Pac-12 football welcomes quartet of new coaches

Arizona Sports News online

It’s a unique year for the Pac-12 as the conference welcomes four new coaching staffs this fall.

Below is a look at the four men in charge of putting their schools back on the football map.

Todd Graham, Arizona State

Last school: Pitt

Graham takes over the train-wreck left behind by Dennis Erickson who was fired after ASU crumbled down the stretch losing six of their last seven, including an ugly 32-point blowout bowl loss to Boise State. The biggest question facing Graham and his staff is who will take over at quarterback for Brock Osweiler who left Tempe after his junior year and was a second round pick of the Denver Broncos. The high-energy Graham has already impressed many with his no non-sense approach on and off the field, something Erickson lacked.

Rick Rodriguez, Arizona

Last school: Michigan

Rich Rod and his spread-option comes to Tucson after turning the Wolverines from a ground-and-pound offense under Lloyd Carr into the eighth-highest total offense unit two seasons ago. Fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Scott is the perfect fit with the ability to beat defenses with his legs, not just his arm. Sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey is a star in the making. The likable, mostly low-key Rodriguez will be a welcome change from Mike Stoops and his sideline tirades which grew tiresome to both players and fans in the Old Pueblo.

Mike Leach, Washington State

Last school: Texas Tech

The only football coach in America with a law degree and an affinity for pirates takes over for Paul Wulff in Pullman. The Cougs, desperate for a shot in the arm after only winning nine games in the four years, hope Leach’s Air Raid offense can survive and thrive on the windy plains of eastern Washington. Leach has a nice pitch-and-catch duo offensively with quarterback Jeff Tuel and one of the most underrated receivers in the country, rangy junior Marquess Wilson. The biggest question mark will be defensively where WSU struggled the past two seasons under Wulff.

Jim Mora, UCLA

Last School: none (Atlanta Falcons, NFL)

Mora takes over in Westwood for Rick Neuheisel who was fired after leading the Bruins to the Pac-12 Championship Game and a birth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Mora surrounded himself with a group of experienced Pac-12 coaches, including former ASU offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Mazzone brings with him his spread, no huddle offense which put up relatively big numbers last year for the Sun Devils. UCLA has plenty of talent, but the quarterback position is unsettled. Former Chandler High star Brett Hundley may have the inside track to start after impressing in spring workouts.