Rich Rodriguez is getting the band back together. Although none of the band members play an instrument, they are adept at building average college football programs into contenders. They are coaches that blow whistles instead of trumpets and scream instructions instead of lyrics. They are a band of coaching brothers that have produced gold records in college football.
This is not good news for Todd Graham and Sun Devil fans.
Wednesday in Tucson, the U of A will announce Jeff Casteel as their new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Casteel worked with Rich Rod at West Virginia University when WVU was a perennial power. Casteel will bring his trademark 3-3-5 "Stack" defense with him, a defense designed to repeal Rich Rod's high-powered offense…and others that mimic Rich Rod's high-powered offense.
But that isn't all that Jeff Casteel and Rich Rod are bringing to the desert. Apparently, three other defensive assistant coaches are coming with Casteel. David Lockwood, Spencer Leftwich and Bill Kirelawich are coming with Casteel, leaving West Virginia University, a program that just won ten-games and an Orange Bowl.
Bill Kirelawich (Ker-LAV-ich) has been a coach at West Virginia University for 31 years. Kerlav is a legendary defensive line coach that is revered in coaching circles. He brings a fire and form of free speech that would make most truck drivers blush. He is greatly respected by his peers and has worked with Casteel and Rich Rod from the beginning. This guy is one of the best position coaches in all of college football…and he's headed to Tucson.
But that's old news in Old Pueblo. Rich Rod's staff includes no less than eight assistants from his tenure as West Virginia's head coach. These coaches did a lot of damage in the soft Big East Conference and turned West Virginia into a perennial BCS bowl contender.
Something the Sun Devils are trying to do congruent to the Wildcats.
The football program at the U of A has wallowed in mediocrity and that's about to change - just like it did when Rich Rod replaced Don Nehlen at West Virginia.
At the height of Rodriguez's success, he won four Big East championships in five years, a boatload of games, went to two BCS bowls (Bill Stewart was the interim head coach when West Virginia beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl) and brought the program to the brink of competing for a national championship.
And many of the coaches now headed to Tucson were standing on the sideline with him. Calvin Magee, Rod Smith, Tony Dews, Jeff Casteel, Bill Kirelawich and more were part of the WVU's restoration.
Rich Rod didn't have that in Ann Arbor. He didn't have the band that had helped him and served him so well in Morgantown. Rich Rod was coaching coaches on his particular brand of football…and trying to win games in the Big Ten. The results were underwhelming to say the least. He was Axl Rose's version of Guns & Roses without Slash, Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan.
Axl is talking about getting Guns & Roses back together for a reunion tour. Rich Rod isn't talking about it; he's done it. The band is back together. Whether or not they can turn Tucson into Paradise City remains to be seen, but the ante has been upped significantly in Tempe.
Welcome to the jungle.