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Arizona football hires San Jose State’s Brent Brennan as next head coach

arizona-wildcats-football-brent-brennan-san-jose-state-spartans-dick-tomey-jedd-fisch-coach-2024 Photo by Louis Grasse/Getty Images

It’s been a stressful last few days in Wildcat Nation, and the anxiety is far from over, but at least one big piece to the puzzle has been found: a head coach

Arizona has hired San Jose State’s Brent Brennan to be the 31st coach in program history, replacing Jedd Fisch, who left after three seasons to take the Washington job.

The 50-year-old Brennan comes back to Tucson after spending a season as a graduate assistant under Dick Tomey in 2000, but his connections to the UA program go much deeper. His brother Brad was a wide receiver for the Wildcats from 1996-2000, and one of Brent’s first full-time coaching jobs was on Tomey’s staff at San Jose from 2005-09.

Brennan has a 34-48 record in seven seasons at San Jose, which is in the Mountain West Conference and is considered one of the most difficult jobs at the FBS level. The past four seasons he’s gone 26-19 and appeared in three bowl games, including the Hawaii Bowl in December to cap a 7-6 season that saw the Spartans finish in a 3-way tie for first in the MWC.

His best season was 2020 when he went 7-1, the only loss coming to Ball State in the Arizona Bowl. That game came about a week after Fisch was hired, and Brennan was one of the finalists for the job following Kevin Sumlin’s firing.

Brennan will have to act fast to try and keep together the bulk of a UA roster that was set to return the majority of its starters from a 10-3 team that finished with its highest season-ending ranking (11th) since 1998. The Wildcats have already seen at least three players enter the NCAA transfer portal since Fisch left, with running back Jonah Coleman, cornerback Ephesians Prysock and quarterback Brayden Dorman announcing their intentions, though Dorman did indicate he was open to returning.

There’s also the matter of a coaching staff to put together. Brennan figures to bring some of his assistants over from San Jose and he may have to, since the only coaches left in town from the 2023 team appear to be UA alums Chuck Cecil and Ricky Hunley. The rest appear to be following Fisch to Washington or, in the case of defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen and secondary coach Duane Akina, took gigs at Texas prior to Fisch’s departure.

UA players took to social media on Sunday and Monday to show their support for Nansen as head coach, and there’s been buzz about trying to lure him back as defensive coordinator. The same could be the case for likely UW-bound receivers coach Kevin Cummings, who was Brennan’s receivers coach from 2017-20 and both played for and coached with him at Oregon State.

Terms of Brennan’s deal with Arizona have yet to be released, but it’s expected to be a 5-year contract since that’s the maximum allowed by state law. He earned $2.3 million this past season at San Jose, while Fisch was in line to make $3.5 million in 2024 as part of the contract extension he received a year ago.