Steve Sarkisian (University of Washington)
SEATTLE - At halftime of Washington's mens basketball game against UCLA at Hec Ed three weeks ago, Steve Sarkisian announced his new football staff, one he called the best in the country. Unfortunately for the first year head coach, two of his offensive coaches - Jim Michalczik and Aaron Roderick - have since left the program.
But Thursday Sarkisian announced the final hiring of his staff - former Arizona State tight ends coach Dan Cozzetto to coach the offensive line, something Cozzetto already did in 2003 under former UW Head Coach Keith Gilbertson.
"Coach Cozzetto, a former offensive coordinator for years in this conference, brings a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience to our staff," Sarkisian said during a teleconference with media Friday. "He brings a hard-nosed mentality to our guys up front. Coach Cozzetto has a little different mentality than coach Michalczik. He brings a very physical, tough mentality to our offensive football team, which I think is really good for us."
Cozzetto begins work on his 16th year in the Pac-10, split amongst four teams - Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State and California.
Michalczik, who bolted for the Oakland Raiders, was wearing two hats under Sarkisian - Offensive Line Coach and Offensive Coordinator. Cozzetto fills the first role, and Sarkisian announced Thursday that current UW Quarterbacks Coach Doug Nussmeier would become the Huskies' Offensive Coordinator, a role he had at Fresno State in 2008.
"In the short time I've gotten a chance to work with Doug Nussmeier, he's got a great feel for the game," Sarkisian said. "He has a great command of not just the pass game, but the run game and the protections."
Sarkisian reiterated his intent to be the Huskies' play-caller on offense this fall. "We were clear with coach Nussmeier up front that this was going to be the situation, and he understands that," Sarkisian said. "He's going to have a great deal of input, not only during the week but also during game day. Ultimately I'll be the one calling the plays."
So with the earlier announcement of Jimmy Dougherty to replace Roderick, who went back to the University of Utah due to family issues, Sarkisian's staff is once again whole. "Offensively, some of the roles may have been tweaked a little bit but I still love this staff on the offensive side of the ball because of the knowledge we bring," Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian sees a young, bright mind in Dougherty, hired away from the University of San Diego where he spent 2008 as the Toreros' Offensive Coordinator. He also worked at USD under Jim Harbaugh before Harbaugh took over as Stanford's head coach.
"I think Jimmy is a great young coach," Sarkisian said of Dougherty. "He has a lot of versatility in his coaching style. He has a great feel for the game and I'm really excited about his energy and enthusiasm and the knowledge of the passing game that he's going to bring to us."
So here is how Sarkisian's staff breaks down:
Steve Sarkisian - Head Coach
Nick Holt - Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
Doug Nussmeier - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Dan Cozzetto - Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator
Joel Thomas - Running Backs Coach
Jimmie Daugherty - Wide Receivers Coach
Clayton Adams - Graduate Assistant/Tight Ends Coach
Johnny Nansen - Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach
Mike Cox - Linebackers Coach
Jeff Mills - Secondary/Safeties Coach
Demetrice Martin - Secondary/Cornerbacks Coach
Torrey Myers - Graduate Assistant Coach
The inclusion of Adams, who was a co-Offensive Coordinator at Western Washington, will fill in the gap at tight end. He played and also coached at Boise State. "I think he's got the knowledge and the ability to coach that position for us," Sarkisian said of Adams.
Sarkisian is nothing, if not very excited about the blend of energy, excitement and experience that his re-worked staff brings to the offensive side of the table. "Every coach on our offensive staff has, at one time or another throughout their careers, has been an offensive coordinator," Sarkisian said. "So that means we've got coaches that have a great feel for the game and can think outside the box. They get the game, from the o-line to the wideouts to the tight ends to the backs.
"For us it makes it fun and exciting that we've got a bunch of bright coaches that have been coordinators before that understand the game of football."
With things finally settled, the staff set off for a recent retreat, where Sarkisian got a chance to find out more about them and vise-versa. "I thought it was a great bonding experience and I think we learned a lot about each other," Sarkisian said of the event. "I thought it was really beneficial for us."
The coaches all appear to be on the same page, and the same is beginning to come true for the players as well. But it's going to take some time for the familiarization process to bear fruit, cautions Sarkisian.
"As we're moving forward as a staff, our players are able to move forward with what we're doing," he said. "They are getting more work on the computer system, looking at cut-ups and film. We've been able to be with them with their conditioning work, so they are getting a feel for our coaching styles and what we're all about."
As evidenced by a 6 am run Friday morning, this staff is taking no prisoners when it comes to reshaping bodies, trimming fat and turning these Huskies into lean, mean, dangerous dawgs.
"I've been really encouraged," Sarkisian said about the way they are looking as a team, adding that there has been no attrition so far. "They are excited about working out on a daily basis. That's a great thing. You always want these guys to be in a 'want to' state of mind, not the 'have to' state of mind when they go to the weight room."
And if you 'want to' find out more on what Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies are doing on a daily basis, there's no better way than hearing it from Sark himself on his Twitter page (@CoachSark). It's something that Pete Carroll, his former head coach at USC, is also very active in with updates and the like.
"The response has been excellent," he said. "This is just another avenue to communicate."