Category: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Hawaii, UMass add former players to coaching staffs

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Earlier in the day we noted that a former North Carolina football player had gone back to his alma mater to continue his coaching career.  As it turns out, both Hawaii and UMass have seen former players return home as well.

Hawaii late this past week announced that new head coach Nick Rolovich has added Craig Stutzmann as his passing-game coordinator.  Rolovich and Stutzmann were teammates with the Rainbow Warriors 15 or so years ago.

The past two seasons, Stutzmann, who left UH as the school’s fifth all-time leading receiver, spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Virginia’s Emory & Henry College.  This will mark Stutzmann’s first on-field role at an FBS program.

“Another Warrior returns to the ‘āina, a man who has succeeded as a student-athlete and person in this program,” Rolovich said. “Stutz understands our culture, has lived aloha and played warrior. Since leaving our shores in 2009, he has acquired a wealth of knowledge in various offensive schemes and has paid his dues in the coaching world. I am convinced there’s no place he’d rather be than Pride Rock.”

Meanwhile, out in Amherst, Mass., UMass confirmed that a former football Minutemen, Matt Dawson, will serve as Mark Whipple‘s tight ends coach.  The former UMass linebacker will also assist with special teams.

The past two seasons, Dawson served as linebackers coach at Rhode Island.  Like Stutzmann, this will be Dawson’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Matt Dawson is Massachusetts alum who truly embodies everything our university and program are about,” the Minutemen’s head coach said in his statement. “I’m excited to have him. He brings great knowledge and expertise.”

In another tweak of his staff, Whipple announced that graduate assistant Scott Woodward has been promoted to quarterbacks coach. Woodward replaces Liam Coen, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Maine.

Interestingly, Woodward was Coen’s backup at quarterback when the they played for the Minutemen a decade ago.

Zak Hill hired as Boise State co-OC after one month at Hawaii

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 20:  The Boise State Broncos run onto the field for the game against the UNLV Rebels at Bronco Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
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A month ago, Zak Hill joined Nick Rolovich‘s original staff at Hawaii.

On Friday, Hill was announced as Boise State’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“Zak’s shown a tremendous ability to take young quarterbacks and develop them into not just good players but leaders on the field,” Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin said in a statement. “The quarterback play at Eastern Washington over the last several years has been really, really good and the result has been an efficient and explosive offense.  While credit goes to a number of people, Zak’s name certainly has to be near the top of the list.”

Hill’s rapid ascension — he was Eastern Washington’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2009 through this season before joining Hawaii’s staff in December — is jarring on the surface but is an annual check point of the coaching change season.

Additionally, Boise State has promoted offensive line coach Scott Huff to co-offensive coordinator and named wide receivers coach Junior Adams passing game coordinator. The moves were necessary after the Broncos lost offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz to N.C. State. Hill will be Boise State’s third offensive coordinator in three seasons as Drinkwitz replaced Mike Sanford, who recently completed his first season at Notre Dame. Boise State also lost defensive coordinator Marcel Yates to Arizona this winter.

Harsin will call plays for Boise State this fall.

“Our focus with the staff is to find the right role and allow our guys to star in that role. Hiring Zak allowed us an opportunity to create a collaborative effort in our offensive staff room. Each coach brings something different to the table and will have input on our plan and execution, with Zak and Coach Huff serving as the co-offensive coordinators,” Harsin said. “One will focus on the run game, and the other will focus on the pass game with Coach Adams. I have full confidence in both of them and their ability to coordinate and develop our offensive plan. “

To replace Hill, Hawaii has announced former Warrior wide receiver Craig Stutzmann as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach and moved Brian Smith to run game coordinator/running backs coach.

Smart, Richt currently pace all new head coaches in recruit rankings

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04:  New University of Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt makes the 'U' sign after he was introduced at a press conference at the school on December 4, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
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In somewhat of an ironic twist, the head coach who was forced to leave Georgia and the coach who replaced him are doing quite well on the recruiting trail at their new programs.  In fact, they’re doing better than any other who found a landing spot in the 2015-16 spinning of the coaching carousel.

As it stands now, Miami’s Mark Richt has the 19th-ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com, the second-best of any of the  27 head coaches hired in the past three months.  The best?  Georgia, which has the No. 15 class thanks in part to Kirby Smart, Richt’s successor in Athens.

UGA right now, though, and fully understanding that there are nearly two weeks left until National Signing Day, is nine spots behind the No. 6 class Richt signed in 2015.  The U, meanwhile, was ranked 26th for Al Golden‘s last class, a full seven spots behind were Richt stands now.

Not surprisingly, a significant number of programs have seen their recruiting rankings dip from a year ago.  One of the most glaring is that of USC.  Despite offensive coordinator Clay Helton taking over as interim head coach in mid-October and then taking over permanently in late November, USC has just the 23rd-ranked class; last year at this time, the Trojans were well on their way to having Rivals’ No. 1 class under Steve Sarkisian.

Of the 27 head coaches new to their teams, 17 have classes that are ranked lower than their predecessors from a year ago.  The biggest drop belongs to Seth Littrell‘s North Texas (127th currently, 90th in 2015), while that ignominious honor for Power Five programs goes to Dave Odom and Missouri (59th, 27th).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Matt Campbell has taken his new team on one of the biggest rises, lifting Iowa State from No. 69 under the departed Paul Rhoads to No. 52.  Interestingly, Campbell’s successor at Toledo, UT offensive coordinator Jason Candle, has the Rockets at 73rd, 17 spots higher than his predecessor’s 90th-ranked class of a year ago.

Below are the 27 newest head coaches, with where their teams rank now in the recruiting rankings compared to a year ago:

2016 New HC Recruit Rankings

UTEP adds veteran assistant Tom Mason as DC

EAST HARTFORD, CT - DECEMBER 06: Interim head coach Tom Mason of the SMU Mustangs looks on in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the game at Rentschler Field on December 6, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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In a press release Thursday announcing Brent Pease as the new offensive coordinator, UTEP also announced Ken Flajole as defensive coordinator.  However, the school sent out a “corrected” release a short time later that excluded Flajole.

Three days later, Flajole’s “replacement” has been found.

In another release, Sean Kugler revealed that veteran college assistant Tom Mason will coordinate the defensive side of the ball.  Mason brings a wealth of experience to Kugler’s staff, having served as a coach in one capacity or another for almost 40 years.

“Tom is an outstanding coach, who comes highly recommended and brings a lot of experience to UTEP, “ said head coach Sean Kugler. “He has 38 years of experience in coaching many of those as a defensive coordinator. …

“We feel his defensive scheme fits our personnel and I am looking forward to him working with our players.”

Mason spent 2015 as the coordinator and defensive line coach at Hawaii. Prior to that, Mason was SMU’s defensive coordinator for seven seasons. After June Jones resigned two games into the 2014 season, Mason spent the rest of the year as the Mustangs’ interim head coach.

Other collegiate stops during Mason’s four-decade career that included Fresno State, Nevada, Northern Iowa, Boise State, Portland State, and Eastern Washington.

As for Flajole? After he accepted Kugler’s offer, he received another offer for a position with the Philadelphia Eagles and accepted it.

Spinning of 2015-16 coaching carousel comes to a halt (probably)

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The 2015-16 head-coaching carousel began spinning August 28 of last year with Illinois’ firing of Tim Beckman. Exactly 141 days later, the hiring of Frank Wilson by UT-San Antonio has brought it to a halt. Probably.

Barring an unexpected firing by an FBS program or an NFL team swooping in to steal a coach, it’s come time, I think, to sit back and take a look at how this year’s version of the carousel has shaken out.

All told, 26 FBS teams will head into the 2016 with head coaches who did not begin the 2015 season in that capacity — Bill Cubit, the Illini’s interim coach after Beckman’s firing, was ultimately named as the permanent head coach and would be considered a 27th. That’s a significant jump from the recent past, with 2013 yielding 19 changes and “just” 15 in 2014. Of this cycle’s changes, 13 came at Power Five programs — nine as the result of dismissals, four because of retirements.

That, of course, means 14 openings came from the Group of Five schools; not surprisingly, the Power Five movement had an impact on that group as four G5 head coaches left for the same job with P5 teams, while another, Ball State’s Pete Lembo, left to become an assistant at a P5 program. Six of the remaining holes were created by firings, while two more jobs in that group came open because of retirements. The lone remaining? Willie Fritz left Georgia Southern to take over at Tulane.

Of the openings, eight were filled by coaches who were defensive coordinators in 2015, and another eight by offensive coordinators.  That is quite the turnaround from a year ago, when just one DC, Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi to Pittsburgh, became a head coach, while five of their offensive brethren landed head-coaching jobs.

The next group could be called the Noah’s Ark of the carousel, coming from their 2015 jobs in twos: interim head coaches (Cubit, USC’s Clay Helton), FCS head coaches (Louisiana-Monroe’s Matt Viator, Texas State’s Everett Withers) and running backs coach (Bowling Green’s Mike Jinks, Wilson).

Finally, one NFL assistant made the move back to the collegiate ranks: Mike Neu, who left the New Orleans Saints to take over for Lembo at Ball State.

And with that, I (probably) wash my hands of the ’15-’16 carousel, knowing full well that it’ll all begin again another 10 months or so — or seven months, if another program decides to pull a preseason Illini.