Rich Rodriguez has already hired a majority of his coaching staff for the offensive side of the football, but the search to find a defensive coordinator and defensive staff has taken longer than expected. With many believing that one big reason Rich Rod was not successful at Michigan was his inability to land the DC of his choice, it's not surprising to see the UA's head coach taking his time with the hire.
Since the day of the hire, everyone has pointed to current West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel as Rodriguez's one and only priority for his staff. Casteel and Rodriguez worked very well together in Morgantown, although he did not join the head coach when he bolted for Michigan. Now, with Rodriguez 3,000 miles west of WVU, Casteel has a decision to make. According to this latest story, a decision will not be made by Casteel until after the bowl games.
It's one of the most-asked questions in two states (if Casteel will leave for Arizona), but the only guy who knows the answer isn't giving it up. In fact, he won't even talk about it beyond answering the question with one of his own.
"What does it matter?'' Jeff Casteel asked. "This time of year there's speculation everywhere. It's always been like that. It was like that last year. It was like that the year before. And sometimes it's out in the forefront and sometimes it isn't.''
There are a lot of reasons for Casteel to stay at WVU. He has spent most of his life in the area, is paid more than just about any coordinator in the country and is, reportedly, happy coaching the Mountaineers. That does not mean he hasn't talked with Rodriguez in recent weeks, though.
"You know, I don't know that that's important (on the rumors and speculation),'' Casteel said Wednesday, again evasively. "I think what's important is that we talk about the kids in the bowl game. These kids have worked their tail off to play in a bowl game. Getting into those things, I don't think I need to answer those things. I hope to coach here at West Virginia. That's what I hope to do.''
But if Casteel is ready to jump at the opportunity to coach at Arizona, he's not saying. He maintains he's happy as can be where he is, but he also knows that by refusing to toss any Arizona speculation in the trash he's merely fanning the flames.
"I don't care what you read into it,'' Casteel said. "I'm just telling you, I'm coaching here at West Virginia.''
For how long remains to be seen.
The hiring of the right defensive coordinator is absolutely imperative for Rich Rod to be successful in Tucson. Whether that be Casteel or someone else remains to be seen, but make no mistake about it: Casteel is the No. 1 guy for Arizona and Rodriguez desperately wants him to coach his defense. Now it's just a matter of sweetening the deal enough to lure Casteel to the desert.