Mike Stoops is so distressed about Arizona's new offensive coordinators that on Monday he said Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell will determine play calls on the "eenie, meenie, miney, moe" system.

And then Stoops laughed. Someone should have taken a picture.

Over the last month, Stoops has openly worried about his safeties, his linebackers and those who will rush the passer, but when it comes to Friday's debut of his co-offensive coordinators and who's gonna call the plays, he said, seriously, "it's irrelevant to me."

Manny, Moe and Jack, perhaps?

Senior tackle Adam Grant is similarly unconcerned about who calls the plays and what the plays happen to be.

"I think we'll try to come out and push the ball down their throats," he said Monday.

It's got to be harder than that, doesn't it?

Arizona is paying Littrell and Bedenbaugh a cumulative $450,000 this year to outscheme and outscore the other guys. The Wildcats will face eight head coaches, from Oregon's Chip Kelly to Cal's Jeff Tedford, who made themselves multi-millionaires by calling the right plays at the right time.

In the Pac-10, play-calling has become the surest way to fame, fortune and, often, to the Rose Bowl. But Arizona always has been a bit different, a defensive franchise in a bomb's-away league.

Such is the background of both Bedenbaugh and Littrell, who have everything and nothing in common.

Bedenbaugh grew up in Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston, following his father, Bill Sr., who was a plant manager for petroleum giant Sunoco. Littrell grew up in Muskogee, Okla., son of football star Jim Littrell, starting fullback on Oklahoma's 1974 national championship team.

Bedenbaugh played in relative obscurity at Iowa Wesleyan, a lineman on an NAIA team whose rivals include William Penn College and the University of St. Francis. Littrell started at fullback for Oklahoma's 2000 national championship team.

Bedenbaugh had to go to Oklahoma, to Panhandle State, for his first coaching job. Littrell had to leave Oklahoma, to Kansas, for his first coaching position.

Their careers intersected in 2005, at Texas Tech, when Bedenbaugh, then a running backs coach, became the Red Raiders offensive line coach. The man hired to replace him? Seth Littrell.

While they were helping Texas Tech score what seemed to be a million points and gain a trillion yards, Bedenbaugh and Littrell became close, almost brothers. How close?

"Seth's sister is married to my wife's brother," said Bedenbaugh.

Bedenbaugh moved to Tucson in 2007 and became a father, to William Bedenbaugh III in July.

Littrell moved to Tucson in 2009 and became a father, to James Tripp Littrell in April.

The first-time fathers will give birth to Arizona's offense Friday night at Toledo. Much like their boss, they do not appear to be overwrought about the shared assignment, or uneasy that Littrell has been identified as the man who will actually call the plays.

"One of the reasons you don't see offensive line coaches calling the plays is because it's so hard to do," said Bedenbaugh. "Mark Mangino did it at Oklahoma, but I can't think of many others.

"When I worked with Robert Anae at Texas Tech, he coached the offensive line. When he went to BYU, to become the coordinator, he switched to coaching receivers. It's just too hard focusing on those five guys, making adjustments, to call the plays, too. Between series, Seth and I will evaluate what's working. He's got to be tuned in to it all the time."

The Bedenbaugh-Littrell reputation is a predictable one. Bedenbaugh is an old-school lineman. No frills.

"If you don't have toughness, you can't play for Coach Bill," said UA center Colin Baxter.

Littrell was a two-time state champion wrestler at Muskogee High. Said Stoops: "He was tough, hard-nosed, reliable, all of those things. Everything but fast. He was a tough kid."

Finesse? Not here.

There is no statistical bureau that tracks the numbers, but it's possible that since Bedenbaugh took a coaching job at Ferris State in 1999, he has been involved in more points scored and more yards gained than anyone else in college football.

His '99 team at Ferris State led NCAA Division II in total offense (534 yards) and points (47.3 per game). That got him onto Mike Leach's original 2000 staff at Texas Tech, where a "down year" was 32 points and 400 yards a game.

In the three seasons they have coached together, at Tech and at Arizona, Bedenbaugh and Littrell are a composite 25-11. They know how to win.

What else do you need to know?

Up next

• Who: UA at Toledo

• When: 5 p.m. Friday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com