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With the season winding down for the Arizona Wildcats, it appears the program may be close to naming their next head coach. Mike Bellotti has reportedly been one of the leading candidates for weeks now and a lot of momentum is building for him in Tucson.
While an official deal has not been reached and no official announcement will be made today -- Bellotti is serving as an analyst on ESPN2 for a BIG10 game -- it appears he and the University of Arizona could be close to a deal if the incoming reports are true. There are some refuting these reports, though, and are suggesting this is a smokescreen from Greg Byrne to land a bigger target.
Brad Allis of the Wildcat Sports Report tweeted this:
Bellotti news heating up. One set of sources feel it is "done"
As a few others started to share these beliefs, Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star weighed in:
Lots of Bellotti speculation this am. There will be no news today. Again, he's calling Illinois game for ESPN
And on a potential smokescreen from Athletic Director Greg Byrne:
Bellotti makes sense on the surface, but not sure if he's the HR hire Byrne wanted. This could be a smokescreen. #ArizonaWildcats
And if not Bellotti, then who?
Maybe Bellotti, but he's so ... obvious. Arizona coulda had him 4 weeks ago. Hearing more and more about (Rich Rodriguez).
We need to give a lot of credit to Byrne for keeping the rumors to a minimum during this coaching search. Saturday is truly the first time we've had multiple sources with conflicting reports. This works best for all parties involved.
As for a source of my own, I spoke with a long time family friend who is a big time booster for Arizona athletics. He told me that there was a "ton" of support for bringing Bellotti to Tucson because of his track record and ability to incorporate the community into his football program. My source told me there was somewhere around a "75-90% chance" Bellotti would become the next head coach and there was a lot of momentum behind his name.
Stay tuned. Again, an official announcement is not expected today, but it could come as early as Sunday morning. Whether that announcement be for Bellotti, Rich Rodriguez, Chris Petersen or Lou Holtz (kidding) is anyone's guess at this point.
If there's any most sought-after college football coach this offseason, Urban Meyer is probably near the top of the list. Whereever Meyer goes, success tends to follow. He went 17-6 in Bowling Green, led Utah to a 22-2 record, including a 12-0 undefeated season capped off with a Fiesta Bowl victory. Then Meyer had his greatest success in Florida, leading the Gators to two BCS National Championships in his six year tenure in Gainesville.
Meyer retired last season due to health problems, but it's not like he's given up on the bug of football coaching. Ohio State and Penn State have been circulated as potential landing spots for Meyer. I doubt anyone ever thought the Arizona Wildcats ever entered the picture. But Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported that Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne did pursue Meyer.
Urban Meyer met with Arizona’s athletic director, Greg Byrne, in Miami early last week to discuss the Wildcats’ job, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting, but ultimately decided he was not interested. The person said that Meyer, who has expressed his desire to return to coaching, was intrigued but informed Byrne in a telephone call Monday night that he was not going to pursue the job.
Not a bad sign at all that Byrne went after Meyer. Arizona could use a high-profile hire to prove they're serious about building a tradition of excellence in Tucson. Even if you don't get Urban, you show the Wildcats fanbase that you're dead serious about finding the best possible candidate to be your coach.
To discuss Wildcats football, check out Arizona Desert Swarm.
Just a few hours after various reports indicated Mike Bellotti was the man for the Arizona Wildcats and their head coaching vacancy, the 60-year old shot the rumors down.
Isn't this the exact thing athletic direction Greg Byrne hoped to avoid?
According to Ken Goe of The Oregonian, the reports are false. The former Oregon football coach Mike Bellotti denied Thursday that he is in the running to become football coach at Arizona.
"There is nothing to this," Bellotti said when reached by phone. "That is the easiest thing I can say."
"Every year it's always nice to hear your name associated with jobs," Bellotti said. "The first thing I have to do is determine what my job is with ESPN and where I want to go with that.
"And, I have to decide if I go back to football, what my job would be, and where I would go with that."
Mark Asher of Arizona Sports 620 AM was the first to report the alleged rumor, though his history of accurately reporting news stories is, well, not the best, if we're being honest.
