UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (2024)

Supporters are filing into the “Wildcat Welcome” event at Union Public House. Brent Brennan is among them, and he’s going virtually unnoticed.

Wearing a navy University of Arizona polo, jeans and white Nikes, Brennan blends into the crowd. It’s a rare — and fleeting — moment of calm and anonymity for Tucson’s busiest man.

“It has been hectic,” Brennan later will tell the throng. “Oh my God, it has been hectic.”

Since he was hired as the Wildcats’ football coach on Jan. 16, Brennan has put together a staff, endured two transfer-portal windows, conducted 15 spring football practices and bought a house. The UA also changed athletic directors during that time, and its president announced he will be stepping down.

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UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (1)

Brennan has handled it all with enthusiasm and charm. There’s no place he’d rather be than Tucson and nothing he’d rather be doing than coaching Arizona football.

“I’ve been amazed by the support of the people from Tucson since I got here,” Brennan told the crowd Tuesday. “I don’t know if I knew what I was going to experience when I came back. And it’s been incredible.”

So much has changed since Brennan apprenticed under Dick Tomey in 2000. The loosening of restrictions on player movement has created new stresses for coaching staffs. Brennan was thankful when the spring portal window closed on May 1.

“Last Tuesday was a big night,” he said from the stage at Union. “I sat by the pool on my phone calling players, thanking them for staying. Because they have a choice now, and they can choose something else.

“I contend that it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you and the city and how you rally around the players here and the other sports programs. It’s incredible. I mean that. It is really, really cool.”

Before he spoke on stage, Brennan met with Tucson media. He discussed his interactions during the Wildcat Welcome Tour, the AD change, recruiting and new Arizona Bowl sponsor Snoop Dogg, among other topics. Below is a portion of that conversation. It has been lightly edited.

What are fans saying to you when they see you in person at these events?

A: “I get a combination of, ‘We’re excited you’re here’ and ‘I hope you stay.’ ”

What do you make of that second part?

A: “It’s easy (to understand). It’s just on the heels of Coach (Jedd) Fisch leaving, which I understand. I’m in the profession. It’s part of the business. It’s the hard part of the business. But it’s the one thing that people tend to hold on to.”

Shortly after you arrived, Dave Heeke, the person who hired you, was let go. What was it like to go through that, and what have your interactions been like with Desireé Reed-Francois?

UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (2)

A: “I really liked Dave. That’s a hard thing for any new head coach that goes into a situation and something like that happens. You also know that those things are out of your control. So you just worry about what you can control, which was right in front of you, which was retention of our football team, putting together an outstanding football staff and getting ready for spring ball. And that’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we did.

“Desireé has been a great addition. I knew her when she was the athletic director at UNLV. We’d actually sat next to each other at a couple of softball and volleyball games and just talked. At UNLV, she’d also hired somebody that I’m really close to in Marcus Arroyo, so I’d heard incredible things about her from him.

“I was excited that it was her. I know her. I know she’s extremely good. I know she just came from a really different and exciting universe being in the SEC and what that is, kind of at the front of all these college football conversations. I thought she was a great person to lead us in this next phase at U of A.”

UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (3)

How’s recruiting going?

A: “It’s good. It’s busy. The way that ebbs and flows with the opening and closing of multiple portals since this staff has been here; with having spring practice finishing when it did; (and) having the calendar continue to adjust and people in college football trying to find a better calendar that serves both the students and the people that are coaching and working within it has made May and June crazy.

“Those used to be months that were more focused on recruiting the next class. Now May and June has become recruiting this class, next year’s class and the next class after that. So it’s becoming really hectic.”

As you head into the summer, what are your priorities?

A: “The priorities are continuing to work to finish up the ’24 group, the pieces that we’re still trying to add, and that doesn’t stop. We have players coming in next weekend. We have players coming in in June. And then also, coaches are on the road right now. So I’m sure they’ll come back with 10 players that we all need to evaluate. That’s the primary focus of it.

“Also, there’s a big emphasis on the class of ’25 recruiting because (they) can come on official visits. So we’re in the middle of that. And then we also have our camp season, which is critical because in some cases it’s our first chance to get to see players. It’s also a time where I can go out. I can go work a camp. We have some dates. We’re going to be on campuses in Texas, we’re going to be in California, and then we’re also going to have our stuff.”

Are you swimming in different waters from a recruiting standpoint here vs. San Jose State?

A: “It is different just because the location and the footprint is different and where we’re going to play our conference games is different. Where before we knew we were going to play most of our games in California or somewhere in the West, it was easy with the population in California and the talent base in California to recruit California kids.

UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (4)

“Now knowing that we’re going to be going to Texas and Oklahoma and Florida, that opens up some other areas where we know there’s a lot of talented football players. So that pushes us out a little bit more across the country.”

You’ve talked a lot about development being the cornerstone of what you want to do here. When you pitch that idea to young players in the NIL era, are they buying it?

A: “I think they buy it until they get to wherever they go and they’re not planning enough. And then all of a sudden, they’re like, ‘Well, I’m not getting developed.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, actually, development takes time, and you are.’ But sometimes it’s hard to see.

“So it just depends on how mature young people can be and how much they can focus on their process of development, instead of always being so focused on the outcome. I think that’s a challenge everyone in college athletics is looking at right now.”

Tommy Lloyd has a pickleball court at his house. What do you do when it’s not quite as busy as the season?

A: “I haven’t gotten to that place yet. Spring ball ended 10 days ago. We were up in Phoenix for Big 12 meetings and for the caravan up there. That was pretty hectic.

“I’m trying to get a house put together. That’s one thing that I’m doing. I wouldn’t say it’s fun. I met with the pest-control guys today. We had a plumber come through, which was exciting. So it’s normal husband stuff.

“I have a bed coming tomorrow. Can’t wait. It’s gonna be great. I’ve been on a futon and an air mattress for a while now.”

Snoop Dogg became the title sponsor of the Arizona Bowl, and you posted that picture with him. What’s the story behind that photo?

A: “We had the national championship for the Snoop league at Spartan Stadium (at San Jose State). I think it was in ’17 or ’18. My son was pretty small then, and he’s taller than me now. So I don’t know how long ago it was.

UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (5)

“But I got to know him. I recruited his son (Cordell Broadus) when his son was coming out and I was an assistant at Oregon State.

“Snoop is a great guy. It was fun dealing with him where it was like coach and father; it was not coach and Snoop Dogg. Because if it was that, I would have been trying to snap selfies and hang out.

“But he’s really cool. His son was a great kid. It was a lot of fun to get to know him through that process, and then had a couple more touch points over the years where we got to reconnect.

“He’s gotta be one of the most famous people in the world. So for him to get behind the Arizona Bowl like that, I think that’s awesome for the bowl game, that’s awesome for the U of A, it’s awesome for Tucson.”

Contact sports reporter/columnist Michael Lev at mlev@tucson.com. On X(Twitter): @michaeljlev

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UA football coach Brent Brennan on ‘hectic’ spring, recruiting, AD change — and Snoop Dogg (2024)
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