The Arizona Wildcats will start 2011 with what promises to be a busy week.
Bill Bedenbaugh will be introduced as West Virginia's offensive line coach in the next few days, meaning the UA must search for a new co-offensive coordinator and a new secondary coach during an important recruiting period.
Bedenbaugh's imminent departure marks the third staff change in the last month for Arizona, which lost its last five games to finish 7-6. Defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo and defensive coordinator Greg Brown left for similar positions at Colorado in mid-December, citing their close relationships with new Buffaloes coach Jon Embree.
Like his former UA colleagues, Bedenbaugh - who declined comment Sunday night - has a personal connection to his new job.
Bedenbaugh and WVU head-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen were college teammates at Iowa Wesleyan and coaching colleagues at Texas Tech. Holgorsen will serve as the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator this fall, then take over head coaching duties from Bill Stewart in 2012. Bedenbaugh is expected to start his WVU career as offensive line coach, with a promotion possible after the first year.
Arizona is expected to replace Bedenbaugh with a veteran offensive coordinator. Former BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae is atop coach Mike Stoops' wish list.
Anae is one of the nation's most highly regarded offensive minds. In six seasons at BYU, Anae's teams went 56-21 and finished with a top-25 offense five times. Coach Bronco Mendenhall fired or forced resignations from his entire offensive coaching staff last month following BYU's 7-6 finish.
Like Bedenbaugh, Anae is a member of Mike Leach's coaching tree. He coached the offensive line at Texas Tech from 2000-04 before being named BYU's offensive coordinator. Bedenbaugh replaced Anae at Tech before coming to the UA in 2007.
Anae's version of the spread offense includes a power-run attack, one element of the Wildcats' game that Stoops has vowed to improve.
"Obviously, our ability to run the football or identify with the run game is something that, offensively, we need to do a better job of doing more consistently," he said after Arizona's 36-10 Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.
"We need to run the ball better, more efficiently offensively."