Coach’s departure just part of the turmoil in UA football

The new high-powered offense that Rich Rodriguez installed in the University of Arizona football program may need some attention in the off-season.

The guy that showed players on the offensive line how to open holes for the running game, and the guy that spent the most time running through those holes, are in the news.  And it’s not good news.

Robert Anae, the offensive line coach for Arizona’s quick-strike, hurry-up offense that averaged more than 500 yards a game of total offense in Rodriguez’s first year as head coach, has departed for greener pastures – and a better job.

(*Update 1/12/13: Tony Gibson, the UA assistant head coach responsible for safeties and special teams, has also reportedly departed.  Early indications were that Gibson was headed to the West Virginia program, but as of this date he is not listed on the Mountaineers’ coaching staff.)

Anae was the only coach that Rodriguez kept from Mike Stoops‘ staff when he arrived in Tucson in November of 2011.  The 54-year-old assistant, who was there for just two seasons, was a player favorite and one of the more respected coaches on staff.

He was a significant part of the Wildcats’ success last season, which culminated in an 8-5 record and a bowl win.  The team averaged 38 points a game, and the 526 yards per outing was the seventh-best in the country among Division I schools.

Anae was just announced as the new offensive coordinator for the BYU Cougars, his alma mater.  This will be his third trip back home.  In two previous hires, he served as the team’s inside receiver’s coach and as the offensive coordinator.

The departure of Anae was the front end of a double-whammy served up to the football program in just the past few days.  The fate of Rodriguez’s star running back hangs in limbo after reports of a run-in with the law.

Ka’Deem Carey, the sophomore sensation from Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, reportedly had a protection order issued against him.  Details about the event, just before Christmas, that led to the order weren’t available and neither Rodriguez or UofA Athletic Director Greg Byrne provided much information.

“We take these matters very seriously,” said Rodriguez, “and will support the authorities however we can.  And Byrne added: “The university and department of athletics are fully aware of the situation.  This is now a matter for the local authorities and we will fully cooperate and assist them as needed.”

Sounds like they both had the same speech writer.  Byrne also said the school won’t offer further comment at this time.

Carey led the nation in rushing this past season.  His 172 yards in the season’s final game, a win against Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, gave him a total of 1,929 yards.  He also set a school record with 23 touchdowns.

One other change in the coaching staff occurred last month when the tight ends and special teams coach, Spencer Leftwich, left for a position on staff at UTEP.

His replacement is Charlie Ragle, a name familiar to Arizona high school football fans.  Ragle, who had been serving as the assistant director of football operations before being selected for the on-field position, was the head coach at football power Chaparral High School in Scottsdale.  He directed the Firebirds to three state titles during his six years as head coach.

This could be an interesting off-season for the new boss in Tucson.  It hasn’t been a full month yet since the last game and already the carousel is beginning to spin.

(Photo: BYU Athletics)