Two other assistants coming from West Virginia
8:20 p.m. UPDATE: And now those links mentioned below have been deactivated; they were not intended to be live before the official announcement.
6:50 p.m. UPDATE: The Arizona athletic department has built on-line bio pages for defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and two other assistants he will bring with him from West Virginia — cornerbacks coach David Lockwood and defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich. There is also a bio for former Pitt offensive line coach Spencer Leftwich, who will coach tight ends. Leftwich worked last season at Pitt with new ASU head coach Todd Graham. There are no links from arizonawildcats.com to those pages and no official announcement … but this is as official as it gets.
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Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez’s wait for a defensive coordinator should soon be over — and he will get the guy he wanted.
Rodriguez will announce West Virginia’s Jeff Casteel as his defensive coordinator on Wednesday afternoon, when the other three staff vacancies could also be filled, a source told TucsonCitizen.com on Tuesday afternoon.
Rodriguez is looking to fill two other spots on his defensive coaching staff, as well as a tight ends coach. He said he wanted to complete his staff this week in advance of the first of three recruiting weekends before Signing Day.
Casteel, who also coaches linebackers, was on Rodriguez’s coaching staff at West Virginia from 2001 to 2007, serving as the full-time coordinator for the final five seasons.
Casteel, who runs a 3-3-5 scheme, will be the highest-paid assistant on staff. He was well-compensated this season at West Virginia, with a base salary of $400,000 and scheduled increases of $50,000 in each of the next two seasons.
Including a retention bonus of $75,000 if he was still at West Virginia on Feb. 1, 2013, he was set to make $575,000 from the Mountaineers for the 2013 season.
The decision for Casteel to leave presumably didn’t come easy, given how long the process played out. Rodriguez targeted Casteel, a West Virginia native, from the moment he arrived at Arizona in late November.
The process further played out after the Mountaineers’ Orange Bowl victory over Clemson last Wednesday. Some considered an announcement imminent after the bowl game, but the waiting spilled over into this week.
Casteel, because of his success at West Virginia and his familiarity with Rodriguez, has been considered a major piece of the puzzle as Arizona moves forward with a new coaching staff. Rodriguez’s inability to take Casteel with him to Michigan after the 2007 season is one of the reasons why the Wolverines struggled under his watch.
Rodriguez’s Michigan defenses got progressively worse, from 67th nationally to 82nd to 110th in 2009.
Casteel had been set to join Rodriguez at Michigan before the new Mountaineers coach, Bill Stewart, offered him $275,000 — $10,000 more than Michigan — and a multi-year contract.
Mike Parrish, who was a director of football operations at Michigan and is the new man for that role at Arizona, is quoted as saying in the book, “Three and Out” that if West Virginia didn’t hire Stewart, “Jeff Casteel comes to Michigan.”
John U. Bacon, the author of the book about Rodriguez’s time at Michigan, wrote:
“And if Casteel had joined Rodriguez’s staff? Parrish didn’t hesitate: ‘It would have been completely different.’”
Now, Arizona doesn’t have to wonder about what Rodriguez is missing.