Arizona Football Breakdown of coaches Ricky Hunley and Chuck Cecil

Nov 17, 2018; Pullman, WA, USA; Arizona Wildcats helmet sits during football game against the Washington State Cougars in the first half at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2018; Pullman, WA, USA; Arizona Wildcats helmet sits during football game against the Washington State Cougars in the first half at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports /

Arizona Football has made two coaching hires, and it should be to the delight of fans as they are bringing in former Wildcats Ricky Hunley and Chuck Cecil.

Already over a week into the job, and newly hired Arizona Football head coach Jedd Fisch has made a few staffing changes, bringing in former Wildcat legends Ricky Hunley and Chuck Cecil.

The news broke on Wednesday afternoon, and with a fan base still indifferent about the hire of coach Fisch, should be ecstatic about the hires of Hunley and Cecil.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

These two gentlemen embody the spirit and everything that is Arizona Football. For those of us that are of the age that watched these two play, including myself, I was like the Stevie Wonder song, ‘Overjoyed’ at the announcement.

Every fan of a wiser age has memories of Larry Smith’s team beating Notre Dame on their field, and watching Smith become the second, all-time leader in wins, or thoughts of Desert Swarm and remembering the 106-yard Touchdown return by Cecil, cementing the win over arch-rival ASU.

So naturally, fans longing for those feel-good memories are going to be thrilled with the recent hires of Cecil and Hunley. To me, it feels like a breath of fresh air knowing these two College Football Hall of Famers will be on the Arizona sidelines once again, but this time, mentoring, coaching, and instilling the warrior spirit into young men on Saturday’s at Arizona Stadium.

Put another way, the announcement for fans was like when a monsoon builds up and pours. The washes roar, the smell of the crisp, post-rain desert scent fills the air, and then suddenly the clouds part and the sun comes back out. That sun is the representation that following some turbulent times, we may soon return to calmness and beauty in the desert.

I can hear the birds chirping again and the desert animals are ready to come out for a drink of water.

On this day all seems right with Arizona Football again, and now we must await the next staff announcements. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some history and facts about our two, newest additions.

Ricky Hunley

Background: 16 years of coaching experience at the NFL and Collegiate level
Age: 59
Position on Staff:  Defensive Line Coach

Hunley played Linebacker at the UofA from 1980 – 1983 under Larry Smith, and while here, Hunley earned Consensus All-American honors his junior and senior years and the Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 1983 as a senior.

Hunley was drafted in the First Round as the No. 7 overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft and played in the NFL for seven seasons, winning two AFC Championships, and playing in two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.

In his career, he has been an Assistant Coach on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL and College. He had a four-year run as the Linebackers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003-2007, however, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Southern California in 1992-93.

He later helped the Florida Gators to win the 2002 BCS Orange Bowl as a Defensive Line coach, and in1998, Hunley was the first player in Arizona Football history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and is also a member of the All-Time Pac-12 Football All-Century Team as a Linebacker.

Make no mistake about it, when Hunley played at Arizona, he was Mr. Arizona Football. I grew up watching him create havoc every Saturday for offensives across the Pac-10, and he knows the tradition and importance of the Territorial Cup/Duel in the Desert. He would place the highest emphasis on beating ASU and finally getting Arizona to a Rose Bowl.

Hunley was on the 1982 team that defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and on a side note, his younger brother LaMonte also played Linebacker at UofA from 1981-1984. As brothers, they were teammates for three years.

Chuck Cecil

Background: 12 years NFL coaching experience, all but 2 of those years was in the NFL
Age: 56
Position on Staff: Defensive Backs Coach

Cecil played Safety at the UofA from 1984 – 1987 under Coach Smith and Dick Tomey. Initially a walk-on, Cecil quickly proved himself more than worthy of a scholarship and further cemented his legacy, earning consensus All-American and All-Pac-10 Defense Player of the Year honors in 1987.

In his time at Arizona, Chuck was the subject matter expert of hard-hitting and interceptions. He had 21 interceptions, a record that was later broken, and in one game against Stanford, Cecil had four interceptions in 1987.

However, the play that always stands out happened in 1986 and is still one of the greatest plays ever in Pac-10 / Pac-12 history, and perhaps the greatest play in Arizona Football history, the 106-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Following his career in Tucson, Cecil quickly became known as one of the hardest hitters and his energy and enthusiasm were infectious. I once told him on Twitter that if someone didn’t have their mouthpiece in when Chuck Cecil hit them, they were probably picking up half their tongue from the bloody grass. Chuck defined the word ‘tough’ as a player.

In the NFL, Chuck played for the Green Bay Packers, Phoenix Cardinals, and Houston Oilers earning Pro Bowl honors in 1992.

He most recently served as the Senior Defensive Analyst for the Wildcats, and he will now move from the booth back down to the playing field.

More. On Arizona Football. light

Wednesday was certainly an exciting day for Arizona Football fans, and it appears a new era has begun in Tucson! As always, Bear Down, Arizona!