Among the many sports cliches that drive me insane, the phrase "coaching carousel" is definitely up there. Luckily for UW fans, we didn't really have to hear too much about that this offseason since Washington's core staff mostly stayed intact. In spite of this, there were still plenty of "minor" coaching changes that have the potential for a greater impact than most would expect.
Most notably, this...
Defensive line coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Choate hired as head coach of Montana State. Ikaika Malloe hired as new DL coach, while linebackers coach Bob Gregory's duties extended to include ST coordinator.
Let's start with the big one: losing Coach Choate is obviously significant, though his new head coaching position at Montana State is well-deserved and as such I have absolutely no feelings of bitterness towards him. That said, I have a good feeling about Ikaika Malloe being able to take up where Coach Choate left off. By now all the noise about this transition appears positive; the distractions usually associated with a new guy replacing an established connoisseur are minimal and that bodes well. Plus, as has been mentioned about a bajillion times, Malloe's youth and connections in Utah and with the Polynesian community already appear to be paying off, recruiting-wise. Not that Choate was ever not considered a recruiting asset as well, but if we had to lose him, I think Malloe is as capable a replacement as any.
Coach Gregory is one of the guys who I feel operates pretty under the radar in comparison to a lot of other coaches we're constantly praising. I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to not giving him enough credit, and I realized when writing this that I have no idea why we don't. Is it because linebackers as a corps aren't as glamorous as the DBs (getting all those breakups and interceptions) or D-line (sacks sacks sacks)? Who knows, but in the absence of ad nauseam discussion on Gregory, unlike for most of our position coaches, this is one of those cases that comes down to "I trust Chris Petersen to make the right call."
Receivers coach Brent Pease fired - Bush Hamdan hired as replacement.
The dropped passes last year. Oh. My goodness. I don't want to bash Coach Pease, and I'm sure he was a decent enough coach behind the scenes, but "decent enough" doesn't cut it. Enter Bush Hamdan who, if he is as good a coach (or even close) as he is a recruiter, should be an upgrade. Along the same lines as Choate's replacement, he's also really freaking young. If Ikaika Malloe is The Youthful New Guy, I don't even know what that makes Coach Hamdan. The Infant? The...? No wait, hang on, I had something for this.
Either way, in his first six months, he's managed to get commitments from three promising receiver recruits including Terrell Bynum, the top-rated receiver to commit since Chris Petersen became the head coach. So that's good.
As a coach, Hamdan seems to have the edge and competitiveness that come with self-aware youth: knowing he hasn't accomplished anything yet and being eager to prove he has what it takes to change that. The paradox here is that he has yet to produce on-field results that would draw praise, yet still comes across as someone we will be praising in a year or so. I suppose in that sense Bush Hamdan is a perfect synecdoche for Washington as a whole: young, full of potential, and champing at the bit to prove it. Even the greatest have to start somewhere, right?
Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake made co-defensive coordinator.
Before talking about this, we must first accept two truths:
1) Jimmy Lake is super mega great.
2) DC Pete Kwiatkowski is super mega great.
Therefore, Jimmy + Pete should be super(mega great)^2. Theoretically.
Now before you tell me that my math is off, know that I don't care. Also, that sometimes two great things, when combined, don't multiply their greatness in a way we'd expect. Like fruitcake. What I'm trying to say is that, although I have absolutely no reason to believe that this partnership wouldn't work out, I also am trying to temper my expectations on Lake and Kwiatkowski (celebrity supercouple name a la Brangelina: Lakekowski) creating the Super Defensive Death-Defying Ass-Kickers of Doom. That being said, I suppose Washington's defense is almost already on that level anyway. I guess "Death Row" rolls off the tongue a bit easier.
What I suspect, assuming we all accept statements (1) and (2) as truths, is that one of these two won't be around that much longer and Coach Pete is preparing accordingly. Given how tricky it is to have a truly great defense in college football, I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before University of X picks up one of these gems for a promotion in position and moolah. And when that happens, if it's Kwiatkowski that goes, I'm sure we'll be glad that Coach Lake spent some time picking his brain.
Jeff Tedford hired as "consultant."
Wut? Time will tell.
Sayler beat me to this mantra in yesterday's writeup, but let me repeat: Any unit is only as good as its weakest component, and that's where Chris Petersen really shows his strength as a head coach. Throughout his history at Boise State and in his brief time here, he has displayed a stellar ability to evaluate talent not only in players but in coaches. Any sports team's coaching staff functions as an ensemble and nowhere is that more true than in football, where the specificity and array of positions means that every player (and subsequently, every coach) specializes more than in other sports. With that in mind, I feel myself as a fan really trusting Petersen's ability to surround himself with great coaches, and that's not something I've been able to say often.
With that in mind, do good things, don't do bad things, and bow down to Washington.