Finally, the official word is out: Mike Leach has announced his entire coaching staff. The names aren't surprising at all, and are the same names we've passed along over the course of the last month. As we said earlier this week, former Boise State assistant Jeff Choate was the missing piece, and completed the staff as the ninth assistant.
From the press release:
New to the Cougar staff will be Dave Emerick (chief of staff), Mike Breske (defensive coordinator/defensive backs), Jeff Choate (linebackers), Jim Mastro (running backs), Clay McGuire (offensive line), Eric Morris (inside receivers), Eric Russell (assistant head coach/special teams coordinator), Joe Salave'a (defensive line), Dennis Simmons (outside receivers), Paul Volero (outside linebackers) and Antonio Huffman (director of football operations).
And as we've stressed all along, communication and trust were key in Leach's hires.
"This group of assistant coaches is hard working and one that I have a high level of comfort with," said Leach. "Each one has had success at a high level and brings a tremendous passion to Washington State. Having worked with many of them previously the communication element is already in place, they understand my vision and this will be a staff that works well together."
There are a few things to be gleaned from this. As expected, Breske will likely bring a 3-4 defense to Washington State as the defensive coordinator. With Paul Volero working with the outside linebackers and Jeff Choate listed as a linebackers coach in general, one would assume the defense will feature odd-man fronts. There's really no other reason to have two linebackers coaches.
Eric Russell also earned the assistant head coach title, which would presumably put him as the high man on the totem pole. It's interesting in that Leach is clearly placing a significant emphasis on special teams -- something we've noted while watching the reported hires role in. It would seem Leach feels he can squeeze even more value out of the special teams, perhaps viewing the third phase as an untapped way to gain an advantage.
On the administrative side, Dave Emerick will serve as Leach's right-hand man, overseeing the staff at Washington State. Antonio Huffman takes over the role formerly filled by Shawn Deeds, overseeing the whole football program. Both will also coordinate and schedule recruiting visits.
We've profiled all the assistants and they can be found below:
Offensive line: Clay McGuire
Inside Receivers: Eric Morris
Outside Receivers: Dennis Simmons
Running Backs: Jim Mastro
Outside Linebackers: Paul Volero
Linebackers: Jeff Choate
Defensive Line: Joe Salave'a
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Breske
Special Teams: Eric Russell
Note: A strength coach was not listed in the press release, which makes sense considering what went on throughout the day on Thursday.