For a few days now, we've expected Montana defensive coordinator Mike Breske to take the same position at Washington State. Earlier in the week, Breske emerged as the front-runner for the job, reportedly impressing Washington State head coach Mike Leach in interviews. And on Sunday, Leach reportedly made the move and hired Breske as his defensive coordinator.
The news comes from Football Scoop, a long-established site that's all over coaching changes.
Washington State: We have learned that Mike Leach has hired Mike Breske from Montana as his defensive coordinator.
So, what do we know about Breske? Not a whole lot, to be honest. He's bounced around coaching for the past 30 years, with plenty of experience along the way. He fits the mold of what we've expected from Leach's new defensive coordinators, mainly with secondary coaching experience and a tendency to employ odd-man fronts -- at Wyoming he implemented a 3-4 (GASP) and did so with solid results.
But because I didn't know a thing about Breske and his tenure at Montana, I asked someone who does earlier this week. Ryan Divish, of Tacoma News Tribune fame, is a Montana man and knows his Grizz football. Here's what he said.
@BrianMFloyd -- little surprised. I thought his best defenses were a product of Dave Doeren, who was the DBs coach at the time— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) January 7, 2012
@BrianMFloyd - Doeren would later end up def. coordinator at Wisconsin and now head coach at NIU— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) January 7, 2012
There was also the most recent memory of Breske from the FCS playoffs:
@BrianMFloyd - his defense did give up 287 yards rushing to one guy in the FCS semifinals— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) January 7, 2012
And now I've made you think this is a terrible hire. It's not. Breske fits the mold of what Leach is looking for, and could have some success at Washington State. He's going to change things, but judging by the recent performances of the Washington State defense, that's not a bad thing. At Wyoming, his defense was aggressive and defended the pass well, ranking high in the nation in yardage allowed and passes intercepted. Considering the landscape of the Pac-12, this is important, particularly the latter statistic. Leach wants turnovers -- he wants the ball in his offense's hands as fast as possible, allowing for some gambling on the other side of the ball -- and Breske looks like a guy that thinks the same way.
As we said earlier, expectations for a big-splash defensive coordinator were, frankly, unrealistic. With how the Air Raid works, the defense is mostly along for the ride -- look at Baylor, Houston and the like. Convincing a defensive coordinator -- a position judged by points allowed -- to walk into the jungle is not an easy task.
Breske isn't a flash hire and comes from an FCS school, though he does have FBS experience, but he could be a solid pickup going forward. And no, I have no idea if he'll completely overhaul the defense right away, throwing out the four-man fronts in favor of something different. That, friends, will all be answered in due time.
With that, the Washington State staff is basically complete. There's a linebackers coach floating around somewhere -- probably hired already -- and as we reported on Saturday, Chris Dawson has agreed in principle to become the strength coach. The staff is essentially complete -- both on the field and off -- and now it's time to get down to business.