Charles Ott in 1980. Jan Sonnenmair / Arizona Daily Star file photo

Jan Sonnenmair / Arizona Daily Star file photo

Editor's note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.

Today's list: The top 10 UA athletes who went on to become Wildcats head coaches. 

Charles Ott’s lineage to Tucson goes back so far that his grandfather was a Pima County sheriff in 1870, a man who helped do the surveying for the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico.

Ott’s father regularly worked the Wells Fargo stage line from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Nogales.

In 1935, Ott became captain of the Tucson High football team, then a lineman on the UA’s 1938 football team, triggering a career in sports that would make him one of the most revered names in UA history.

After reaching the rank of Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II and the Korean War, Ott returned to Tucson and became Arizona’s swimming coach, a position he held for 23 years. He simultaneously was a trainer for more than two decades, on the sidelines in a medical capacity for hundreds of UA sports events.

Arizona wasn’t a nationally-recognized swimming school, but Ott worked out of an office in Bear Down Gym for 33 years and was on a first-name basis with hundreds of UA ballplayers and fans.

He was the first UA letterman to become a head coach at the school, a list that includes some of the top names in Arizona athletics history. Here’s how I rank them, with this reminder: any of the first five are worthy of being No. 1. Tough call at the top. 

Sports columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.