Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Jeff Casteel to run Arizona defense
By Ted Miller ESPN.com
New Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez finally got his man at defensive coordinator.
After a lengthy negotiation, Arizona announced Wednesday that longtime West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel will join Rodriguez in Tucson.
ESPN.com's Ted Miller and Kevin Gemmell write about all things Pac-12 in the conference blog.
Arizona also announced the hiring of two other West Virginia defensive coaches: David Lockwood (defensive backs) and Bill Kirelawich (defensive line) as well as Spencer Leftwich (tight ends), who was at Pittsburgh this past season.
Casteel and Kirelawich worked under Rodriguez at West Virginia but didn't follow him to Michigan, where poor defense played a big role in Rodriguez's firing after the 2010 season.
West Virginia finished in the nation's top 15 in total defense three of the last seven years, and in the top 15 scoring defenses four of those years. In 2010, Casteel's defense finished third in the nation in total defense, second in rushing defense, third in scoring defense and second in sacks per game. His 2007 unit finished the season ranked No. 7 in total defense and No. 8 in scoring defense.
Casteel has been defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at West Virginia since 2003.
"I have enjoyed my time at West Virginia University, and it's been 11 great years," Casteel said in a statement. "I have coached some outstanding young men, and I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication."
Lockwood will coach cornerbacks at Arizona, his position assignment at WVU for the past four seasons. He has also worked as an assistant at Kentucky and Minnesota, where he was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2005-06.
Kirelawich has coached at West Virginia since 1979, when he joined the staff as a part-time assistant. He spent three stints as a defensive line coach, from 1980-87, 1991-2000 and for the past nine seasons. He also coached outside linebackers (1988-90) and served as an administrative assistant for two seasons.
Leftwich, who spent the 2011 season as offensive line coach at Pitt, has roots in the Southwest. The offensive line coach at Tulsa from 2003-06 and again in 2010, he has also been an assistant at North Texas, New Mexico State and Stephen F. Austin.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck thanked the three departing assistants "for their more than 50 years of service to West Virginia University. They have been a part of much success and have left a lasting impact on our program and our student-athletes."
Ted Miller writes about Pac-12 football for ESPN.com.