Brent Brennan gets it.
It’s as simple as that. And he’ll bring that aw-shucks mentality/attitude (there’s more there than that, but you know what I mean) to the table and football field when he gets his footing on Arizona Stadium’s astroturf (or whatever it’s called now).
What he gets from Arizona’s roster after players started to jump late in the afternoon on Wednesday might determine what he has to work with. But he’ll get there when all the dust settles. It’ll take time.
But, from his 47-minute introduction press conference on Wedneday, you got the sense he’ll fit in quite well at UA, a place that needs some normalcy these days and just days removed from Jedd Fisch bolting to former Pac-12 Conference opponent Washington. The press conference had a nice, warm buzz to it, like a favorite family member returning home after a long journey but is here for good.
When Dave Heeke said he “had to get the right person, right coach” for Arizona the thought is he did. In Brennan, 50, he got a person who wants to be here – and wanted to be here three years ago when he was passed over for Fisch – at a place that has potential of winning and has proven it lately (more on that later).
The first meeting with the current UA players was said to have gone well, although it feels different just a few hours later with some portal entries.
“I was just honest with them,” Brennan said of the meeting. “I just asked them to give me a chance to earn their trust. To treat each other with respect, and the trust will be earned over time. And then I promised to surround them with a great coaching staff and with people that cared about their development and who they are as men.”
One thing is certain, Brennan said, is “I think I have a decent commitment from Duane Akina” to return.
“I’m excited about that,” he said.
He added that his priority right now is “trying to get to know this team and spend some time around the team and meeting one on one with some of the players and then also meeting with some groups of players because I’m just trying to get to know them. But more importantly, I’m trying to give them a chance to get to know me. They’re kind of been in a tough spot.”
Surely, he’s aware of the importance of getting key players – hell, everyone – to stay and buy into his system. He mentioned no one directory – he wasn’t asked – but Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan are the centerpieces. We’ll know in a few days what will happen.
Still, those who stay might be in for a treat or an eye-opening experience. They’ll definitely get someone who cares and can coach. And brings back memories of the Dick Tomey era, the lasting era that people in these parts still cling to.
Until then, he’ll soak up the opportunity of being the head coach, something that finally hit him early Wednesday morning when he saw his face on Arizona Stadium’s big screen welcoming him to Arizona.
He saw it and thought, “oh my god. Let’s go!”
It all starts now in earning his $3.1 million for the first year with UA. Over the five-year contract it’s about $3.5 million.
He’ll earn every dollar. In part because he’s “honored” to be here.
Do you think the last few football coaches really felt that?
Maybe, but I doubt it. They liked the opportunity and the money.
But Brennan is here and “My excitement about being here is over the top,” he said.
After all, he does have a legacy – and mentor – to live up to, Dick Tomey, who he worked for as a grad student more than 23 years ago and later at San Jose State when Tomey became the coach there.
He’s Tomey 2.0.
“He’s mini-me of my dad,” Rich Tomey said of Brennan on the Eye on the Ball radio show. He added later, it’s like he “handed him the keys from heaven.”
Now, what will he do with it?
Well, he’ll use the same methods – team, family, hard work.
“We’re going to double down on family, double down on loving each other and caring about each other, and we will build something you can all be proud of,” he said.
This has been three years in the making. If you remember, Brennan was a finalist for the job that Fisch got. The Covid-era. No doubt it was a job he wanted.
“When we were here 23 years ago, we really liked it,” he said. “We knew it was a special place, kind of a place you always hope to could get back to somehow. Don’t always know how that works and you don’t always know if you’re gonna have a chance to in our profession. But three years ago was a tricky one. I was certainly disappointed.”
But he said he was at a “great place” in San Jose State and “had a great job.”
No harm, no foul.
He then mentioned a Tomey-ism: “the harder it gets the better you play.”
So, he did that at San Jose State. And now, he’s here.
And the program – save for all the portal entries this week – it’s in a better place than three years ago. Isn’t it? Of course, it is.
“I think this is a great time to be here because of what Jedd and his staff did,” Brennan said. “They had a fantastic season. What these players did. That was really fun to watch.”