The Arizona Wildcats are through playing the waiting game.
Sometime in the next 48 hours, the UA will announce that it has hired a new defensive coordinator - and it's likely to be West Virginia's Jeff Casteel.
Casteel deflected questions about his future following the Mountaineers' 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson on Wednesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has been widely rumored to be Arizona's top choice for months.
"You know what? I think the kids have worked hard. They just won 10 games," Casteel told the paper. "To put the emphasis on speculation … I'd rather just focus on what I think the kids deserve and that's what the focus should be on."
Asked to describe his time at West Virginia, the Mountaineers' longtime defensive coordinator said this: "I've had an opportunity to be part of three BCS (bowls) in the last six, seven, eight years, whatever it's been. It's been pretty special, and means you have some pretty good players, some guys who work hard."
UA coach Rich Rodriguez has long coveted Casteel, who worked under him at West Virginia from 2001 to 2007. Rodriguez was unable to convince the coordinator to follow him to Michigan in 2008, however, and the Wolverines' defense suffered. Casteel spent three seasons coaching for WVU's Bill Stewart; he just finished his first year under Dana Holgorsen.
Casteel is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on the 3-3-5 defense, a three-man front that uses speed and shifting to stop spread offenses. Casteel made $400,000 this season at West Virginia, making him the Big East Conference's highest-paid assistant. Arizona has enough money left in its $2 million assistant coaches' budget to offer him a raise.
Cats lose Calif. QB commit,
set sights on Akron LB
Modesto (Calif.) Christian School quarterback Nate Sudfeld decommitted from the UA on Thursday. Sudfeld told coaches that he'll still consider the Wildcats, but was not prepared to enroll in time for spring semester as he had originally planned.
"I am still going to talk with them and hopefully be recruited," he told the Scout.com recruiting service, "but I felt I could not go early and needed to open myself up."
Arizona received a visit Thursday from University of Akron linebacker Brian Wagner, the Mid-American Conference's leading tackler in 2011. Per NCAA rules, Wagner - who has received his undergraduate degree - can play one season at the school of his choosing as he pursues a graduate program.
Wagner is familiar with the UA: Former Wildcats linebacker Charlie Camp was his position coach at Akron. The Zips' coaching staff included head coach Rob Ianello, a former Arizona assistant, and graduate assistant Tony Bouie, a former UA safety.
Five for all-star game
UA seniors C.J. Parish, Paul Vassallo, Mohammed Usman, Derek Earls and Robert Golden committed to play in the first Casino del Sol College All-Star Game, to be held Jan. 16 at Kino Stadium.
The defensive players will try to catch the eye of scouts from at least 20 NFL teams. Vassallo, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, and Golden, a cornerback/safety, both project as late-round picks. Usman and Parish will try to prove they belong at defensive line, while Earls - a big-hitter at the UA - will try to crack the league as a linebacker.
Game president Mike Feder said he was excited to land five Wildcats. Dick Tomey, the UA's all-time winningest coach, will assist the "Stripes" team all week.
"We knew from the beginning that the most important thing is to get a number of UA football players. We're really excited about the group we have," Feder said.
The all-star game is expected to release a full roster in the next few days.