Arizona Wildcats defensive coordinator Marcel Yates is a finalist for the head coaching job, reports Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated.
Feldman expects Arizona to make its hire within the next 48 hours. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo appears to be the frontrunner.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported that Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin and ex-Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin are thought to be in the mix as well.
One of the finalists for the #Arizona head coaching vacancy, I’m told, is DC Marcel Yates, who has a lot of support within the program... Expecting U of A to make its hire within the next 48 hrs.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 12, 2018
Yates took over as interim head coach after Rich Rodriguez was fired last week, and has garnered the support of several Arizona players who would like to see him take over the head coaching job permanently.
Most recently, star quarterback Khalil Tate tweeted this (after deleting a tweet that said “I didn’t come to Arizona to run the triple option,” likely alluding to Niumatalolo’s candidacy).
Yates just finished his second season as Arizona’s defensive coordinator. Before that, he was the defensive coordinator at Boise State.
Arizona ranked 118th in the country in total defense in 2017 and 108th in scoring defense but it is hard to say how much of that is because of Yates’ coaching — Arizona started several freshmen and isn’t terribly talented on that side of the ball.
Keeping Yates would likely allow Arizona to keep many of its 2018 signees and commits. Otherwise, they may request to be released from their National Letters of Intent instead of playing for the new coaching staff.