Cal Poly’s Tim Walsh rounded out his coaching staff Friday when he hired longtime assistant Todd Spencer to guide the Mustangs’ offensive line with a little more than a week remaining before the start of fall camp.
Spencer takes over the position vacated by respected coordinator Saga Tuitele, who resigned July 16 to accept an assistant coaching job at New Mexico. Spencer brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to Cal Poly’s staff, including 23 at the Division I level, and is well versed in the triple-option offense.
“To find a guy on that short of notice,” Walsh said, “that had the background of 12 years at Navy and 12 years at Georgia Tech with Paul Johnson, I felt like it was a slam dunk.”
Spencer inherits an offensive line that has paved the way for the Mustangs to lead the FCS in rushing three consecutive seasons. With seniors Matt Fisher, Nick Enriquez and junior Joey Kuperman among the unit’s leaders, Spencer takes over a position group that is perhaps the most experienced on the team.
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Cal Poly assistant Juston Wood, who has coached the wide receivers and quarterbacks during his seven-year stint with the Mustangs, was officially promoted to offensive coordinator.
Wood sat next to Tuitele in the coaches’ booth during games for the past five seasons and seemed like a strong candidate to replace him.
Walsh said that was a particularly tough decision, considering fellow assistants Jim Craft (wide receivers) and Aristotle Thompson (running backs) were equally qualified applicants.
Wood and Craft played for Walsh at Portland State — Thompson was recruited by the Vikings before attending Boise State — and all three have coached under him at Cal Poly since 2009.
“I think all three guys were ready for the position and were ready for the challenges of the position,” Walsh said. “But I think I wanted the offense seen through the eyes of our quarterback.”
That’s what ultimately gave the edge to Wood.
He worked closely with former standout Chris Brown — the driving force behind the Mustangs’ record-setting offense each of the past two seasons — and seems to have a good relationship with incumbent fifth-year senior Dano Graves.
Wood will take over play-calling duties on game day, though Walsh said each game plan is established by the entire staff during the week. Working more closely with the other assistants will be a key piece of the continuity Walsh hopes to maintain following Tuitele’s departure.
“I’m excited to see how he’s going to work with everybody in the room,” Walsh said. “And how those guys, being experts at what they do, Todd included, are going to help him be successful as a coordinator.”
Hiring Spencer appears to be the final move in a string of coaching changes at Cal Poly over the past two years.
Former assistants Payam Saadat (defensive line) and Eric Coleman (fullbacks and tight ends) have both returned to Cal Poly ahead of the 2016 season, and secondary coaches Jacob Yoro (safeties) and Allen Brown (cornerbacks) are entering their second year with the Mustangs.
Walsh said he was “very thankful” Spencer accepted the position and opted to continue coaching despite initial plans to spend the year at his home in Bend, Oregon.
“People I know that have worked with him, really had great things to say about the type of person he is, as well as the type of coach he is,” Walsh said.
Cal Poly Football 2016
Players report: Aug. 5
First practice: Aug. 6
Season opener: Sept. 2 at Nevada
Home opener: Sept. 10 vs. San Diego