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UCLA Fall Football Preview: Coaching Changes

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As part of BruinsNation's ongoing preview of UCLA's Fall Camp, we take a look at the coaching changes for the 2014 staff.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins had two major changes to the coaching staff in the offseason in losing defensive coordinator Lou Spanos to the NFL and firing of running backs coach Steve Broussard.  Although the two coaches left under different circumstances, the reason behind both moves was recruiting.  Coach Spanos reportedly was not all that interested in recruiting and preferred working in the professional ranks, while Coach Broussard simply was not very effective in recruiting at Westwood.

Coach Spanos' departure led to two separate moves.  First, linebackers/special teams coach Jeff Ulbrich was promoted to defensive coordinator in an expected move.  Coach Ulbrich did very well coaching up UCLA's linebackers and he has shown a knack at creating havoc on opposing teams kicking games, but he has never coordinated a defense.  Despite Coach Spanos' lack of recruiting prowess, he consistently made second half adjustments that led to some very good second half defensive performances.  Of course, the flip side of that is that the defense often looked much worse in the first half of games.  Regardless, Coach Ulbrich had two years to learn under Coach Spanos, and he'll have to prove worthy of the job this year as expectations are high this year in Westwood.

In filling the void left by Coach Ulbrich's promotion, UCLA hired Mike Tuiasosopo as outside linebackers/special teams coach.  Tuiasosopo has a connection to Coach Mora, having served a NFL Minority Internship in 1997 while Mora coached defensive backs.  Since that time, he has coached at Utah State, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and, most recently, Colorado.  Tuiasosopo was not retained by Mike MacIntyre when he took over for John Embree at Colorado.  You can read Tuiasosopo's full bio from Colorado here.  The hire is somewhat curious considering that Tuiasosopo has never coached linebackers or special teams in the past, but there are legitimate recruiting benefits to the hire.  Tuiasosopo comes from a very football rich family, grew up in Carson, and has recruited the Los Angeles area throughout his career.  Mike is the uncle of former Washington quarterback and UCLA assistant coach Marques Tuiasosopo, which should make for some interesting recruiting visits (Marques currently works for the dark side).

The other hire made by Coach Mora was one of the bigger stories in the offseason.  In replacing Coach Broussard, UCLA made a huge splash in hiring Kennedy Polomalu as the new running backs coach.  Coach Polomalu is one of the best recruiters in the country and is also noted as a great teacher of the running back position.  He coached at USC under Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin before being fired last year during USC's dumpster fire season.  Despite his extensive Trojan background, Polamalu is actually making a return trip to Westwood - as he was on the UCLA staff as a graduate assistant from 1992 to 1993, which included a stint with the team that won the conference.

In addition to those moves, Coach Mora also announced that Adrian Klemm will serve as Associate Head Coach in addition to his duties as Running Game Coordinator/Offensive Line and Demetrice Martin will serve as Assistant Head Coach in addition to his duties as Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs.  These changes came in conjunction with pay raises and reflect formal addition of duties rather than any sort of reorganization.

Overall, the changes to the staff seem very solid on paper.  There is no question that the overall recruiting ability of the staff has been upgraded, and once the season starts we can assess whether the coaching acumen was upgraded as well.