Seumalo officially joins football staff

The predicament of hiring skilled coaches is knowing that sometime, when the time and place is right, they will most likely leave their current job and take on a new challenge as a head coach at another school, move into professional football or take a position where they are closer to friends and family. Former Oregon State linebackers coach Robin Ross was offered that opportunity in December when he left for the head coaching spot at Western Washington.

Due to Ross' departure, Riley shifted longtime Beaver coach Greg Newhouse from the defensive line to the linebackers.  Coaching the linebackers is nothing new to Newhouse as he started out as the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Oregon State in 1997 during Riley's first stint.  He remained on staff when Dennis Erickson took over in 1999 continuing to coach the linebackers until 2003.

When Riley was rehired in 2003, Newhouse was moved to the defensive line where he served for two years before being moved back to linebackers in 2006.  With the shuffling of coaches and the defensive line coaching position vacated, Riley turned to his coaching staff for suggestions on candidates.

After another successful recruiting year in Hawaii, spearheaded by Mark Banker, and the superb job done by Mike Cavanaugh on the west coast, it was natural for Riley to solicit Banker and Cavanaugh for their opinions on who to hire for the defensive line coaching position.  But first they needed to list the qualities they wanted in a defensive line coach.

With Oregon State's increased presence on the Islands and the need of prep defensive lineman it was important to hire a coach with ties to Hawaii and Polynesian athletes.  It was also important to hire a young coach with a good track record both in the community and on the football field.  Several names where jotted down, but the one that stood out was San Jose State defensive line coach Joe Seumalo, who was hired by Spartan head coach Dick Tomey in February of 2005.

Tomey is the all-time victories leader at UH and later assembled some great teams at the University of Arizona with talent from Hawaii.  Tomey wrote the book on recruiting in Hawaii.  When Tomey hired Seumalo he said, ""As a defensive line coach, there is none better than Joe Seumalo."  High praise from one of the best coaches in college football.

Seumalo spent all of his college playing days and most of his coaching career in Hawaii.  He was a defensive lineman at UH from 1985-88, earning second team All-WAC honors as a senior.  While Seumalo was a player at Hawaii Newhouse was the Warriors' secondary and punter's coach. 

Seumalo bounced around in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe from 1989 to 1995 playing with the Ottowa Roughriders, Edmonton Eskimos and Rhein Fire.  He started his coaching career in 1994 as an assistant coach at Kasier High School in Honolulu.  During his five years at Kasier he served as a guest coach for the CFL's British Colombia Lions and the Indoor Football League's Hawaii Hammerheads.

In 1999, Seumalo moved back to the college ranks as a graduate assistant at the University of Hawaii coaching the defensive ends and special teams for two seasons.  While at graduate assistant at UH, he coached with Cavanaugh.  Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo hired him away in 2001 as their defensive line coach where he helped mold Division I-AA All-American and Buck Buchanan award winner Chris Gocong

Tomey hired him in 2005 to help rebuild the SJSU football program.  It was a rough first year as Suemalo did not have much talent to work with but he helped the Spartans grab what many are calling the best recruiting class in the conference this year.

For Beaver fans, one of the few sore spots from 2006 recruiting wars is losing Marquez Herrod and Michael Sipili to Colorado.  Both ended up signing with the Buffalos after connecting with a CU coach from Hawaii.  With Seumalo's strong connections in Hawaii and developing contacts in California the Beavers are in better position to attract and retain top Polynesian high school talent from the islands and the mainland.  And that's good news for the future of Beaver football.

With four players, including two starters, already on the roster from the only state in the union that grows coffee and six more set to join the team in the next couple of years, Riley and his staff are committed to keeping the pipeline strong in a football talent rich state.

Kahuku High School, one of the top football schools in the state, has 36 alumni on Division I rosters right now. The Outland and Bronco Ngaskari Trophy watch lists have at least three-four players from Hawaii listed each year.  And over 30 Hawaii prep football athletes signed D-I letter of intents in 2006.  The talent pool is deep in Hawaii and OSU solidified their position as a recruiting juggernaut in the 50th state with the hiring of Seumalo.

"This is a huge opportunity for me," Seumalo said. "I have known Coach (Mike) Cavanaugh and Coach (Greg) Newhouse for many years. I also have family members in the area, so it's a great move all the way around."

Besides being well connected to his homeland he is also a well respected coach.  He players love him and he has a knack for getting a little extra out of his players.

"He sure knows how to get along with his players while still demanding a lot," said SpartaFinest, a San Jose State football fan and poster on  "he has done great things for SJSU in his short time and he will be well missed by his players."  Riley agrees.

"Joe brings a wealth of experience to the Oregon State football program," Riley said. "He's worked with some great coaches. He is a great fit for this program as a coach and a person."


Coach Seumalo Bio

  • 2006 - Defensive line coach at Oregon State
  • 2005 - Defensive line coach at San Jose State
  • 2001-2004 - Defensive line coach at Cal Poly
  • 1999-2000 - Graduate assistant at the University of Hawaii
  • 1994-1998 - Assistant coach at Kasier High School
  • 1989-1995 - Played in the CFL and NFL Eurpoe
  • 1985-88 - Defensive end at the University of Hawaii

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