ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Ricky Hunley: Jedd Fisch is exactly what the Wildcats need right now

Jan 15, 2021, 6:45 PM
PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Jedd Fisch of the UCLA Bruins in action during the in the fir...
PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Jedd Fisch of the UCLA Bruins in action during the in the first half of the Cactus Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Chase Field on December 26, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

The Arizona Wildcats enter the new year looking for a new identity after suffering nearly two seasons worth of losses (4-13).

The biggest came in the team’s season finale against Arizona State, when the Sun Devils put the last nail in the coffin of the old regime with a 70-7 Territorial Cup dismantling.

But the sun appears to be shining again down at the Old Pueblo with Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch now running the show.

While the new head coach doesn’t have many Arizona ties outside of his daughter attending the university, the coaching staff he built certainly makes up for it.

Two stand out a little more than most with former Wildcat players Chuck Cecil and Ricky Hunley joining the staff as the team’s defensive backs and defensive line coaches, respectively.

The pair know a thing or two about success in Tucson. Cecil finished his college career (1984-87) with 392 total tackles, 21 interceptions, and 38 passes defensed, all of which are top-10 numbers within the program. Hunley played at Arizona from 1980-83, recording 566 tackles (a program record) and 12 interceptions and was the first Wildcat to ever be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1998). Both went on to play in the NFL.

So you better believe Fisch’s “it’s personal” mantra is hitting close to home for the duo, who couldn’t be more excited to get back to work in Tucson.

“For me, yeah it’s personal, it’s really personal,” a fired up Cecil told reporters Thursday via Zoom. “I love the fact that he’s bringing that as a team thing. It is personal and it should be personal. You don’t take it personal, you know what? Go somewhere else. Doesn’t mean we don’t like you, don’t love you, but you don’t need to be here. It’s that easy.”

The pairing understand they aren’t walking into a bed of roses. There’s a lot that needs to change for the Wildcats to return to relevancy. Hunley is looking to turn the team’s low point into an Arizona advantage.

With the team starting from the ground up, there’s a lot of potential for those looking to make an impact right away.

“The thing that we can offer that probably other people might not have the opportunity to offer is we’re so far down we can’t go anywhere but up when you lose 12 games in a row, you lose five games in your season,” Hunley told reporters via Zoom on Thursday. “It’s gonna be hard work. It’s gonna be hard work on our part, hard work on the players’ part but there’s nowhere to go but up.

“Any player that’s out there who thinks he can contribute and help this program to be successful, he’s got an opportunity to come in here right now and compete for a starting job.”

As for the head coach hiring itself, both Cecil and Hunley believe it’s a match made in heaven, with the defensive line coach pointing to Fisch’s track record as a huge plus for the Wildcats.

“I don’t think you get to be around Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Brian Billick and Dom Capers and Steve Spurrier and Jim Harbaugh, you don’t get to be around all those people without learning something and having something to bring to the table,” Hunley said. “We all have different paths on how we get there and I think Jedd’s goal has always meant to be a head coach and the time is right and he’s here.

“It’s going to be outstanding. Once we get a buy-in from the players and you see the tide shift and these old rotted ships at the bottom of the sea will just rise.”

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