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The Beginnings Of A Staff

Howdy folks, I'm sorry I've been away for a while. Things got a little hectic for me, but I'm back and have been following the development of our (thankfully) new coaching staff. As far as I know, this is the most recent article. It states that Kanavis McGhee, yet another former Buff great, has been added to the staff as an Assistant Coach. This one has some people scratching their heads because he has no D1 or NFL coaching experience.

I'll address this, and the coaches that have been confirmed after the jump. Also, feel free to use this as a thread to discuss any additional hires as they happen/are rumored/are announced.

If I've been following closely, this is where we stand:

Jon Embree: Head Coach - no specific position.

Eric Bieniemy: Offensive Coordinator - possibly also coaching Running Backs.

Greg Brown: Defensive Coordinator - possible also coaching Defensive Backs.

Brian Cabral: Assistant Coach - Linebackers.

Mike Tuiasosopo: Assistant Coach - Defensive Line.

Kanavis McGhee: Assistant Coach - Defensive Ends and Outside Linebackers

On board...kind of...

Eric Kiesau: Assistant Coach - ...?

Darian Hagan: Assistant Coach - ...?

Ashley Ambrose: Assistant Coach - ...?

Those first (now) six guys are on board, though not all of their duties are clear yet. Could Brian Cabral also coach Special Teams? He's coordinated ST coverages before as a part of his coaching duties before. Does Greg Brown coach Defensive Backs? Just Cornerbacks? Just Safeties? There is clearly still a lot left to be decided.

So I will focus on what we know, or at least what is peculiar about what we don't know.

The newest hire

Kanavis McGhee was a great player at CU. He played in the NFL for a few seasons, like Embree. Only McGhee didn't go into coaching, like Embree; he went into teaching. He has spent some time coaching High School football in the Houston area, where he has been since retiring, and has also spent two summers assisting the coaches of an NFL Europe team, but he has primarily been a teacher. Some people have been thumbing their noses at this hire. Why, after hiring guys with the decades of high level college and NFL experience like Jon Embree, Brian Cabral and Greg Brown, would we hire a guy who has none?

I think it's brilliant. If you'll notice, he isn't coaching his own position. From what I can tell, he will be teaching pass rushing technique to Defensive Ends and Outside Linebackers (and if my memory serves here, he was a pretty good pass rusher at one time), but won't be the only guy in those players' ears. He will be working alongside both Mike Tuiasosopo and Brian Cabral, supplementing their coaching with is perspective. Also, I can't think of a better addition to the staff than a guy who will be able to both coach, and serve as an educational mentor and teacher to these kids. Not to mention his ties to the Houston area (recruiting HOTBED).

And he isn't teaching at any old Houston-area High School. He's teaching at a school that puts out kids that are halfway to their college degrees upon graduation. He's working with the best of the best, and should have a pretty good idea of what will make kids that age (read as: every single recruit) successful, and how to make sure they sustain that success. Having spent the last decade and a half around kids that age, he should be very good at communicating with recruits and their families, not to mention with the players once they get to campus.

And back to the coaching element, he will essentially be a Pass-Rush Coach. The combination of Tuiasosopo, Cabral and McGhee should help the Buffs to develop a pretty good front seven of the Defense.

On the Arizona Coaches

Greg Brown is a good coach and has been in demand for decades. We're getting the hometown roll, to use a basketball analogy, in getting him back at CU. However you feel about Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown, Greg Brown had a huge role in turning them into the players that they are: Smith will get drafted in the top couple of rounds, and Brown will absolutely make and stay on an NFL roster as a Special Teams guy who can also play CB. He will be working with Coaches that he is familiar with, and that should foster an environment for him to be successful as the Defensive Coordinator. It will be interesting if he is also tabbed to coach DBs. He could possibly just focus on Cornerbacks or Safeties, coach them all, or stick to Coordinating (like our last DC, Ron Collins).

Mike Tuiasosopo has been coaching the Defensive Line at the Division One level for 14 years, and has been coaching for a total of twenty one years (random fact: He was Head Coach of Berkeley High School for three seasons, where he coached Hannibal Navies...crazy, right?). He has six family members who have played big-time college or NFL football. He primarily works with Defensive Tackles (the position he played) so working with Kanavis McGhee will be a good thing for both of them. He has been a big time recruiter, focusing on California and the Polynesian community. His wife also apparently has family in the Denver area, so that might've been the extra push to get him to come here to a brand new staff under an unproven head coach.

On the "Undecideds"

Darian Hagan seems to be the odd man out here. He's a running backs coach. If Bieniemy takes that position over, which has been hinted at and rumored, Hagan doesn't really have a place, unless he moves to a new position. Eric Kiesau has coached both Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers, so there is some flexibility there if he is retained, but Hagan hasn't specifically coached any position besides Running Back. He worked with the Skill Position Players under Barnett when he first arrived, but I have no idea what that means as far as his abilities to coach, say, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends or Quarterbacks (the positions seemingly still open on Offense). Hagan could stay on and coach RBs, sure, but it seems like they will need that spot for another coach. We still have no Offensive Line Coach (officially, though Steve Marshall of Cal has been rumored as that guy. He spent two seasons coaching the O-Line here in 2000-2001), no Special Teams coach, and no definitive answers in the Secondary or at the Offensive skill positions.

My bet with Hagan, is that they are figuring out the other spots first to see if they will need him to coach the Running Backs. Bieniemy can do it, though as a brand new Coordinator, I could see the benefit of him not having a position solely under his tutelage. Hmmm, the unknowns are still pretty big.

As much potential as Ashley Ambrose seems to demonstrate as both a Coach and a recruiter, I see why he is still an "undecided." His unit wasn't that great when he was the only guy instructing them. He still has a lot to learn, but I think he can with Brown returning. If Brown can work alongside Ambrose (possibly like Bieniemy and Hagan), I would feel a lot better about our Secondary moving forward. But then we get into the numbers crunch at Assistant Coach.

You are allowed nine Assistant Coaches. After the 5 guys we know and whose duties have been spelled out for us, this is what remains:

Running Backs (possibly Bieniemy)

Wide Receivers


Tight Ends

Offensive Line

Special Teams

Cornerbacks & Safeties (possibly Brown)

We don't for sure know that Bieniemy or Brown will take those positions, or if they will be the only guys there. If they do coach those positions by themselves and if Special Teams are handled by some combination of other position coaches like Cabral. That makes it an interesting dilemma for Embree and Bohn. Since we're using three coaches to cover the Defensive Line and Linebackers, that may leave Ambrose and Hagan without spots on the staff. Kiesau (or someone else they bring in) would be coaching either Quarterbacks or Wide Receivers (where it is rumored that Walt Harris and Bobby Kennedy are receiving looks, respectively), while Hagan would be left to coach whichever spot isn't filled or Tight Ends. How many of you could see that? And if it isn't Hagan, who coaches Tight Ends? Embree has said he isn't going to coach a position. And unless someone is able to combine two of those positions into their duties (ie Quarterbacks AND Wide Receivers or Tight Ends AND Offensive Line...something I don't think happens very regularly), there isn't a spot for Ambrose either.

Mostly what I'm trying to say is that I have no idea what else will happen with this staff. All I know is this, Jon Embree has hired Eric Bieniemy, Brian Cabral, Mike Tuiasosopo, Greg Brown and Kanavis McGhee thus far, and he still has more to figure out. Any more leads/rumors/hirings should be posted below: