Coach Michalczik brings consistency to Arizona Wildcats football

Tyler+Baker++%2F++Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+University+of+Arizonas+Football+during+practice+on+Wednesday+April+3.

Tyler Baker

Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat The University of Arizona’s Football during practice on Wednesday April 3.

Luke Della

Consistency is key in building a successful program.

When coaches are entering and leaving faster than players are graduating, it becomes increasingly difficult for a team to improve.

Following the quick departure of former offensive line coach Robert Anae after last season, head football coach Rich Rodriguez found Jim Michalczik to replace him. In just a few months, Michalczik has already garnered the respect of many Wildcats.

“You just look at [Michalczik’s] track record; he has a lot of guys in the league,” sophomore offensive lineman Jacob Arzouman said. “He’s coached in the league. He knows what he’s doing.”

Michalczik isn’t new to spring practice. The seasoned coach has spent 24 years patrolling the sidelines. Despite having coached for over two decades, Michalczik has only worn a few different logos on his shirt.

In 2002, Michalczik was named Cal’s offensive line coach under then-new head coach Jeff Tedford. Michalczik stayed with the Golden Bears for six seasons before taking the same job with the neighboring Oakland Raiders, which Michalczik called a dream job.

Michalczik returned to Cal two years later following the firing of former Raiders head coach Tom Cable. Now Michalczik comes to Tucson after the firing of Tedford in hopes of building a consistent program, as he did for a Cal program that, in 10 years, saw 12 offensive linemen make it to professional football.

“The tempo and the intensity we practice at here is a really neat deal,” Michalczik said. “Everything we do here directly translates into the game. There’s no wasted time; there’s no wasted movement. It’s well organized, and it’s exactly how you want to do it. I’ve been pretty impressed already.”

During his nine-year stint with the Golden Bears, Michalczik led Cal to six consecutive bowl games, seven total, and finished tied for first in the Pac-10 conference in 2006.

It hasn’t taken long for Michalczik to take control of his new offense line. With just 14 Arizona spring practices under his belt, he already has his line focused, understanding what it did wrong under Anae and what it needs to do better in 2013 if it wants to help win the Pac-12.

“Coach Anae was more laid back,” senior offensive lineman Chris Putton said. “Coach M is very hands-on. He’s very tough on our technique. He’s really been pushing us to get our butts down. He’s really trying to emphasize getting lower, because the lower man wins in football, obviously. Once our pad level comes down, I think we’ll be able to move guys off the ball even more than last year.”

Michalczik couldn’t say whether he preferred coaching in college to the NFL, but he did say coaching college players is very different than professionals — and sometimes more rewarding.

“With NFL guys, it’s their job,” Michalczik said. “You coach them [and] then they go home to their families and so do you. In college, you’re taking an 18-year-old who thinks he’s a man, and you watch him mold into what really is a man. And that’s awesome.”

Michalczik’s down-to-earth personality has helped him win the respect of his new players. He’s coached many young men into NFL-caliber players and has critiqued professional players’ techniques.

Even though he didn’t have a strong relationship with Rodriguez prior to coming to the desert, Michalczik said he has already found comfort in Tucson and expects to be here until the very end, like at his previous stops.

“If it means anything, when I coached at Cal and with the Raiders, I lived in the Bay Area for 10 years and never bought a house,” Michalczik said with a smile. “I’ve lived in Tucson for a few months and already have bought a house.”