Tomey Transition: Former UA Great Ready For Next Challenge

Most people are lucky to spend a week in Hawaii during the summer.

Dick Tomey spends three months.

The 77-year-old former University of Arizona head coach has earned it.

Tomey is wrapping up his stay on the islands in the next week, then make long flight back to Tampa where he’ll begin his first full season as University of South Florida’s Associate Athletic Director.

It’s a natural transition from coaching on the field to more of an administrative role with a focus on fund-raising. He reunited at USF back in February with long-time family friend and co-worker Mark Harlan who is the Bulls’ Director of Athletics.

“I look forward to it,” Tomey told about the upcoming fall in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “The people there have made it very enjoyable. Working with the coaches and the athletic directors. It’s a much different job than coaching (laughing).”

If anyone knows it’s “Tricky Dick” who racked up 183 career wins as the head coach of the Wildcats (95 victories–most in school history), Hawaii and most recently San Jose State. He is best known locally for helping revive football in the Old Pueblo and helping form the vaunted “Desert Swarm” defense of the early 1990’s.

The 1992 Pac-10 Coach of the Year stays close with many long-time Tucson friends and is impressed with the direction under Director of Athletics Greg Byrne who honored Tomey with the John Button Salmon Award for outstanding service in 2010.

“Greg has been incredible to [wife] Nancy and I,” Tomey said. “We appreciate that so much. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t have contact with someone in Tucson.”

The veteran coach also shares great respect for Rich Rodriguez, who last season became the first head coach at UofA to win 10 games since Tomey accomplished the feat twice in 1993 and 1998. 

“Rich has done a fabulous job,” he said. “He’s really taken a huge step forward. I think that really heightens people’s expectations. Rich is a great fit for Tucson.”

Tomey discussed how he describes the annual Territorial Cup to others when asked. He went 8-5-1 against ASU from 1987-2000.

“It’s a great rivalry,” he said pausing for a moment. “At times it’s become a nasty rivalry. I think Bruce Snyder and I tried to pull it back to a more respectful rivalry. There’s a lot of emotion.”

He coached five NFL first-round picks, 20 All-Americans and 43 All Pac-10 First-Team players with the ‘Cats.

Whoever says life isn’t a beach?

Doesn’t matter which coast to Dick Tomey.