The shakeup continues.
UCLA announced on Thursday the hiring of former Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro as tight ends and F-backs coach and the firing of defensive line coach Todd Howard, while the defensive coordinator search continues.
Mastro was reported to have been offered the position – which also includes what the official release called “a key role in the continued development of the running component of UCLA’s offense that incorporates elements of the Pistol schemes” – earlier this week, and needed time to consider.
“Jim has a wealth of knowledge and experience with the Pistol and will be a great asset as we incorporate many of its run-game principles into our offense,” UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said in the official release. “He has enjoyed great success in the running game and I feel he will work well alongside (new offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach) Mike Johnson, (running backs coach) Wayne Moses and (offensive line coach) Bob Palcic to give us a very cohesive offensive staff.”
Mastro spent 11 seasons with the Wolf Pack and played a primary role in the success of the Pistol offense. Nevada ranked third in the country in rushing in 2010 after leading the nation in 2009.
Mastro, who was Nevada’s recruiting coordinator, has also coached at Idaho, San Jose State and Cal Poly, where he played in the late 1980′s.
His hire seems to solidify the UCLA offensive staff, which added Johnson in January after a parting of ways with now-Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow. The defensive side is in even more turmoil.
With the defensive coordinator position still open and Neuheisel still interviewing candidates, Howard has now been relieved of his duties.
“Todd knew that this was a possibility,” said Neuheisel. “We discussed the situation back in December and decided to wait until after recruiting to make a final decision. I feel that it is in the best interest of our program and also in Todd’s best interest that we part ways at this time. I appreciate all that he has done for UCLA football and I know that he will be successful in his next position.”
Howard had been instrumental in the recruitment of several highly rated defensive linemen, including former Pac-10 defensive player of the year Brian Price and current Bruins Cassius Marsh, Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Kevin McReynolds.
“I appreciate the opportunity Coach Neuheisel gave me by allowing me to stay on staff when he was hired,” said Howard, who was a holdover from Karl Dorrell’s staff. “I knew this might happen and have been planning for this situation.”