Pac-12 Assistant Coaches Ready To Lead: Noel Mazzone, UCLA Bruins

By Tyler Brett

College football is always searching for the next head coaching genius among the ranks of assistant coaches on the top staffs around the country. In the same way, we continue our profile of Pac-12 assistant coaches ready to move up with UCLA Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.

Mazzone is a bit older for a first time head coaching candidate at 55-years-old, but he’s used those added years to gain valuable experience. He’s spent time in the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and the NFL. Along the way, he’s continued to grow and develop new wrinkles to his offensive gameplans, always staying on the cutting edge of college football.

He began his career as a quarterbacks and receivers coach for Colorado State in 1982 where he spent five seasons working on the Rams staff. From there, Mazzone began his cross-country coaching trek with starting with stop at TCU as the quarterbacks coach under head coach Jim Wacker in 1987. When Wacker left for the head coaching position at Minnesota, he brought Mazzone with him to fill the same position on his staff with the Gophers in 1992.

Then in 1993, Mazzone got his first offensive coordinator job when he was hired by Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss. While there, Mazzone led the Rebels to the 1997 Motor City Bowl, in addition to coaching the school’s first 1000-yard rusher in Deuce McAllister. Additionally, he was also responsible for coaching up quarterback Stu Patridge, who set an NCAA record for passing efficiency and a school record with 200 straight pass attempts without an interception.

When Tuberville left Ole Mis for Auburn, he brought Mazzone with him to continue his work as offensive coordinator. He recruited and coached up future NFL starters Jason Campbell, Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Rudi Johnson, in addition to All-SEC quarterback Ben Leard, who set an NCAA record for passing efficiency. While with the Tigers, Auburn won the SEC West in 2000 and 2001 and set the passing record for the Citrus Bowl.

After the 2001 season, Mazzone was let go by Tuberville, but the offensive coordinator quickly found a new job on Dennis Erickson‘s staff at Oregon State in 2002 as the running backs and special teams coach. While there, he coached another future NFL starter in running back Steven Jackson. When Erickson left for the NFL, Mazzone stayed in college and took the offensive coordinator position at NC State, where he coached up Philip Rivers and Jerricho Cotchery. During Mazzone’s run, the Wolfpack led the ACC in six offensive categories and led the NCAA in passing efficiency. In 2005, Mazzone headed back to Ole Miss for a second stint as their offensive coordinator.

Mazzone took his first NFL position in 2006 as the wide receivers coach of the New York Jets in 2006. He joined Eric Mangini s staff and coached receivers Cotchery and Lavarenues Coles, who set a franchise record for combined yardage and receptions. When Mangini was fired in 2008, Mazzone was allowed to live out the last of his contract as a special consultant to the team.

The coach made his return to the college ranks in 2010 when he reunited with Dennis Erickson as the offensive coordinator of Arizona State. In 2010, Arizona State ranked 15th nationally in passing offense and 29th in total offense. Last season, Mazzone’s Sun Devils offense ranked 25th in the nation, averaging 445.8 yards per game. It ranked 10th in passing offense (316.7) and 28th in scoring offense, posting 33.2 points per game. Mazzone led ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler to a career season, where he ranked 11th in the NCAA in total offense, accounting for 317.4 yards per game and getting drafted by the Denver Broncos.

This offseason, Mazzone got the call to become the offensive coordinator on Jim Mora‘s staff with the UCLA Bruins. There he’ll try and use his extensive experience to turn around a long-struggling Bruins team trying to make headway in a highly competitive Pac-12. The coach is a charismatic offensive mind, who has re-invented himself as a master of the spread offense and earning a reputation as a quarterback guru. Mazzone has done a lot in his career, and has coached many high flying offenses in his day. If he can help the Bruins turn things around, he’ll be long past due to get a chance as a head coach.

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