Arizona State officials on Saturday met with SMU coach June Jones for more than three hours in Texas.

A report surfaced Sunday that ASU was in position to announce Jones' hire shortly after the university learned of its bowl destination. That wasn't true. According to a source, the Jones push slowed Sunday night. That doesn't mean it's over, but it could be an indication that ASU is having second thoughts.

Sources confirmed Sunday that Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora is still in the mix. Baylor coach Art Briles has emerged as a candidate.

I continue to hear ASU likes Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

Also, despite reports that ASU has backed off Sumlin, he still could be in play, especially if Texas A&M goes another direction in its quest to replace fired coach Mike Sherman.


In other words, neither coach search has moved -- at least according to reports -- decisively in one direction.

So stay tuned.

Arizona State, UCLA coach search updates

December, 2, 2011
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As expected, Boise State's Chris Petersen will not be going to UCLA.

It appears Houston coach Kevin Sumlin tops Arizona State's list.

The Arizona Republic and KTAR-AM, the school's flagship station, have reported ASU has made an offer to Sumlin that would pay him $2.5 million a year.

Of course, the Sun Devils aren't the only program eyeballing Sumlin. After Texas A&M fired Mike Sherman, it would be fair to say the Aggies will be tough competition.

And UCLA, with Petersen saying no, might also try to get into the Sumlin-stakes.

Who else?

Well, line up the usual suspects: Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora, SMU coach June Jones and former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti.

Expect things to heat up Monday after a busy weekend of football, particularly with Sumlin, who's been focused on the Conference USA championship game.

Search for outrage here!

December, 7, 2009
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The final coaches poll ballots are out.

My favorite: Outgoing Louisiana-Monroe coach Charlie Weatherbie didn't rank LSU.

Oregon fans can get mad at Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, Texas A&M's Mike Sherman and New Mexico State's DeWayne Walker. They voted the Ducks 10th.

Arizona, Oregon State and Stanford will find plenty of opportunities for annoyance.

Pac-10 coaches will love Jim Harbaugh's vote: He ranked Oregon fifth, his Cardinal 12th, Oregon State 13th, Arizona 14th and USC 25th.

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