Mike Tuiasosopo is in his second year as defensive line coach at Colorado, as he joined Jon Embree's new staff in his second wave of hires on December 14, 2010. He is in his 23rd year of coaching, including his 17th at the Division I level as a full-time assistant coach.
Tuiasosopo, 48, came to Colorado after having spent seven seasons (2004-10) as the defensive line coach at the University of Arizona. An original member of Mike Stoops' staff for the Wildcats, he coached the defensive tackles his four seasons in Tucson and the entire line for the last three.
At Arizona, the Wildcats ranked among the top schools in total defense the last three seasons (24th in 2008, 25th in 2009, 33rd in 2010), leading the Pac-10 in quarterback sacks all three years, largely due to the 'Cats defensive front.
Ricky Elmore (All-Pac 10 in 2010), Brooks Reed and De'Aundre Reed, all defensive ends, were selected in the 2011 NFL Draft (Brooks Reed was a second round pick, the 42nd overall), and he also coached two others that earned all-conference honors who were drafted into the league, Earl Mitchell (third rounder in 2010) and Lionel Dotson (2008). In 2010, he coached Justin Washington to several Freshman All-America honors.
He lettered four years as a defensive tackle at Pacific Lutheran University (1985-88), starting his sophomore through senior years. He was a two-time first-team All-Columbia Conference performer, and junior year, Pacific Lutheran won the NAIA Division II National Championship. PLU was 36-7-2 during his career.
After he graduated from Pacific Lutheran with a degree in Physical Education and Health in 1989, he soon entered coaching, working as the defensive line and special teams coach at Montclair Academy (Van Nuys, Calif.) in 1990, before joining the University of Pacific staff as a graduate assistant for the 1991 season. While coaching at Pacific as well as at nearby St. Mary's High School in Stockton in 1992, he earned his master's degree from Pacific in Education Administration Credentials in 1991.
He would serve as head coach the next three seasons (1993-95) at Berkeley High School. In his time there, he coached two future Buffs, Hannibal Navies and Rashidi Barnes, both of whom would also go on to play professional football. Embree was the primary recruiter of both Navies and Barnes to Colorado and thus the relationship between the two was formed.
In 1997, he entered the Division I-A coaching ranks for the first time, joining the Utah State staff where he coached the defensive line for the next four seasons (1996-99). With the Aggies, he coached three all-Big West defensive linemen, including the 1997 Big West Defensive Player of the Year Ben Crosland. Utah State played Colorado in Boulder in 1998 and Tuiasosopo's defensive line helped keep the Aggies in the game until the fourth quarter, registering eight sacks of CU quarterback Mike Moschetti (for 83 yards in losses) before CU eventually pulled away for a 25-6 win.
He then moved on and coached the D-line at the University of Nevada the next three years (2000-02). At Nevada, he coached WAC sack leader Jorge Cordova, who was a third round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004.
From Nevada, he joined Urban Meyer's staff at the University of Utah where he coached the defensive tackles for the 2003 season. He was instrumental there in the recruitment and development of Sione Pouha, a third round selection by the New York Jets in the 2005 NFL Draft, and Jonathan Fanene, who was drafted that same year (7th round) by the Cincinnati Bengals. After one year in Salt Lake City, he headed south and joined Stoops' staff at Arizona.
He also served two of the prestigious NFL Minority Intern Fellowships, with the San Francisco 49ers (1997) and the Green Bay Packers (2002).
Tuiasosopo comes from a football rich family tradition. His uncle, Bob Apisa, was a two-time All-America fullback at Michigan State and was drafted by Green Bay in 1968. A cousin, Manu Tuiasosopo, was a two-time All-America defensive lineman at UCLA and was the No. 18 overall pick by Seattle in the 1979 NFL Draft and started for the Super Bowl XIX champion (1984 season) San Francisco 49ers.
A younger brother, Navy, lettered at Utah State from 1983-86 and played for both the Los Angeles Rams and St. Louis Cardinals, with a younger sibling, Titus, playing for Southern California from 1988-91. Two more cousins played collegiately and in the NFL, John Tautolo (offensive line, UCLA/N.Y. Giants, New England) and Terry Tautolo (linebacker, UCLA/Philadelphia, Detroit, San Francisco, Miami). His nephew, Marques Tuiasosopo, was a quarterback at Washington and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders and also played for the New York Jets. And a another nephew, Conan Amituanai, was an offensive lineman at Arizona.
He was born on September 10, 1963, in American Samoa and grew up in Carson, Calif. He graduated from Phineas Banning High School in Wilmington, Calif., where he lettered in football. He is married to the former Kathy Bowles, and the couple has four children, daughters Lanea (15) and Maya (14), and sons Titus (10) and Luke (3).
TOP PLAYERS COACHED: Big West Defensive Player of the Year (1): Ben Crosland. All-WAC/Big West/Mountain West/Pac-10 (9): Jorge Cordova, Crosland, Lionel Dotson, Ricky Elmore, Jonathan Fanene, Walter Fiefia, Lindsay Hassell, Earl Mitchell, Sione Pouha. NFL Players/Draft Picks (8): Cordova, Dotson, Elmore, Mitchell, Hannibal Navies, Brooks Reed, De'Aundre Reed, Marcus Williams.
RECORD: He has coached in 189 Division I-A games as a full-time coach, owning a record of 83-106, including 3-10 at Colorado, 41-43 at Arizona in seven years, 10-2 at Utah in one season, 10-25 in three years at Nevada and 19-26 in four years at Utah State. He has coached in four bowl games, two at Arizona and one each at Utah State and Utah.