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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Byrne begins patient coaching search

After seven and a half years at the helm of Arizona football, head coach Mike Stoops was released from his position on Monday. While defensive coordinator Tim Kish takes over as interim head coach for the Wildcats, Arizona Athletics administration will try to capitalize on the time left in the season by interviewing potential coaching prospects.

Athletic director Greg Byrne is looking for someone with dedication to advance the program.

“What we want to have is a passion for college football and passion for the student-athlete,” Byrne said in a press conference on Monday. “(Someone who will care) about them athletically, academically, socially.”

The search committee, headed by Byrne, also consists of deputy athletic director Rocky LaRose, and the senior associate directors of business and external operations, John Perrin and James Francis.

There’s not one attribute that Byrne values more than others in a candidate, whether it be football philosophies or background.

“There’s a lot of different things, and not any one person fits all of those things,” he said.

Byrne said that, as of now, the department is not hiring an outside firm to help in the search but it could seek further help in the future.

The hire will likely be made a few weeks after Arizona concludes its season.

“I’m not as concerned about time frames,” Byrne said. “From an integrity standpoint, it’s important to not interrupt a sitting head coach’s season and what they’re doing with their program.”

Chris Petersen

While the possibility of Petersen leaving behind his 66-5 head coaching record at Boise State seems like a lofty idea, he certainly will be a target for the Arizona head coaching job. Since taking over the Broncos as head coach in 2005, Petersen lead the Broncos to four Western Athletic Conference titles and looks primed to take the Mountain West title at the end of this season. There have been talks about Boise State getting a potential Big 12 conference bid, but if that fails, Petersen might think about changing gears and switching into the automatic-qualifying Pac-12.

Mike Leach

The former Texas Tech head coach was fired at the end of the 2009 season for allegedly mistreating a player. Before he was released, Leach had taken the Red Raiders to 10 consecutive winning seasons and had nine consecutive bowl appearances. Leach would’ve coached his 10th in a row at the 2009 Alamo Bowl, but was let go shortly before. Currently he’s an analyst for CBS College Sports Network, but Arizona could look at him as a potential candidate if he wants to return to the sidelines.

Rich Rodriguez

After making his name running the spread option offense at West Virginia, Rodriguez took the head coaching job at the University of Michigan, but was let go after three seasons. Rodriguez only had one winning season at the helm of Michigan and is now an analyst for CBS sports. Despite his lackluster tenure as the Wolverines coach, his offensive mindset could appeal to Arizona.

Mike Bellotti

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly took over for Bellotti when he decided to take the position as the Oregon athletic director. Bellotti only lasted a year as the head of Oregon Athletics and now works as an analyst for ESPN. The word is out on whether or not Bellotti wants to return to coaching, but he could be courted by Arizona for such a position.

Ricky Hunley

Arizona could turn to former Wildcat linebacker and College Football Hall of Fame member Ricky Hunley, who received back-to-back All-American honors in 1982 and 1983. Hunley is the assistant linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders, but Arizona might look at Hunley’s Tucson star power in considering him as a candidate.

Chuck Cecil

Another former Wildcat standout could be in the mix. Cecil was released from his duties as the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator at the beginning of the year. The former NFL Pro Bowl Safety was also elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009 after a career at Arizona where he tallied 445 tackles and 16 interceptions. Of those 16 picks, none were more poignant than the 100-yard interception return against Arizona State in 1986 that is considered by many as the greatest play in Arizona football history. Although Cecil has never coached in the NCAA, the local name recognition could work for him.

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