Arizona is expected to hire Iona Uiagalelei of Mt. San Antonio College as the Wildcats’ new defensive line coach. An official announcement could come in the next few days.
Uiagalelei has been the defensive coordinator at Mt. SAC since 2006 and the associate head coach at the California junior college since 2010. He has coached several standout players, including Bruce Irvin of the Oakland Raiders.
Uiagalelei is also the uncle of DJ Uiagalelei, one of the top quarterback prospects in the country for the class of 2020. The younger Uiagalelei plays at powerhouse St. John Bosco and has offers from blue-blood programs such as USC, Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Michigan.
Another of Iona Uiagalelei’s nephews, Oregon State offensive lineman Kammy Delp, tweeted a message of congratulations to his uncle late Wednesday night. Current Arizona defensive tackle Sione Taufahema responded by saying he’s “happy to have him as my new D-line coach!”
New UA coach Kevin Sumlin has yet to announce his staff. The Star has been able to confirm at least two additions: Jeremy Springer and Demetrice Martin.
Springer will be the Wildcats’ special teams coach. He worked for Sumlin at Texas A&M as a quality-control coach focusing on special teams. Springer played linebacker at UTEP, recording a team-high 70 tackles in 2011, his final season.
Martin spent the past six seasons coaching defensive backs at UCLA under Jim Mora. Martin was not retained by new Bruins coach Chip Kelly.
Before UCLA, Martin coached at Washington, USC, Mt. SAC (where he worked with Uiagalelei) and Pasadena City College. Martin likely will share secondary coaching responsibilities with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who tutored cornerbacks and “Spur” safeties last season.
More on Uiagalelei
It’s not clear if Uigalelei will coach interior defensive linemen or the entire line. Arizona divided those duties last season, assigning Vince Amey to the interior linemen and Brian Knorr to the edge rushers. Sumlin had a similar setup in his previous stop at Texas A&M.
Arizona would be allowed to recruit DJ Uiagalelei despite an NCAA rule passed last year prohibiting the hiring of “individuals associated with a prospect.” The rule applies to camps and support-staff positions, not on-field assistants.
Regents meet, but don’t discuss contract
The Arizona Board of Regents did not address Sumlin’s contract during its meeting Thursday in Tempe, meaning it’ll likely be a few weeks before the terms are discussed and approved. Arizona State’s contract with new coach Herm Edwards is not finished, either.
Sumlin signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month that will pay him $14.5 million plus incentives over five years. The deal includes massive buyouts for both sides if the school and coach were to part ways. Sumlin will owe the UA $10 million if he leaves for another job in 2018 or 2019, with that number dropping to $5 million in 2020, $3 million in 2021 and $1 million in 2022.
Similarly, the UA will owe Sumlin $10 million if he is fired without cause in Year 1 or Year 2. The buyout shrinks to $7.5 million in Year 3 and $5 million in Year 4. If the UA fires Sumlin in the final year of his contract, he would simply be owed the balance of his deal.
Sumlin’s proposed contract will include a mitigation clause, meaning the coach will be obligated to seek employment if he is fired without cause — and money earned would lessen the UA’s buyout to him.
Arizona paid Rich Rodriguez a $6.28 million buyout when it fired him Jan. 2, the same day news of a notice of claim against Rodriguez by his former administrative assistant was made public. Rodriguez’s contract did not include a mitigation clause.
Texas A&M owed Sumlin $10 million when it terminated him two months ago. The payment was due to Sumlin by Thursday.
UA lowering prices
Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke is determined to improve the fan experience at football games, and he’s starting by lowering ticket prices.
Season tickets for 2018 went on sale Thursday and include several reductions.
The entry-level price has been dropped from $99 to $70 — an average of $10 over seven games at Arizona Stadium. Youth season tickets (ages 3-12) are down from $50 to $35. Economy-level tickets have been cut from $150 to $100.
“We’re committed to providing an affordable season-ticket option for all of our fans,” Heeke said in his weekly “Wildcat Wednesday” newsletter, “and we think these reductions are a step in the right direction.”
While ticket prices will not increase in the premium-seating areas (skybox, loge, club), there will be an additional $30 fee to cover food and beverages for the seventh home game. (Arizona had six home games in 2017).
Renewals for returning season-ticket holders are due by May 1. Fans can avoid the $10 order fee and get a 10-percent-off coupon at BearDownShop.com by renewing by Feb. 28.
Heeke also announced that the process has begun to improve fan amenities for the ZonaZoo. They include new restrooms, concession stands and gathering areas in an enclosed east concourse, which will be open to all fans in the stadium.
The UA will upgrade other areas of the stadium in the near future as part of a multiphase improvement project.