With the departure of Bill Cubit, and the recent hiring of new head coach P.J. Fleck, the question now becomes: Who will Fleck retain and who will Fleck hire on his assistant coaching staff?
It was officially announced that Bill Cubit was let go on Saturday, November 17, 2012 following the Broncos 29-23 loss to Eastern Michigan at Waldo Stadium. All of the remaining staff was also let go, with the exception of defensive coordinator Rich Nagy, director of football operations Jay Steilberg, and strength & conditioning coach Nate Peoples.
A final decision will ultimately be made by P.J. Fleck in the coming weeks on whether or not to retain any of the aforementioned staff members.
Specific contract details have not yet been released, but as first reported by BroncoBlitz.com, P.J. Fleck will make a base salary of $210,000 with a total guaranteed package of $392,500 (including media appearances). Although Fleck's base salary is slightly less than Cubit's, he'll be making approximately $32,500 more in guaranteed media appearances than the former head coach.
As a part of the hire, Fleck and Western Michigan have negotiated a total of $825,000 that will specifically be set aside for assistant coach salaries. This is a bump of more than $100,000 from last season.
At Tuesday's press conference, Fleck indicated he would move rather quickly on establishing both an offensive and defensive coordinator.
"I don't want to put a time frame on it, but I'm going to move rapidly," said Fleck. "I'd love to have the two coordinators hired very quickly and then from there, interview some candidates and have this thing wrapped up very quickly."
Fleck also indicated that he might already have some names in mind to begin making phone calls.
"I've been putting together a list since I was just coming out as a player. Obviously, that list has changed, but I've always had a list every year of who I want to surround myself with. Who would I want my son to go play for?"
With that in mind, BroncoBlitz.com has developed a list of potential assistants and coordinator candidates (in alphabetical order):
Former Ball State defensive line coach, Phil Burnett
Burnett is a former defensive line coach with a ton of experience, who sources tell BroncoBlitz.com is actively looking to get back into coaching. He's spent the better part of three seasons at Northern Illinois (1988-1990), has spent eight seasons as the defensive line coach at Ball State (2002-2010), and has more than 20 years of overall coaching experience.
There's no denying his MAC roots and the ability he has to potentially help lead Fleck's renewed efforts to recruit the Midwest for the Broncos. Although we're unsure of Burnett's interest in WMU, you can bet that Burnett has at least given it some consideration and has been paying close attention to the WMU coaching search these last few weeks.
The Citadel defensive coordinator, Denny Doornbos
Doornbos is a 1978 graduate of Western Michigan University and was a defensive back for the Broncos. He's also a nearby Jenison High School alum who could be interested. Doornbos has over 30 years of coaching experience, including stops at Northern Illinois, Kent State, Illinois, and Michigan. Although he's a bit of a long-shot, he still has some pretty significant ties to the area and could be looking to relocate closer to home if the opportunity arose.
Illinois tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, Alex Golesh
Golesh is a name that we felt couldn't be left off this list, despite his $150,000 salary at Illinois. Despite the monetary issue, with Tim Beckman on the heat seat, Golesh might be forced to reconsider his options very soon. Golesh is a 2006 Ohio State graduate -- the same year P.J. Fleck served on Jim Tressel's coaching staff a young graduate assistant.
The two crossed paths again at Northern Illinois in 2007 when Golesh began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Huskies. Moving up the coaching ladder quickly, Golesh scored the number one recruiting classes in the MAC (according to Rivals.com) in back to back years as Toledo's recruiting coordinator, and has since followed Beckman to Illinois.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant defensive backs coach, Jeff Hafley
Like Fleck, Hafley is a former collegiate player whose rise to coaching prominence stemmed from Greg Schiano at Rutgers. If he has a good relationship with Fleck and has any interest in getting back into college coaching, you'd have to think the two young Buccaneer assistant coaches have at least had the discussion.
Wisconsin running backs coach, Thomas Hammock
Hammock may be a bit of a long-shot considering he was handling play-calling duties for former NIU coach Jerry Kill at Minnesota just two years ago. However, Fleck and Hammock go back about ten years, as they were both tagged co-captains in their playing days at NIU.
When Bret Bielema left for the Arkansas job two weeks ago, he didn't bring Hammock with him. So right now, Hammock is actively looking for a job. There have been rumors that Hammock is a finalist for the running backs coach opening at Texas. However, it might be a good idea for Fleck to at least make the phone call if he's looking for someone with a national recruiting reputation like Hammock, and someone who also provides a brilliant offensive mind to potentially be WMU's next offensive coordinator.
The Citadel safeties coach, John Hauser
If Fleck is looking for someone with a lot of experience developing game plans and a guy that knows how to recruit the Midwest well, he should be looking at John Hauser. Hauser has strong roots in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois in particular as he led recruiting efforts at many of his stops. Recently, he's spent time at Northern Illinois (2003-2007) and Wayne State (2008-2011).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive assistant, Ben McDaniels
McDaniels is an intriguing name that we stumbled upon when perusing the list of coaches on the current Buccaneers coaching staff. Our thought process here is similar to the one with Jeff Hafley. It's likely the two work together and have formed a tight relationship in Tampa Bay.
McDaniels is originally from the state of Ohio, and has previously spent several years coaching high school football there. He went on to play quarterback at Kent State for three seasons (1999-2001) and would likely be a good recruiter there. If McDaniels "wants in" at Western Michigan, he might make a good quarterbacks coach, or even an offensive coordinator.