Tomey visits UA practice

By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Yesterday, Arizona football's past met its present and both came away feeling rosy.

Former UA head coach and Texas assistant head coach/defensive ends coach Dick Tomey visited Arizona football practice yesterday. Tomey, who went 95-64-4 at the UA from 1987-2000, is Arizona's all-time winningest coach.

"It was great (having Tomey there). He has done a lot for this program, and they set a great standard for defense. And I've always had respect for great defenses," UA head coach Mike Stoops said. "He set a number of records when he was here."

Tomey said Stoops invited him to Tucson right away.

"Mike called me the first week he got the job. He talked about getting together to watch some practice," Tomey said. "He's just been wonderful and I appreciate it."

Tomey, who headed the renowned "Desert Swarm" defenses of the early '90s, was known as a "player's coach" but was unable to get the Wildcats to the Rose Bowl. Arizona remains the only Pacific 10 Conference school never to play in the Rose Bowl.

When he was hired, Stoops said he wanted to return the defense to the glory days of the Swarm, which saw four Wildcats named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Tomey has 24 years of head coaching experience, including 14 at Arizona, where he had nine winning seasons, two .500 seasons and coached in seven bowl games. He is the winningest coach at Hawaii, his alma mater, as well.

Arizona players who will be fifth-year seniors in the fall were from Tomey's last recruiting class.

"It was very good to have him around, and around all the guys he recruited," Stoops said. "He had a very positive impact on all the players."

Tomey presided over Arizona's two best seasons: 10-2 in 1993, including a 29-0 win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, and 12-1 in 1998, including a Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska and a final No. 4 ranking, the team's highest ever. At the end of his tenure, his graduation rate of 67 percent was the best in the Pac-10 and 10th-best in the country.

Tomey said he was excited for the Wildcats and liked the former Oklahoma defensive coordinator's scheme.

"He's a hell of a defensive coach. We're looking at his defense at Texas trying to you know," Tomey said with a laugh. "I'm excited for him. I'm excited for the players. I'm excited for the university, but he's been wonderful and I appreciate it."

Tomey, who was forced to resign after losing 30-17 to Arizona State to close the 2000 campaign and finish the year 5-6, said he had no regrets about coming back to Tucson.

"I'm excited about seeing these players and seeing Mike," Tomey said. "I've seen so many old friends today. It's been wonderful, so I have no second thoughts."

Tomey talked at length with defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo, the coach he knew best, and admitted he knew OU head coach Bob Stoops better than his younger brother.

"I'm excited about what they're doing and can't wait to see the Cats play," Tomey said.

Tomey went to Austin, Texas, after a brief stint with the San Francisco 49ers and a commentary gig for televised Hawaii games.

Also wearing the burnt orange these days is former UA offensive coordinator Duane Akina, who serves as co-defensive coordinator for the Longhorns. Spring practice for the Longhorns ended in early April.