New Arizona football coach Kevin Sumlin initially targeted a couple of former Wildcats for his coaching staff, although talks didn’t pan out in either case.
Sumlin did, however, retain former Arizona All-American Chuck Cecil as a defensive analyst. Cecil will be in his second year in that role, which precludes coaching on the field, having been brought in last summer by then-coach Rich Rodriguez.
“He’s got great name recognition,” Sumlin said Monday night after the team’s first spring practice.
“You see his name … everywhere you walk. He’s a great representative of the university and he’s really a legend. Guys can talk to him about what life is all about.
“You want to play at the next level, you want to know how he played the game? He gives a different look at things that maybe some guys who have just been in college don’t know.”
Cecil played at Arizona from 1984 to 1987 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He spent seven seasons in the NFL and spent 15 total seasons as a defensive assistant with the Titans and Rams.
While some fans clamored for more alums on the staff, Sumlin did just fine, assembling a well-rounded group that has established ties in Arizona’s three main recruiting areas — California, Arizona and Texas, with a side dish of Las Vegas. Moreover, defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei, formerly of Mt. San Antonio College in California, has deep ties into the Polynesian recruiting pipeline.
Sumlin also retained defensive coordinator Marcel Yates (a lead recruiter in southern California) and receivers coach Theron Aych (Texas ties), helping continuity.
In doing all this, Sumlin easily sidestepped Rodriguez’s original sin at Arizona — mostly constructing his coaching staff with assistants he worked with at West Virginia and Michigan. They were fine coaches, but a couple didn’t really recruit and, overall, that staff came to Tucson with little connection to top high school programs in California and Texas, which eventually led to substandard classes and, therefore, a lack of depth and front-line talent.
Sumlin said he believes his new staff “checks the boxes” in terms of being great teachers, having football expertise and being able to recruit.
“Those guys are hard to find,” Sumlin said. “This is an experienced staff with guys who have a good mix and who have been in the Pac-12 before.”
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Noel Mazzone
Outside receivers coach Taylor Mazzone
Inside receivers coach Theron Aych
Running backs coach Clarence McKinney
Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert
Defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei
Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin
Defensive coodinator/linebackers coach Marcel Yates
Safeties coach John Rushing
Special teams coordinator Jeremy Springer