Star reporter Michael Lev looks at the coaches most likely to be tied to Arizona's opening.
Rich Rodriguez is out following hostile workplace allegations
Arizona fired coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday night amid allegations that he created a hostile work environment and sexually harassed a former employee.
So ended Rodriguez’s mostly successful six-year tenure as Wildcats coach. Rodriguez led Arizona to a 43-35 record with five bowl appearances in six seasons. The Wildcats weren’t as prosperous in the final three years under Rodriguez (17-21) as they were in the first three (26-14).
UA athletic director Dave Heeke, who has yet to complete his first year on the job, now takes on the task of finding the next football coach at Arizona. Assuming there isn’t a mass exodus of transfers, the job is an attractive one with quarterback Khalil Tate entering his junior year and the defense returning nine starters, including five who were freshmen or redshirt freshmen this past season.
Here are 20 possible candidates for the job, listed in alphabetical order:
Quick bio: Just completed his second season as the head coach at Syracuse after serving in that capacity for two years apiece at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green.
Why he fits: Babers has a big personality, and he was an assistant coach at Arizona from 1995-2000. Before the Sugar Bowl, his Orange were the only team to defeat Clemson.
Why he doesn’t: Babers will be 57 by the time next season starts, so he’s on the older side. He has yet to tangibly improve things at Syracuse, which has gone 4-8 each of the past two seasons.
Quick bio: Just completed his first season as the head coach at Purdue, which defeated favored Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl. Spent the previous three years as the head coach at Western Kentucky.
Why he fits: He just beat the Wildcats with what most would consider a less-talented roster. He is considered a big-time up-and-comer in the business.
Why he doesn’t: Would Brohm leave Purdue after only one season? If he keeps winning there, he might have his pick of top jobs in 2-3 years.
Quick bio: Just completed his second full season as the head coach at Toledo after serving as an assistant there the previous seven years.
Why he fits: Candle succeeded Matt Campbell, and the Rockets have continued to soar, going 21-7 in two-plus seasons. Heeke knows Candle, 38, from his MAC days.
Why he doesn’t: Candle has been a full-time head coach for only two seasons. He just signed a contract extension and has no ties to the West Coast.
Quick bio: Just completed his first season as a staff analyst for Arizona, his alma mater, after spending most of this century as an assistant coach in the NFL.
Why he fits: He is possibly the greatest player in UA history. He is familiar with the current roster. He has extensive NFL coaching experience.
Why he doesn’t: Would Cecil be comfortable in the spotlight – i.e., being the face of the program? Does he want to go back to the NFL?
Quick bio: The former UA safety is in his fifth season as the special-teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. His college stops include San Jose State, Nevada and the UA as a graduate assistant.
Why he fits: Fipp played at Arizona from 1994-97 under Dick Tomey, joining the team as a walk-on before starting at free safety his final two seasons. Fipp is considered a rising star in the business.
Why he doesn’t: Despite being a former Wildcat, does Fipp have enough name recognition to appease UA donors and fans? He has no head-coach experience and only minimal coordinator experience.
Quick bio: Just completed his first season as offensive coordinator at UCLA after stints as a coordinator with Michigan, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the University of Miami.
Why he fits: Fisch drew raves for his work with Bruins QB Josh Rosen, who had his best statistical season and might be the first pick in the NFL draft. Fisch has ample experience developing quarterbacks and offenses in the NFL and college football.
Why he doesn’t: Fisch has never been a head coach. Could he adapt his “pro style” system to the dual-threat talents of Tate?
Quick bio: Just completed his fourth season as the head coach at Boise State, where he played in the late 1990s and coached under Chis Petersen. Also spent one year as the head coach at Arkansas State.
Why he fits: Harsin has done nothing but win at Boise, going 42-12. Arizona interim coach Marcel Yates was Harsin’s defensive coordinator in 2014 and ’15.
Why he doesn’t: Harsin has a great thing going at Boise, where he has spent most of his life. Petersen didn’t leave there until the perfect job came along.
Quick bio: Head coach at Oregon for four years before being fired after the 2016 season.
Why he fits: Helfrich guided Oregon to a 37-16 record, including an appearance in the national-championship game in January 2015. His pupils included that season’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Marcus Mariota. Helfrich is said to be friends with Heeke.
Why he doesn’t: Helfrich’s tenure at Oregon didn’t end well; after back-to-back seasons with double-digit victories, the Ducks fell to 9-4 and then 4-8. Some contend he was merely winning with Chip Kelly’s players those first two seasons and isn’t capable of running a successful Pac-12 program.
Quick bio: Head coach at Tennessee from 2013-17 before being fired with two games left in the season. Previously served as head coach at Cincinnati and Central Michigan.
Why he fits: About a year into his tenure as the AD at CMU, Heeke had to replace Brian Kelly. Heeke hired Jones, who went 27-13 in three seasons. His career record is 84-54, including back-to-back 9-4 seasons at Tennessee in 2015 and ’16.
Why he doesn’t: The Vols never quite lived up to expectations under Jones. He coached under and is close friends with Rodriguez, so Jones might be viewed as too similar to RichRod.
Quick bio: Just completed his first season as the head coach at Florida Atlanta after three years as the offensive coordinator at Alabama. Previously served as the head coach at USC and Tennessee.
Why he fits: Kiffin reinvented himself with the Owls, leading them to an 11-3 record. He is a tremendous recruiter with ample experience on the West Coast. He’d bring plenty of attention to Arizona.
