Arizona Athletics Director Dave Heeke has spoken to “numerous” potential candidates for the vacant UA head football coaching job, but no job offer has been made.
Heeke told a gathering of media Friday morning to update it on the progress of his search to replace Kevin Sumlin.
That was the main takeaway from the meeting that lasted about 45 minutes. It’s clear – unlike three years ago when Heeke hired Sumlin – he will be looking for the right guy and not the hot guy of the moment.
“Contrary to inappropriate reports through different channels of the media, we have not offered the job to anyone,” Heeke said. “We have had no final discussions with anyone.”
Heeke said there is no specific timeline in hiring the next coach (note that it took two weeks to hire Sumlin).
“We (do) need to make sure we are moving quickly so that we can get someone the ground and begin to turn this football program around,” Heeke said.
Heeke said he “is looking for a strong leader who can assemble a group, a staff that can help a head coach be very successful here.”
“I’m looking for that person who has the concept of building an overall program,” Heeke said.
Heeke said he’s looking for “sustained success.”
That’s something Arizona hasn’t had in more than 20 years and just as rarely throughout the school’s history, given it has had only three 10-win seasons with the last one coming in 1998.
In fact, the recent demise of the program – Sumlin went just 9-20 – that former UA Lettermen have come together to see what they can do to help Heeke and the UA athletic department bridge a gap between the past and the present. Heeke called it “strength in numbers for support.”
“We have a passionate group,” he said. “… it’s been a good exchange of information. I value their input.”
He added later, “This is their program.”
Heeke talked about finding a coach who believes “in our passion, our toughness and believing in our history and tradition.”
Heeke admitted UA is “a different of a place and you really have to believe in it here.”
Heeke said he’ll be looking for a coach who:
- Embraces the community and the fanbase.
- Will be open and accessible and understand that the community and fans want to know their coach.
- Leader of men.
- Relationship builder with his players.
That stated, when asked if the next UA coach must have ties to the school or program, Heeke said, “it’s critical that a coach understands our values, understand our history, understand our tradition.”
Eventually saying that the coach could use the philosophy “that is similar to those before that have seen success.”
Adding that there needs to be “some recognition that exists here and the power of our past.”
Heeke admitted he will have the assistance of a search firm, but it will not select the coach and will not force people to be in the process.
“The next head football coach will be hired by us, not a search firm,” Heeke said. “Sometimes I think that gets twisted in the wrong direction. A search firm is part of the process.”