A different take on WSU d-coordinator search

PULLMAN – So Mike Leach has a short list of six names for defensive coordinator and the new guy could be hired pretty darned soon, Bill Moos says. I’ve been thinking about a new defensive coordinator for the Cougs since about midseason, and I keep coming back to the same name …

Cougar fans got a stocking full of candy when Mike Leach wooed former NFL defensive lineman Joe Salave’a on board three years ago as the defensive line coach. After watching Steve Sarkisian at USC and Chris Petersen come after Salave’a last year, I’m wondering when someone will come along and offer him something he’s never had before -- a defensive coordinator job.

Salave’a, a rock star back in American Samoa, is a lights out recruiter when it comes to Polynesian prospects, (including many of those stateside like Thomas Toki, as this CF.C article attests

Neither USC nor Washington was willing to offer him the d-coordinator job and Salave’a got a nice bump in pay this past offseason and remained in Pullman. And being a d-coordinator at the Pac-12 level at this stage of his career might not be the best move for him, nor for a school. It might be premature.

But someone, somewhere is probably going to dangle that carrot at some point. Recruiting is so much of the battle. That’s why I think Salave’a is still a flight-risk who at least garners a long look.

Given his energy on the field, and his sincerity and soft-spoken nature off it that appeals to players and parents alike, he would likely adjust the defensive scheme and mindset as much as any new coach, and it wouldn’t surprise to see the 4-3 employed. Despite the Cougs having more linebacker-types including the BUCK’s, they have been in my mind far more effective when in their 4-man fronts. So much so, I believe they could achieve massive improvement in ’15 and become one of best front lines in the conference.

Scheme is likely not a concern of Leach’s, he lets his defensive coordinators run the show. A good many coaches do that with a coordinator but Leach is particularly hands off. But you had better produce. If not, you may not finish out a season under Leach (Eric Russell) or your fate may already be decided before the regular season draws to a close (Mike Breske, Paul Volero).

Salave’a has assumed the “assistant head coach” duties Russell once held, so that’s another line item he can cross off his to-do list. And right now in his career, that might be just the ticket. And of course the search for a qualified d-coordinator doesn’t begin or end with Salave’a, especially when there are more high-profile candidates out there.

Another hot idea right now is current Utah d-coordinator Kalani Sitake, who will be free at the conclusion of Utah’s season as what amounts to an unrestricted coaching free agent. This, thanks to Utes’ AD Chris Hill’s risky decision to gamble on Sitake and others.

Sitake’s resumespeaks for itself.

It’s possible he could use WSU to leverage Utah into a very sweet deal, but Utah not showing him the love or loyalty has bruised a longstanding relationship. And with Salave’a and Sitake, they might just be able to further corner the market when it comes to recruiting Polynesian players.

THIS ARTICLE wouldn’t be complete without some of those crazy ideas out of left field. And oh, how I’ve got you covered there. These kinds of coaching searches don't come along often, so let's have some fun with it ...

While a growing buzz on the CF.C message boards has centered around former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, I personally don’t think Coach Scowl fits in with WSU’s coaching staff and family atmosphere. He’s more likely to be a head coach somewhere else anyway, which makes it all pretty much moot. But follow me into the deep end…

But I absolutely love the idea (no really, I do) of hiring his older brother, Carl. He handled Nebraska’s defense from 2008-2011 before taking the FAU head job – where he flamed out in spectacular, bizarre fashion. And this is probably a complete non-starter with Leach, who has one-strike and you’re out policy on: violence against women, stealing and drugs. Even if Carl Pelini isn’t guilty of what’s been alleged, it’s awfully hard to see Leach hiring a coach accused of violating one of his three iron laws, though from my chair I’d like to see Leach give him a second chance.

Another name that I haven’t heard from anyone (because it’s just that far out of the box) is one I believe would be an absolute dynamite hire for WSU. You ready? Former Texas head coach Mack Brown.

I know, I know. While he is officially retired, would probably bristle at a d-coordinator post and even if it somehow came to be would likely seek to move on at the first head job offer, the idea just still doggone intrigues me.

That first year out of the game is the roughest, and Brown, still a surprisingly young 63, has likely been rejuvenated after resigning/being forced out at Texas. Maybe, a Lone Star-connection with Leach and a very chill career-ender (compared to the booster/media pressure of UT) in Pullman might just be that crazy idea that works.

Two other coaches who have been out of the game for at least a year but who have major Pac-12 connections are retired former Cal head man Jeff Tedford and former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. Tedford left the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs this year with health issues and Aliotti is a Pac-12 Network analyst.

But as both Leach and Moos know, sometimes time away brings back the fire, so perhaps they stir the embers? We may find out shortly.

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