Arizona football: Cats land Casteel to run D, let go Kish

2012-01-11T00:01:00Z 2014-09-15T10:24:57Z Arizona football: Cats land Casteel to run D, let go KishRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 11, 2012 12:01 am  • 

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

The UA will announce today that it has hired West Virginia's Jeff Casteel as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach 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.

The Wildcats also will introduce WVU cornerbacks coach David Lockwood and defensive ends coach Bill Kirelawich as their new assistants. Spencer Leftwich, a former Pitt aide, will coach tight ends, and UA interim coach Tim Kish will be let go.

The West Virginia coaches' mass defection to Arizona - and reunion with Rodriguez - 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 Tuesday 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 spokesman Tom Duddleston Jr. said will come "by the end of the day" today, is 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, W.Va. Casteel spent three seasons (2008-10) coaching under Bill Stewart and worked for first-year coach Dana Holgorsen last fall.

Casteel made $400,000 in 2011, most among all Big East Conference assistants, and was due for $50,000 raise in 2012. Arizona has enough 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, coincidentally, was named Arizona State's head coach last month.

Today's hires will formally sever Arizona's ties with defensive coordinator Kish. The Wildcats' longtime assistant served as acting head coach after Mike Stoops was fired Oct. 10, and Kish led the team to wins over UCLA, Arizona State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Kish remained in Tucson after Rodriguez was hired, and he was being considered for at least one of the Wildcats' open positions.

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Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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