Mike Leach made a couple of moves with his staff on Tuesday, removing the interim tag from assistant coach Eric Mele to make him the full time special teams coordinator and announcing the hire of Brian Odom, late of the University of Houston, to a defensive quality control position.
Mele was in a football operations position to begin this past season, but when then-special teams coordinator Eric Russell was let go, it left a void on the staff. Hiring someone midseason is generally not an option, and since programs only get so many "countable" coaches, it made sense to promote someone from within to coach and help with recruiting until a long-term solution could be found after the season.
He apparently did enough to impress Leach.
"Eric did a nice job coming in midway through last season," Leach said via release. "He is organized, hard-working, energetic and has a great rapport with the players."
Prior to coming to WSU with Leach in 2012, Mele actually was special teams coordinator at Wingate University for five seasons. Unlike most other hires to Leach's staff, Mele had no previous connection to Leach, but he was able to convince Leach to hire him by cold calling Leach and flying to Key West three times on his own dime to hound Leach.
"At that point he kind of understood I wasn't going away," Mele said. "The chance to work for him? You've gotta do it."
The final flight involved Leach flying Mele to Pullman to give him a job. I have no idea if Mele will be a good special teams coordinator, but I really want him to be, if for no other reason than the coolness of his story. (If you'd like to watch Mele talk, here's a video from WSU.)
Odom, meanwhile, has worked in strength and condition for the last decade, so this is a bit of a change. If you're unfamiliar with "quality control" positions, you can read up on it in our story on Graham Harrell, who holds down a similar offensive position. His connection to the staff? He worked as a graduate assistant at Missouri with new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
"Brian brings a great work ethic and an experienced football mind to our staff," Leach said. "He has been a part of football staffs that have seen a great deal of success and he will be an asset for our program."
Based on this story on Odom from Houston, it sounds like he'll fit right in with Leach's staff:
"I care about every one of those kids and I'll do anything for them but at the same time, we're in this thing to win games," Odom said. "It should be cut and dry, you either do or you don't. You win or you lose. They know that going in with me. You're either on time or you're late. You make the time or you don't make the time. You're here or you miss. There's no gray area."
As far as first impressions go, some might even call Odom intimidating.
"He definitely carries an intimidation factor at first but once you get to know him, he's great," sophomore receiver Daniel Spencer said.
Here's to betting he and Jason Loscalzo will be fast friends.