The Broyles Foundation on Wednesday unveiled the 41 nominees for the award given to the top assistant coach or coordinator in major college football.
Four coaches from the Pac-12 made the cut: Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, Oregon State offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren, Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. (It’s a race for second place. Joe Brady, the mastermind behind LSU’s transformed aerial game, is the clear frontrunner.)
The Pac-12 entries are worthy of recognition, for sure.
Bu as we make clear below, the list of quality work by assistants and coordinators in the conference isn’t limited to those four. (Admittedly, our list could look incomplete three weeks from now.)
And please note, for transparency purposes: The Hotline submitted a handful of names earlier this week to the Broyles Award selection committee (at its request).
Yes, we’re leaving out numerous qualified assistants; I could have gone 14 or 15 deep without struggling to justify inclusion.
Considerations included expectations for the position/unit, performance and available talent.
Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos: The first-year coach (from Boise State) has transformed the Ducks into an attacking, amoeba-like unit that leads the conference in takeaways and trails only Utah in other key categories. Relative to expectations and personnel, Oregon’s defense has outplayed the offense over the course of the season. (Hotline recommendation for Broyles Award.) A nod to Ducks co-coordinator/safeties coach Keith Heyward.
Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter: We won’t discount the role Justin Wilcox has played in shaping the defense, which is arguably the best-coached unit in the conference (offense or defense) when execution is judged relative to talent. Evan Weaver is fabulous, but Cal’s personnel across all positions doesn’t compare to the likes of Utah and Oregon. Add the weight of Cal’s ineffective offense, and DeRuyter has again done a first-rate job. (Hotline recommendation for Broyles Award.)
UCLA offensive line coach Justin Frye: The second-year coach has maximized personnel as well as any offensive position coach in the Pac-12. The Bruins are averaging 217 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry in conference play — better than Utah in both categories, as a point of comparison — and that’s largely because of Frye’s group. Oh, and that group includes true freshmen starters at left guard and left tackle: Duke Clemens and Sean Rhyan, respectively. (Hotline recommendation for Broyles Award.)
USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell: This selection was made with some trepidation because of the enormously talented collection of receivers (only Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma can match the Trojans in that regard). But Harrell has produced a high-level offense despite a rebuilt line, deeply depleted tailback depth chart and the season-ending injury to starting quarterback JT Daniels. His work with true freshman Kedon Slovis — and third stringer Matt Fink, who beat Utah — has been superb.
Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake: The front is evolving, the linebackers are mediocre and the back line is young. Yet the Huskies, with nine new starters, have played at a high level for all but a few quarters. They’re on the top tier within the conference and are fresh off a smothering performance in Corvallis. The mistakes we saw early (against Cal, for instance) are now few and far between. Nod to co-coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.
Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig: Back with the Utes after a decade absence, Ludwig has built on the progress made under predecessor Troy Taylor, crafting a scheme that places quarterback Tyler Huntley in position for maximum success (one interception). Utah leads the conference in rushing (in all games) and is second in fewest sacks allowed despite replacing more than half its offensive line. (Hotline recommendation for Broyles Award.) A nod to receivers coach Guy Holliday.
Oregon State offensive line coach Jim Michalczik: Our bar for the Beavers was admittedly low on several fronts, with the offensive line perhaps atop the list. Michalczik, a longtime Pac-12 coach, has done some of his finest work with a mix-and-matched group of veterans, underclassmen and newcomers. Quarterback Jake Luton, who’s 6-foot-7, injury-prone and not nimble, hasn’t missed a game: Credit Michalczik’s unit for that. (Hotline recommendation for Broyles Award.) Nod to OSU playcaller Brian Lindgren.
Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley: Produced a dominant unit (top-10 nationally in scoring, total yards and yards-per-play) despite a reconfigured secondary and new starting linebackers. A month from now, we might view the 2019 Utes as one of the best defenses in modern conference history, and Scalley might be a candidate for a Group of Five job or two. (Hotline recommendation for Broyles Award. I told them Scalley, of all Pac-12 assistants, had to be included.)
Oregon State defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar: Not sure any unit in the conference has improved more than OSU’s defense. (Then again, no unit in the conference had more room for improvement than OSU’s defense, except maybe Cal’s offense.) Beavers have jumped 44 spots in the national ranking in yards-per-play allowed and 37 spots in scoring defense, and they’ve generated pressure as consistently as all but a few teams.