Washington Redskins linebackers coach Lou Spanos is leaving the team to accept the defensive coordinator job at UCLA, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed Tuesday.
The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Spanos was hired in January 2010 to help defensive coordinator Jim Haslett install the 3-4 defense. Prior to joining the Redskins, Spanos spent 15 seasons as a defensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Under Spanos’s tutelage, the Redskins’ young linebackers, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, recorded nine and 7.5 sacks, respectively, this season.
Spanos joins a UCLA staff led by Jim Mora, who was hired in December.
Spanos’s departure marks the third by a Redskins’ assistant in the last two weeks, but his exit comes under different circumstances. Mike Shanahan & Co. last week decided not to bring back receivers coach Keenan McCardell and safeties coach Steve Jackson. The team last Wednesday hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris as a defensive backs coach, but the receivers’ coach position is believed to remain vacant.
The Redskins' staff will coach the South team at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. next week.
Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said Spanos played a large role in his transition from defensive lineman to outside linebacker, as well as the development of Orakpo, Kerrigan and Rob Jackson.
“Lou was very instrumental in taking us through that transition to the 3-4 defense,” Alexander said. “With him having been up in Pittsburgh for 15 seasons, he had a great knowledge of the schemes. He was able to teach us all about playing outside linebacker -- dropping back into coverage, reading offenses. He’s a great transition.”
Spanos already has left the Redskins, so he won’t coach with Washington’s staff at the Senior Bowl next week.
Longterm, the Redskins likely will promote from within to fill the opening left by Spanos, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Haslett works heavily with the linebackers in practice. Defensive backs coach Bob Slowik, who has experience as a defensive coordinator in Denver, is an option to help shoulder the load. That could set up the newly-hired Morris to coach the defensive backs on his own.