The great mystery that was Utah's coaching hires has been solved today. Utah announced today the hiring of John Pease as defensive coordinator and former BYU and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Justin Ena as linebackers coach, as well as the promotions of running backs coach Dennis Erickson to assistant head coach, safeties coach Morgan Scalley to special teams coordinator, and Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding to co-offensive coordinator.
Dennis Erickson was promoted to assistant head coach, Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding were named co-offensive coordinators, John Pease returns to the Utah staff as the defensive coordinator and Justin Ena was hired to coach the linebackers. Also receiving a new title was Morgan Scalley, who will serve as the special teams' coordinator in addition to coaching the safeties.
Pease comes out of retirement for his second time to become Utah's defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. He first retired from coaching in 2005 after nearly two decades as an NFL assistant coach (1986-2005) and 15 years as a college assistant coach (1968-82). In 2009, he was lured out of retirement by Whittingham to coach the U. defensive line. After two seasons, during which time he coached current NFL starters Koa Misi and Sealver Siliga, he retired again. Pease, who played for Utah from 1963-64, is now in his fourth stint as a Utah assistant coach. He was a graduate assistant from 1968-69 and coached the linebackers in 1977.
Ena comes to Utah from Weber State, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach last season. Before that, he spent six years at Southern Utah, the last four as the Thunderbird defensive coordinator. Under Ena, SUU finished second in the Big Sky in total defense and third in scoring defense in 2013. From 2008-09 he was SUU's special teams coordinator. In 2009, the Thunderbirds led the nation in punting and finished ninth in punt return average.
Ena is Polynesian, which may help re-establish the so-called Poly pipeline to the islands. Just because the man is Poly? Nope. As most fans are aware, the Polynesian culture is very family focused, so relations and relationships are key. One of Ena's brothers, Packy, is an assistant coach at Waipahu High School in Hawaii. As we've seen with Whittingham's brother at Timpview, that never hurts.
Jim Harding was the offensive line coach at Utah last season. By most accounts, the offensive line improved as the season went on, and Harding has made strides in recruiting, helping the Utes flip offensive tackle Johnny Capra from Cal among other players. Harding coached under former offensive coordinator Dave Christensen for five years at Wyoming and served as offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator in his final season at Wyoming.
This will be the second stint for Aaron Roderick as co-offensive coordinator, a position he shared in 2010 with current Fresno State offensive coordinator Dave Schramm. Roderick will continue to also coach the quarterbacks, and that's interesting because Utah's QB woes came to a head around 2010 and were fixed by later coordinators, beginning with Norm Chow in 2011. It will be interesting to see how Roderick develops the current, deep stable of signal callers.
Erickson, in his third season with the Utes, will continue to coach the running backs in his new role as the assistant head coach. Roderick, a member of Whittingham's staff since he took the reins back in 2005, is the co-offensive coordinator for the second time of his Utah career. Roderick also held the title in 2010. Harding enters his second season on the Utah staff and has previous experience as a co-offensive coordinator at Wyoming (2013). Roderick (quarterbacks) and Harding (offensive line) will retain their position coaching duties.
Scalley, of course, has been on staff since 2006, mostly coaching the safeties and coordinating the football staff's recruiting efforts. However, unlike the other promotions, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham will be handing the reigns of a coordinator position to a first timer in Scalley. In the memorable 2004 season, Urban Meyer called a reverse on a kickoff, which Scalley returned for a touchdown, so... we might see some interesting calls from the former Utah safety.
All these developments leave the Utah coaching staff with one assistant vacancy to be filled, possibly a tight ends coach. No word yet on what sort of offense Harding and Roderick plan to employ, though Harding ran a spread under Christensen and Roderick ran more of a multiple offense in his last OC role.
I like Pease, he'll stop u in the hallway n give u a situational pop quiz lol... the guy is a wealth of knowledge— Sione H Kinikini (@SHKini2) February 2, 2015
Anyone that attacks the John Pease hire is doing it out of COMPLETE ignorance.— Hans Olsen (@975Hans) February 2, 2015
I've worked with John Pease. He's a laser focused coach. A DETAILS man. He teaches the schemes and techniques I'd coach and teach.— Hans Olsen (@975Hans) February 2, 2015