Arizona football: Final hires could give Rodriguez a big boost

2011-12-18T00:00:00Z 2012-02-07T01:52:00Z Arizona football: Final hires could give Rodriguez a big boostRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 18, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Rich Rodriguez's first month as the Arizona Wildcats' head coach has been stuck on repeat, a never-ending run of phone calls, flesh-pressing, fundraising and forecasting.

He can be forgiven for falling a few days behind.

Rodriguez has said repeatedly since Nov. 21 that his coaching staff would be filled by the end of this week. Yet as Saturday drew to a close, the Wildcats' coach had at least four more hires to make.

Strength coach Chris Allen became Rodriguez's seventh hire of the offseason when he was named Friday; of those, five - co-offensive coordinators Calvin Magee and Rod Smith, wide receivers coach Tony Dews, offensive line coach Robert Anae and secondary coach Tony Gibson - qualify as on-field coaches. The Wildcats must still name a defensive coordinator, two other assistants and a recruiting coordinator.

Rodriguez could make a splash by delivering on one or more of the following three moves:

1. Convince a coordinator to move west

Rodriguez admitted that his next defensive coordinator will be "a big hire for me, obviously," and he cares enough to make him the highest-paid assistant on staff. The Wildcats want West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, but it's unclear whether he's prepared to leave his home state for the Sonoran Desert. Media outlets in West Virginia reported that Casteel, the Big East's highest-paid assistant, is weighing offers from both WVU and the UA heading into the Jan. 4 Orange Bowl. Rodriguez and Casteel have known each other for years, so the UA's coach knows more than anybody how hard it will be to get the longtime assistant to leave. Casteel passed on a job at Michigan when Rod-riguez - and most of West Virginia's staff - left for Ann Arbor in 2008.

2. Answer the Kish question

Former defensive coordinator and interim head coach Tim Kish has remained in Tucson since the end of the Wildcats' season, even making appearances in the UA's football offices in recent weeks. Rodriguez would be wise to keep Kish on staff as a coordinator or position coach, especially if Casteel or a similarly qualified candidate turns him down. Kish is well-connected and well-liked among his peers. And as the UA's top in-state recruiter since 2004, he could provide a bridge from the old staff to the new one and serve as a valuable resource as the UA woos prospects from Phoenix and Tucson.

3. Name a "name" guy

Rodriguez likely has about $1 million to round out the rest of his staff - enough money to make a splash if he finds one high-end candidate. Tim Brewster might be his guy: Arizona offered a job to the former Minnesota head coach, according to The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman. Brewster 51, could be lured to Tucson with the right deal. He coached tight ends and special teams at North Carolina (1989-97) and tight ends at Texas (1998-2001) before embarking on an NFL coaching career. The Wildcats are still in need of both tight ends and special teams coaches. Coincidence? Maybe. But Brewster, an accomplished recruiter with ties to the Lone Star State, would be the big-name hire fans are waiting for.

 

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