Duane Akina, right, celebrates a win at Nebraska last season with Texas head coach Mack Brown.
Photo by Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
Duane Akina is the middle of explaining his difficult decision to leave the University of Texas when he starts flashing back to all things Arizona.
Chuck Cecil pouncing on ASU punter Mike Schuh’s dropped snap in 1987 … Darryll Lewis turning Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave sideways at the goal line in 1990 … the Desert Swarm days … coaching All-American cornerback Chris McAlister …
Akina is a Wildcat again, lured from Texas, where he had spent 10 seasons as an assistant, to return to Arizona, where he had spent the previous 14 seasons under Dick Tomey.
Now, Akina will coach the secondary for Mike Stoops.
“It was extremely hard,” Akina said by phone Monday night after packing up his locker at Texas.
“It was the exactly the same thing emotionally, with all the anxiety, that we went through the first time when I was leaving Tucson to come to Austin. It was like, ‘Oh no, not this again.’ Stomach churning. Couldn’t sleep.”
In the end, Akina said he felt the timing was right. He had felt a pull to head back west. His family was “fired up” to return to Tucson. He talked about his “unfinished business” as a Wildcat.
“We had a great stand when we were there in the 1990s,” Akina said.
“We were close. And that’s still the goal: I want to line up and be part of the first Arizona team in the Rose Bowl. We need to go there and get that.”
With Akina’s experience, success and Wildcat ties — plus, he inherits a terrific group of young defensive backs — there will be no shortage of topics in the coming weeks and months. For now, here are eight things about Akina’s hiring to hold you over: