Stewart Mandel, a college football columnist for Sports Illustrated, has written a highly intriguing piece examining the potential fallout of Tosh Lupoi’s jump from Jeff Tedford’s defensive staff at the University of California to Steve Sarkisian’s at Washington.
Mandel’s main points: that Cal’s recruiting class is already crumbling as a result of the 30-year-old Lupoi joining the Huskies this week, and that the Huskies are now in position to land as many as two star recruits who wouldn’t have considered Washington if Lupoi remained with the Bears.
Two years ago, Rivals.com named Lupoi its national recruiter of the year, and SuperPrep’s Allen Wallace recently said of Lupoi, “He’s undoubtedly the top recruiter on the West Coast.”
Wrote Mandel: “The ripple effect has been unlike anything normally seen over a position coach changing jobs. (Ellis) McCarthy, a five-star defensive tackle from Monrovia, CA. immediately switched his commitment (from Cal) to UCLA.
“Sacramento’s Shaq Thompson (a safety), the crown jewel of Cal’s class (he’s Rivals.com’s No. 4 overall prospect) and brother of former Bears standout Syd’Quan Thompson, tweeted: ‘I have a lot of thinking to do.’ Thompson then told Scout.com: ‘Washington and Cal have been my final two for awhile, but now that this has happened I am really torn. I am pretty much split 50-50 between the two schools.’ (Jordan) Payton, a four-star receiver from Westlake Village, CA., is now visiting Washington this weekend.
“And then there’s the guys Lupoi was still recruiting. “WOWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! The Game Just Changed.”
Lupoi became the youngest full-time coach in Cal history when he joined its staff at 26 in 2008. He remained the youngest full-time coach in the Pac-10 for two more seasons.
Despite his youth, Lupoi spent 12 seasons associated with Cal football, including six as a Golden Bears player (2000-05) that included an extra season due to the granting of a medical redshirt. Lupoi also spent two as a graduate assistant (2006-07) and four as defensive line coach (2008-11).
Lupoi made $164,000 as Cal’s defensive line coach and will reportedly receive nearly $500,000 to join Sarkisian at Washington (the school has not yet released a salary figure), where he will try to improve a defense that ranked among the worst in UW history in 2011 and finished with a 67-56 loss to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
Although Lupoi is known primarily as a recruiter, he also coached two defensive ends, Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan, who went on to become NFL first-round draft picks the past two years. That made Cal only the second Pac-10 team to have defensive linemen selected in the first round of the NFL draft in back-to-back years.
“Outside of USC’s Ed Orgeron, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone of similar credentials on the West Coast,” writes Mandel.
After he was named Rivals; top recruiter, Lupoi was part of a recruiting team that inked classes in 2010 and 2011 that ranked as high as No. 11 and No. 13 nationally.
“Kids seem to gravitate toward him,” Rivals.com West Coast analyst Adam Gorney said of Lupoi. “Because he’s so young and has such an engaging personality, they really like the guy. Tosh does a solid job of recruiting while keeping it real with the kids.”
At Cal, Tedford has gone into full damage-control mode, hoping to stem an expected avalanche of defections.
“This really is a huge move, especially within the Pac-12,” Gorney told Mandel. “Sometimes the Pac-12 doesn’t get as much exposure as other conferences, but if a coach is going from Tennessee to Alabama or Alabama to Tennessee and can pull pretty much any player out of that class, it’s a huge deal in the SEC.”
At Washington, Lupoi will serve as defensive line coach and defensive run-game coordinator.