Arizona Football: Wildcats may lose key Defensive Coach Donte Williams, but we hope not

Nov 25, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez walks on the field before the Territorial Cup against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez walks on the field before the Territorial Cup against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports /

Just when you thought the bad news would stop coming for Arizona Football, the hits seem to keep coming, even after the tough season.

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley fired his special team’s coordinator Bruce Read on Sunday and was searching in the Desert, it seems, for a replacement.

Earl Friday, while Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez was preparing to be a Fox Sports broadcaster for the Pac-12 Championship game, Twitter was abuzz with rumors. What rumors you ask? Rumors that Riley had hired Arizona cornerbacks coach Donte’ Williams after an emphatic tweet and article written by Nate Clouse of (Rivals network) indicating Williams already accepted the offer.

Later in the day, Clouse was interviewed by Mike’l Severe on‘s The Bottom Line show. During the show, he took a step back. Nick was still promoting that Williams was hired but saying it wasn’t official, “I’m looking for an official announcement to be made today, or maybe on Monday or very early next week.”

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

After early indications from Clouse had been that Williams took the position, the narrative changed as the day wore on leaving fans to question: Is Donte Williams leaving the Wildcats for literally greener pastures in Nebraska?

Here is the latest from Arizona Daily Star’s reporter Michael Lev which confirms what Zona Zealots reported that Williams got the offer but is weighing his options::

"Multiple sources within the Arizona program were unaware of Williams’ intentions as of Friday afternoon. Separate sources outside the program indicated that Williams was more likely to leave than stay. Messages left with Williams were not returned.Williams made $215,000 in his first year at Arizona. The lowest-paid full-time Nebraska assistant makes $250,000. reported that the Nebraska offer includes a “significant pay increase.”"

The latest tweets from now say something different that Clouse’s original tweet, note the word, “could.”

It’s pretty bad that this came out before Williams had a chance to tell anyone at Arizona he was being offered or was even considering taking the offer. Not a good look for Nebraska, and if Williams stays, he will have a lot of explaining to do. If Williams does leave, it will certainly be a big blow to the Wildcats.

It is worth mentioning, that Williams hasn’t been here long, he and defensive Coach Marcel Yates were hired less than a year ago. Williams was initially brought in for his coveted recruiting ability, and that fact he is well respected among high school recruits, especially in Southern California, which is a key recruiting region for Arizona.

While Williams is considering his options, it’s probably Arizona’s turn to counter offer over the weekend. We will all be on pins and needles to find out if Greg Byrne and Rich Rodriguez can counter and then what he decides. We certainly don’t want to become too speculative about what may potentially happen afterward if Williams leaves Arizona, but there is a possibility it could hurt the current recruiting class.

As Zona Zealots has pointed out previously from interviews with Arizona commits Rhett Rodriguez, Greg Johnson, and Cody Shear, this 2017 class is very tight, and have their own chat room where they speak all day every day, That include Rhett Rodriguez, so that may help keep the recruits.

Related Story: 4-Star Commit Greg Johnson agrees Arizona Football class of 2017 is very close

Williams himself told The Star that the class had been close for a long time:

"“It’s hard to break up a family. The class that’s coming in, it wasn’t like a couple guys just committed yesterday; they’ve been committed for a while. Those guys grew together. Then on top of that, they know a lot of guys on our team. … We’ve been recruiting them for months on months on months. So the relationship is built there. Once the relationship is built, it’s a family. They look at themselves as already being here, even though they’re not yet.”"

Also, you would hope that players choose a school for many reasons, and not just a coach. But this coach is special, and his young players love him dearly.

Rumors of his possible departure started buzzing on social media early on Friday, and subsequently, fans, current commits and players responded accordingly.

Arizona teammates on last season’s defense Dane Cruikshank and Paul Magloire:

Must Read: Arizona Football: Cats end the Season Leading the Pac in Rushing yards in two categories

At Zona Zealots, we all hope Arizona is able to keep Coach D, for 2017. It would be tough to see such a well-liked coach depart, missing the chance to coach this awesome recruiting class named by classmates as The 2017 Desert Gang! Bear Down, Donte, we wish you the best regardless of what happens! Greg Byrne, do your thing, don’t let this one slip through our hands.