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Evaluating the four PAC 12 teams with new HC’s

Evaluating the four PAC 12 teams with new HC’s

Today I start a series of articles analyzing Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State – the four PAC 12 schools with new head coaches in 2012.

However, I will not limit the focus of the articles to these new coaches alone. I think it’s more about what each of the 4 teams that dumped their old HC’s and hired new ones is up against — what it all really boils down to.

How and why they landed themselves in this situation (again?) Sure the new HC’s are a part of the articles and part of either the problem or its solution. The point of it is to evaluate all of the above and see if things are looking better or worse and how so?

The new PAC 12 dynamic

Each school in the conference, not just these four, has to remember that it is continuously dealing with that grand dynamic relationship itself too. Their goals are only as close as the men they hire are close to reaching them…. and of course how’s the fit?

One thing I REALLY, REALLY like about the most recent changes is that these various athletic departments seem to work under the premise that it takes money to make money!!!

What schools are really looking for is that man who has all his “I’s” dotted and his “T’s” crossed in a professional sense and his mojo in a state of vibrant health as well. And let us not forget that he comes equipped with a staff of brilliant assistants. The price for all that is several million dollars a year, and then some.

I will say this much, it’s going to take a year or two before some of the also-rans in the PAC 12 will be able to bust out of the shroud of mediocrity that’s engulfed the conference for some time. I even think things will get worse before they get much better.

Who’s the next PAC 12 coaching icon?

It’s definitely a GOLDEN opportunity for a head coach who feels he’s got it in him…. to make a new splash and create a new identity for himself in the sport. To claim his territory in the Conference of Champions, the soon to be wealthiest college sports conference in the world. You’d think someone out there can manage to do this. Wittingham? Mora? RR? Leach? The pedigree is there but are they really just a bunch of nags ready to get put out to pasture or what?

PAC 12 - USC HC Lane Kiffin

USC HC Lane Kiffin

Sarkisian lacks experience as a winning HC but he’s definitely got what it takes, hunger, and a huge appetite for top notch winning college football just like the town the Huskies play in (and a serious nuisance in person/team of Leach/WSU breathing down his neck just to keep him honest;) Kiffin is the underrated of the bunch but I think he may be the next icon in the making? I always liked him better than Sarkisian when both coached under Pete Carroll. He’s definitely the gutsier man.

Graham is in WAY over his head at ASU. There is more there that needs fixing than he’s capable of dealing with, and by that I mean a team of ethical guys, decent students who are just proud of their accomplishments and to have made the team. They are very used to flying apart way too much because of their lack of discipline.

Some of the events that came down at ASU involving Vontaze Burfict last season were EXCEPTIONALLY Godawful. I place the blame squarely on Dennis Erickson who was WAY WAY too permissive for a HC.

The Sun Devils lose heart too easily. They make more than their share of mistakes too often and they seem to find a way of backsliding just about every year! This team lacks discipline and it will take a pretty tough hombre to change them and to fix things right. Is that the Todd Graham you know? Not me — but I could be wrong.

This is the gist of my WSU story as well, when Paul Wulff reported to his job, he was immediately slapped in the face with a team of thugs and police blotter clowns… it took him the first 2 years of his job there to clean that up. He should have kicked those delinquent punks squarely in the huevos the day he showed up for work. But he didn’t and it ultimately cost him his job because they may have been bowl eligible in ’11 if he didn’t waste the first year playing all the imbeciles he allowed to remain on the team.

Mike Leach shows up on day one with 2 cops from the Pullman Police Department to give his team a little pep talk just the same. That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s see if Graham can confront that sort of thing or if ASU will continue to sink lower and lower in the conference.

My sleeper candidate for New Coach of the year in the Pac-12

Pac 12 - UCLA HC Jim Mora

UCLA HC Jim Mora

Jim Mora? Maybe, I really have a lot to say about UCLA, but my sleeper candidate for New Coach of the year in the PAC 12 may not be Mora after all — people also seem to be pushing a little too hard in Mike Leach’s direction as to how much impact he will have right from the get-go at WSU. By that I mean he does have a few adequate counterparts to coach against in his own division, he’s got some exciting offensive weapons there, especially that QB of theirs (Jeff Tuel) and a couple of flashy ball handlers/receivers to go with.

