Anytime the Arizona Wildcats have a coaching vacancy, a large contingent of fans want a University of Arizona alum to get the job.
Well, the football program needs a new head coach after it fired Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday, and they just might get their wish.
UA alum and Oregon Ducks defensive line coach Joe Salave’a wants the job and has reached out to the school, according to the folks at WildcatAuthority.com (though it is unclear if that interest is mutual).
Name of one person that we can confirm wants the job and has reached out: Oregon defensive line coach Joe Salave'a.— WildcatAuthority.com (@AZAuthority) January 4, 2018
The former defensive tackle lettered at Arizona from 1994-97, earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 1997, second-team honors in 1996, and honorable mention recognition in 1995. He was also the team captain in 1996.
Salave’a being a UA graduate is great and all, but unlike a lot of other ex-Wildcats — Tedy Bruschi, Chuck Cecil, etc. — Salave’a appears to be qualified to be a head coach in the Pac-12.
After spending nine seasons in the NFL, Salave’a began his coaching career in 2008 with San Jose State where he was the defensive line coach for two seasons.
Salave’a actually coached at Arizona under Mike Stoops in 2011, but was not retained when Rich Rodriguez was took over in 2012 (which many believed at the time, and still do, that that was a big mistake).
That led Salave’a to Washington State where he coached until 2016. He started as the program’s defensive line coach but eventually was promoted to assistant head coach before being hired away by Oregon prior to the 2017 season.
Salave’a isn’t just highly-regarded because of his coaching chops, but also because of his ability as a recruiter, especially in American Samoa.
That is an area Arizona used to have a strong recruiting presence in, but that basically ended when Rodriguez became head coach.
Hiring Salave’a would surely be well-received by the fanbase, and him being a UA alum would probably make him less likely to bolt for a better opportunity if he has major success in Tucson, which is obviously a plus.
But by all indications Arizona plans to cast a wide net in its search for Rodriguez’s replacement, so Salave’a will have plenty of competition for the job.
And the overall goal is to find the best person for the job regardless if he has previous ties to Arizona.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire