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Paul Rhoads hired as Arizona Wildcats’ new defensive coordinator

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The Arizona Wildcats have hired former Iowa State head coach and current UCLA defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads as their defensive coordinator, the school announced Friday.

Rhoads replaces Marcel Yates, who was fired Oct. 27 midway through his fourth season with the school along with linebackers coach John Rushing. Former Wildcat Chuck Cecil took over coordinator duties on an interim basis, while ex-Arizona linebacker Hank Hobson moved into the LB coach role.

Rhoads, 52, spent the last two seasons coaching DBs at UCLA. He was at Arkansas in 2016-17, serving as defensive coordinator in 2017 after spending seven seasons in charge of Iowa State, going 32-55 from 2009-15.

Rhoads also was defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2000-07 and Auburn in 2008.

Arizona ranked last in the Pac-12 last season in scoring defense, allowing 35.8 points per game, and total defense (471.4 yards per game). The Wildcats were 11th in pass defense, only better than UCLA, which allowed 310.8 passing yards per game with five interceptions against 32 touchdowns.

UCLA was against whom Grant Gunnell made his first career start, throwing for 352 yards and a TD in September.

The timing of Rhoads’ hire comes at the end of the early signing period, during which Arizona inked 12 players but only three on the defensive side of the ball. Two other defensive commits opted to hold off on signing until February.

Arizona is still searching for a defensive line coach after Iona Uiagelelei was fired in November.

Paul Rhoads coaching experience

  • UCLA, defensive backs (2018-19)
  • Arkansas, defensive backs (2016), defensive coordinator (2017)
  • Iowa State, head coach (2009-15)
  • Auburn, defensive coordinator (2008)
  • Pittsburgh, defensive coordinator (2000-07)
  • Iowa State, assistant coach (1995-99)
  • Pacific, assistant coach (1992-93), pass game coordinator (1994)
  • Ohio State, graduate assistant (1991)
  • Utah State, graduate assistant (1989-90)