With only a day to go before the recruiting restrictions during dead period are lifted, Coach Mora appears to have nearly filled his staff. To date, the following names have been announced as Mora's assistant coaches:
Offensive Line: Adrian Klemm
Running Backs: Steve Broussard
Tight Ends: Marques Tuiasosopo
Defensive Line: Inoke Breckerfield
Defensive Backs: Demetrice Martin
That leaves Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, Special Teams Coach, and one position coach to fall under the nine assistant coach limit. A team can also have two graduate assistants, a strength and conditioning coach, and unlimited undergraduate assistants.
We'll take a look at some of this candidates to fill the slots after the jump.
All signs point to Noel Mazzone as Jim Mora's future offensive coordinator. Mazzone was at the top our list when we looked at potential offensive coordinators a few weeks ago, and it's refreshing to see a coach make such a strong hire. We have an an excellent series of posts put up by jtthirtyfour shedding some light on Mazzone's offense here,here, here and here.
Again, it does appear that Jim Mora has made a hire to fill this slot. It has been rumored repeatedly that John Pagano will be hired as DC before recruiting period opens tomorrow. Pagano is the current San Diego Chargers linebackers coach and brother of current Baltimore Ravens DC, Chuck Pagano.
If true, the hiring of Pagano makes a lot of sense. He is a longtime NFL position coach who can essentially play the role of linebacker coach and defensive coordinator. Due to the fact that Coach Mora is a former NFL defensive backs coach and coordinator, Mora will undoubtedly play a role in coordinating the defense as well. The limitation on the number of coaches essentially requires the coordinators to double up as position coaches, and Pagano is a damn good linebackers coach.
It isn't clear if Pagano's hiring means a switch to a 3-4, and we'll wait to hear more when the final announcement is made. You can read IE Angel's impressive preview on Coach Pagano and the 3-4 here, which gives you much more information than the San Diego Chargers bio available here.
It should be noted that as of this morning, the Chargers have not officially fired HC Norv Turner and no announcements have been made regarding his staff. It's worth keeping a close eye on the situation in San Diego.
Once again, this position does appear to be filled by yet another NFL coach. Jeff Ulbrich was special teams stud during his playing days in San Francisco and played linebacker there while Mora was the 49ers defensive coordinator. He has been serving as a Special Teams Assistant in Seattle for the past two years. You can read his short bio here.
I won't pretend to know whether Ulbrich will make a good special teams coach or not, but I can say that Seattle's special teams unit has been impressive. They are extremely aggressive and mirror Ulbrich's personality. They also gave up a couple touchdown returns to the 49ers.
Eric Yarber - There have been a lot of rumors swirling that Yarber will be hired as the wide receivers coach. Yarber worked with Dennis Erickson from 1998-2009, minus a two year stint at UW under Tyrone Willingham while Erickson was on hiatus, and spent a year with Mazzone at Oregon St. in 2002. Yarber has been Tampa Bay's WR coach under Raheem Morris, but Morris and his entire staff was recently let go leaving Yarber unemployed. If Mora can land Yarber, he would be a great addition.
Mike Johnson - Our receiver play improved this year, and I would support keeping Mike Johnson on the staff as WR coach. Coach Johnson is a good recruiter and probably will not have to wait too long to have his own program.
Strength and Conditioning Coach
This is arguably Coach Mora's most important hire, and is one of the most difficult for outsiders to gauge. There are rumors that Mora is courting Ivan Lewis, the current S&C coach at UW. You can read his bio here. He has a video about his training philosophy here - it's nothing jaw dropping, but you can get an idea of his style. It should be noted that Ivan Lewis worked as an assistant S&C coach, and worked closely with quarterbacks and linebackers according to his bio. This means that he worked with Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews. I'll let you connect the dots there.
Other names that we have brought up are Ryan Russell, Kaz Kazadi, and Sal Alosi. We have no idea whether these guys are being looked at, but they should be.
Ryan Russell - 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.
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.
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.
Associate AD for Football
Jim Mora has apparently hired Dennis Slutak as Associate AD for Football. This is not a coaching position and therefore not subject to the NCAA limitation on coaches. Slutak worked directly under Pete Carroll as Director of Football Operations, which is most likely the same job description with a different name. There was a NY Times piece describing his duties in 2006, which essentially amount to logistics.
Frankly, I think this is a shrewd move on Mora's part. As much as us Bruins despise Cheaty Petey, he was one of the only head coaches to make a successful transition from the NFL to college. One of the main differences between the collegiate programs and the NFL is the coach runs the entire program in college while they "simply" coach in the NFL. It's wise to have someone that not only knows how to run a program, but knows how to run a program with an ex-NFL head coach at the helm.