Cal Poly football practice opened Monday with one fewer coach than expected, and there is no telling when the program will get back to full strength if at all this season.
In the wake of first-year defensive backs coach Randy Hanson’s arrest on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon early Saturday, Cal Poly athletic director Don Oberhelman announced an indefinite suspension of Hanson, and head coach Tim Walsh took over position coaching duties in the defensive backfield.
“I really can’t say anything more,” Oberhelman said. “He’s been suspended, and it’s pending the university being able to obtain further information.”
Oberhelman said no further action would be taken until the police can provide the details of their investigation with university officials. At that point, a group including Oberhelman, Walsh and university president Jeffrey Armstrong will collaborate to decide what comes next.
Hanson, 44, allegedly attacked a man with a beer bottle at Harry’s Nightclub & Beach Bar in Pismo Beach. He was arrested at 1:23 a.m. and was released on bail Sunday evening.
Before coming to Cal Poly in April, Hanson also notably accused former Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable of flipping Hanson out of a chair and breaking his jaw during an argument when Hanson was also working for the Raiders in 2009.
Hanson spent spring drills coaching at Cal Poly, where he mentored a remade defensive backfield that figures to have all new starters this season.
“He is a very smart guy,” senior cornerback Nico Molino said. “He came from the Raiders, and he was there for a reason. When he came here, he brought a different little attitude and a different mindset to our DBs. He brought a lot of good things as far as football gameplans go.
“I learned a lot from him in just the one spring ball that we had. He taught us a lot of things that we can use for this season.” In Hanson’s place, Walsh was taking a hands-on role with the cornerbacks and safeties at the Upper Sports Complex on Monday afternoon.
The group was also led by fifth-year defensive assistant Pat Johnston, a former Mustangs scout team quarterback, the son of former Cal Poly quarterback Craig Johnston and older brother of current Mustangs quarterback Kenny Johnston.
Walsh, 57, has coached every position except defensive line at one time or another during his coaching career. He said he last served as a position coach for defensive backs at Sonoma State in 1992.
“Pat Johnston has done a great job,” Walsh said. “He’s prepared himself, and we’re going to give him more responsibility with my overseeing ability.
“My time right now, I’m going to spend it with the secondary, and hopefully, we can continue to improve there. It’s all about technique and fundamentals, and I’ve taught a long time. It may not be my number one expertise, but the game is my number one expertise.”
As he turns his attention to one part of the field, Walsh will have to rely on his assistants a little more.
Since Walsh arrived at Cal Poly in 2009, he’s been mainly a roving presence around the field, constantly evaluating each position and unit.
For the time being, fourth-year offensive coordinator Bryan Cook will operate during practice largely without Walsh’s watchful eye. Walsh said he also has to be careful to allow first-year defensive coordinator Josh Brown to maintain his independence while the head coach is spending most of his time on the defensive side of the field.
And without the chance to take notes on every position as he normally would, Walsh will have to spend more time in the film room evaluating the offensive side of practice.
With one coach out, the others are stepping up to handle more direct responsibility, and on the first day, it was something the players seemed to enjoy.
“Usually, coach Walsh is out there kind of overseeing everything,” Molino said. “He does his coaching behind the scenes with the other coaches. Now that he’s with us, we get to pick his brain.
“This is the first time I’ve really worked this close with him and gotten to see the extent of the knowledge that he has for football. As far as coach Hanson, whatever happens with him, we’ve got a good coach in coach Walsh.”