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Arizona coaches Jay Johnson and Scott Boone share the Nevada connection

A couple guys in different sports that hit it off up in Reno before heading to Tucson

Jay Johnson meets with McNeese State’s Justin Hill and the umpires prior to Friday’s tilt
Jason Bartel

Over the last 20 months or so, multiple coaches have made their way from Reno, Nevada down to Tucson.

First, it was baseball head coach Jay Johnson and his pitching coach Dave Lawn. Then just recently it was new football linebacker coach Scott Boone.

For Johnson, seeing his old Nevada counterpart head to Tucson was exciting.

“I was fired up,” exclaimed Johnson when asked about the moment he heard the news that Rich Rodriguez had hired Boone. “He’s been out to a couple games and I’m checking in on practice on those guys, and I think our football program got better by having him.”

“We’ve been killing it,” Boone reciprocated about the baseball program. “I was there Friday night (against Eastern Kentucky) for the opener. I’ve known Jay for three or four years since he was the head coach at Nevada. I went out and watched some games at Nevada and spent some time with him there.”

If you’re looking for an endorsement on what Boone did with the Wolf Pack, look no further than Arizona’s head baseball coach.

“Coach Boone’s awesome man, he’s a good coach,” Johnson said this past weekend about his friend. “Right when he got to Nevada, the defensive play improved dramatically. The Mountain West is an offensive league and they started shutting some people down.”

“I know he knows football,” continued Johnson. “He’s a good motivator and I think he will help that staff tremendously.”

Johnson continually drops football and basketball references when talking about his baseball team, and asks me from time to time about football recruiting and what the word is on the team. And now there’s Boone, who used to coach the sport Johnson coaches now.

“I’m an old baseball coach back in the day,” Boone explained. “So I love going to watch some games.”

Both Boone and Johnson’s first seasons at Nevada were in 2014, so the two did spend some time together while in Reno despite coaching in different sports.

“It’s just support,” Johnson stated. “I think as coaches, we’re the only ones that really understand what other coaches are going through, so there’s that bond of support. It’s not easy to win in any sport, and I respect how he worked and I think it was a great addition for our football staff.”

Boone needs some support from his friends now too. His family won’t be in Tucson for a couple more weeks, and he’s apparently spent all of his time in his office.

“I’ve seen Tucson basically from my office, from the apartment I’m staying in, and I’ve been to a couple baseball games,” Boone explained of what he had seen of the Old Pueblo so far. “I love the weather, I love the area, I love the facilities we have here, and I’m sure I’m going to love Tucson and I’m excited about being here, and for me it’s a great opportunity.”

“You don’t move up the ranks like I did without a lot of luck. I started as Division-III coach and now I’m in the Pac-12. I feel blessed.”