Oregon St. football Coach Mike Riley has put the finishing
touches changes on his staff a week before spring ball is set to begin, and the overhaul is more extensive than was suggested earlier in the off season.
The big news involves the linebackers, as Greg Newhouse, who has been on the Oregon St. staff for 14 years, dating back to Riley's first stint as coach, is out. Newhouse was offered another position within the program, but elected to pursue "other opportunities", according to a news release from the school, which is code for elected to not be demoted.
As a result, Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker will coach the linebackers, and Keith Heyward will now be in charge of the entire secondary. Heyward had been coaching only the cornerbacks, with Banker handling the safeties.
Additionally, Chris Brasfield has been hired as running backs coach, and Brent Brennan has been hired to coach the receivers.
Brasfield was a defensive graduate assistant for Oregon last season, and takes over for Reggie Davis, who left earlier this winter for a position with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL
Brennan, who was a WR for UCLA, including the 1994 Rose Bowl team, coached receivers at San Jose St., where he has been for 5 years, last season. Beavers assistant head coach Jay Locey coached receivers last fall, but will be in charge of the tight ends this season.
The first immediate reaction is surprise about Newhouse, as Riley has historically shown a lot of loyalty to his assistants. But it became apparent early on last season that something had to change with the defense, and nothing did as the season wore on.
The second, more thoughtful reaction is that the consolidation of the corners and the safeties makes sense. I personally never understood the segregation, as the players at these positions very much must coordinate their efforts.
The shuffling of the offensive line continues to generate a lot of conversation around Beaver Nation, and rightly so, but these latest moves indicate Riley recognizes that the defense MUST change, and the addition of a dose of speed from the JC ranks does not constitute enough change by itself. Time will tell if the right changes were made, and what it means for a program Newhouse had a large hand in molding into "linebacker U", but the defense should have a different look this fall, and that's not a reference to the on-field personnel changes.
Brennan spent four seasons as the wide receivers coach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before moving to San Jose St., and also spent a year as a Graduate Assistant coach at both Washington (1999) and Arizona (2000). Brennan has also worked previously at Oregon St. summer camps, and has ties to both Oregon St.'s offensive Coordinator Danny Langsdorf and defensive line coach Joe Seumalo.
Brasfield was only at Oregon for one season, after spending 3 years as the running backs coach at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Brasfield played for both UTEP and TCU, after transferring, in the '90's.
Down the road, all of this year's additions appear to be good moves as far as bringing in people who will connect well with recruits.