like Brent Brennan While he was answering reporters' questions during his introductory press conference in Arizona, two more assistants who were part of the 2023 team were officially announced. Good fish in Washington. The vast majority of Fisch's eventual UA hires will be part of his first team in Seattle.
There is still a top Arizona assistant who has not been poached, while Brennan appears to have been able to convince another who recently left the program to return.
“I think I have a decent commitment from Duane Akina to continue to be a part of this, which is exciting,” Brennan said. “Just being the teacher, the person he is, the leader. I'm excited about that.
Akena, who served as FA's secondary coach in 2023, has reportedly taken an off-field position with Texas. He was one of two Arizona assistants headed to the Longhorns as defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen Take the DC/inside linebacker position. Both moves were made before Fish left for Washington.
If Akina returns, it would technically mark his third stint with Arizona. From 1987 to 2000 he was in Dick Tommy staff, including in 2000 when Brennan was a graduate assistant, then last season he was hired in the spring as an analyst before taking on a larger role in the regular season.
As for the rest of Brennan's staff, he said he's still working on it and admits that doing so is “one of the more complicated things about taking the job.” So far he has brought in one employee from San Jose State, Ben Thanswho was a senior assistant athletic director overseeing football operations and facilities.
“The other pieces are still moving,” Brennan said. “I think my priority since I got here is to strike a balance between trying to get to know this team and spending time around the team and meeting face-to-face with some of the players, and then also meeting with some groups of players. Players, because I'm just trying to get to know them. But more importantly I'm trying to give them a chance to get to know me. They're kind of in a tough spot. And with the way the rules are now, right, it's like anyone can leave at any time. And that's the nature of college football. So how quickly can you start getting to know me? On them, and how they can get to know me and start building a connection. I think the best way forward is here at the University of Arizona.”
One of Brennan's former coaches and players is Kevin Cummings, the only full-time assistant on Arizona's 2023 staff who has not officially found a new job. Cummings flew to Seattle with Fisch and other coaches on Monday, but he was not among the employees announced by Washington, and his Twitter bio still lists him as being with the Wildcats.
Cummings played wide receiver at Oregon State from 2010-13, and the last three seasons Brennan was the receivers coach at Ohio State University. Cummings was an offensive quality control assistant with the Beavers from 2014-16 and then followed Brennan to San Jose when he got the head coaching job, where he served as the Spartans' receivers coach from 2017-2020 before coming to Arizona.
“I promise we will have great leaders, mentors and talent developers in the building to help them get where they want to go and elevate our program to the highest possible level,” Brennan said he told the Arizona players when he said. I met them on Tuesday.
Brennan said he tried to be as honest as possible during that meeting, knowing there was a lot of hurt in the room after Fish's sudden departure.
“The reason I say that is because I did it with a team yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday morning, before I got on the plane to come down here, I had to meet with the team at San Jose State. It was really tough and really emotional. And if you build it right, if your team is connecting at a level that gives you a chance to succeed on Saturdays at Fall, they'll be super connected, so when a piece of her leaves, there's going to be some repercussions, right?
“So I was honest with them, I just asked them to give me a chance to earn their trust, treat each other with respect and that trust will be earned over time, and then I promised them that I would surround them with more great coaching staff and people who care about their development and who they are as men.
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