Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Classy Pennell moves on with his own job search

Russ Pennell answers questions at his last press conference Tuesday as Arizona's interim head coach.

Russ Pennell answers questions at his last press conference Tuesday as Arizona's interim head coach.

Russ Pennell’s office is empty now. His heart, however, is still heavy because of Arizona basketball.

It may be that way for a while, perhaps until he gets his next job. And who knows where that will be?

“I’ve got a couple things going on, but they’re preliminary,” Pennell said about his job status now that his days as UA’s interim coach are over.

“I’m headed to the Final Four (in Detroit) on Thursday,” he said. “I think it’ll clear up (there).”

Pennell said he’s received some third-party inquiries – for coaching and doing media work “but nothing too serious, yet.”

It won’t be at Arizona. He’s OK with that. He’s been that way since he was handed the interim role five months ago.

Now, he’s moving on.

“I’ve learned over time that if someone offers you an opportunity, you better look at it,” Pennell said. “If you don’t want to do it, so be it.”

On Tuesday, he had his exit interview with Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood. There was nothing exciting to report.

“I asked who the next coach was going to be, and he wouldn’t tell me,” Pennell quipped.

But Pennell wanted to be out of the office before the next guy arrived because “I thought it would be pathetic if I’m carrying a box out as he’s walking in and you guys get that on camera. I didn’t want that to be the lasting image people had of me (at UA).”

He said it would be “kind of hard” to stay on if asked by the next UA coach, but “I guess it depends who they hired.”

“To me, I wouldn’t think someone would even do that. I had the whole year of calling the shots, being the guy and I … just think that would kind of be an awkward situation for everyone.”

And next season won’t be easy. UA will have questions about its overall talent if junior forwards Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill decide to leave for the NBA.

Junior guard Nic Wise also said he’d likely test the NBA waters.

“I’m not trying to knock the guys who are coming back, but they’d be the first to tell you they need some help,” Pennell said. “They need some folks coming in.”

Pennell will remember his time here fondly after helping lead UA to the Sweet 16, finishing at 21-14 overall. He’ll even think of himself as a Wildcat, even though fans were skeptical at first because he was a former Arizona State assistant.

“I think we did as good as we possibly could under the circumstances,” he said. “I think we got everything out of this team we could possibly get out. There were some games maybe we should have won that we didn’t, maybe we won that we should have lost.

“But I think from start to finish we got better. I think we accomplished probably more than we thought we could, certainly more than fans thought we could.”

UA paid Pennell $500,000 to coach for a season – far less than the new coach will get. He was hired by Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson as an assistant coach and took over in October after Olson suddenly retired because of health problems.

“I thought coach Olson would probably coach two, three years, and that’s why I took the job,” Pennell said. “But, you also know, in the back of my mind, that things can change so quickly.

“To have this experience. I’ll never have any regrets.”

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service