New Arizona Wildcats coach Brent Brennan is a football lifer who has spent his entire career on the west coast.
Unlike his predecessor Jedd Fisch, Brennan played football growing up, first at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., and then at UCLA, where he was a receiver from 1991-95.
Also unlike Fisch, Brennan tends to stay with one program and ‘climb the mountain’ where he’s at. Brennan held a series of GA positions at Hawaii, Arizona and Washington, then spent three years as a receivers coach at Cal Poly.
After that he built a long career at San Jose State, with a five-year stop at Oregon State along the way.
We’ll learn much more about Brennan at today’s introductory press conference, but here are some more things to know about Arizona’s coach.
He comes from a football family
Football runs deep in the Brennan family. Brent Brennan’s father, Steve, played receiver at San Jose State in the 60s. His brother, Brad, was a receiver at Arizona under Dick Tomey in the late 90s.
Brad Brennan scored a go-ahead touchdown in Arizona’s 1998 Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska.
The most famous football player in the Brennan family is Brent’s cousin, Colt, who starred at Hawaii from 2005-07. Colt Brennan set several NCAA records as Hawaii’s quarterback. In 2006 he threw for a single-season record 58 touchdown passes (later surpassed by Joe Burrow) and 5,549 yards.
Colt Brennan tragically died in 2021 from an accidental drug overdose.
Our live coverage of Colt Brennan’s celebration of life starts soon on @HawaiiNewsNow — Hawaii head coach Timmy Chang and SJSU head coach Brent Brennan, Colt’s cousin, are both in attendance. pic.twitter.com/8IXiwi6jN9— Ian Scheuring (@IanScheuring) March 20, 2022
He has strong Arizona ties
As mentioned above, Brennan’s brother played receiver at Arizona. Brennan’s wife, Courtney, is an Arizona graduate.
Brennan was a GA on the 2000 Arizona staff under Tomey, which began a two-decades long relationship between Brennan and the legendary UA coach.
Brennan was an assistant under Tomey at San Jose State from 2005-09. When Brennan became head coach of the Spartans in 2017, Tomey would often take in Brennan’s practices.
Brennan spoke at Tomey’s memorial service in the spring of 2019. He shared a favorite ‘Tomeyism’ that very much applies to Brennan’s situation as Arizona head coach.
In May 2019, Brent Brennan spoke at Coach Dick Tomey's celebration of life service at McKale Center. He shared a now very fitting "Tomeyism" about coaching:— Blair Willis (@BlairWillisUA) January 16, 2024
"You're either putting a team together, keeping a team together, or putting it back together." https://t.co/LuovkYuBCP
“He said, ‘you’re either putting a team together, keeping a team together, or putting it back together.’”
He turned a perennial losing program into a winner
Don’t let Brennan’s career head coaching record (34-48) deceive you. He made the Spartans into a winning team after decades of struggle in San Jose.
Before Brennan took over, the program was consistently near the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference and later the Mountain West.
Brennan’s first two seasons were rough. The Spartans went 2-11 in 2017 and 1-11 in 2018. After that? Win totals of five, seven, five, seven and seven. In the last two seasons, the program made back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since the 1980s.
Brennan turned a low resource program into a winner. He’ll have a lot more to work with at Arizona.