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An Update On Mike Leach's Search For Assistant Coaches

All remains quiet on the assistant coaching front after the week came and went with no official announcement. Because it's a weekend, I wouldn't expect anything official from Mike Leach or the Washington State Cougars, so we're probably going to have to wait this one out. In fact, I'd expect the wait to last until Thursday at this point.

However, we do have a pretty good idea of what this coaching staff will look like. We know the offensive staff and the special teams coordinator, and have profiled each of the reported hires in the past week. The defensive side of the ball is anything but firm, though we may have an idea of who's coming.

Mike Smith is reportedly joining the Washington State staff from the New York Jets, and we covered him a few days back. With Smith, WSU would be at six known coaching hires, with three more spots open. It just so happens that we have three names that have popped up consistently in the last few days, though nothing's been firm enough to run with.

Here are the rumored names, starting with the one everyone is most curious about.

Tommy Spangler, defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech

This one has been swirling for a couple days now, and Spangler may be the reason for the delay in announcing the coaching staff. Right now, Spangler is preparing his defense for a bowl game that's set to take place on Wednesday, making it unlikely Leach announces the move if he is the choice for the defensive coordinator spot.

Spangler makes a ton of sense and would fit the mold of a defensive coordinator pairing with Leach. His defensive philosophy is aptly nicknamed GATA, or Get After Their Ass(es). It's an attack defense that forces turnovers and creates pressure from all angles, which fits what Leach has spelled out almost to a T.

Paul Volero, Key West High School

It's unlikely you know Paul Volero, unless you're from Key West or follow small-role assistants in Michigan/West Virginia. I've got a whole profile on Volero ready to go that explains why Leach would pluck a defensive coordinator who's been working at a high school in Key West, but haven't found anything strong enough to confirm his hire, other than an initial report from Football Scoop.

Volero had been a special teams quality control coach at West Virginia under Rich Rodriguez and a defensive line coach at Central Michigan. If he is hired, it's unknown what his role with the Cougars would be.

Joe Salave'a, Arizona defensive line coach

It's Salave'a that gave me pause when considering what Volero would be doing at Washington State if he is hired. One would expect Volero to coach the defensive line, but Salave'a's name surfaced this past week, as well. At Arizona, Salave'a coached the defensive line and he reportedly visited Pullman within the last few days. Football Scoop is also reporting he's expected to take an assistant coaching position under Leach.

Salave'a makes a whole lot of sense and fits within what Leach has already talked about, especially with regards to recruiting. Leach made it a point to talk about Hawaii and the athletes that come out of the islands while meeting the media in Seattle, saying he wants to recruit the area hard. Salave'a is great with the area and would be a huge boost to the staff.

Nothing on the strength and conditioning coach

I'm still genuinely curious about this one, but I haven't got a clue who the S&C coach will be. This is an incredibly important hire as the Cougars head into this offseason and the transition, with the strength coach playing a big role in getting the players to "buy in" ahead of spring practice.

Those are your three names for three spots. Things may change, but it seems these three are the front-runners to round out Leach's assistant coaching staff, if they haven't been hired already.

As the staff is firmed up, we'll have more in-depth profiles, but for now the above names are just people to keep in mind. if you missed the other reported hires, check out our profiles.

Eric Morris as IR coach

Dennis Simmons as OR coach

Eric Russell as Special Teams coach

Clay McGuire as Offensive Line coach

Jim Mastro as Running Backs coach

Mike Smith as Linebackers coach

I think as the hires are formally introduced and the coaches are able to talk to the media and fans, you'll find this a group of excellent guys. The family environment is a big deal for Leach, sure, but the staff he's assembled is just filled with good people in general.