Colorado stampedes into Pac 12, steals two UA coaches

It sure didn’t take long for the University of Colorado to wear out its welcome.

No sooner did they get approval to join the Pac-12 than they began stocking their football coaching staff with Arizona assistants.  Their targets: co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown and defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo.

That’s kinda like being invited to the party and then leaving by the back door with the punch bowl.

To make matters worse, the Buffs did the dirty deed while the boss was out of town.  Brown and Tuiasosopo told the other coaches on the UA staff of their decision to head for the mountains, but head coach Mike Stoops is in San Antonio for the news conference for the Alamo Bowl, where they will meet Oklahoma State Dec. 29.

So Stoops got the news by phone.

And the hires are ‘effective immediately’ so the departing duo won’t be around for the fight at the Alamo.

Both reportedly are jumping ship out of friendship with Colorado’s incoming new head coach, Jon Embree, a former NFL assistant who was named the Buffs’ head coach Monday.

But that’s also what brought Brown to Tucson – a long-standing friendship with Stoops.

Brown is actually returning to the Colorado program, which he left last year when Stoops came calling after his brother, Mark, left the Wildcats to take a coordinator position at Florida State.

Brother Mark left after the Cats were embarrassed in a 33-0 rout by Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.  Mrs. Stoops didn’t raise no dummies.

Brown’s friendship with Stoops goes back nearly 20 years, so he made a decision to leave based on that, and the fact that he would have more responsibility in the UA program, despite the fact that he shared the coordinator duties with former linebackers coach, Tim Kish.

This will be Brown’s third tour of duty at CU.  The former NFL player coached the defensive secondary under two different coaches, and now returns to yet another new regime and a program that has been in a state of flux for many years with constant staff replacements.  Emory’s hire to replace Dan Hawkins will result in the 19th time in 20 years that the chairs on the Titanic have been re-arranged.

But it shouldn’t have been too difficult to see this one coming.  Brown’s roots are in Colorado and his father coached at CU.  He told everyone when he took the UA job that he wouldn’t hesitate to someday return to the program, hopefully as a coordinator or head coach.

That ‘someday’ came just a little sooner than expected.

Mike Tuiasosopo, on the other hand, has been with Stoops since Bob’s little brother took over the Wildcat program seven years ago.  He has put in 14 years as a Division I coach, always in some capacity as a line coach.

But he, too, has a close relationship with Embree that goes back 15 years, to when Tuiasosopo was coaching high school football.

He’s not on a coordinator level at UA, but his departure will have a measurable impact on the program.  He has worked closely with Jeff Hammerschmidt to shore up the Cats’ defensive line, focusing on the interior tackle positions, and has helped make the interior front one of the strengths of a much-improved Arizona team that was ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation this season.

But Tuiasosopo’s departure is going to be even more significant on the recruiting trail.

The 46-year-old was born in American Samoa and comes from a long lineage of football players in the family.  He has attained a status in the Polynesian community that has translated to the Wildcats’ recruiting success in the Islands and on the West Coast, which have become fertile ground for loading up the Cats’ rosters in recent years.

Both men are expected to be introduced to the Colorado faithful in a news conference that will likely happen Monday.

Stoops will return to Tucson to pack up the troops for the Dec. 29 gig in San Antonio.  But it looks like he’ll be traveling a little light for this one.

As if he doesn’t already have enough to worry about the No. 14 Cowboys waiting there for him.