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
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
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
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
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
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.