-Bumped. BN Eds.
It has been a long wait for the most important position on the coaching staff to be filled. Everyone associated with UCLA is growing impatient. The players, the fans, the media is probably chomping at the bit. I took some time to put together a list of candidates from the NFL ranks, where I assume Coach Mora is pulling from for this spot. I looked through all of the NFL coaching staff, either those eliminated this weekend or still playing. Tried to find logical connections between Mora and the coaches, UCLA and the coaches, the Pac-10/12 and the coaches, and guys who have collegiate experience.
Defensive coordinators are off of the table, no NFL DC is going to take a demotion to a DC in the college ranks. More power to Mora if he can pull that big of a rabbit out of his hat.
Here's the list I put together.
The most logical connection, to me, is someone on the Raven's staff.
The way I see it, Mora already has a connection with the other Pagano, now the defensive coordinator for the Chargers, so someone from the brother's staff makes sense to me.
Clarence Brooks is someone who really pops out to me, he is a guy who has been around a long time (formerly the Dolphins, Browns, Bears and U of A way back in the day) and been really successful at both levels. He seems very linked to Baltimore though, so I see one of the next two as a better fit.
The Inside and Outside LB coaches would both please me.
Dean Pees, former Head Coach at Kent State, DC at Michigan State and Toledo under Nick Saban, and spent a year under Lou Holtz at Notre Dame. He also spent 2004-2009 with the Patriots, was their DC from 2006-09 (teams that actually had great defenses despite the focus on Brady and the offenses).
Ted Monachino, who coached at ASU in the early 2000's with Terrell Suggs and with the Jaguars from 2006-2009 before joining the Ravens staff. He would be my third choice from the Ravens; but still a good and capable hire.
The next staff I looked at was the 49ers. Seemed simple because Mora spent time there as a Defensive Coordinator and might still have ties. Two names popped out from that staff.
Jim Leavitt, currently the LB coach at San Francisco. After spending 1990-1995 under Bill Snyder at KSU, Leavitt spent 1995-2010 as the Head Coach for USF, leading them since their inception. I'll actually paste the exact wording from his Bio here, it sounds better than I could make it sound.
"The program began play in 1997 at the division I-AA level and immediate success propelled the Bulls to a national ranking for 24 consecutive weeks. South Florida’s ascension into the top 25 from entry into I-A/FCS was the fastest in NCAA history, surpassing Boise State’s rise by a mere seven weeks. The Bulls achieved another record on September 30, 2007, when they became the fastest program of the modern era to reach the top 10, landing at No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches’ Poll. On October 14, 2007, South Florida received its first ever BCS ranking as the No. 2 team in the nation behind only the Ohio State Buckeyes."
Leavitt is probably my number one candidate, preference-wise. He might be a reach though, because he has no real ties to Mora and was a head coach recently enough that he might see it as a lateral move.
Another possibility on the SF staff is Jim Tomsula, the DL coach. Tomsula spent most of 1998-2006 juggling between coaching in the NFL Europe during their season, and coming back to the states to coach D-II Catawba in North Carolina. He was one of the only carry-overs from the old regime that Jim Harbaugh kept, which should tell you something about his abilities.
The Packers, just eliminated, have two guys that really pop out at me, both have connections to Mora and the qualifications to be seen as wins.
Kevin Greene, a really familiar name if you were a fan of linebackers in the 90's..
He played for Mora in San Francisco, is currently the LB coach for the Packers. He is an up-and-comer with a lot of merit professionally and had the attitude Mora seems to be instilling. I like that move personally. He'd excite people with his name alone in LA, if they remember the Rams.
Second name was Mike Trgovac, the DL coach for the Packers. His connection to Mora was being the DC for the Panthers while Mora was in Atlanta. If the change to the 3-4 is still possible, he has already successfully seen a defense through that change, which would be a bonus.
The next four I am going to list off a little quicker. I like all of the guys, but see them as less likely than the others.
Jim Herrmann, LB coach for the Giants. He was a DC at Michigan for a long time. I don't see a logical connection between him and Mora; but would seem to be a solid hire.
Reggie Herring, LB coach for the Texans. He was a DC at Clemson, NC State and TCU. Lots of college experience with a very successful stint in Houston.
Bill Kollar, who is a bit of a stretch since he has an Assistant Head Coach title, is the DL coach for Houston and has been a great DL coach over his years in the NFL.
Richard Smith, LB coach for the Broncos. He spent time with Mora in San Francisco and has also spent time in the Pac-10 and at Rio Hondo JC. Good So Cal connection and a nice fit.
Last candidate I'll bring up is an interesting one.
He is the DL coach for the Broncos and was in San Diego while Pagano was there. Connection to Mora could be there, since Pagano had all but signed on for our DC spot until Norv Turner was not fired. The really odd thing is that he was the DL coach at UCLA in 1993 & 1994, went to the Rose Bowl in '93.
Honestly, any of these guys would be a good hire for Mora. Just sharing an overview of the research I have done. Share your thoughts. Hopefully this post will be a moot point in the next few days.