It’s not likely Chuck Cecil will ever have to buy a beer anywhere he goes now that he’s back in Tucson. But, well, he doesn’t drink beer. Soda? Probably not, given he’s at a lighter weight than his playing days more than 30 years ago.
The point is: it’s like Steve Kerr returning to Tucson and never having to open his wallet … for anything. Cecil, an Arizona football legend turned NFL player turned NFL coach, is now a college assistant at his alma mater.
“You kidding me? Anybody who thinks that fairytales don’t come true, I’m standing here,” Cecil said, speaking to the local media late Friday night after practice. “My time in Tucson was a Cinderella story.”
And, well, it continues.
Seemingly, he’s come full circle where all the Cecil magic started … and had plenty of it in the mid-1980s in helping UA never lose to Arizona State in his time here.
And, yes, ASU somehow came up.
“Obviously we didn’t (have a good year last year), but we finished great,” he said with a smile. “Anytime you beat the Scummies that’s always a great thing. The amount of wins wasn’t what the Wildcats are aiming for or what our goal is.”
How much of a role he has is anyone’s guess, although the players have said he has brought an energy to them given his reputation. On paper, his role or title of Director of Player Personnel is clearly defined as one who “assists the coaching staff with roster management, including coordination of recruiting efforts, transfer students and walk-ons. He is the NFL Liaison for the program and also works closely with the marketing and compliance offices for matters related to the football program.”
Cecil said, “Technically, I’m not supposed to interact on the field or in meetings. I talk on general things in life, being a good person and a good football player. Not as much Xs and Os. More input with the coaches than the players.”
As you would expect it’s a bit difficult given he his All-American football status and past NFL coach for more than 15 seasons.
“I wouldn’t’ say difficult, but (it’s) limiting,” he said when asked if it’s been tough just watching. “You bite your lip a little bit. I’ve been here four or five days (but) I have a lot to learn before I say a whole lot. Anything I can do to help. I’m just happy to be here.”
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said wants Cecil to be an observer and tell them where he can be helped.
“He has veteran seasoned eyes,” Rodriguez said. “He’s still learning our system. As he learns he’ll be able to give us more input.”
Cecil, who has been out of coaching for a couple of years after being an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Rams, found the timing to be perfect. After some discussions with Rodriguez and the departure of Matt Dudek, it was serendipity apparently.
“(We had talked) a little of this and a little of that (and then) we happened to be somewhere where he was,” Cecil said.
And voila. He’s now here where fans who recognize him have “welcomed me back with opened arms. I have much love for them.”
In fact, he looks like he could still play even at age 52.
“It’s not the years, it’s the miles,” Cecil said when talking about his physical shape. “Absolutely, I love to play.
I love it here (in Tucson). It’s hidden gem. When you come here it just grows on you. It’s an amazing place to play ball and go to school.”
And, now just to help out.
“I’m going to try and give back for all the wonderful things when I was here,” he said.