This happened about a week ago, but seems relevant right about now: According to Football Scoop, Mike Leach has hired Paul Volero, a former defensive line coach at Central Michigan, to coach in some capacity at Washington State. Volero has already been at work on the recruiting trail, and reportedly spoke to new commit Feddie Davey before the LB/S from Miami Norland committed.
Volero's ties to Leach are quite obvious: He moved to Key West in 2010, where he coached the defense at a local high school. The two apparently developed a rapport while in Key West, leading to the reported hire.
Volero's coaching career begin in Miami, where he worked as the defensive coordinator at Miami High School. Eventually, he took a job as the defensive line coach at South Florida before moving on to West Virginia, where he worked with the special teams. Rich Rodriguez, then the head coach of the Mountaineers, was Volero's college coach at Glenville State.
Over the last week or so, Leach has been making the radio rounds. While he wouldn't answer specific questions about the makeup of his staff, maintaining he wanted to announce everyone at once, he did speak about the attributes he wanted in his assistant. Among them was a love of football, with Leach saying he wanted his guys to live, eat and breathe the game. He wants a staff with a passion for the game.
Which is where this all ties back into Volero. From a profile of him put together by a local Key West paper in 2010:
"I knew that I would struggle outside of football because some people do it because they love it -- I do it because I need it," said Volero, the defensive coordinator at Key West High. "It's part of my life and part of who I am. I knew when I was 12 or 13 years old that I would spend a lifetime in football. I knew then that I wanted to coach because I couldn't play forever."
He sounds like a guy who's been grinding away, attempting to work his way up the coaching ladder on the defensive side of the ball. And he certainly displays the passion for football Leach was talking about. It's not a flashy name, nor is it one most fans will recognize, but he exhibits the qualities Leach has been searching for as he builds his staff.
In Volero and Joe Salave'a, another reported hire, Leach would have two hires with defensive line coaching experience. We won't know titles or how the staff is arranged until the official announcements are made, but it could be a situation where one coaches the ends and the other coaches the tackles.
Additionally, with the staff essentially solidified but not announced, it further reaffirms the theory that Leach has everyone in place, but is just waiting for the biggest piece -- the defensive coordinator -- to finish up some business. It's likely his defensive coordinator (click the link for the rumored name) is still set to coach in a bowl game, though an announcement should come before the end of the week.
We'll be back with more on Leach's coaching hires and why there should be a level of trust in his ability to pickup relative unknowns later. But rest assured he has a strong track record of developing not only the players in his program, but the assistants in his coaching tree.