At the same time, though, this could simply be Bellotti's attempt to shoot the rumors down because of a legitimate interest in the job. At age 60 he likely only has a few seasons left in his career, but he is in good health and helped build Oregon into the powerhouse they are today. Arizona appears to be a great opportunity for Bellotti and there is legitimate interest in Tucson.
Rumors: can't live with 'em, can't have a fun sports day without 'em.
For more on the Wildcats, check out Arizona Desert Swarm.
Maybe we've been looking at the wrong Mike all along.
Mike Bellotti might be eyeing a return to the Pac-12, and he's apparently in the mix for the Arizona Wildcats head coaching search.
Mark Asher of Arizona Sports 620 AM reports on the two most important hires Arizona will probably be making this offseason.
Hearing it is Bellotti to UofA. Justin Wilcox could be the Defensive Coordinator
Bellotti had a long and successful run as head coach of the Oregon Ducks, compiling a record of 137-80-2 and two Pac-10 championships, sharing one with Washington and Oregon State in 2000 and winning one outright the year after. Oregon had only one losing season in his 14 years. It'd be hard to beat that resume.
The idea of Wilcox moving to Arizona from Tennessee is hard to believe though. Tennessee is one of the most prominent college football programs in the country. Taking a lateral move to Tucson does seem like a step backward if Wilcox really wants to climb the college ladder.
For more on the Wildcats coaching search, hit up Arizona Desert Swarm.
The Arizona Wildcats and Mike Leach. Sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn't it?
Leach didn't give off any clues about his interest in the position when he made a trip to Tucson today for promoting the Casino del Sol College All-Star Game. But as Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star reports it, Leach gives off clues that he probably would be interested in the position if he was approached.
"Anybody would be interested in that job," Leach said.
"They have an idea of what they're looking for, an idea of the direction of where they're going. If I somehow fit in there, maybe there'll be some dialog; if I don't, I'm sure they'll select a good individual for the position."
Leach isn't likely to make a decision anytime soon, probably not until after the season. But the profile of Tucson does seem to match up with Leach--it's out in the middle of nowhere, they run the Airraid attack that he perfected, and Arizona hasn't made a Rose Bowl in forever (and I mean it--never ever has Arizona made it to Pasadena). Why not take the show to the West and try to stir things up in the Pac-12?
For more on the Wildcats and their coaching search, go to Arizona Desert Swarm.
Arizona may have lost on Saturday, but an underlying theme from the game should have fans excited for the future.
Arizona's search for their next head coach is underway and names from every corner of the nation are being thrown out as possible candidates. While there are many uncertainties within the situation, Wildcat fans should rest assured Greg Byrne is the right man to find the right coach for the job.
Here are a few thoughts and beliefs I have come away with nearly a week after Stoops was fired:
1. Chris Petersen is our guy:
Petersen has had plenty of chances to leave the surf turf for greener pastures and money has not been a huge factor to this point. This could all change in the coming months, especially with so much uncertainty surrounding their conference, the Big East and Conference USA.
What happens if Boise State goes undefeated this year and doesn't get a chance at the national championship? The Broncos have two undefeated seasons in the last four years and are yet to play for the whole shebang. The stability and chance at a national title could be enough to entice Petersen to make the move to Tucson.
Greg Byrne is going to do everything in his power to make this happen and he is an athletic director known for not taking 'no' as an answer. Until Petersen flat-out tells him he does not want the job, he will continue to be the primary target for Arizona football.
2. Mike Leach is a great coach, but he probably isn't coming to Tucson:
There is absolutely no denying Mike Leach's ability to coach, recruit and rebuild a program. His numbers at Texas Tech speak for themselves and the transition from Stoops to Leach would be seamless. That would certainly make life easier for the players and any potential recruits.
There are some issues to be dealt with, though.
Leach brings a lot of baggage along with him. While the alleged scandal with Craig James appeared to be terribly overblown, Leach was still known to be profane, vulgar and extremely intense on the sidelines. Is the program ready for another character with similar traits to that of Stoops? I'm not so sure.
3. This is a huge hire for UA football:
This is not a rebuilding job by any means.
There is already talent within the program and as many as 16 starters could return next season. Located in the middle of Texas and California, Arizona has a strong recruiting base established and the state of Arizona has been producing a lot of talent in recent years. The athletic department is dedicated to establishing UA as a yearly contender in the Pac-12 and nearly $20 million dollars of renovations have gone towards the new scoreboard and north end zone project.
