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Hankwitz hopes to bring back normalcy

By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 30, 2003

When he first jumped into the coaching profession, Mike Hankwitz had long-term aspirations of becoming a head coach.

But he never thought it would take this long.

After 33 years making his way across the country as an assistant, Hankwitz is finally getting his shot, even if it may be only a brief one.

In a press conference yesterday, athletic director Jim Livengood introduced new interim head coach Hankwitz to about 50 members of the press, while at the same time announcing that a nationwide search for a permanent head coach had already begun.

Hankwitz said that he would like to be considered for the permanent tag, but realized his production the rest of this season will play a big role in his future with Arizona football.

Hankwitz used advice he received from Jim Young, his old head coach during his first stint at Arizona, from 1973-76.

"Don't always worry about the next job. Try to do the best job where you are at, and opportunities will present themselves," Hankwitz said. "I'm just excited I have an opportunity to show what I can do here."

Hankwitz coaching resumÄ:

  • Years coaching: 33 years
  • 1997-2002: defensive coordinator, Texas A&M
  • Head coaching experience: none
  • Hankwitz became the 27th head coach in Arizona football history on Saturday, when the athletic department fired former head coach John Mackovic.

    Hankwitz said he was a little hesitant to take the job because of his close personal relationship with Mackovic, but said Mackovic has been very supportive of his new task. He said Mackovic has already offered support and suggestions that would ease the transition into an unusual situation.

    "It was with some reluctance that I accepted, but I do believe we have a chance to make something positive out of the rest of the season and that's my goal," Hankwitz said.

    Both Hankwitz and Livengood mentioned the importance of trying to return to normalcy during the upcoming week. All practices for the week will be closed to cut down on the media attention hovering over the team.

    "I came here hoping I could make a difference and I feel that I still can," Hankwitz said. "We are going to do everything we can to finish this season as positive as we can."

    The fact that the Wildcats travel to Pullman to take on No. 14 Washington State makes the task ahead that much more daunting for the Arizona football team.

    The Cougars are coming off a 55-16 thrashing of then-No.10 Oregon in Eugene Saturday.

    With all of the negatives that have blanketed Arizona football in the last couple of weeks, both Livengood and Hankwitz have succeeded in their efforts to keep the mood surrounding the program light.

    Livengood opened yesterday's press conference by introducing Hankwitz and giving him his first task as head coach saying, "He will tell you exactly how we will beat the Cougars next Saturday."

    Hankwitz responded, "That was a small order there."

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