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Rich Rodriguez will soon move forward with hiring of assistant coaches

Now that Greg Byrne (left) has hired Rich Rodriguez, the new coach has to hire his assistant coaches. Photo by Mark Evans, TucsonCitizen.com

Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez said he would like to hire a few assistant coaches quickly — meaning in the next couple of weeks after teams end their regular season.

“Then I will be more deliberate than I have been in my career in hiring the rest,” he said Tuesday at his introductory news conference.

“It might be up to a month before I complete the staff.”

As it typical in these situations, Rodriguez is expected to bring in assistants who worked for him previously, either at Michigan or West Virginia or both. Mountaineers’ defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is presumed to be a target.

Rodriguez will be careful to not overload his staff with only guys he has hired before. He and those assistants have recruited some in Arizona, Texas and California — the recruiting bases for the Wildcats — but Rodriguez acknowledges the need for stronger and more immediate ties to those areas.

“Probably the guys I have not worked with before will be guys who have experience recruiting in this region,” he said.

He added: “The best coaches can recruit anywhere.”

He mentioned the state of Florida, which he has recruited extensively, as a potential recruiting area for the Wildcats.

He also has the beginning of a track record in Arizona.

In the class of 2009, Rodriguez landed two four-star recruits from Scottsdale Chaparral High School — offensive lineman Taylor Lewan and defensive end Craig Roh. That is working out well for the Wolverines. Lewan is a two-year starter at left tackle; Roh has started 36 consecutive games and has eight tackles for loss this season.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne cited input from Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle as an influence on his decision. Ragle and his staff later spent time in Ann Arbor, picking the brains of Rodriguez and the Michigan coaches.

“He said, ‘I had never spent so much time with a major college coach who had devoted so much time and interest in my program,’” Byrne said of Ragle.

“Coach Ragle told me in all his years he had never been more impressed in dealing with a coaching staff from a football standpoint, from a recruiting standpoint, from a compliance standpoint and from an academic standpoint.

“That meant a lot to me.”

Rodriguez said he will consider retaining current members of the Arizona coaching staff, with any of those discussions coming after Saturday’s season-finale against Louisiana on Saturday (2 p.m., Arizona Stadium).

He worked with UA quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo at Tulane in 1997 and 1998. That 1998 season produced a 12-0 record with Rodriguez as the coordinator for head coach Tommy Bowden.

“When he came in, we had never worked together. I was new to the spread system,” Scelfo said of Rodriguez. “He’s innovative. He’s done things that nobody else has done, and he’s had success doing it.”

Scelfo said he would be happy to have a discussion about staying at Arizona if that’s what Rodriguez wants. Scelfo added he is “very much” comfortable with Rodriguez’s read-option spread offense.

“I mean, we ran it,” Scelfo said. “Everybody is going to run some form of it right now.”

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