All of this being said, Arizona needs to get the right man for the job. Sean Miller has been an excellent example of how the right hire can pay off immediately. Whether it be a Chris Petersen, a Mike Leach, a Mike Bellotti, a Rich Rodriguez, or a completely off-the-radar candidate, Greg Byrne needs to find a perfect fit.
For more on the 'Cats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.
A list of the top-candidates for UA's head coaching vacancy.
Mike Stoops is gone and Tim Kish is in. Let's get to hear a little bit from the acting head coach for the Wildcats. Ryan Finley was able to get some video after practice this evening and asked Kish some questions:
He certainly seems like a guy who knows this is a tough situation and the team can only get better one day at a time. It will take some adjusting for the players and the coaching staff now that their leader is gone after eight seasons, but Kish seems like a man capable of restoring the confidence of the fan base and team.
Until an official decision is made on who will command UA's football program after this year, this is the man leading our program. No pressure, coach.
No, seriously, there really isn't pressure at all. Have some fun out there.
For more on Arizona football, check out AZ Desert Swarm.
The Arizona Wildcats will be conducting a thorough search for their new head coach candidate. One potential possibility is Chris Petersen from Boise State, although it's highly unlikely he'd be interested in taking the job considering he's gotten better offers in the past and turned them down.
But what about Mike Leach?
Leach has been out of the coaching game for two years, and all signals indicate that that the former pirate leader of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is ready to come back and coach again. Would Leach be interested in taking a further move out West instead of looking for a more glamorous job out among the Eastern schools?
A remote environment like Tucson does seem to fit Leach's quirky personality, the Pac-12's version of Lubbock. He'd be able to transition pretty seamlessly in terms of offense, as Arizona runs a variant of the Airraid offense Leach popularized in Texas Tech. So recruiting strategy would hardly have to change much to try and succeed out West.
Arizona will at least have to consider Leach if he decides he'd be interested in the job. It would certainly devastate UCLA football fans who are looking at Leach as a potential replacement if things fall apart with Rick Neuheisel this season. And it'd add more color to the coaching ranks in the conference. A win-win for Arizona, the Pac-12, and college football, because Mike Leach deserves to be on the sidelines.
For more on the Arizona football coaching search, go to Arizona Desert Swarm.
The Mike Stoops era was certainly not a conventional one. UA fans were in for a wild ride from the very first game to the final straw this past weekend.
Former Arizona Wildcats head coach Mike Stoops has released an official statement following his dismissal. Here it is in full:
"I am very proud of the Wildcat football program and the many accomplishments we have enjoyed. Topping that list is our qualifying for consecutive bowl games the past three seasons for only the second time in school history.
I am also proud of the success our players demonstrated off the field. Not only has our team Academic Progress Rate (APR) improved significantly each of the past five years, but also our players have made great strides in conducting themselves in a manner that reflects the ideals of this University.
When I took this job, I was hoping to be the first coach to lead this program to a Rose Bowl. Although we fell short of that goal, we made significant progress, and our organization continues to strive for excellence.
I wish the entire Wildcat football program the best of luck going forward, and I thank the University of Arizona for the opportunity to be a part of the successes we have achieved over the past eight seasons."
For more on Arizona Wildcats football, check out AZ Desert Swarm.
The Mike Stoops era in Tucson is over. After speculation ran wild for a few hours before the press conference, athletic director Greg Byrne set the record straight. Here is a video, which was obtained from AZStarNet.com:
In the video, Byrne addresses when the decision was made, why the change had to come now and not after the season, the impact on recruiting and an approximate timetable for the hiring of the new head coach. Co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish has indeed been named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. While he is not considered a likely candidate for the job in 2012, a strong finish to this season could propel Kish's name into the running.
This was the first monumental decision of Greg Byrne's tenure at UA and it was certainly one that will please the fan bas. It will be interesting to see how the coaching search plays out in the coming months.
Greg Byrne, the University of Arizona's athletic director, has met with the media and addressed the firing of Mike Stoops. Here are a few of the highlights and quotes from the press conference, which was held without Stoops at the McKale Center:
Mike Stoops is reportedly out as Arizona's head coach after eight seasons.
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