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Who is standing out in WSU’s defensive coordinator search?

Covering a coaching search can be like playing in a national game of Telephone.

You hear some names of prospective candidates that make no sense and some that make a lot of sense, and just when you think you've zeroed in on the candidate somebody completely new will get the job. Just take this morning's announcement that Oregon State's Mike Riley will take over at Nebraska when everyone thought the job belonged to Scott Frost, for example.

It's entirely possible that the names you hear associated with vacant jobs were never even contacted by the schools doing the searching. Still, it's fun for everyone to try and guess who will be hired and so we'll pass along some names we're hearing more often than others, after the jump.

-- Manny Diaz. Here's a somewhat surprising guess but it appears to have a little traction. Diaz is currently the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech and spent 2011-2013 serving the same roles at Texas under Mack Brown, but was removed after the UT defense gave up 550 rushing yards to BYU. Diaz would be an intriguing hire that could recruit nationally, but he's never coached outside the South and may be reluctant to move as far as Pullman.

-- Todd Orlando. Currently Orlando is the defensive coordinator at Utah State, where he is wrapping up his second year with the Aggies. In 2013 USU ranked No. 8 nationally in rush defense and No. 12 in overall defense. Previously he built a formidable passing defense at Florida International. While the winds could change directions three times tonight, they currently seem to be blowing the strongest in Orlando's direction.

-- Clancy Pendergast. As we noted here, Pendergast is currently looking for work and is no stranger to the Pac-12, having served as the defensive coordinator at both California and USC. Pendergast also has experience in the NFL coaching defensive backs, so he could do some nice things with WSU's young but athletic secondary.

-- Barry Odom. Odom is in his third year as the defensive coordinator at Memphis and was considered to be a strong candidate to take the same position at Arkansas last season. The year before Odom got to Memphis the Tigers were last nationally in passing defense and improved 42 spots in his first season at the helm. If he can be lured away from the South he might be just what the Cougars need to stop pass-happy Pac-12 offenses.

-- John Papuchis. Only 36, Papuchis is an up-and-comer in the coaching world who is currently on the market now that Bo Pelini has been dismissed at Nebraska. When Pelini was at LSU Papuchis was an intern/graduate assistant and Pelini was impressed enough to bring him along as a fulltime coach when he went to Nebraska in 2008. In 2012 Papuchis was promoted to defensive coordinator and also served as recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator for the Cornhuskers.

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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