The Head Hornets

Sacramento State defeated the Boise State gymnasts in the WAC Gymnastics Championships last year. They are hosting the NCAA National Track and Field Championships again this year. And, their football team will be in Boise next Thursday for their first-ever game with the Broncos on the Blue Turf of Bronco Stadium. Meet Coach Steve Mooshagian and his Hornet staff.

Coach Steve Mooshagian, a graduate of Fresno State, leads Sacramento State. Mooshagian is entering his fourth year as head coach of the Hornets. He believes the team is poised to make a move in the Big Sky Conference. Members of Mooshagian's first recruiting class are now seniors.

During his tenure in Sacramento, Mooshagian has coached three Division I-AA All-Americans, including wide receiver Fred Arney, who is now with the San Francisco 49'ers, a Freshman All-American (free safety Brett Shelton) and 13 all-Big Sky selections.

After coaching high school, Mooshagian caught on with his alma mater, serving as an assistant coach (receivers and recruiting coordinator) for Fresno State from 1985-1994. Mooshagian's head coach was Jim Sweeney, and he worked alongside current California head coach Jeff Tedford as well as current Bulldog coach Pat Hill. While Mooshagian was in Fresno, the Bulldogs rang up 87 wins against just 29 defeats and two ties, won six conference championships, played in six bowl games and won four of them, including a 24-7 victory in the 1992 Freedom Bowl over USC. While at Fresno, eight of his receivers went on to the NFL and six went on to start in a Super Bowl.

Mooshagian was a head coach for one year at Fresno City College (5-5) before being hired at Nevada as the Offensive Coordinator. Under his tutelage, Nevada led the nation in total offense with 527 yards per game, averaged over 45 points a game, won the Big West Conference and defeated Ball State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Mooshagian then went on to Pittsburgh serving for two years in the same capacity. Pitt made the Liberty Bowl in 1997.

Prior to being hired in Sacramento, Mooshagian was the receivers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL for four years and in 2002, Cincinnati was the only team in the NFL to have four players catch 40 passes.

Most of Mooshagian's assistants have California connections. One is instantly familiar to fans in Boise. He is Offensive Coordinator Scott Criner, who also coaches the quarterbacks and receivers. Criner coached Timberline High School in Boise to a 17-11 record over three seasons before being hired by Mooshagian.

He also coached tight ends, tackles and the secondary at Boise State from 1981-1983 and in 1997 and was the recruiting coordinator for the Broncos.

Criner was the receivers coach for Las Vegas of the XFL for two years before joining Sacramento State. He worked at Northern Arizona from 1998-2000 as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Criner also was quarterback and receivers coach at the University of Cincinnati from 1983-1989, running backs and receiver coach and recruiting coordinator at Pacific from 1989-1994 and running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Navy in 1995.

Lou Baiz is the Defensive Coordinator for the Hornets and also oversees the linebackers. He's a former Sacramento State linebacker himself and is in his 13th year as a coach with the Hornets. 11 of his players have earned All-Big Sky honors at linebacker, including three I-AA All-Americans.

Jim House is the new defensive line coach who will also handle special teams for Sacramento State. House spent the last four years at San Diego State with the same responsibilities.

He coached the offensive line and linebackers at Wyoming from 1974-1985, helping the Cowboys to a WAC title and a Fiesta Bowl berth. House began his coaching career in 1986 as the offensive line coach for Montana State, moving on to San Jose State from 1987-1989 where he coached linebackers and helped the Spartans win the WAC in 1987. His longest tenure was as Assistant Head Coach at Nevada from 1990-2001. The Wolf Pack defeated Boise State in a quadruple overtime thriller in the I-AA Semi-finals in 1990 and made the semis once again in 1991. Nevada won three conference championships while House was there.

Stephon Pace is the defensive backs coach, in his third year at Sacramento State. In 2005, three of Pace's defensive backs made All-Big Sky. From 2001-2003, he was the Defensive Coordinator for Bishop Amat High School in California, helping the team to a 27-11 record. From 1993-2000, Pace was an assistant high school coach at several schools with the exception of 1997, when he was a graduate assistant at Oregon State, helping the Beavers to an 8-4 mark.

In his playing days, Pace started 44 straight games in the defensive backfield for USC, helping them to bowl berths in the Rose Bowl, John Hancock Bowl and the Freedom Bowl against Fresno State. Pace was an All-Pac-10 choice in 1992.

Michael Orthmann is a new hire as the Hornet offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. He came to Sacramento via Baylor, where he served as a graduate assistant in 2005 coaching tight ends.

Orthmann was an assistant at Southern Oregon in 2004 and Associate Head Coach at Northern Arizona in 2002-03, helping the Lumberjacks share a Big Sky title one of those years. Prior to his promotion at NAU, Orthmann was the running back coach in 2001, leading NAU to the I-AA national playoffs. He coached I-AA All-American Marcus King, NAU's all-time leading rusher with 3,794 yards. Orthmann has also served as an assistant at Montana State and Eastern Washington, as well as being an assistant high school coach at Coeur D'Alene's Lake City High School.

Richard Sanchez is the running backs coach for Sacramento State and will serve as Special Teams Coordinator. This is his second season with the Hornets.

For two seasons, Sanchez was an assistant at Valparaiso, handling special teams, the secondary and serving as recruiting coordinator. In 2004, he helped Valpo's defense rank #1 in Division I-AA, allowing just 128.8 passing yards per game.

Sanchez spent two years at the University of San Diego where he also coached running backs and special teams. In 2003, his teams limited the opposition to .4 yards per punt return. Meanwhile, Sanchez tutored running back Evan Harney, who ranked second in I-AA in rushing.

Sanchez has also coached at San Diego State, British Columbia of the Canadian Football League and as a high school coach.

Mark Odin is another new coach, hired to tutor the tight ends at Sacramento State. Most recently, Odin served as the offensive line coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College in California.

Former Hornet Steve Roberson is entering his third season as outside linebackers coach. In 2004, Roberson was the assistant defensive backs coach as all four starters earned postseason honors.

Adrian Ross is the Assistant Defensive Line Coach for Sacramento State; Ross is another of Mooshagian's new hires.

Ross recorded 220 career tackles in seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played his college ball at Colorado State, where he is ranked fifth all-time in sacks.

Coach Mooshagian has experienced great success in his career and is now trying to bring it to Sacramento. He has high ambitions, but in reality, he and his staff may be a year or two away from getting a Big Sky title. On paper, their game with the Broncos is a complete mismatch. Nevertheless, if Boise State takes the Hornets lightly, they could get stung, similar to what Portland State did last year against the Broncos.

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