Sarkisian Announces More Coach Hirings

Jan. 15, 2009

SEATTLE - New Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian announced the hiring of four assistant coaches and a staff member today. Mike Cox, Jeff Mills, Doug Nussmeier and Joel Thomas have been named assistant coaches and Dennis Slutak has been hired as assistant athletic director for football operations.

On the defensive side, Cox will coach the Husky linebackers while Mills will handle the safeties. Nussmeier has been named quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, and Thomas will coach the UW running backs.

'I'm really excited about this latest group of coaches we've hired,' Sarkisian, the Huskies' first-year head coach, said. 'They're all great coaches, great recruiters and great people. They're all excited to be a part of this program and each of them understands the great, rich tradition that UW football has.'

All four of the new assistant coaches have ties to the Northwest, and three of the four played their college football at the University of Idaho.

Cox comes to the UW after having spent the last two seasons on the St. Louis Rams' staff. He was linebacker coach in 2008 after having been a defensive quality control/assistant defensive line coach in 2007. Cox, a native of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has spent 17 years working on coaching staffs with John L. Smith, working under Smith at each of his stops as head coach: Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State.

A four-year letterwinner (1983-86) and three-year starting linebacker at Idaho, he played under head coaches Dennis Erickson and Keith Gilbertson as a Vandal.

Mills, a native of Urbandale, Iowa, played quarterback and linebacker at Western Washington. In 1990 and 1991, he was a graduate assistant under Don James on the Washington coaching staff, helping the Huskies to Pac-10 and Rose Bowl titles both years and the national championship in 1991.

Most recently, Mills has spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Youngstown State. Prior to that, he was defensive coordinator and safeties coach under Dennis Erickson at Idaho in 2006. In 2004 and 2005, he was assistant head coach and safeties coach at Idaho under current UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt, then the Vandals' head coach.

Mills also spent four years on the staff at Nevada and five additional seasons at Idaho. He also worked two years at Montana State and one year each at Drake and Western Washington in addition to his two seasons as a grad assistant at the UW.

Nussmeier, a native of Lake Oswego, Ore., made his name as an outstanding quarterback at Idaho. He won the 1993 Walter Payton Award as the outstanding player in NCAA Division I-AA football, and is one of three players (along with Daunte Culpepper and Steve McNair) to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a career.

After his college years, Nussmeier played four seasons with the New Orleans Saints and one with the Indianapolis Colts before wrapping up his playing career with the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League in 2000. He went on to a coaching spot with Lions in 2001 before moving to Ottawa (CFL) in 2002.

After three seasons as quarterbacks coach at Michigan State, he went on to two years as QBs coach with the St. Louis Rams (2006-07). In 2008, he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Fresno State.

Thomas is also a former Vandal player. A native of Port Angeles, Wash. (same as UW offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik), Thomas joins the Husky coaching staff after three seasons as running backs coach at Purdue. Last season, he mentored 1,000-yard rusher Kory Sheets.

Before that job, he was co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Idaho for two seasons under then-head coach Nick Holt. Thomas also worked two seasons at Louisville and was a grad assistant for two years at Purdue.

As a running back at Idaho (1993-98), he set school records for attempts (765), yards (3,929) and rushing touchdowns (51) and was the Big West Player of the Year in 1998.

Slutak comes to the UW after four seasons in essentially the same position at USC. A native of West Palm Beach, Fla., he was a walk-on punter at Florida State, earning his bachelor's degree from FSU and his master's from North Carolina State.

Prior to taking over as operations director at USC, Slutak was a graduate assistant coach for the Trojans. He's also previously worked in coaching at Lehigh and North Carolina State and at the high school level and has run kicking camps.

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