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.