Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Classy Pennell moves on with own job search

Citizen Staff Writer



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, and he said the AD wouldn’t tell him who the new coach would be.

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.”

‘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.’


on the need for UA’s new coach to recruit well

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

Search site | Terms of service