But from what I gather, WSU’s defense will remain gutted for at least another year, maybe even 2 to get sufficiently manned up. And by the way, just curious, how efficient was Leach’s assistant staff at coaching up mostly 2* and 3* recruits? He will have a steady diet of them where he is going.

Suffice to say for now, I am not getting too wrapped up in all the homer talk regarding Mike Leach. He’s destined to do good things there but he really needs some linemen and defenders first.

The good news for WSU as I see it is that I believe Mike Leach has it in him to turn the Washington State Cougar football program around. Just be patient because there’s been a lot of chaos in that school’s football program for too many years to fix right away.

WSU started this year off on the right foot, at last! They cleaned house starting at the top. First they hired Bill Moos to take over the AD job. Great move. Then Moos goes out and lands Mike Leach. Another great move and from the perspective of style, a good fit appears likely. But the program has a ways to go to finish the job that’s been started. So don’t expect the world. How long did it take Jim Harbaugh to turn Stanford around? There’s a clue for you that bears some logic and reasonable expectation in a best case scenario.

Tomorrow I reveal my sleeper candidate for New Coach of the year in the PAC 12. Any guesses? 


3 Responses to “Evaluating the four PAC 12 teams with new HC’s”

  1. SoonerBS says:

    I’ll take a shot here and say it will be Rich Rodriguez. Rich Rod never was truly given a chance at Michigan. Ever since he arrived it seemed the Michigan alumni was looking for ways to push him out the door. They just never seen him as the guy that “fit” the mold as a Michigan Wolverine head coach. I think if they had left him alone and quit busting his balls, he might have had Michigan contending for a Big Ten title this season. But, that is all history now.

    Now, we flash ahead to Arizona. Let’s face it, Mike Stoops is a good assistant coach, but he didn’t have much of a clue about leading an entire program. Rich Rod has more than a clue, plus he moves into a program where the talent has not been left bare. Looking at the talent left and the schemes that will be run, I think Rich Rod could probably see some immediate success. They will have to learn quick, but I see at least 7 wins on their schedule which would send them bowling at the end of the season. I don’t think the other three newcoming HCs will get that done with their programs.

  2. Kiel says:

    Conan, good to see you here. I’ve admired your work at the RX for years. I am looking forward to your picks this season without having to deal with all the jumbled mess of the forum.

    I am also thinking Rich Rod is your choice as the best new coach in the conference.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Conan Conan says:

    To all that have commented on the twitter feed….

    If you read what I said closely, you’d realize that I was talking more about the team than Todd Graham. My commentary was more about the culture that has developed at ASU than about Graham’s persona who probably doesn’t have a clue what he’s in for…. It’s a huge task Graham has before him and there are not many that could handle it.

    I also stand by the fact that there has been a cultural problem with ASU football going back perhaps decades. Any died in the wool ASU fan will admit that what I am saying has been true for a long time. You know what’s coming, and you know it will be harsh. You know it almost instinctively.

    What’s not to understand that if it takes putting the flame of reality under every a** sitting on the ASU bench to stir things up then so be it. It’s never going to happen if all you want to do is discuss all the platitudes and admiration you can conjure instead of facing the truth that something is dreadfully wrong that needs serious attention. You won’t accomplish a thing by going on a diet of pablum and placebos. Confronting poor attitude and lack of discipline is the only thing that can lead to change, so confront it! Move on it one step at a time. One week after the next. If you are lucky, you will find some leadership on the team and it needs to be the right kind of leadership, now that you know what the wrong kind looks like.


    As I said, there are some damn good coaches in WSU’s path in the Northern Division that won’t give it up to WSU too easily. So make no mistake about it, Mike Leach has an uphill climb ahead of him and considering the competition, it’s not going to be an easy one. But I still think he will have his share of winning years and perhaps even wind up ranked with Oregon, Stanford and Washington in the North. We’ll see by 2014 – 2015 what Mike Leach can accomplish.

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