Arizona football: 'Beast-mode' Carey gets players going

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Frank Scelfo looks back at the chain of events that led him to Tucson and chuckles.

"Pete Carroll, man," he said. "I never thought that guy would have caused such a stir in Ruston, La. Everything kind of snowballed from there."

Carroll's departure for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks took Lane Kiffin to USC; Tennessee then hired Derek Dooley away from Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldogs responded by naming Scelfo, 51, as their interim head coach. He held the designation for a week, until UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes was hired as Louisiana Tech's head coach.

As proof that the coaching carousel never stops spinning, Scelfo - pronounced SELL-foe - was hired last week to coach the Arizona Wildcats quarterbacks. Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell will hold co-coordinator duties.

Scelfo, an Abbeville, La., native, has never lived west of Texas or coached collegiately outside Louisiana.

Not that it's a problem.

"I've never been out West. I've never been to the desert, so it's all observation for me right now," Scelfo said. "I'll tell you this: Flying in, I got a smile on my face."

The Star talked to Scelfo about his new job, old home and the future of Arizona quarterbacks Nick Foles and Matt Scott. Here's what he said:

On his role in the Wildcats offense: "I have to learn and get familiar with the offense, and I'll have my two cents to throw in there. The two guys (Bedenbaugh and Littrell) know what we're doing and have a feel for it. There aren't going to be any wholesale changes. Right now, it's control the football, score points and don't turn it over. I'll contribute any which way they need me. My role is to settle Nick and Matt down."

On who will be calling plays: "I don't know, really. Coach (Mike) Stoops will make that decision when it's time."

On Foles: "I think he's a talented guy. Fundamentally, he's not as sound as you would like, so he's got a lot of room to grow. He's young - I mean, he's only played in seven or eight games - but he's been in the fire. He's got to be able to step forward. The good news is you've got a guy like Matt right behind him. He's hungry to get on the field. Between those guys, we've got to pick one. That's all they let you use on the field."

On who's ahead: "It'll be an interesting spring to see how much they all grow. It's not so much about where they are now, but how much they're going to improve."

On whether he has dealt with a quarterback battle before: "Yeah, when we had Patrick Ramsey and (J.P.) Losman at Tulane. Ramsey was more of a pocket guy and Losman was more mobile. They remind me of Nick and Matt. It's going to come down to who can execute, who can get the game going and get us into the end zone. It might not be fair, but a quarterback is judged by how he can get a team into the end zone. You can't see a guy stagnate."

On being an interim head coach: "The biggest thing I learned is that if you're not getting the check that comes along with it, it's not worth the title. All you do is handle problems."

On Dykes: "Sonny's a great guy, and he's going to do a hell of a job there. He was perfect for the job. He'll win a bunch of games pretty quick, and then, hopefully for him, he'll have some tough decisions to make."

On leaving Louisiana: "It's been 15 years since I lived anywhere else. It's my home state, and it's very comfortable to be there. For me to come out here, it had to be something special. With the coaches and what they have going on out here, it kind of made my decision pretty easy."

On whether he's a New Orleans Saints fan: "Oh yeah. I was in New Orleans (last) Sunday for the game. I was at the NFC championship game. It was something special. The people there have been through so much. We all went through Katrina - the city hasn't recovered, and has gone through some tough times. This was a rallying point. It gave everybody a sense of hope and some belonging. You saw grown men crying after the Super Bowl - it's a game, but it's a way of life for a lot of people."

Frank Scelfo File

• Age: 51

• Hometown: Abbeville, La.

• Alma mater: Louisiana-Monroe (bachelor's degree in 1981; master's in 1983)

Previous jobs

• 1996-98: Tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator, Tulane

• 1999-2006: Offensive coordinator/QBs coach, Tulane

• 2007-09: Offensive coordinator/QBs coach, Louisiana Tech

• Family: Married to the former Holly Kingery; they have two sons: Anthony is an outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays minor-league system; Jordan is a high school junior.