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Of the 11 different Arizona defensive coordinators starting with the Tony Mason regime in 1977, Jeff Casteel is the first one that was not retained with the head coach remaining at the school.
Larry Smith had two defensive coordinators (Moe Ankney and Chris Allen) in his seven years in Tucson.
Dick Tomey had two in his 14 years — Larry MacDuff from 1987 to 1996 and Rich Ellerson from 1997 to 2000.
John Mackovic’s three years as Arizona coach included two defensive coordinators — MacDuff in 2001 and 2002 before Mike Hankwitz took over that role in 2003.
Mike Stoops’ ever-changing staff in his eight years included three defensive coordinators — his brother Mark Stoops (2004 to 2009), Greg Brown and Tim Kish in 2010 and Kish in 2011.
Rich Rodriguez will have a new defensive coordinator in his fifth season in 2016 with Casteel not returning. Also not coming back is veteran defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich.
Here’s what happened to the Arizona defensive coordinators who left before the head coach departed:
— Ankney left Smith’s staff to become Bowling Green’s head coach in 1986.
— MacDuff left after only two seasons under Mackovic’s sinking ship to take the special teams coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers. He made a similar move in 1997, leaving Tomey’s staff to become the New York Giants’ special-teams coach.
— Mark Stoops departed for the Florida State defensive coordinator position in 2010.
— Brown lasted only one season before a rift with Stoops made him return to his previous employer, Colorado, as the defensive coordinator.
Casteel’s departure does not include news of him taking a job elsewhere unlike his predecessors at Arizona. Casteel, 54, is a coaching veteran of 31 years. The departure of Casteel and Kirelawich, 68, is viewed as a means to improve Arizona’s recruiting efforts by attracting a younger coach with a personality that can relate to today’s athletes.
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ARIZONA COORDINATORS PAC-10/12 YEARS
Mike Gottfried (1977)
Tony Yelovich (1978-79)
Bob Valesente (1977-79)
Steve Axman (1980-84)
Chuck Stobart (1986)
Moe Ankney (1980-85)
Chris Allen (1986)
Ben Griffith (1987-88)
Rip Scherer (1989-90)
Pat Hill (1990-91)
Duane Akina (1992-95)
Homer Smith (1996)
Dino Babers (1997-2000)
Larry MacDuff (1987-96)
Rich Ellerson (1997-2000)
John Mackovic (2001-03)
Mike Deal (2003)
Larry MacDuff (2001-02)
Mike Hankwitz (2003)
Mike Canales (2004-06)
Sonny Dykes (2007-09)
Bill Bendenbaugh (2009-10)
Seth Littrell (2009-11)
Mark Stoops (2004-09)
Greg Brown (2010)
Tim Kish (2010-11)
Rod Smith/Calvin Magee (2012-)
Jeff Casteel (2012-15)
To be determined (2016-)
Arizona, utilizing Casteel’s controversial 3-3-5 alignment, also ranked 114th nationally allowing 466.8 yards per game in an injury-ravaged season.
It will be interesting to see who Rodriguez hires as his new defensive coordinator. He has already replaced cornerbacks coach David Lockwood with 33-year-old Jahmile Addae.
Former Arizona defensive lineman and defensive line coach Joe Salave’a would be a great re-acquisition to coach the Wildcats’ defensive line. Salave’a, 40, has coached the Cougars’ defensive line the last four seasons. Mike Leach recently extended Salave’a’s contract for two more years.
Salave’a coached two All-Pac-12 second-team defensive linemen in seniors Darryl Paulo and Destiny Vaeao, and he has been a key part of Leach’s recruiting strategy because of his ability to bring players from American Samoa and Hawaii to Pullman. Hawaiian defensive end Hercules Mata’afa, for example, was named a freshman All-American by USA Today.
Former Tucson High and Oregon State standout Osia Lewis, a defensive line coach with San Diego State’s 11-2 team this season, is another possibility.
And how about the possibilities of Arizona grads Ricky Hunley (Memphis defensive line coach looking for a job), Chuck Cecil (defensive secondary coach with the Rams) or Clancy Pendergast (former 49ers linebacker coach looking for a job) joining the defensive coaching staff at Arizona?