New Coordinators Will Have Mountain West Impact
By Ken Pomponio
There will be three new head coaches this season in the Mountain West Conference.
Meanwhile, there are 11 new unit coordinators, and that ranks right up there on the importance scale as these coaches often have a more direct impact on the weekly game plans.
Three MWC schools — UNLV and newcomers San Jose State and Utah State — have made changes at both offensive and defensive coordinator, accounting for six of the new faces by themselves.
Here’s the complete list, arranged alphabetically by school:
- Aaron Price (OC), Hawaii
- Scott Hazelton (DC), Nevada
- Bob Toledo (OC), San Diego State
- Jimmie Dougherty (OC) and Kenwick Thompson (DC), San Jose State
- Timm Rosenbach (OC) and Tim Hauck (DC), UNLV
- Kevin McGiven (OC) and Todd Orlando (DC), Utah State
- Pete Kaligis and Jim Harding (Co-OCs), Wyoming
With all the new conference coordinators now accounted for, here’s a closer look at four of the more intriguing and/or vital hires from the aforementioned list:
Here’s all you need to know about the struggles of the Nevada defense in 2012: The Wolf Pack rolled up 659 total yards and 48 points and had a nearly 2-to-1 time-of-possession advantage (39:10-20:50) in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and still lost by a point when Arizona scored a pair of TDs in the final 46 seconds of regulation.
Overall, Nevada finished 95th in FBS total defense (442.5 yards per game), 99th in scoring defense (33.8 ppg) and 110th in rushing D (211.8 ypg).
The sharp pain has been a lingering pain as well for the Wolf Pack, who will have their fourth new defensive coordinator in the last five seasons in Hazelton, who coached the USC linebackers in 2012 and served as the defensive coordinator at FCS power North Dakota for the two seasons prior to that.
Influenced by his season working under USC defensive guru Monte Kiffin, Hazelton brings a Tampa-2 look to Reno, and he’ll have five returning starters to work with, led by stud junior defensive lineman Brock Hekking.
On the other side of the ball, QB Cody Fajardo and the Nevada offense — which ranked eighth overall in the FBS last season — again figures to produce plenty of points, and if Hazelton’s defense can make even a modest improvement, the Wolf Pack could emerge as a darkhorse West Division contender.
Unlike the Nevada defense, the San Diego State offense is far from broke after finishing third in the conference in scoring (32.8 ppg) and fourth in yards per game (396.6) in 2012, but sights are set even higher out on the coast with the 66-year-old Toledo reuniting with head coach Rocky Long.
Toledo, who had a mildly successful seven-year run at UCLA from 1996-02, and Long have served on each other’s staffs before with the Bruins and at New Mexico, and Toledo was coaxed out of semi-retirement in January after offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig departed for Wisconsin.
Seven offensive starters are back for Aztecs, including junior Adam Dingwell, who is expected to open the season as the starting QB. Whomever is under center, though, will be directing Toledo’s pro-set, West Coast-tinged attack that wisely figures to rely heavily on the MWC’s second-leading returning rusher in junior Adam Muema (1,458 yards, 16 TDs in 2012).
Rosenbach and Hauck
After compiling a 6-32 record in his first three Sin City seasons, it’s most definitely sink or swim time for UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck, and he’s hoping one — or both — of his two new coordinators can come up with a timely life preserver.
Hauck didn’t look far, tapping his younger brother Tim to take over the defense and hiring Rosenbach, the 2012 OC at his former school and alma mater Montana, to run the offense. Rosenbach, the former Washington State standout QB, also has previously coordinated offenses at New Mexico State (2009) and FCS Eastern Washington (2001-02) while Tim Hauck, a 13-year NFL defensive back, is stepping into his first coordinator position coming off three seasons as a defensive secondary assistant with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans.
To be sure, change is certainly nothing new in the desert as the program featuresa pair of new coordinators for the third straight season, but sacrificing coaching continuity was necessary once again after the Rebels finished 95th in the nation in both scoring (22 ppg) and scoring D (32.6) a year ago.