This blog has moved. To see new articles, go to azstarnet.com/sports/blogs/uafootball

UA football: Wildcats to hire WVU's Casteel, three other assistant coaches

2012-01-10T18:53:00Z 2012-01-10T19:09:05Z UA football: Wildcats to hire WVU's Casteel, three other assistant coaches Arizona Daily Star

It took three years and stops at two different schools, but Rich Rodriguez finally got his man.

The UA will announce Wednesday that it's hired West Virginia's Jeff Casteel as defensive coordinator as part of a shift in scheme. The Wildcats will run Casteel's 3-3-5 defense, a three-man front that uses speed and constant shifting to stop spread offenses.

Arizona will also introduce WVU cornerbacks coach David Lockwood and defensive ends coach Bill Kirelawich as its new assistants. Spencer Leftwich, a former Pittsburgh aide, will coach tight ends. The hires will complete Rodriguez's first staff at Arizona. 

The West Virginia coaches' mass defection to the UA — and reunion with Rodriguez, WVU's coach from 2001-07  — comes a week after the Mountaineers' 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson.

Casteel's defense forced four turnovers in the rout, one of which — a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown — turned the game for good in the second quarter. WVU finished 33rd nationally in total defense and 11th against the pass.

West Virginia would not comment today on the pending moves, though protocol dictates that the program doing the hiring — in this case, the UA —make the first announcement. WVU spokesman Mike Montoro told the Star that Casteel remains on staff; he would not confirm reports that the coordinator had already quit.

"As far as I know, he hasn't taken a job anywhere," Montoro said. "I haven't been told anything. As far as I know, he's still our defensive coordinator."

Arizona's announcement, which UA spokesman Tom Duddleston Jr. said will come "by the end of the day" Wednesday, is merely a formality.

That Rodriguez convinced Casteel to leave his native West Virginia for Arizona is an accomplishment in itself. Casteel coached 11 seasons for three Mountaineers head coaches, serving as Rodriguez's defensive line coach (2001), co-defensive coordinator (2002-03) and defensive coordinator (2004-07).

Rodriguez tried to lure the defensive guru to Michigan in 2008, but Casteel opted to stay in Morgantown instead.

He spent three seasons (2008-10) coaching under Bill Stewart, and worked for first-year coach Dana Holgorsen last fall. Casteel made $400,000 last season, most among all Big East Conference assistants, and was due for a $50,000 raise in 2012. 

Arizona has enough money remaining in its $2 million assistant coaches' budget to offer him more money.

Kirelawich comes to Arizona following 32 seasons at West Virginia. He started as a part-time assistant in 1979, and was promoted to a full-time job a year later.

Lockwood, a former WVU defensive back, just finished his second stint as a Mountaineers assistant. Before that, he coached DBs at Kentucky (2007), Minnesota (2002-06), Notre Dame (2000) and Memphis (1999). He has also coached at Delaware, James Madison and Memphis.

Leftwich spent the 2011 season as Pitt's offensive line coach. Before that, he coached the position at Tulsa (2003-06, 2010), North Texas (1994-2002, 2007-09), New Mexico State (1992-93) and Stephen F. Austin (1989-91). Leftwich, a native of Gainesville, Texas, will recruit the Lone Star State for the Wildcats.

Leftwich is the fourth former Pitt assistant to join Arizona's staff. Co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, receivers coach Tony Dews and safeties coach Tony Gibson all worked under Todd Graham in 2011. Graham, in a twist, was named Arizona State's head coach last month.

Wednesday's hires will formally sever the UA's ties with defensive coordinator Tim Kish.

The Wildcats' longtime assistant served as acting head coach after Mike Stoops was fired Oct. 10, and led the team to wins over UCLA, Arizona State and Louisiana Lafayette. Kish remained in Tucson after Rodriguez was hired, and was being considered for at least one of the UA's open positions.

 

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...