Brent Brennan agrees to be next Arizona Wildcats head coach, Jedd Fisch’s replacement
Jan 16, 2024, 9:10 AM | Updated: 7:06 pm
(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
The Arizona Wildcats have reportedly agreed to a five-year deal to make San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan the school’s head football coach, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel and 247 Sports’ Jason Scheer.
Athletic director Dave Heeke posted a photo of Brennan making the move official on his X account.
— Dave Heeke (@Dave_Heeke) January 16, 2024
Brennan, who has a 34-48 record as a head coach, all at San Jose State, was a finalist for the open Arizona job as the school looked to replace Kevin Sumlin in 2020 before Arizona landed on Jedd Fisch, who is departing to lead the Washington Huskies.
“Brent is an exceptional leader with a background of championship success on the field, on the recruiting trail, and as leader in the community,” Heeke said in an announcement. “With strong connections to the Tucson community and an appreciation for the rich legacy of our program under legendary head coach Dick Tomey, Brent’s vision to continue the upward trajectory of Arizona football is rooted in the historical excellence of the program. As we begin a new era, Brent Brennan is the ideal leader for our student-athletes, staff, campus and southern Arizona community as we write the next great chapters of Arizona football.”
The 50-year-old Brennan takes over a Wildcats team coming off a 10-3 season and with 17 starters eligible to return before Arizona lost defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen, who took a co-DC job with Texas, and then Fisch. Arizona’s players will be able to enter the transfer portal because of the coaching change.
Fisch interviewed with Washington on Saturday afternoon before a deal was finalized on Sunday, according to reports. The deal reportedly will earn Fisch over $50 million across a seven-year contract, with a salary of $7.75 million per season.
What is Brent Brennan’s football resume as he replaces Jedd Fisch as Arizona Wildcats head coach?
From Redwood City, Calif., Brennan played wide receiver at UCLA from 1993-94.
He got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Hawaii (1998), Washington (1999) and Arizona (2000). In Tucson, he was a graduate assistant during the Wildcats’ final year under head coach Dick Tomey.
After a stop at Cal Poly from 2001-04 as receivers coach, Brennan was an assistant at San Jose State from 2005-10, holding several titles in charge of receivers, tights ends, the offensive line and even special teams.
He then made a pit stop at Oregon State from 2011-16 prior to his most recent stint at San Jose State. In Corvallis, he coached Brandin Cooks, who won the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s most outstanding receiver in 2013.
Brennan became a finalist to be Arizona’s head coach coming off an undefeated regular season (7-0) at San Jose State in a shortened 2020 due to the height of COVID-19’s impact on college football. The Spartans lost to Ball State in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson, but he was named College Football Coach of the Year by the Lombardi Foundation.
At a school considered one of the more difficult jobs in college football, Brennan went 3-22 in his first two years at SJSU but has gone 31-26 since.
“I am so blessed and excited to come back to the University of Arizona,” Brennan said in the announcement. “This incredible university is special to my family and I as it’s where I started as a coach as part coach Tomey’s legacy. I can’t wait to meet the players, families, fans, alumni and supporters and build on the success the players and staff have started. Bear Down and Go Cats!”
Why did Jedd Fisch leave Arizona for Washington?
Fisch recently led Arizona to an Alamo Bowl victory after a 9-3 regular season and the Wildcats’ first bowl berth since 2017. Arizona also ended the season on a seven-game winning streak, the longest since 1998. The Wildcats finished with a No. 11 ranking — its best finish in 25 years.
The Florida alum was able to turn the program around after he went 1-11 in his first year and 5-7 in 2022.
Arizona hired Fisch in December 2020 on a five-year deal before he inked an extension that would have kept him in Tucson through 2027. The $16.3 million contract signed in December 2022 included $15.9 million in salary and bonuses, and a $400,000 bonus that would have been activated if Fisch was still at Arizona through November.
Fisch was set to earn $3 million in 2024, $3.2 million in 2025, $3.25 million in 2026 and $3.6 million in 2027 at Arizona.
Fisch returns to Seattle after he worked as the Seahawks quarterbacks coach in 2010 on Pete Carroll’s staff. Fisch also worked in the Big Ten on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan from 2015-16.
He takes over the Huskies after they made the national championship game and lost to Michigan under head coach Kalen DeBoer, who left UW to replace Nick Saban at Alabama.