UA’s new secondary coach embraces Wildcats’ defensive traditionby Anthony Gimino on Apr. 06, 2010, under Sports
Arizona has two new football assistant coaches. They inherited vastly different traditions.
Quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo takes over a position that hasn’t produced a player who has thrown an NFL pass since Bill Demory in 1973. Scelfo said when he took the job he figured Arizona had a couple of quarterbacks in the NFL.
“There’s none,” Scelfo said. “When someone told me, I was surprised. I really was.”
Meanwhile, secondary coach Greg Brown takes over a position that has produced two Jim Thorpe Award winners (Darryll Lewis, Antoine Cason) and two others who were certainly good enough to win it (Chuck Cecil, Chris McAlister).
In all, Arizona has had five consensus All-American defensive backs — the four mentioned, plus Tony Bouie — through the Pac-10 years. USC also has five in that span; no Pac-10 team has more.
“I know I would probably be slighting some other schools, but when I think of defensive backs, I have always thought of the University of Arizona,” Brown said.
“When you think of linebacker schools, you think of Penn State. U of A comes to mind to me when you think of defensive backs.”
Brown knows about good defensive back play. When he was at Colorado from 1991 to 1993, he tutored two Thorpe winners — Deon Figures (1992) and Chris Hudson (1994).
Brown, 52, is completely embracing the Wildcats history. He has been acquiring archival photos of the great UA defensive backs to display in his office, perhaps serving as inspiration for his new charges.
He has been showing old game tape of Cecil and Lewis to his secondary, which includes potential all-conference cornerback Trevin Wade and returning starting safety Robert Golden.
“He brings out the film and shows us how they used to play and everything like that,” Golden said. “He is teaching us a lot of technique stuff, so it’s pretty good. It’s really good, actually. We’re applying that to our game.”
Brown has a lot of game film on Lewis, who won the Thorpe Award — given to the nation’s top defensive back — in 1990. Brown was the secondary coach with Tennessee in the NFL in 1997 and 1998, when Lewis was there.
“Terrific person, terrific player,” Brown said.
Brown said he recently spoke with Lewis, who had legal problems after his playing career. Brown said he hopes to have Lewis, who is in Los Angeles, informally visit with the team in the fall.
“I hadn’t talked to him for three or four years,” Brown said.
“I got a hold of him this spring, and he knew I was here. He was excited to hear that I was here. He’s excited to come out this fall and hang out and meet the secondary.”
That would further bring the past to life for the current players, some of whom weren’t yet born in 1990, when Lewis was beating UCLA with a 70-yard interception return and crumpling Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave at the goal line.
“We’ve been watching him a lot and learning his technique,” Golden said. “And that has been a good thing.”
The tradition lives.