Arizona coaching candidates: Jeff Tedford, Seth Litrell, Butch Jones among top choices
With Rich Rodriguez out, it's time to look forward for the folks in Tucson
Arizona is actually in a fairly good position considering it just fired its coach, Rich Rodriguez, in early January after the coaching carousel appeared to stop spinning.
There is a late signing class still to go, plenty of head-coaching candidates out there and, well, room to win.
Arizona would seem to be motivated to act quickly and decisively. Start with the return of quarterback Khalil Tate, and the fact that Chip Kelly didn't go to Arizona State makes recruiting -- especially in-state -- a little easier.
Arizona signed 16 players in the Early Signing Period, but does not have the full 25 scholarship allotment to give. With Rodriguez gone, there could be a fight for three-star, dual-threat quarterback Jamarye Joiner, an Arizona commit and Tucson native who has yet to sign.
Arizona remains the only old Pac-10 program never to have played in the Rose Bowl. Count on the next guy having an offensive slant given what's in place and the culture of the Pac-12.
Sources have indicated, for now, former Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin may not be a candidate.
That situation could change but for now these names bear watching.
Mike Norvell, Memphis coach: Not sure if Arizona State's former offensive coordinator didn't get the Arkansas job or that he didn't want it. Norvell's star couldn't be higher right now. He agreed to a five-year, $13-million extension in December.
Jeff Tedford, Frenso State coach: At age 54, Tedford is still in the prime of his career having led a massive turnaround in Fresno (1-11 to 10-4). This is the nice, safe hire that Arizona needs to make and the jump Tedford would take. One thing to watch: Tedford traditionally runs a pro set. That could be an issue with Tate returning.
Seth Littrell, North Texas coach: The Arizona administration should have its eye on the Wildcats' former assistant under from 2009-2011 under Mike Stoops. Littrell is coming off a nine-win season.
Charlie Strong, South Florida coach: The amazing Quinton Flowers is gone, which has to give Strong pause. The thought here is that Strong would be open to getting back into the Power Five a year removed from Texas.
Mike Leach, Washington State coach: I'm told the interest in Tennessee was real when Leach interviewed with John Currie in Los Angeles. Would Leach trade having to play Oregon, Washington and Stanford each year for the Pac-12 South? The resources are better at Arizona.
Dino Babers, Syracuse coach: Babers is going to be at another Power Five soon. After beating Clemson, the Orange finished 4-8, losing their last five. He is 8-16 in two years at Syracuse, but his offensive chops are admired nationally.
Larry Fedora, North Carolina coach: Fedora remains one of the brightest offensive minds in the country. A down year in Chapel Hill shouldn't disqualify him from being considered for this job.
Mark Helfrich, former Oregon coach: Yeah, he won with Chip Kelly's players, but one of those players won a Heisman (Marcus Mariota) and all of them played for the 2013 national championship.
Chuck Cecil, Arizona defensive analyst: It's no secret the all-time Arizona great wants the job. Cecil has never been a head coach, although he spent two years as the Titans' defensive coordinator. Cecil has a lot of support from certain Arizona fans.
Jedd Fisch, former UCLA offensive coordinator: There's probably a reason Fisch isn't at Missouri already, which had been widely reported. Arizona could do worse than hire the OC of the NFL's No. 1 draft pick (Josh Rosen).
Jim McElwain, former Florida coach: Mac seems destined to eventually land somewhere in the West given his roots. The departure from Florida , but you can't get past winning two championships at Alabama and a 23-12 record at Florida.
Les Miles, former LSU coach: Why wouldn't he be a candidate? He's accomplished and available. Miles would make the Wildcats a mini-Stanford -- run the ball and smack you in the mouth. You know, if you're interested in beating the opponent to a pulp, which Arizona should be.
Clancy Pendergast, USC defensive coordinator: Pendergast did not play football at Arizona, but graduated from there. He is an accomplished NFL veteran assistant and only 50. He knows the Pac-12 having spent six of the last eight years there. His two USC defenses have finished 36th and 68th in total defense.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech coach: Is Arizona a better job and do the Wildcats want a coach under .500 (30-33) in his career?
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