The link is obvious. Rich hasn't been able to spell defense since he left West Virginia, and he doesn't have anyone in the business who really wants to work for him.
I want to preface this by saying that I completely understand the desire for coaches to move on for better jobs, whether it be for more money, or more potential for upward mobility. Assistant coaches historically are but an afterthought when a coach gets the gate, and most assistants make but a fraction of the salary of their head coaches and coordinators. It is also rare that assistant coaches have contracts guaranteed for more than one year.
For the most part I don't think this move is about money or job security. Casteel has a three year guaranteed contract paying him over $400,000 per year and was up for a raise and an extension after doing another masterful job in putting a defense on the field that would help this team win championships. When you make that kind of money and live in West Virginia, you earn the equivalent of $2 million per year in a place like Los Angeles, Miami or New York. Anyone who disputes that hasn't tried to get lunch in any of those places lately.
West Virginia reportedly upped its offer to a base of around $650,000 (not including potential incentives) and also would have extended his deal to four years.
It has been discussed that Jeff would really like to be a head coach some day. I think that is a great goal and one I would love for him to attain. If he were to leave Morgantown for a head coaching gig, at any school, big or small, I would raise a glass to him and toast to his success. I doubt whether anyone seriously could begrudge him for seizing that opportunity. But a "lateral" move to Arizona? To work for Rich Rodriguez as a defensive coach? Really?
Going to work for Rich Rodriguez doesn't leave room for your personal aspirations. Everyone with any real connections to his current and former coaches knows that Rich coaches and hires by one specific mantra: "My way or the highway". Ever wonder why you never hear Steve Bird's name mentioned as a potential staffer with Rich? How about Herb Hand? Rick Trickett? Anyone, anyone?
We aren't talking about dung beetle coaches here. Hand is the offensive line coach on the Vanderbilt staff that just went to a bowl for the first time since 2008 and only the second time since 1982. Trickett is widely considered to be one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. Bird is on the USF staff after recovering from getting steamrolled by the bus Rich drove over his career in 2004.
It was widely reported that Rodriguez year after year would pluck the special talent of the team and put it on offense, essentially leaving Casteel the leftovers. No more evidence of this needs to be shown other than the fact that in 2008 West Virginia had three former high school quarterbacks starting for WVU as defensive players.
There has also been some thought that Casteel had to "prove" he was willing to move somewhere in order to show that he would eventually accept a head coaching offer elsewhere. The logic of that is shaky at best, but even if it were true does Caseteel have a better shot at being a head coach on Rich's staff than Dana Holgorsen's? Will Casteel have more autonomy to run a defense under Rich Rodriguez than he would have under Dana Holgorsen?
OK, so maybe Casteel isn't real happy he wasn't given a real shot at the top job at WVU when Rich left. Maybe he's even less happy that he wasn't consulted [or even in the loop] Bill Stewart and the offensive staff were ushered out the door last year. I totally understand that. Maybe he's very unhappy with the way that entire process was handled by the WVU athletic administration. Maybe he hasn't meshed well with Holgorsen and his group. I get that too.
But Arizona? Rich Rodriguez? Really?
But Arizona? Nobody leaves West Virginia to go to Arizona. They leave Pitt to go to Arizona (State), but not West Virginia. That is like leaving the basketball staff at North Carolina to become an assistant at St. Bonaventure.
Leave West Virginia, owners of the biggest evisceration in BCS football history, owners of three BCS victories in the last six years, to go to Arizona, with one shared Pac-10 title in school history. Eight yeas ago.
I don't doubt that Rich will succeed at Arizona. He'll be given the time to destroy and rebuild the program like he always does. Three and eight in year one at West Virginia gets you some spicy mail. Three and eight at Michigan in year one gets you fired. Three and eight at Arizona gets you a street named after you.
Three and eight in your first year at West Virginia is the worst season at WVU since 1978. Three and eight at Michigan is the worst season ever. Three and eight at Arizona is just the worst season since 2005-and doesn't even rank in the top ten worst seasons ever. You won't, however, have Oregon, USC and Washington leaving the conference to join the Big XII, to be replaced by Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State.
I certainly don't harbor Casteel any ill will. You must do what you think is best for you and your family. But I really question his decision making skills when he turns down what could be three quarters of a million dollars per year to go coach for a guy who treated you like a red-headed stepchild when you worked for him previously.
The money offerd to Casteel at WVU was significant. Five hundred thousand dollars is more money than any coach in WVU history has ever made, except for the last three head coaches.
Maybe it just didn't mesh between Casteel and Holgorsen. Maybe Casteel can't stand his approach to the game, his sharp wit or addiction to Red Bull. But you can't pan his results. As a matter of fact, as a coordinator of a defense that has given up an average of 33.6 points per game in its last 10 bowl games, I would think Casteel would be thrilled to coach the defense of a team with the most prolific scoring offense in BCS bowl history. Especially considering that, despite giving up 33 points, the defense was a huge part of that victory.
Casteel did a great job at West Virginia. He was a huge part of some of the greatest moments in WVU football history. He will be missed. Why is it that he's leaving?