Tomey confident in Arizona's progress

Former Arizona head coach Dick Tomey has found himself coming full circle, as he ends his career where he started it.

Over 30 years ago, Dick Tomey found himself coaching at the University of Hawaii. Now, after numerous coaching stops, Tomey is back home.

"It is like a lot of things in life because it is a big circle," Tomey said. "I have number of players that are sons of guys that were on original teams, the athletic director was a player on our team and one of the assistant coaches is still here from when I was here."

Tomey retired with San Jose State in 2009 and the one opportunity that could have kept him in coaching came along, as he is now the special teams coach at Hawaii.

"There are a lot of familiar faces and the new basketball coach is even the son of guy that I coached when I was here," Tomey said. "I feel really blessed because I am in good health and this is the only job on staff I would want and only place I would want to coach. I live here and am going to for future, so it has been great."

Tomey has been coaching for a while now and says that he still has plenty to learn about the modern day systems.

"I have a lot to learn," he said. "Every staff calls everything differently and the terminology is different. To be in charge of all special teams is a big responsibility and I am learning all of the new players and learning where they are from. There is no question that I have a lot to learn."

As Tomey works with the modern day players, he admits that there is quite a difference between the players that he coaches now and the players he coached years ago.

"Players work harder today than they have ever worked in history of football," Tomey said. "They are more dedicated today but there are also more demands made on players' time than ever before."

The biggest difference among football programs now may be the demand that is on players in the offseason.

"A player has to be fully committed," Tomey said. "Summer workouts used to be something that players went home to do and now they stay at campus. Schools have very well structured off season programs by very confident professionals.

"When I started some places like Hawaii did not have a weight room and if they did it was the size of a small room at your house."

The talk about facilities brings up a debate on Arizona's, whose facilities are considered to be outdated by many.

"I have seen that some of Arizona's facilities are much improved, but the point that Mike Stoops has made is that the facilities have not kept pace," Tomey said.

"When I was there the weight room and the practice field were not even flat, so some improvement have been made but it has not kept pace."

Tomey believes that having solid facilities is not a matter of being better than other schools, but rather a matter of being equal.

"You are not going to get ahead, but a school has to keep pace and I think Oregon has surged ahead," Tomey said. "A couple of other schools like USC and UCLA have also not kept pace but those schools have geography."

As Arizona continues to attempt to improve the facilities, Tomey believes that the Wildcats have the right man in charge of the job.

"Certainly I know Greg Byrne is just committed to making tremendous improvements in a lot of areas and football, which is very appropriate," Tomey said. "Recruits see what you have and interpret that as commitment to be great and I don't think you can side step that. It is an arms race and everybody is committing lot of resources to it."

As the facilities and players improve, Tomey feels that there is not one specific roadblock that has kept the UA from the Rose Bowl. Instead, it is simply a matter of time before the Wildcats finally reach it.

"You just have to keep playing," Tomey said. "Mike is right up in there. I think you just need to keep playing and keep fighting and improve the program.

"Nobody that looks at it can say the program has not improved, but the next step is a big step and I know that is what they are focused on and I wish them well because they have been wonderful to us. It is going to happen and I think Byrne is doing tremendous job to provide leadership."

Tomey wishes success for Arizona and hopes he finishes on a high note with Hawaii, but wants it to be clear how thankful he is for his career and family up to this point.

"I want to emphasize how grateful I am for the family that I have, for my wife Nancy and kids and grandchildren because the blessings I have are not professional in nature," he said. "Family is the greatest blessing and I have the health of my family and a number of grandkids all over the world."

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