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Arizona fires defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei, per report

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

The Arizona Wildcats have fired defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei, sources tell C.J. Holmes of The Athletic.

Uiagalelei was hired by Kevin Sumlin prior to the 2018 season by way of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. where he was on staff since 2001, including roles as the defensive coordinator and associate head coach.

Uiagalalei helped the Mounties win three community college state championships and a pair of national championships, and it was hoped he could maximize Arizona’s undermanned defensive line and reestablish the Polynesian recruiting pipeline.

Instead, the D-line has been UA’s weakest position group, tallying just 13 sacks this season, easily the lowest in the Pac-12. Arizona also only has one defensive line commit among its 13 pledges for the 2020 recruiting class, 3-star defensive end Dion Wilson, who ranks outside the top 1,000 nationally.

Arizona fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing earlier in the season, so the Wildcats are undergoing a major overhaul on that side of the ball.

It makes sense considering they rank 123rd (of 130th) in the country in scoring defense. Analyst Greg Patrick will take over Uiagalelei’s role in the interim.