Arizona Football

Professor Pigskin: Coaching Search Edition

The Professor has been busy. Just when he thought he would be answering questions about Pima College players and what RichRod has to do to keep his job, all hell breaks loose. Needelss to say the Professor’s cell phone has been buzzing, he is getting tendonitis from texting, Facebook and Twitter feeds are full, and his father is calling twice a day. Heck, even office hours have been packed with people asking about the coaching search.

Here are just some of the questions and comments from social media, text messages, phone calls, and of course, Brad’s dad.

Why do you like Kevin Sumlin? He was terrible at Texas A&M.

Quit listening to Texas A&M sports talk radio. He was actually pretty darn good at TAMU.  To all those who say he “failed” or was “terrible” at Texas A&M, he has the SECOND highest win % at the school since 1918. Only R.C. Slocum (.721) had a higher win % than Sumlin’s .677.

There is this myth that the Aggies are this great football program, and that is not true. In the “modern era” since 1980 the Aggies are 288-164-2. In that same timeframe Arizona is 240-200-7, which is essentially 1.2 wins per season more than Arizona.

All that said, most are reporting that Sumlin is probably not the guy, at least not a current favorite, though Jason Scheer of reports he is very much in the mix. He has won at both his stops, recruited Phoenix better than Arizona and ASU, and has ties to current coaches Marcel Yates and B.J. Denker.

The next coach has to be an “Arizona man?”

Why? Nick Saban is not an Alabama grad. Coach K is not a Duke grad. Lute Olson did not attend Arizona. Heck, Mike Candrea is an ASU grad.

Of the Top-20 coaches in college football (using a year-old CBS list that also had Bob Stoops and Jim McElwain on it) 5 are coaching at their alma maters. Of those 5, two (Jim Harbaugh and Mark Richt) not only had previous head coaching experience, but were very successful head coaches. Two were offensive coordinators, David Shaw and Mike Gundy, and were promoted from within after Harbaugh and Les Miles left Michigan and Oklahoma State.

Only Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald was promoted with less experience he was linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator but was promoted to keep the program together after the unexpected death of Randy Walker. He has been good by Northwestern standards, averaging 7.25 wins preseason for the purple Wildcats, but one has to remember Rich Rodriguez averaged 7 wins per season at Arizona.

It must be noted that new Nebraska coach Scott Frost is a former Cornhusker, but he too comes with a great resume. He was one of the hot, coordinators when he was hired at Central Florida and 12-0 this season when he took the Nebraska job. He was 19-7 in two years at UCF, inheriting a team that did not win a game the year before he arrived.

My point is, save for Fitzgerald, all five coaches who are alums of the schools they coach have superior resumes to any of the Arizona grads who the fans want.

Ricky Hunley is the greatest player in school history and wants the job.

Ricky Hunley IS indeed the greatest player in school history and has been treated like crap by some of the old coaching staffs. Although he interviewed for the job in 2004, his resume does not stack up to be a head coach. Hunley has a great background as a position coach, working for great football minds Larry Smith, Dennis Green and Marvin Lewis, but has never been a coordinator at the college of NFL level. He did serve as a defensive coordinator in the now-defunct United Football League. To be fair was associate head coach at Missouri, but that was almost 20 years ago. He has also been out of coaching the past two seasons after a coaching change at Memphis.

If you want Hunley to serve as linebackers or defensive line coach, I would be 100% behind it. I would even like to see him serve as a defensive coordinator, but if he was the greatest player in Utah history with the same resume, no one would be pushing for hm.

What about Chuck Cecil?

Cecil has a better resume. He was a defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans for two season, but his defenses struggled. In 2009 he guided the No. 28th ranked defense and in 2010 they were 26th.

Cecil spent his entire career working for Jeff Fisher, save for this year when he was with the Arizona staff as an analyst.

Like Hunley, I think Cecil would be a wonderful addition as a position coach or coordinator, but the fact that as a coordinator in the NFL he was never considered a head coaching candidate worries me.

It is time to think outside of the box.

The last time Arizona did that they hired John Mackovic. Heck, ASU can’t even see the box with their Herm Edwards hire.

So, which former Wildcat has the best resume?

This is actually a trick question of sort. The Arizona grad with the best resume is current USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. He is an Arizona grad, but never played football at Arizona. In fact, he never played college football. He was a student at Arizona, though he did apparently coach his fraternity football team.

Pendergast has twice served as a DC in the Pac-12, currently at USC and at Cal, and has also been a coordinator with the Cardinals and Chiefs. He is also from the Phoenix area.

Of former players, David Fipp has been a college defensive coordinator at Cal Poly, Nevada (co-DC), and San Jose State (co-DC) and is currently the special teams coach for the Eagles where he is very well regarded.

Joe Salave’a has never been a coordinator but has been an associate head coach at both Washington State and Oregon. He has coached under Dick Tomey, Mike Leach, and Willie Taggert. He has also expressed interest in the job and is considered a real, if not long shot, candidate.

Should the players have a say in who they hire?

Sure, but only to a point. I would listen to their input, maybe even have a few players on a selection committee, but I would not allow them to wield too much power. While they will be the most directly impacted by the hire, these are also 18-22 year old college students. The fact that they rallied around Marcel Yates should say a lot about the man and that he has a place in the program, but their vote of confidence should not be a driving force in the selection process.

So “no” to Yates?

I just do not see him being the guy. Would love to keep him on staff as I think he was stating to do some nice things with the defense and is a very good recruiter. He could be key to keeping the class together. That being said, I can’t see the fans getting behind him and his troubles in Boise relating to a failed business venture may be a distraction the staff does not want.

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