The reviews of the Jim L. Mora hire have not been good. In fact, they've been disastrous. However, everyone knows that a hire cannot be judged properly before games are played. In order for Jim Mora to win where it really counts- on the field- he is going to have to make some homerun hires for his staff.
Remember, Mora has a year more collegiate coaching experience than I do. He has not coached in the college ranks since 1985. The college game is vastly different than the pro game, and Mora arguably needs high quality assistants familiar with the college game more than any other Pac-12 coach. Mora not only needs coaches that are up to speed with the various schematic differences, but also coaches who can carry the recruiting load while Mora learns the Los Angeles recruiting scene. He needs coaches who can properly evaluate talent, as well as coaches who can teach 18 year-olds the fundamental aspects of the game that Mora did not have to worry about in the NFL.
That being said, Mora has to have the autonomy to pick his own coaches. You never know how the personalities of coaches will mesh, and we know that Mora can be a little gruff. We'll offer some ideas of assistant coaches that we would look at, given the chance.
Noel Mazzone - The former Arizona St. Sun Devil offensive coordinator happens to be out of work. If you read my ASU preview this year, you already know that I'm pretty high on him. Mazzone has coached in college and the NFL for over 30 years. Prior his stint at ASU, Noel Mazzone was coordinating a high school offense where he learned his version of the spread, which he's now selling.
Mark Helfrich - Helfrich has a pretty nice gig as offensive coordinator for the Ducks. Oregon's offensive exploits are well known, but he isn't exactly a household name. Maybe he would like to get out from Chip Kelly's shadow? He's from Oregon and was Ducks GA, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Helfrich came to Oregon couple years ago when Kelly was promoted to HC. Prior to Oregon, he worked at Colorado and Arizona St. and led some pretty good offenses. Those offenses were much more pass heavy and nothing like what Oregon runs now, but I suppose that Helfrich may have learned a thing or two from Kelly.
Brandon Doman - Doman only coordinated BYU's offense for the 2011 season, and they didn't exactly put up eye popping numbers. What do I like? I've always admired the balance of BYU's offense, and Doman's 2011 offense was much of the same. Prior to 2011, Doman was BYU's QB coach between 2005-2010 and mentored John Beck and Max Hall.
Kliff Kingsbury - The current OC at Houston just finished his 2nd season as OC. He's a good candidate to follow Sumlin to Texas A&M, but if Sumlin shoots for Mazzone, Kingsbury would be a good pick-up.
Josh Heupel - Oklahoma's current Co-OC with Jay Norvell, Heupel has been on the Sooner staff since 2004 and served as QB coach from 2005-10. Bob Stoops has had a good eye for coaching talent, so it may be a good idea to pluck Heupel early.
Major Applewhite - Texas' Co-OC with Bryan Harsin also coaches RB's. Applewhite is loyal to Mack Brown and probably wouldn't jump ship without his blessing, but given the murkiness of what's going on in Austin, Brown just might give Applewhite his blessing. Applewhite clearly is not going to be the next HC in Austin, so it might be a good time for him to move on.
Bryan Harsin - It doesn't hurt to ask, right? Again, the coaching situation in Austin is murky. If there is a major shakeup brewing, the former Boise St. OC may be ready and willing to jump ship.
Dan Hawkins - Things didn't work out in Boulder for Hawkins, but he was a helluva coach at Boise St. and before that at Willamette on the NAIA level. Maybe his success at Boise St. should be attributed to his OC at the time, Chris Peterson, or maybe Peterson's success should be attributed to what he learned from Hawkins at UC Davis and Boise St.
Randy Shannon - Shannon was a top choice for the defensive coordinator post last year. His 4-3 system may not be schematically different than what we ran under Bullough-Tresey, but I can guarantee we wouldn't have 10 yard cushions and we'd be better coached. The allegations against Miami did occur partially under his watch, but it does appear that he warned his players to stay away from Shapiro. My guess is that Shannon will eventually land another HC gig, and it might be worthwhile to hire Shannon as a DC/Asst HC to help Mora learn the ropes.
- Wilcox is a young (35) SEC coordinator with west coast roots. The former Boise St. defensive coordinator earns roughly $600,000 in Knoxville, so it would take quite a haul to pry him away. He did flirt with Texas last year before Mack Brown settled on , so I don't think he's settling down. He played at Oregon in the late ‘90's before breaking into coaching at Boise, so a move out west might be in the cards.
Jeff Casteel - We've heard rumors that RichRod may be attempting to lure his DC from WVU to Tucson, and I bring his name up for diversity more than anything else. Casteel runs a 3-3-5, which is probably foreign to Mora. While I'm not a fan of it, there are some that believe it provides a better base to stop the spread attacks. In case anyone is wondering, Casteel did not follow RichRod to Michigan and was not responsible for the disaster in Ann Arbor.
Tim DeRuyter - The current interim HC at Texas A&M was the DC during the season and helped the Aggies put up some decent stats. Texas A&M had the second most sacks this season and 8th most tackles for loss. We don't know if Kevin Sumlin will look to retain DeRuyter, but DeRuyter is from Long Beach and may be interested in a return to the area.
Kalani Sitake - Sitake is in his second year as Utah's DC and 6th year on the staff. Kyle Whittingham is a good defensive coach to learn under, and Sitake is also a good recruiter that has familiarity with the Los Angeles area.
Adrian Klemm - We have already heard that Mora is looking to retain Klemm. The current offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator at SMU has done very well under June Jones. Klemm is from Inglewood and was named Conference USA's Recruiter of the Year last season.
Steve Broussard - Another Los Angeles area native that we have heard is being looked at by Mora. Broussard is the current WR coach at Arizona St. He played at Washington St. and in the NFL for 9 years. Broussard is another good recruiter who would be an asset to the staff.
Ashley Ambrose - Ambrose played under Mora in Atlanta and has spent the past two years as DB's coach at Cal and Colorado.
Frank Wilson - LSU's current RB coach and recruiting coordinator is a rising star. It might be a longshot to pry Wilson away from his home state school, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.
Pat Hill - Fresno St.'s recently fired HC may not be itching to jump back on the sidelines after 14 years in Fresno, but he would bring a wealth of experience as a TE coach or Asst HC. He'd also bring instant credibility to the Valley recruiting scene where Oregon and Cal have been winning lately.
- Face it, our players have not made enough gains in size, speed, and strength under Mike Linn. Russell is Auburn's Asst Strength and Conditioning Coach at Auburn, but is a Southern California native (Palm Springs) who may be looking to come home.
Sal Alosi - The former Jets S&C coach who resigned after "tripgate" last year. He's currently working at Bryant University in Rhode Island as their S&C coach, but his NFL pedigree is hard to ignore.
Kaz Kazadi - Baylor has improved over the past few years, and it can partially be attributed to the work put in off the field. Kazadi is Baylor's Assistant Athletic Director and Athletic Performance.
You'll notice that we didn't suggest any NFL flameouts such as Greg Knapp, who has also been discussed here. While we all agree that the HC should have the autonomy (and budget) to hire the staff of his choosing, we simply do not want to see recycled NFL parts who have no business in the college ranks.