Wildcat coaching search moves forward

A lot is happening in the Arizona coaching search. The UA would like to have a coach named within the next three weeks and the rumor mill is cranking full steam. Officially the search committee is meeting and expected to trim its list. Unofficially, a front-runner has emerged according to various media reports.

The Tucson Citizen and the Associated Press are reporting that Oklahoma assistant Mike Stoops may be the front-runner for the vacant Wildcat coaching job. The Citizen, in an uncharacteristic move, cited unnamed sources within the athletic department who claim that Stoops is the favorite to replace John Mackovic. While no one has officially commented on Stoops' candidacy, the Citizen story does mirror some of the information that Cat Tracks and other publications have received.

What is known is that the committee is close to trimming down its list and should commence the final interview process at any time. There are currently between 8-13 candidates that are seriously being considered and the committee has stated that they will give Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood a final list of 4-5.

The list of current finalists has not been made public, and we've been told it is not a static, finalized list.

Here is what we do know:

Ricky Hunley is very interested in the job. The Cincinnati Bengals' assistant has publicly professed his interest in the job and the former Wildcat great will almost assuredly get an interview and be among the finalists.

Mike Price has openly campaigned for the job. The former Alabama and Washington State coach has told ESPN and The Arizona Republic that he wants the job. Unfortunately for Price, his dismissal from Alabama over an incident in a Florida strip club, will come back to haunt him. Arizona President Peter Likins has publicly stated Price will not be considered.

According to footballscoop.com Boise State's Dan Hawkins is the favorite, but little has come from that rumor. The website actually said that Boise State has a successor named if Hawkins leaves.

ESPN reported that a Big East coach was very interested. Presumably that coach is Pittsburgh's Walt Harris who has been rumored to be interested.

Fresno's Pat Hill publicly pulled his name from consideration after initially expressing some interest in the job. Hill has extensive ties to Tucson. He coached for the Wildcats under Dick Tomey and his mother lives in Tucson. It would be a surprise, but not out of the realm of possibility that Hill was still interested.

Anything else being reported is just rumor and speculation. However, based on what we've been told it would not be a shock to see some of these names make the finalist list: Norm Chow. The USC offensive coordinator has been a favorite of some boosters living in Southern California and coincidentally Chow will be in town this weekend with the Trojans. If Chow is indeed interested, he could be a finalist.

Mike Hankwitz. The current UA coach will at least get an interview. He has done a good job since Mackovic left, but his chances are slim.

Johnnie Lynn. The Giants' defensive coordinator was a former Arizona assistant and is very well respected. The fact that he is a minority candidate does not hurt as there are many within the University who would like to see a minority hire.

Glen Mason. Minnesota's head coach has turned around programs in a worse state than Arizona's. He is well thought of in coaching circles.

Urban Meyer. The Utah coach is in his first year with the Utes and that could very well be a major reason he is not a finalist. Not only would the Cats have to buy him out of his current contract, but they'd also have to wonder if he would some day jump ship on them.

Randy Shannon and Charlie Strong. These two are the defensive coordinators at Miami and Florida, respectively. They are also two of the top minority candidates out there.

Jeff Tedford. The Cal coach wants better facilities and apparently the school is not prepared to do an upgrade any time soon. Like Meyer, it would take a buyout and that may turn the UA off.

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