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Tomey on podcast: Talking facilities, being appreciated, jobs he didn’t take

Dick Tomey, pictured here in a game at Washington in November 2000, had only a few weeks left in his Arizona career. Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Allsport

There’s a happy addition to coverage of the Arizona Wildcats — a podcast hosted by Brad Malone called Bear Down Bias.

His description from the website: “The Bear Down Bias podcast honors the history of Arizona Athletics by talking to the people who were there when that history was made.”

Longtime UA basketball assistant coach Jim Rosborough was the subject of the first interview. Former Wildcats football coach Dick Tomey was the second interviewee in a podcast posted Tuesday.

Tomey talks with Malone about several subjects, including being considered for other jobs during his tenure at Arizona (1987 to 2000). Tomey said he had a “real, definite opportunity to go to Miami” after the 1994 season — Butch Davis ended up replacing Dennis Erickson — and was approached by Washington following Arizona’s 12-1 season in 1998.

“I really dismissed that quickly,” he said of the job that went to Rick Neuheisel.

(I don’t recall ever hearing about the Washington job, although the Miami scenario was a topic at the time. In January 1995, then-UA athletic director Jim Livengood told me that Miami had asked for permission to talk to Tomey. “I would think Dick was one of the first ones (Miami AD Paul Dee) called, if not the first,” Livengood said at the time. “Dick didn’t show an interest, but I think Miami was very interested in him.”)

Tomey, who was forced out after the 2000 season, said he had no regrets about staying.

“I was very convinced you could be special at Arizona,” he said. “And I still believe that.”

Below is an excerpt … and you can listen to the 20-minute interview at this link.

On whether Arizona fans better appreciate what he did now than when he was coaching:

“Oh, certainly. Because we didn’t have the great facilities. We hadn’t spent great monies on coaches’ salaries. We hadn’t done a lot of the things that they’ve done now or with some of the other coaches who have been there. …

“That 14 years was a magical time for myself and my family, for our coaches, for the players. There is a tremendous bond among those players. And there was tremendous emotion when that time was over. But I think the time needed to be over, because people didn’t appreciate it. I think many people do now; probably some still don’t.

“But as (former athletic director) Ced Dempsey said to me one time, ‘You know, there will be a day when instead of people saying, “Why didn’t they do more while they were here?” they will say, “How did they do that?”‘ Because we didn’t have so many of the things that they now have or that you’re supposed to have to have a great program.

“The thing that we did have was tremendous respect among the other programs in the conference and in the country. Because they knew more of what we were all about and how hard we were to beat. And it certainly wasn’t me as much as we had fabulous assistant coaches that stayed at Arizona.

“I mean (defensive coordinators) Larry Mac Duff and Rich Ellerson were both offered jobs at Florida by Steve Spurrier, and decided to stay at Arizona for not close to the money they were offered. Duane Akina was offered many opportunities.

“The guys stayed because they loved Tucson, but more because they loved working with our staff. They loved the kind of the dynamic we had. It was just a magical time.”

Tomey also talks about new coach Rich Rodriguez and expressed his gratitude toward the inclusiveness of athletic director Greg Byrne. Byrne honored Tomey at halftime of a 2010 game, brought him to New York City last winter when Rob Waldrop was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and called Tomey to give him the heads-up that he was hiring Rodriguez.

One final quote from Tomey: “Arizona is building the nice facility and all, which is great. But we tried to get them to do that 12 years before — 14, 15 years before. And they were just not far-sighted enough to see that they could seize the moment and build the facility then and get ahead of everybody. Now what they’re doing is just catching-up.”

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