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Nebraska Looks to Hire Tony Tuioti As New Defensive Line Coach

Huskers head west to find their newest coach

Bethune Cookman v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

247 Sports reported yesterday that Nebraska will be hiring Cal coach Tony Tuioti to replace Mike Dawson as the new defensive line coach. Dawson recently left Nebraska’s staff to take a job coaching outside linebackers with the New York Giants. In other words, Nebraska gets their fourth defensive line coach in five years.

Tuioti is somewhat of a surprise hire. He’s been around.

He’s been at Cal the last two seasons. He coached the defensive line last season. The year before that - 2017 - he was in charge of outside linebackers. Before that - 2016 - he was in charge of the Michigan Wolverines recruiting under Jim Harbaugh. In 2014 and 2015 he was the assistant defensive line coach and quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns.

From 2010 to 2013 he coached at Hawaii. He was the defensive line coach in 2010 and 2011, then became the linebacker coach in 2012 and 2013. During his tenure as coach the amount of sacks Hawaii saw went from 16 in 2009 to 30 in 2010 and then 35 in 2012. The latter had them ranked in the top 15 of the nation. A huge jump for a team struggling on the defensive side of the ball.

Our SBNation Cal site has this to say about Tuioti in their article about his leaving:

The Cal defense, as many here know, was stellar last year and the defensive line exceeded preseason expectations. Tevin Paul, Luq Bequette, and Chris Palmer all had big moments in 2018 and several younger players like Aaron Maldonado and Siu Fuimaono look primed to take that step in 2019.

There’s also the comment that Tuioti is well-connected with the high schools in California. He might represent a great pick up in recruiting in a state where there are tons of athletes who may be more willing to go somewhere else as the Pac-12 continues to make itself less relevant on a national stage.

So, why come to Lincoln?

Dawson was getting paid $475k a year. Tuioti was making $276,500 at Cal. This might be what was lured him to the “frozen environs of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.” It also just might be a reflection of the difference between the amount of money coming into the Big Ten compared to the Pac-12.

It’s not good that Nebraska has had such a turnover in coaching staff. Perhaps those days are behind our beloved Huskers.

[Update: 10:49 AM - February 26th - Official AD Statement]

Tuioti’s hiring is official. I’m not going to put the entire statement here because it’s really long.

“We are pleased to add Tony Tuioti to our coaching staff and look forward to having him and his family join us at Nebraska,” Frost said. “Tony has been a key part of one of the top defenses in the country the past two seasons at Cal. He will bring great energy to our staff, has a strong history of player development, and an impressive recruiting background.”

In addition to his coaching background, Tuioti was a standout defensive lineman at the University of Hawaii during his playing days.

“I want to thank Coach Frost for the opportunity to be a part of the Nebraska football family,” Tuioti said. “I believe in what he is doing and the culture he is building at Nebraska and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Tuioti will receive a two-year contract with an annual salary of $375,000.

Tuioti and his wife, former Hawai’i women’s volleyball player Keala Nihipali, have seven children. Their oldest daughter, Teisa, plays volleyball at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

Tony Tuioti File

Birthdate: February 9, 1977

Born: Apia, Samoa

Hometowns: Santa Ana, CA & Laie, HI

High School: Foothill HS

College: Hawai’i, 2000, Bachelor’s in Sociology; Hawai’i, 2002, Master’s in Education Administration; UNLV, 2007, Master’s in Special Education

Family: Wife, Keala; Daughters, Teisa, Teiyana, Teinia; Sons, Teivis, Teilor, Teitum, Teimana

Pronunciation: too-ee-OH-tee

Coaching History

*Season: Team – Position (Champions, Postseason)

  • 2000-01: Hawai’i – Graduate Assistant, Defense
  • 2003-04: Kalaheo HS – Head Coach (OIA Playoffs, 2003)
  • 2007: Silverado HS – Defensive Coordinator (Sunrise League Southeast Division Champion,
  • State Playoffs)
  • 2008-09: Hawai’i – Director of Player Personnel (Hawaii Bowl, 2008)
  • 2010-11: Hawai’i – Defensive Line (WAC Tri-Champions, Hawaii Bowl, 2010)
  • 2012-13: Hawai’i – Linebackers
  • 2014-15: Cleveland Browns (NFL) – Assistant Defensive Line/Quality Control
  • 2016: Michigan – Director of Player Personnel (Orange Bowl)
  • 2017: California – Outside Linebackers
  • 2018: California – Defensive Line (Cheez-It Bowl)