Three NFL Alums Named Coaches at The University of Arizona
When the University of Arizona named its new head football coach late last month, several loyal Wildcats alumni were upset that the school hired an “outsider” for the high profile job.
Starting with his first coaching assignment in 1997, Jedd Fisch had worked at more than a dozen different colleges and NFL teams. He had never coached at Arizona.
Fisch acted quickly to hire experienced assistants with Arizona connections. NFL alums Ricky Hunley (above, back) and Chuck Cecil (above, front) were both defensive standouts as players in the 80s for the Wildcats and now will play key roles on the new coaching staff. Hunley is the new defensive line coach and Cecil has been promoted to defensive backfield coach.
“I can’t wait to start recruiting,” Hunley said last week. “I can’t wait to tell the recruits that Arizona is a destination, a place where they can make an impact right away.”
Hunley was a consensus All-America at Arizona and the Broncos first-round selection in the 1984 Draft. He played seven years in the league with three clubs before transitioning into coaching on the college and NFL level.
Cecil started his playing career at Arizona as a walk-on defensive back who later was voted Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season. His 106-yard interception return against rival Arizona State in 1986 has been voted the best play in Arizona history by loyal fans.
Cecil, an 8-year NFL vet, already was in Tucson as a senior defensive analyst. Late last season, he was named interim defensive coordinator after head coach Kevin Sumlin was fired. This will be Cecil’s first full-time coaching position at Arizona.
“I am grateful to Coach Fisch for this opportunity,” says Cecil who has both college and NFL coaching experience. “I look forward to working alongside him and the entire new UArizona coaching staff as we bring back the grit, toughness, and character of Arizona football.”
Arizona added an additional NFL alum earlier this month when Scottie Graham was lured away from an administrative post in Arizona State’s athletic department. Graham, who played six years in the league (1992-97), is the Wildcats new running back coach. Many of us remember Graham when he served for 15 years under Gene Upshaw at the NFL Players Association. This will be his first coaching assignment.
We cannot predict how many games the new Arizona coaching staff will win this season. However, with the addition of these three highly-respected NFL alumni, we know the new recruits will be taught to love our sport and to play with discipline, toughness, and commitment.