Getty Images

USC working to hire Todd Orlando away from Texas Tech

4 Comments

Todd Orlando is about to get his second job since losing his gig at Texas.

Let go after three years as the defensive coordinator at Texas last month, Wells was hired earlier this month to be Texas Tech’s assistant head coach and linebackers. The move was a demotion in stature and pay (Keith Patterson remained on as Tech’s defensive coordinator), but it reunited Orlando with Matt Wells, for whom Orlando worked as Wells’ defensive coordinator at Utah State from 2013-14.

“My family and I are excited to rejoin Coach Wells,” Orlando said. “We’ve won a bunch of games together in the past, and we plan to do the same here at Texas Tech. I’m looking forward to meeting the staff and players and then finishing up on the recruiting trail for the 2020 class.”

Now, Orlando is about to say to hell with all that and take a defensive coordinator gig after all.

According to reports Monday from Yahoo and ESPN, Orlando is set to become the defensive coordinator at USC.

Orlando would replace Clancy Pendergast, who actually posted better numbers in 2019 than Orlando did at Texas. The Trojans tied for 70th nationally in yards per play (5.70), while Texas checked at 98th at 6.11. Texas was better than USC against the run, but the Trojans clocked in at No. 64 in pass efficiency defense while Texas was 90th.

Obviously, there’s more to Orlando than his 2019 numbers, but the USC fans already checked out on Clay Helton (which is to say, just about all of them) won’t be won over by hiring a guy that Texas fired.

 

Mel Tucker adds two more assistants to first Michigan State coaching staff

Michigan State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Less than two weeks after his hiring, Mel Tucker‘s first Michigan State football coaching staff is nearly complete.

Monday, MSU confirmed that Tucker has added Ross Els and William Peaglerc to his Spartans staff.  Els will serve as special teams coordinator, Peagler as running backs coach.

Tucker is very familiar with both of his new hires.

Els was the inside linebackers coach at Colorado for the past three seasons.  During Tucker’s Boulder one-and-done, the 30-year coaching veteran added special teams coordinator to his linebacking duties.

In 2016, the 54-year-old Els was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Purdue.  He also spent time on FBS staffs at:

  • Nebraska, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator/recruiting coordinator (2012-14)
  • Nebraska, linebackers coach (2011)
  • Ohio, assistant head coach/linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2010)
  • Ohio, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2007-09)
  • Ohio, linebackers coach (2005-06)
  • New Mexico State, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2003-04)
  • New Mexico State, safeties/special teams coach (2001-02)

“Ross has been a Power 5 defensive coordinator and does an excellent job with special teams,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “His attention to detail is outstanding and he’s a great teacher. He also develops great relationships with his players, which makes him a great recruiter as well. His experience will definitely help our staff.”

The 34-year-old Peagler, meanwhile, was the director of quality control for the offense last season at Colorado for Tucker last year.  The Clemson graduate has never been an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

At Power Five programs, Peagler has served as a quality control assistant for offense at Minnesota (2016) and a graduate assistant at Georgia (2017).

“William has an excellent understanding of offensive concepts,” a statement on Peagler from the Michigan State football coach began. “He really gets it. He also has experience working with (offensive coordinator) Jay Johnson, and has been at some high-level programs, including Clemson and Georgia. He’s a multi-talented coach and I think he is a rising star.”

With the hirings of Peagler and Els, Tucker has officially added nine of his 10 on-field assistants.

The weekend before last, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.  Last Wednesday, former first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Courtney Hawkins returned to East Lansing to coach the same position he played for the Spartans.  A day laterJay Johnson was confirmed as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and Harlon Barnett was brought back as defensive backs coach.  A day after that, Tucker pried Ted Gilmore away from Wisconsin to serve as MSU’s tight ends coach.

Nick Saban issues statement as Georgia confirms hiring of Alabama’s strength coach as special teams coordinator

Alabama Crimson Tide
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kirby Smart‘s poaching of one of Nick Saban‘s longtime Alabama Crimson Tide lieutenants is officially official.

Earlier Monday, reports surfaced that had Scott Cochran leaving as Alabama’s strength & conditioning coach for an on-field job at Georgia.   A short time later, Nick Saban issued a statement confirming that Cochran had left the program after a baker’s dozen seasons.

“We appreciate Scott’s contribution to our organization over the last 13 years,” the Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach stated. “We can’t thank him enough for his service and dedication to our program, and his commitment to our players. He is taking his career in a new direction, and we wish Scott, Cissy and the kids the best. As we do with every position that opens here, we will go out and hire the best person to lead our strength and conditioning program and help our players maximize the resources available in our new sports science facility.”

Shortly thereafter, Georgia also confirmed that Smart has tapped the Alabama Crimson Tide assistant as its special teams coordinator.

As noted in UGA’s release, Cochran was on Saban’s staff for all six of his national titles, as he served as an assistant strength coach at LSU in 2003. Smart and Cochran both began their Alabama Crimson Tide careers in 2007 and spent nine years together before Smart left to take his current position in Athens.

“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” said the coach in a statement. “Special Teams Coordinator is a great fit as he’ll be working with all position groups. His knowledge and experience elevates our entire program, and we’re excited to welcome the Cochran family to Athens.”

This will mark Cochran’s first-ever on-field job at any level of the sport.  Cochran, incidentally, graduated from LSU.

Stanford adds linebackers coach with NFL experience

Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Stanford added a new coach to the program on Monday with the hiring of Eric Sanders. Sanders was named Stanford’s assistant coach for inside linebackers.

Sanders comes to Stanford following a season with the NFL’s New York Jets. Prior to his brief stint with the Jets, Sanders was a defensive assistant for three seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Sanders has also coached with the Oakland Raiders.

This is a return to Stanford for Sanders. Sanders coached with the program in 2015 as a defensive assistant.

“Eric was with us for our 2015 Rose Bowl Championship season and he was so smart, energetic and detailed that I knew someday we’d bring him back,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said in a released statement. “Eric has great comprehensive knowledge having worked with the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs throughout his career, and he’s spent the last three years with Gregg Williams who is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL.”

Sanders has also held college coaching jobs with his alma mater, UC Davis, and Utah State in addition to Stanford.

Wisconsin TE Luke Benzschawel medically retires after fourth knee surgery

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wisconsin redshirt senior tight end Luke Benzschawel is calling it a career. The senior announced he is medically retiring from the sport of football following his fourth knee surgery.

I consider myself fortunate to have been part of the Wisconsin football program for the past four years. I have not been as fortunate when it comes to my health,” Benzschawel said in a statement shared on his Twitter account on Monday. “However, after undergoing a fourth procedure on my knee, and despite giving everything I have to get back on the field, my doctors and I have decided that the time has come for me to step away from the game.

Benzschawel played in 15 games during his injury-plagued college career with the Badgers. Benzschawel is the younger brother of former Wisconsin offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel. Benzschawel injured his knee during fall camp last August and did not see the playing field during the 2019 season as a result.