Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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UT hires 2 coaches

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Rob Spence was scheduled to start his new job as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at the University of Utah on Monday.

But last Friday, Spence decided Utah was not for him or his family, and changed his mind.

Yesterday, he was named the offensive coordinator at the University of Toledo.

“It was an absolutely gut-wrenching decision,” Spence said in an interview from Atlanta, where he was attending the American Football Coaches Association convention.

“I swear to God I'll never do that again. It was a very embarrassing situation. I am very, very sorry. I apologize to anybody at Utah that I might have offended or inconvenienced. It had nothing to do with Utah. Toledo was just a better situation for me and my family.”

Spence was one of two coordinators hired by first-year UT coach Tom Amstutz yesterday. Amstutz also tabbed Notre Dame safeties coach Lou West as his defensive coordinator, which The Blade first reported eight days ago.

Both coordinators will earn approximately $90,000 per season, according to assistant athletic director Paul Helgren, up from the $63,000 Amstutz earned last season as the defensive coordinator and top assistant under former UT coach Gary Pinkel, who resigned to become the head coach at Missouri.

“I've found myself two gems, there's no doubt about it,” Amstutz said from Atlanta.

Spence, 42, said he pulled out of the Utah job because he didn't want to move his two children farther away from their aging grandparents and his family in New York, and from his wife's family in Green Bay, Wis.

Spence's sudden departure left Utah coach Ron McBride in the lurch.

“Robbie Spence decided Utah was not the right fit for him and his family,” McBride told the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. “My feeling is this: If the job is not the right fit for him, then he is not the right fit for us.”

Amstutz believes Spence is the right fit for UT.

This is Spence's fourth offensive coordinator's job. He spent last season at Louisiana Tech, where he was co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also has been the offensive coordinator at Hofstra (1997-99) and at Iona (1989-90). He also has coached quarterbacks at Maryland (1992-96) and at Holy Cross (1991).

“He's well-known for his passing attacks and his wide-open style of offense,” Amstutz said.

Although Louisiana Tech finished 3-9 this past season, Spence's offense ranked seventh nationally in passing, averaging 309.6 yards per game, and 30th in total offense, 412.9 yards per game.

In Spence's three seasons at Division I-AA Hofstra the school ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring (38.7 points per game) and total offense (464.9).

“We have had very efficient quarterbacks wherever I have been, guys who can run and pass,” Spence said.

Spence said he is expecting big things from UT quarterback Tavares Bolden and running back Chester Taylor, provided Taylor graduates in time to get a fifth year of eligibility.

“Tavares is one of our high-profile guys,” Spence said. “We will run multiple formations and a spread offense. The system is built on the no-huddle approach.

“The one key to our offense is the running back. They play a key role in everything we do.”

Said Amstutz: “It should really be an exciting offense to watch. “

West, 47, spent the past two seasons at Notre Dame. He also coached the defensive backs at Virginia Tech (1995-98), which is where Amstutz got to know him.

West also has coached at Arizona (1977), Arizona Western Junior College (1979-80), Middle Tennessee State (1981-82), Minnesota (1983), Western Michigan (1984-85), Kansas (1986-87), Cincinnati (1988-93) and Kent State (1994) in his 23 years.

“I have great confidence in both coordinators,” said Amstutz, who was hired as UT's coach Dec. 12. “I will be on both sides of the ball, overseeing everything. My expertise is with the defense, since I was a coordinator before. Lou's very familiar with our 4-4 defense, so we shouldn't miss a beat.

“I trust out coordinators to run the overall package. It's an attack-style offense and an attacking defense.”

Amstutz still has six assistant coaching positions remaining.

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