Arizona Wildcats football


Bill Kirelawich owns three acres of property in West Virginia, a summer spot that includes 190 feet of lakefront land and 375 feet of cove. He's understandably proud of the place, which he's tended with his wife and sons for years.

When Arizona came calling in December, however, the defensive assistant was more than willing to put his dream house on hold. He was ready, too, to leave West Virginia following 32 seasons on the Mountaineers' staff.


"I'm going to tell you in two words: Rich Rodriguez," Kire-lawich said. "He's got to be the only guy in the country who can make three phone calls and put a staff together. That's how bad the guys want to coach with him. That's why I'm out here. … I'm here because Rich asked me, and I think Arizona can be a good place."

Few of Arizona's coaches arrive with a better résumé or reputation than Kirelawich (pronounced Kerr-LAV-itch), who will coach Arizona's defensive line after serving in a similar position at WVU since 2003. Initially, he'll be asked to toughen up a unit that combined for just four sacks and 20 1/2 tackles-for-loss a year ago.

Rodriguez said he couldn't think of a better coach to do it: Arizona's first-year head coach played for Kirelawich at WVU and coached with him there from 2001-07,

"He's old-school," Rodriguez said. "He's from the old coal regions in eastern Pennsylvania, and he coaches like the tough background that he has."

The Star talked to Kirelawich, 64, about his new job:

On his first impressions of the Pac-12 and Tucson: "We didn't get the Pac-12 games (in West Virginia), or they'd come on late at night - and by the time they came on, I'd be in bed already. I'm not as familiar with the Pac-12 as with other conferences. I didn't know what to expect. Years ago, I was out here in Arizona, and I knew I liked it. Thirty-something years ago, in 1978, we came out here. One of the guys was John Kashner, the former coach at Casa Grande and Flowing Wells, and there was another one of us. One of our buddies was one of the GAs (grad assistants) at Arizona. There were three of us - them two stayed, and I went home. The next year, I went to West Virginia."

On why he likes working for Rodriguez: "He works your (butt) off. We're going to win. Give him the time, and he's going to win, and win in a big way. He's fun. I like the way he treats the guys. And philosophically, we're on the same page. He talks about (having) a hard edge and the kids are going to be tougher. That's right up my alley. I'm not looking for a guy that's going to slow me down; I'm looking for a guy who says, 'Hey, keep doing what you're doing.'"

On why he stayed at WVU when Rodriguez - and most of the Mountaineers' staff - left for Michigan in 2008: "You can see by looking at me, I'm not a spring chicken. I didn't want to go up into the cold weather; hell, I didn't like the cold weather in Morgantown. There were a lot of things that kept me there. My wife's a teacher, and she was close to retirement. The kids were in school, and I wanted to finish it out there."

On whether it was strange to watch Michigan play: "Big time. What makes that bad is: You're nervous for your own games, and then you're watching these (guys) play, and you're on the edge of your seat. So I was at West Virginia, and I'm going through the same thing twice a week. You live and die on every snap, you know? When you know guys that close, you have to."

On how the Wildcats have improved: "I thought this summer would be a test of how many of them would be ready to work, how many of them would bust their (butts). You know, 98 percent of them were ready to make that sacrifice, make that investment. That part of it showed me that these kids are special; these guys have a desire to win. I can work with these guys."

Extra points

• Patrick Onwuasor has switched from wide receiver to safety, part of a position shuffle that could continue throughout camp. Running back Taimi Tutogi and tight end Keoni Bush-Loo are both taking reps on defense as the Wildcats try to build depth there.

• Freshman safety Leo Thomas has left the team, Rodriguez said.

Training camp: Day 4

At Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Temperature at start: 93 degrees

• Walk-on watch: Safety Brendan Murphy transferred to the UA this summer after registering 41 tackles, six for loss, at Glendale Community College in 2011. The 5-foot-11-inch, 185-pound junior began his college career at Air Force.

• The big number: 5. That's how many Scottsdale Chaparral High School graduates, including Murphy, are on the Wildcats' roster. All played for Charlie Ragle, now the UA's first-year assistant operations director.