Why he doesn’t: Would Arizona want that kind of attention, especially after Rodriguez’s ignominious ouster? Would Kiffin leave FAU after just one year – and after signing a 10-year contract extension?
Quick bio: Head coach at LSU from 2005-16. Previously served as the head coach at Oklahoma State from 2001-04.
Why he fits: Miles went 114-34 at LSU, winning the national championship at the conclusion of the 2007 season. Although he was fired four games into 2016, he remains a big name and personality in the football-coaching world. LSU churned out NFL players annually under Miles.
Why he doesn’t: Miles’ tenure in Baton Rouge didn’t end well. The Tigers struggled to develop quarterbacks and generate a consistent offense. Miles turned 64 in November.
Quick bio: Just completed his 10th full season as the head coach at Navy, where he has guided the Midshipmen to a bowl berth in every year except one. Niumatalolo previously served as an assistant at Navy, UNLV and Hawaii.
Why he fits: Niumatalolo has an 84-48 record at Navy. He could reopen the Polynesian pipeline to Arizona. And he’d have the blessing of former Hawaii and Arizona coach Dick Tomey.
Why he doesn’t: Niumatalolo runs the option at Navy. Would that fly at a Pac-12 school? Would Niumatalolo be open to and able to adapt his scheme?
Quick bio: Just completed his second season as the head coach at Memphis. Previously served as an assistant under former Arizona State coach Todd Graham at Tulsa, Pitt and ASU.
Why he fits: Norvell has compiled an 18-8 record at Memphis. The Tigers averaged 45.5 points per game this season, second most in the nation. He has extensive experience in the state of Arizona, having coached at ASU from 2012-15.
Why he doesn’t: Would Arizona hire another offensive mastermind whose teams struggle on defense? (Memphis allowed 33.4 points per game this season.) Norvell signed a five-year contract extension in December.
Quick bio: Just completed his first season as associate head coach and defensive line coach at Oregon after spending the previous five years coaching the defensive line at Washington State.
Why he fits: Salave’a is a former UA team captain and all-conference performer. Like Niumatalolo, he would do well recruiting Polynesians. Unlike Niumatalolo, Salave’a is steeped in the Pac-12 Conference.
Why he doesn’t: Not only does Salave’a lack head-coaching experience, he never has been a coordinator. He might be a better fit as a defensive/recruiting coordinator if he returned to his alma mater.
Quick bio: Just completed his fifth season as the head coach at Appalachian State after serving as a coordinator there, at Florida International and at Toledo.
Why he fits: Satterfield is 41-22 at App State, where he played quarterback from 1992-95. App State defeated Candle-coached Toledo 34-0 in the Dollar General Bowl. He was the QB coach for the App State team that upset Michigan in 2007.
Why he doesn’t: Would Satterfield be willing to leave the school for which he played and currently coaches? Would the Arizona faithful accept a coach from the Sun Belt with no Power Five experience?
Quick bio: Head coach at Texas A&M for six seasons before being fired at the end of 2017. Previously spent four years as the head coach at Houston.
Why he fits: Despite being let go by A&M, Sumlin compiled a 51-26 record there. He coached Johnny Manziel to the Heisman Trophy in College Station and had Yates on his staff as co-defensive coordinator in 2012 and ’13.
Why he doesn’t: Sumlin is the highest-profile recent college coach available, despite an unsatisfactory ending to his tenure at A&M. Would he seriously consider the UA opening when “better” jobs likely will be available after next season?
Quick bio: Just completed his first season as the head coach at Fresno State. Served as the head coach at Cal for 11 seasons from 2002-12.
Why he fits: Tedford engineered an incredible turnaround at Fresno, which went 10-4 this season after a 1-11 campaign in 2016. His time at Cal didn’t end well (3-9), but overall his tenure was a huge success (82-57).
Why he doesn’t: Tedford turned 56 in November, so he’s on the older side. He had to resign as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 because of heart problems. Some might view him as a “retread.”
Quick bio: Just completed his fifth season as the head coach at Utah State. Previously served as an assistant at USU, New Mexico, Louisville, Tulsa and Navy.
Why he fits: Having spent most of his coaching career in the West, Wells is familiar with the areas where Arizona must recruit well. He guided the Aggies to a 19-9 record and back-to-back bowl victories in 2014 and ’15. Wells is being mentored by UA coaching legend Dick Tomey.
Why he doesn’t: Wells’ teams have finished under .500 three years in a row, including 6-7 this season after an overtime loss in the Arizona Bowl. That would be a tough sell to UA donors and fans.
Quick bio: Just completed his second season as the head coach at Texas-San Antonio. Previously served as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at LSU.
Why he fits: Wilson has helped turn UTSA into a respectable program, guiding the Roadrunners to a 12-12 record and the program’s first bowl berth in 2016. He was an ace recruiter at LSU, helping the Tigers land numerous future NFL players.
Why he doesn’t: A .500 record at UTSA doesn’t exactly jump off the page. San Antonio is the farthest west Wilson has worked; all of his previous coaching stops were in Louisiana, Mississippi or Tennessee.
Quick bio: Just completed his second season as Arizona’s defensive coordinator after serving as DC or co-DC at Boise State (2014-15) and Texas A&M (2012-13).
Why he fits: UA defensive players cheered Yates’ appointment as interim coach and would support him as the full-time head coach. He has recruited well in Southern California and could help keep the 2018 class together.
Why he doesn’t: Yates lacks head-coaching experience and might not be comfortable as the face of a program. He also ran into financial problems while at Boise related to bad business deals and investments, possibly hurting his candidacy if Arizona seeks a “baggage free” successor to Rodriguez.