Jeff Casteel Officially Hired by Arizona



Okay, I was originally going to make this a quick Fan Shot, but I'm not entirely sure if the links will hold up in the future, so I'll just block-quote a lot of them for posterity.

Well, this blog has been a little more focused on basketball recently, which is understandable. Arizona is still in the midst of making the transition from "Basketball School" to "School Where They Also Play Football and Like It." Plus, it's basketball season, so no harm no foul.

Nevertheless, this is pretty big news. Rich Rodriguez (or as the Wildcat faithful may soon call him, Ol' Rich Rod) has finally nailed down his prime target for defensive coordinator: Jeff Casteel, formerly of West Virginia. This blog already ran a similar story, but it would hardly satisfy you if you were looking for something official:

Hey, so Jeff Casteel is almost hired. Soon. Maybe. Even though it's final. What those smart people in the field do know is that it looks like he's going to the Arizona Wildcats for sure.

In the past week or so, we assumed that it'd happen following the Orange Bowl. Then it got delayed. Then rumors about Penn State arose, as did rumblings that Casteel was somewhat torn on leaving his alma mater to join Rich Rodriguez in Tucson.

Colin Dunlap tweeted that the contract was finalized and Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star believe it'll happen by tomorrow. Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen wrote a good background piece regarding Casteel and RichRod, and he said the announcement will come tomorrow afternoon, as will the naming of a couple of other defensive assistants that will fill out Rodriguez's staff.

Anyway, this should be done soon. Perhaps.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound very "official" to me. This blog was sort of just waiting on the official news to break. (Yeah, I don't always trust Twitter either, even though Greg Byrne used it to show that he had hired Rodriguez, but this is the exception, not the rule.)

Well, it's been a couple days, and the news broke.

Here's the Arizona athletic department's official release on Casteel:

TUCSON, Ariz.--Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez completed his football coaching staff today with the appointment of Jeff Casteel to defensive coordinator, David Lockwood as a defensive backs coach, Bill Kirelawich as defensive line coach and Spencer Leftwich as tight ends coach.

Casteel, Lockwood and Kirelawich come from similar posts at West Virginia University and Leftwich joins Rodriguez’s staff from the offensive line position at Pittsburgh. Casteel and Kirelawich worked under Rodriguez during his tenure as head coach at WVU.

"We are very excited to have Jeff, David, Bill and Spencer, and their families, join our family here at the University of Arizona. They are not only great coaches, but great people who bring a lot of quality experience and knowledge to our staff," Rodriguez said.

And it doesn't get any more official than the Washington Post:

TUCSON, Ariz. — Longtime West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is reuniting with old boss Rich Rodriguez at Arizona.

Rodriguez announced the hiring of Casteel and three other coaches Wednesday to complete the staff in his new job with the Wildcats.

Casteel had been defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Mountaineers since 2003 and was co-coordinator the season before that.

"I have enjoyed my time at West Virginia University, and it’s been 11 great years," Casteel said in a statement released by West Virginia. "I have coached some outstanding young men, and I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication."

Also, here's ESPN on the story:

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.

Sports Illustrated:

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - New Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has hired West Virginia's Jeff Casteel as defensive coordinator.

Casteel will be reunited with Rodriguez, who rose to prominence as a college coach with his success at West Virginia. Casteel has been defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Mountaineers since 2003 and was co-coordinator the season before that.

Our friends at SB Nation also broke the news:

It's official: Jeff Casteel is the new defensive coordinator for the Arizona Wildcats. The news was finally confirmed by the UA this afternoon, including a tweet from head coach Rich Rodriguez. Fans may recalled athletic director Greg Byrne announced the hiring of coach Rodriguez on Twitter and it is clear Arizona continues to lead the way in social media in college athletics.

CBS Sports, in typical CBS Sports fashion, does a newsbreak/opinion piece:

It's one of the college football world's worst-kept secrets of the last few weeks, as it was hinted at yesterday -- and Arizona actually had Jeff Casteel's bio on its website on Tuesday -- but the news became official on Wednesday evening. West Virginia's defensive coordinator, Jeff Casteel, has left the program to reunite with Rich Rodriguez in Arizona.

Yes, that part about Casteel's bio on Arizona's website is true. You can see it here.

Oh, what the heck, we'll block-quote it:


Jeff Casteel - Defensive Coordinator

Veteran defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel was appointed to take over Arizona's defense on Jan. 11. He'll also coach linebackers in the second level of UA's scheme.

Casteel was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at West Virginia since 2003 and spent the season before that in Morgantown as co-coordinator. He worked with the defensive line at WVU in 2001 and as defensive ends coach at UTEP in 2000.

His multiple spread defense normally uses three down linemen and at times up to half a dozen defensive backs. The 3-3-5 system has been called the Mustang and the 30 Stack, among others.

His 2011 version helped the Mountaineers contain a potent Clemson offense and beat the Tigers, 70-33, in the 2012 Orange Bowl, with four turnovers gained, one for a score.

He began his coaching career at California University in Pennsylvania as a graduate assistant from 1984-86, and then coached the defensive line at Palmetto High School in Miami, Fla., for a year.

He was the defensive line and strength coach at Shepherd University in Sheperdstown, W. Va., in 1989 and 1990 and assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1991 to 1999 at Shepherd before moving to Division I football at UTEP.

He has 28 years of coaching experience and was Rivals' 2007 Defensive Coordinator of the Year and its 2008 Big East coordinator of the year. He has coached in 11 bowl games.

Shepherd teams won West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles six times while he was assistant head coach. He's been part of a WVU staff that has led the Mountaineers to an average of 10 victories per season from 2006-2011, two of those under Rodriguez.

Among some of Casteel's noteworthy defenses at WVU were units that were best in the Big East and No. 13 nationally in rushing defense and 25th in turnover margin in 2006; No. 7 in total defense, No. 8 in scoring defense, No. 9 in turnover margin and top 20 marks in sacks and rushing defense in 2007; and No. 11 in scoring defense and top 20 marks in turnover margin and pass efficiency defense in 2008.

My opinion? This is huge for Rich Rodriguez. The guy needed to make this hire.

One of his biggest problems at Michigan was his inability to find a defensive coordinator who meshed with his philosophy and, more importantly, could also coach and scheme defense well. Rodriguez made sure that his strength and conditioning trainer Mike Barwis came with him (and spared no expense doing so), but Rodriguez didn't make a hard enough push for Casteel. You probably know how that turned out.

I'm still a little uneasy about Rodriguez hiring Tony Gibson at Arizona. Gibson was the coach of the secondary and the kicking game at Michigan, which in 2010 were the two worst units by far. However, it's possible that, with Casteel in tow, Gibson's flaws will be reconciled by Casteel's excellence.

It's also good to see that Rodriguez understood that defense had to be a priority, and sparing no expense to get Casteel to Tucson was definitely the way to go.

There are a couple of other opinions about this, including one from someone at West Virginia. The bit on Gibson "not being about technique" is troubling but consistent.

Understandably, the fans of West Virginia aren't happy about Casteel departing, which is good news for Arizona, because it means they're getting a coveted coach (in case you hadn't already gathered that).

And, of course, Arizona fans are rightly thrilled.

All comments, fanposts, and fanshots are the views of the reader-authors who create them.

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