Monday, January 25, 2010
Could Big 12 play a part in filling Arizona position?
By ESPN.com staff
Most of the major coaching jobs across the country have been filled in the last couple of weeks.
One of the most intriguing remains open. Arizona coach Mike Stoops is still looking for an offensive coordinator to replace Sonny Dykes, who recently was hired as the new coach at Louisiana Tech.
The Arizona job is an attractive one for coordinators. The lifestyle in Tucson is appealing and Stoops has been able to command a nice salary for his coaches with the Arizona program, which has made back-to-back bowl trips in the last two seasons for the first since 1997-98.
The most intriguing hire with the most splash likely won't happen. That would be if Stoops could reach out to Mike Leach, who he is familiar with after coaching with him on his brother Bob Stoops' staff at Oklahoma in 1999.
Leach is out of work now after his recent dismissal at Texas Tech. He brings unquestioned knowledge of the passing game and would work well with Nick Foles, who ranked 19th nationally after throwing for 2,486 yards and 19 touchdowns last season as a sophomore.
But it's unlikely that Leach would return to college football as a coordinator. Although he is familiar with Stoops and would be running the same offense as the one he made famous at Texas Tech, I can't see Leach giving up a chance to be a head coach. A more likely scenario will be for him to sit out for a year and attempt to get in the mix for coaching vacancies next season.
A more likely scenario would be for Stoops to perhaps raid his brother's staff for an assistant. Former Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel has thrived as the Sooners' quarterbacks coach and might be ready for a jump up in responsibility as a coordinator.
Heupel is only 31 and has never been an offensive coordinator before. But he has shown remarkable aptitude in the passing offense so far and might be ready for the jump in responsibility.
Arizona insiders have hinted that the most likely replacement for Dykes is already on Mike Stoops' staff. Former Texas Tech and current Arizona offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and outside receivers coach Dave Nichol could assume the role in a co-coordinator capacity.
But the chance to move the Wildcats forward has Stoops considering making this a major move. And adding Heupel or Leach would certainly qualify as one.