Cats hire two, shuffle coaching responsibilities

The Wildcats have made two hires to complete a reshuffling of the coaching staff. Arizona hired Mike Deal as offensive coordinator and Jeff Hecklinski as quarterbacks coach. The pair replaces Rick Dykes who resigned for personal reasons and Scott Pelluer who was fired last week.

The pair's hiring is part of a restructuring of the staff that will see a number of changes made to the duties of the coaching staff.

Wide receivers coach Rob Ianello will take on additional duties as passing game coordinator, in addition to his duties as recruiting coordinator. Charlie Dickey, the offensive line coach for the past 11 years, will now coach the tight ends. Running backs coach Jay Boulware will assume the special teams coordinator duties. Defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff will coach all linebackers and Steve Bernstein will work with the entire secondary.

Last season Mac Duff coached the Rovers and strong safeties, while Pelluer coached the middle linebackers and the Whips worked with both the defensive ends and with graduate assistant Jeff Rodgers. Marty Long and Charlie Camp will continue to work with the defensive line, handling the tackles and ends respectively. Rodgers and fellow grad assistant Terry Samuel will continue to work with the defense and offense, respectively.

Deal, who was the offensive coordinator for the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe the past two seasons, was the offensive line coach for head coach John Mackovic at Illinois during part of the latter's tenure there from 1989 to 1991. He later served in the same capacity under Mackovic in his final three years at Texas from 1995-97.

"Mike's worked for me at two different places. I consider him the best offensive line coach I've worked with," Mackovic said. "He's smart, innovative and will bring a great deal of enthusiasm and experience to Arizona football."

Deal was a defensive back on Indiana University's 1968 Rose Bowl team and was selected to the Blue-Gray Game in 1969 and the Senior Bowl in 1970. He spent the summer of 1970 on the Washington Redskins training camp roster, then turned to coaching and enjoyed a successful prep coaching career at four Indiana high schools from 1971 to 1977. He joined the college coaching ranks at Wabash College as offensive coordinator and line coach from 1978-82, and later moved to Davidson to coach defensive backs and serve as recruiting coordinator in 1983, plus two seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Marshall (1984-85).

Hecklinski, Deal's son-in-law, was recruited by Mackovic to Illinois as a quarterback out of Palatine (HS), Ill. After a redshirt year in 1993, he played four games while Deal was on the Illini staff during the 1994 season. Hecklinski then transferred to Western Illinois, where in three seasons he passed for 5,980 yards on his way to becoming at the time the No. 2 career passing leader in Leathernecks' history.

"When we were interviewing for Rick's replacement we looked into all kinds of possibilities - whether to bring in someone with quarterback, offensive line or receiving game emphasis to become the coordinator. Mike's strength is the offensive line, so we felt we should look into support for the quarterback position. We were able to talk to Jeff during that process, " Mackovic said.

Hecklinski, a 1997 graduate of Western Illinois, played the 1988 season in the Arena Football League for the Albany Firebirds, then moved to the coaching profession as quarterbacks and receivers coach in 1998 at Benedictine University (Ill.). He joined the staff of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College from 1999-2000, serving as offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The school's passing offense was ranked in the top 15 nationally both years. He was hired to join the Ball State staff as offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator a month ago.

"He's been an offensive coordinator and has a quality background. He's an outstanding young prospect as a coach and will have the chance to come here without the burden of having to do more than tutor our young quarterbacks," Mackovic said.

Deal comes from a family of coaches. In addition to Hecklinski, he has two other family members with coaching backgrounds. His father Russ Deal was the head coach at Hobart High School from 1948-65. His brother Mark Deal coaches at the University of Indiana.

Among Deal's considerable college coaching highlights are Southwest and Big 12 Conference Championships which led to Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl appearances while at the University of Texas. Deal helped lead Illinois to one Big Ten championship in 1990 and five bowl game appearances (Citrus, 1989; Hall of Fame, 1990; John Hancock, 1991; Holiday, 1992; Liberty, 1994).

While offensive coordinator at Kansas State, the Wildcats led the Big Eight in passing, setting several new records at KSU. Deal also helped turn around American college football's longest consecutive losing streak of 20 years with a 13-8-1 record over two years at Marshall University. At Wabash College, Deal helped guide the team to one of American college football's longest unbeaten streaks over a five-year period with a combined record of 42-3-1.

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