Next week’s Alamo Bowl between Arizona and Oklahoma State has turned into a game of checkers. Not only on the field, but on the sidelines as well.
And UA Coach Mike Stoops is a couple of jumps ahead of the Cowboys’ boss, Mike Gundy.
Stoops took action right away to fill a couple of critical holes in his coaching staff, created with the departure of his co-defensive coordinator, Greg Brown, and his interior line coach, Mike Tuiasosopo.
Neither of them will be on the sidelines in Texas, since their appointments to the staff at the University of Colorado took effect immediately.
Although he was initially expected to begin looking for a new defensive coordinator after the Dec. 29 bowl game, Stoops announced that his other co-defensive coordinator, Tim Kish, would take over the coordinator’s duties going forward.
And he quickly inked nine-year NFL veteran and former Arizona player, Joe Salave’a, to a contract as the Wildcats’ new defensive line coach to replace Tuiasosopo.
Salave’a was an offensive tackle at Arizona from 1994-97 and was a first-team All Pac-10 selection his senior year. His latest coaching stint was at San Jose State, where he was the defensive line coach in 2008 and 2009.
Kish joined the Arizona staff in 2004 as linebackers coach after stops at Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois where he served as defensive coordinator. Stoops named him to the co-defensive coordinator position for this season following the departure of his brother, Mark, who left that job for another at Florida State.
So Stoops is back to full strength in time for the big game.
Now we learn that Oklahoma State is losing the offensive coordinator that created one of the most potent attacks in the college game this year. Dana Holgorsen, who has become one of the hottest coaching prospects after successes at Texas Tech, Houston, and then at Stillwater, has accepted the head coaching position at West Virginia University.
The Cowboys closed out the regular season with a 10-2 mark and a No. 6 national ranking. They score an average of 45 points per game, third-best in the country; throw for 354 yards per outing; and are the second-most prolific total offense, with 537 yards a game.
Holgorsen will be on the sidelines next week to try to help the Pokes win their 11th game of the season, the first time any OSU team has accomplished the feat.
But the announcement that he will be leaving, however, will have an unsettling effect. It provides a distraction the Cowboys don’t need as they arrive in San Antonio on Thursday to prepare for the first meeting with the Cats since 1942.
The players have had a few days off to be with their families, and the departure of Holgorsen will be on their minds.
Unfortunately, the distraction likely won’t be enough to help Arizona overcome the imbalance of power.