The two are Mike Breske
, the defensive coordinator at Montana, and Andy Buh
, the defensive coordinator at Nevada, according to two independent sources in positions to know.
Breske, a 29-year coaching veteran, has spent the past two seasons at Montana under former WSU assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad. The Grizzlies were co-champions of the Big Sky Conference in the just-concluded season and ranked No. 26 nationally in total defense this past season.
The vast majority of Breske's coaching career as been with Joe Glenn, who is now at South Dakota and closing in on 200 career wins. Breske's path with Glenn included six seasons as defensive coodinator and assistant head coach at Wyoming and 13 years as defensive coordinator at Northern Colorado. The '04 Wyoming team appeared in the school's first bowl game in 11 seasons, defeating UCLA, while the '06 club ranked ninth in the nation in total defense. The 2007 team was 22nd in total defense.
In earlier coaching stops with Glenn at Northern Colorado and Montana, Breske won three national championships.
Breske, who is believed headed to Pullman this weekend for interviews, doesn't appear to have any obvious connections to Leach. About as close as the resumes get is that both spent time in Iowa early in their careers -- Breske as a graduate assistant at Northern Iowa in the early 80s and Leach as offensive coordinator at Iowa Wesleyen from 1989-91.
BUH SPENT THE LAST TWO SEASONS
at Nevada, as DC and linebackers coach, and prior to that was the co-defensive coordinator at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh from 2008-09, linebackers coach in 2007.
Like Breske, Buh doesn't appear to have obvious ties to Leach, but he did recruit southeast Texas for Stanford when Leach
was at Texas Tech.
In addition, Buh and new WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro overlapped one season on the staff at Nevada.
(Correction: Buh's name does still appear on its list of coaches on the official Nevada site.)
Both Buh and Breske have used odd-man fronts and dialed-up pressure defenses during their coaching careers. Both also have spent the bulk of their careers coaching in the West.
LEACH PREVIOUSLY SAID
he was waiting to name his defensive coordinator until bowl games were out of the way. That rationale wouldn't necessarily fit with either Breske or Buh because Montana out of the playoffs on Dec. 16 and Nevada's bowl game was Dec. 24.
As for timing, WSU defensive back Nolan Washington said yesterday on KJR Radio in Seattle that Leach will hold a team meeting this Sunday and said the complete coaching staff would be there.
The defensive coordinator's job appears to be the ninth and final staff slot Leach needs to fill -- maybe. There has been speculation that would-be linebackers coach Mike Smith, a former Texas Tech player now interning with the New York Jets, is planning to stay with the Jets rather than rejoin Leach. If that's the case, there could be another coaching slot to fill.
A number of names have been floated in recent days and weeks for the DC job at WSU. Besides Breske and Buh, the most recent was long-time Oklahoma assistant and co-defensive coordinator Bobby Jack Wright
. The Seattle Times tweeted that his name was swirling around WSU in watercooler talk at the Fiesta Bowl. An earlier name being bandied about was Louisiana Tech DC Tommy Spangler
, who coaches under former Leach disciple Sonny Dykes. Another name that has made the rounds is Brian Stewart
. He has been the DC at Houston under Kevin Sumlin, but doesn't appear to be headed to Texas A&M with Sumlin and has said he will not remain at Houston.
SOURCES IN positions to know tell Cougfan.com that a pair of names appear to be at the top of Mike Leach's lengthy search for a defensive coordinator, and at least one of them is expected in Pullman this weekend for interviews.