New Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez broke out Arizona hats, windbreakers and other gifts as his three new assistants and their wives reached the luggage area at the airport Wednesday.
Welcome to Tucson … although Rodriguez didn’t have to work too hard to get his old pals to join him in his new adventure way out west.
He pretty much had them at “Hello.”
What was Calvin Magee thinking when Rodriguez called to invite him to join the Wildcats staff?
“I’m thinking I’m on my way,” Magee said.
Rodriguez is assembling some of the old crew — Magee, Tony Dews and Tony Gibson all worked for him at West Virginia and Michigan. Those three stayed together in 2011, working at Pitt, when Rodriguez was out of coaching.
“They’re good people, good coaches and they’re good friends,” Rodriguez said.
“They’ll be great for the University of Arizona. That’s the most important thing. I don’t just hire guys just to hire them. I have a whole lot of friends that I could fill the staff with.
“But my job is to hire the best coaches for this program. These are three of the best coaches I could hire for this program.”
Magee, 48, is slated to the associate head coach/offensive coordinator/running backs coach. Magee was with Rodriguez for seven years at West Virginia and three at Michigan.
Dews, 38, will be the receivers coach. He spent 2007 at West Virginia with Rodriguez and three at Michigan.
Gibson, 39, played for Rodriguez at Glenville State in the early 1990s at coached for him there and at the two later spots. He will coach defensive backs.
These three talked Wednesday about their loyalty they have to Rodriguez.
“It’s just the way he treats you as a person and the way he treats your families,” Gibson said.
“We’re happy to be in a place that we’re accepted and people want us,” he adding, referring to troubles Rodriguez had at Michigan. “That’s the exciting part about this. Every time I have talked to him, he’s excited about this. It’s a great deal, and we’re all excited to be here.”
The loyalty and the trust go both ways, Rodriguez said.
“I think that trust is a big, big factor in building your program, from coach to coach, coach to player, player to coach. You have to have a lot of trust. You’ve got to have people who understand where you want to go with your program.
“These three guys and their families understand that.”
Rodriguez is still working on adding the six other assistants. He said his deadline for having that done is the end of next week, with the big hire being the defensive coordinator. West Virginia’s Jeff Casteel is still the prime target.
At least a couple of the additional hires will have previous ties to Rodriguez, although he said Monday he is still considering rehiring a couple members of Arizona’s 2011 staff.
While Rodriguez tries to finalize his coaching staff, his three new/old assistants will get to work learning about their Wildcats and beginning to recruit — Arizona will be hosting prospects this weekend.
“Ten years is a long time to be with someone,” Magee said, referring to his tenure as an assistant to Rodriguez. “It was a great 10 years. We do know his ins and outs and the things he wants, and we can relay that to the kids.”