Selecting the Pac-12's top assistant coach hires for 2017.
The Pac-12 experienced its share of turnover and change in the coordinator ranks this offseason. Eight different teams experienced some sort of change at offensive or defensive coordinator for the 2017 season, with USC, Stanford, Arizona and Washington State maintaining the same coordinator duo as they did in 2016.
With eight teams making a change at coordinator, it’s hard to narrow down the options to a top five. However, Utah (Troy Taylor, Oregon (Jim Leavitt), California (Tim DeRuyter and Beau Baldwin) are just a few of the key additions to watch around the Pac-12 in 2017.
Which teams made the best coordinator hires in the Pac-12 for 2017? Here are five names to know, followed by a handful of assistant coach hires to watch.
Pac-12's Top Five Coordinator Hires for 2017
Beau Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator, California
Even though new coach Justin Wilcox was hired to help California improve its overall approach and performance on defense, the Golden Bears are still going to be prolific on offense. That’s largely due to the arrival of Baldwin after spending the last nine years as Eastern Washington’s head coach. Under Baldwin’s direction, the Eagles went 85-32, claimed the 2010 FCS national title and earned six trips to the playoffs. Baldwin also went 10-3 in one year as Central Washington’s head coach (2007). In addition to his success as a head coach, Baldwin has been regarded for his work on offense and with quarterbacks. Over the last five seasons at Eastern Washington, Baldwin’s offenses did not rank lower than 18th nationally in scoring. Additionally, the 2014 version – led by former Oregon signal-caller Vernon Adams – led the FCS by averaging 44.1 points per game.
Related: Pac-12 Football Predictions for 2017
Tim DeRuyter, Defensive Coordinator, California
New California head coach Justin Wilcox has spent the past 11 seasons as a defensive coordinator, and his arrival should immediately help a group that surrendered 42.6 points a game in 2016. But he’s also going to have plenty of help with DeRuyter working as the team’s defensive coordinator following a stint as Fresno State’s head coach. DeRuyter and Wilcox both have roots in the 3-4 scheme, which will require some juggling of the personnel this offseason. However, DeRuyter has a track record of success from stints as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M (2010-11) and at Air Force (2007-09). The 2009 version of Air Force’s defense limited opponents to just 15.7 points a game and forced 34 turnovers. California has finished last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense in three out of the last four seasons. Expect DeRuyter and Wilcox to significantly help this unit improve over the next couple of years.
Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon
For the most part, Oregon’s defense has struggled since long-time coordinator Nick Aliotti retired following the 2013 season. But new coach Willie Taggart took a significant step towards addressing this unit with the hire of Leavitt. The Texas native arrives after spending the last two years at Colorado. Leavitt inherited a defense that gave up 39 points in 2014 and improved significantly under his watch. The Buffaloes gave up 27.5 points per contest in Leavitt’s first year (2015) and ranked among the Pac-12’s top defenses by holding opponents to just 21.7 per game last fall. Additionally, the Buffaloes finished 16th nationally by limiting offenses to just 4.8 yards per game in 2016. Leavitt has previous stops on his resume from stints with the 49ers (2011-14), USF as the program’s head coach (1996-09), and as an assistant at Kansas State from 1990-95. Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Oregon in recent years. With Taggart expected to keep the Ducks’ attack near the top of the Pac-12, Leavitt’s arrival should ensure Oregon’s defense now ranks among the best in the conference in the near future.
Matt Lubick, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Washington
Jonathan Smith is entrenched as Washington’s play-caller, but Lubick is a good addition for coach Chris Petersen’s staff as the co-offensive coordinator. In addition to his responsibilities as the co-offensive coordinator, Lubick will coach receivers after Bush Hamdan left for the NFL. The Montana native comes to Seattle after spending the last four seasons at Oregon as the team’s wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator (2016). Lubick also has stints as an assistant at Duke (2010-12), Arizona State (2007-09), Ole Miss (2005-06), Colorado State (2001-04), Oregon State (1999-00) and San Jose State (1997-98). Lubick’s arrival is another solid addition to one of the Pac-12’s top all-around staffs.
Troy Taylor, Offensive Coordinator, Utah
Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah has not finished higher than eighth in the conference in scoring offense. Additionally, the Utes have only averaged 30 or more points a game (2014-15) twice in that span. While coach Kyle Whittingham has no trouble building some of the Pac-12’s top defenses, Utah needs more out of its offense to win the South Division. Taylor comes to Salt Lake City after spending 2016 as Eastern Washington’s offensive coordinator. Under his watch, the Eagles ranked second in the FCS in total offense (529.6 ypg), first in passing (401.0 ypg), third in scoring (42.4 ppg) and averaged 6.98 yards per play. Prior to 2016, Taylor worked as co-head coach at Folsom High School from 2012-15 and previously from 2002-04. The former California quarterback worked as an assistant in Berkeley from 1996-99 and also served as the team’s radio analyst from 2005-11. Considering Taylor’s background in working with quarterbacks and passing offenses, his arrival should significantly help Utah’s passing attack in 2017 and beyond.
Other Pac-12 Coordinator Hires to Know for 2017
Marcus Arroyo/Mario Cristobal, Co-OCs, Oregon
Phil Bennett, Defensive Coordinator, Arizona State
Jedd Fisch, Offensive Coordinator, UCLA
D.J. Eliot, Defensive Coordinator, Colorado
Rob Likens/Billy Napier, Co-OCs, Arizona State
Kevin McGiven, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon State (no longer a Co-OC with T.J. Woods)
Key Assistant Hires for 2017
Jerry Azzinaro, Defensive Line Coach, California
Scott Boone, Linebackers Coach, Arizona
Shadon Brown, Secondary Coach, Colorado
Charles Clark, Cornerbacks Coach, Oregon
Jimmie Dougherty, Wide Receivers Coach, UCLA
Hank Fraley, Offensive Line Coach, UCLA
Ron Gould, Running Backs Coach, Stanford
Steve Greatwood, Offensive Line Coach, California
Scott Huff, Offensive Line Coach, Washington
Deland McCullough, Running Backs Coach, USC
Jeff Phelps, Defensive Line Coach, Washington State
Jason Phillips, Wide Receivers Coach, Oregon State
Joe Salave’a, Defensive line Coach, Oregon
Michael Slater, Defensive Line Coach, Arizona State
Derek Sage, Inside Receivers Coach, Washington State
Feature photo of Troy Taylor courtesy of Utah Athletics/Brooke Frederickson