Spaulding Roundup: Hiring New Coaches and Meeting With Old Ones

It's Thursday. Call the Chancellor's office. 310 825-2151. Replace Dan Guerrero.

Day Two of the Jim Mora regime in Westwood was a lot like Day One, with Mora adding more new coaches to his staff. Mora then met with each member of the existing staff who was in Westwood, though no official announcements were made regarding the future of those coaches.

The big news of the day was the confirmation that ASU's Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone was leaving Tempe to take the same position at U.C.L.A. Mazzone has directed the ASU spread offense for the last 2 seasons, and has recent OC experience in the SEC, the Pac-10, and was a WR coach for the NY Jets. It is not clear yet if Mora intends to run primarily a.spread offense versus another style, though from his presser it sounds like there may be a mix of things. However, Mazzone's addition makes it look like we will see some elements of the spread at U.C.L.A. in the future. As was mentioned in a thread, this may also benefit the defense, as well, by giving them more first hand experience at defending the style that will be used by many of their opponents, and a style that Mora has not defensed himself.

More coaching hires after the jump...

Other coaching news included the hiring of Demetrice Martin from Washington as Defensive Backs coach. While Washington's defense was only moderately less bad than our own last season, it is hard to know how much of that was attributable to Martin as opposed to the UW's DC. Undoubtedly, recruiting is Martin's strength. He is a Muir (Pasadena) grad and has many ties to the Los Angeles area.

A third "hire" was the retention of Marques Tuiasosopo as tight ends coach. Tuiasosopo is working with the quarterbacks currently and was recently named the official QB coach, but per Gold, there was no word whether he will continue in that role.

I believe this flurry of hires was done primarily (with the exception of Mazzone, who is highly regarded as an OC) with recruiting in mind. Mora has never recruited, so it is wise for him to hire a staff who can do this effectively for him, and by all accounts, these hires will be able to do just that. However, we had a very good recruiter here for the last 4 years, so we all know that getting talent is only half the battle. What remains to be seen is whether these new coaches are able to develop that talent into top tier college football players. While I am excited about the recruiting end of things, the coaching end is still a big question mark in my mind.

The NCAA allows nine assistants on each coaching staff. So with five assistant coaches hired, there is room for four more (South Campus education at work right there). With Martin being the lone defensive assistant to this point, Mora will be looking to fill out the defensive positions in the near future.

Also, with the hiring of an OC yesterday, and a WR coach the day before in Steve Broussard, where does that leave current OC and WR and interim head coach Mike Johnson? It sounds like Johnson himself doesn't know. Although Johnson and Mora met face-to-face for the first time yesterday, the future did not become any clearer to Johnson.

"I talked to (Mora) briefly but we didn't talk about anything about whether I was going to stay or whether I was going to go," Johnson said after Tuesday's practice. "I know I had some things to do in the afternoon and I know he was busy throughout the day. But I'm sure I'll meet with him sometime today.

"We'll just have to see what happens. I've got to look at all my options and then I'll go from there. But like I said I like UCLA, I like Los Angeles and if the right opportunity comes up and then I'll definitely look at it."

In case you missed it, Mora and Johnson already have a history. When Mora was head coach of the Falcons in 2005, Mora was his quarterbacks coach, until Mora fired him at the end of the season. Honestly, it's nearly impossible to envision Johnson remaining with this program after the bowl game. Johnson has been mentioned in connection with the opening at Akron and was expected to meet with their representatives as soon as today, so hopefully that will be an option for him.

As for other current Bruin coaches, we know that Jim Mastro will be moving north to join Mike Leach at WSU. He missed practice again yesterday as he is away on a personal matter, but he is expected back soon and will be with the team through the bowl game.

Defensive coordinator Jim Tressey left half way through Wednesday's practice due to a family matter. He had not attended a practice this week prior to today. Given the Bruins' struggles on defense this past season under Tressey, Mora would be wise to go in another direction, despite Tressey's contract running to 2013. The DC spot will be an interesting one to watch, considering Mora's background as a defensive coach to see how involved he is and whether the new DC will have much autonomy.

So as the new coaching staff begins to form, there seems to be some general optimism around Bruin football. See? I knew we were all a positive bunch at heart. Well, we certainly are a thirsty bunch who is ready for some success, Truth is, there is no way to predict how this new regime will work out. History would suggest that there may not be much reason for optimism, but this is what we have and I'm going to root for it to succeed, even while my realistic expectations are not so high. One person who seems optimistic today is Casey Wasserman, the entertainment and sports agent and philanthropist, and U.C.L.A. grad.

He tweeted last night:

@caseywasserman Just talked with new UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr...he is excited to be a Bruin and ready to get the program to nat'l prominence! #nomoreGLB

(GLB = Gutty Little Bruins. No offense to those who were around when that was a compliment - I think we can all agree we are aiming for more than that these days). It was encouraging to hear that Mr Wasserman was able to meet the coach, as I'm pretty sure that Casey has some pretty strong opinions about the nauseating culture of apathy surrounding the Morgan Center these days and that he warned Mora that he may not be getting all the help he needs or expects from his boss, Chianti Dan.

There was no specific news from the football field on Wednesday, but there was some news from the baseball field. Richard Brehaut said yesterday that he is planning on playing baseball this spring, but had not spoken with Mora about his situation yet.

"I'm definitely playing so I hope he's OK with it," Brehaut said. "That's something I'll have to sit down and have a talk with him about. I proved that I can do both and be successful this past year so I hope that he understands that and the feeling is mutual."

"If he forces me to make a choice, I'd definitely have to sit down and have a long talk with my family about that but that's something that is in the future and I'll talk to him about that so we'll see," he said.

The Bruins are not expected to practice on Thursday, but will return to Spaulding on Friday. In the meantime, we will be on the lookout for any breaking news on the assistant coaching front.

Go Bruins!

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