The hurt is still there for Dick Tomey because he cared so much.
But the former University of Arizona football coach is re-energized in his
new assignment coaching defensive ends at the University of Texas.
"I'm terrific," Tomey said last week from his office at the UT football
complex in Austin.
The fit, he said, is good for him. He's working with Duane Akina, one of
his former UA aides. Greg Robinson, for years an assistant under Tomey's
close friend Terry Donahue at UCLA, is the Longhorns' new defensive
He's known his boss, Mack Brown, for years and got the gig in part because
he's been a regular visitor to the state, speaking at high school clinics
and offering advice to the UT staff since he resigned moments after he lost
to Arizona State, 30-17, in 2000.
"I have the highest regard for him," Tomey said.
"This is a tremendous opportunity. I'm having a lot of fun getting up
early. We've got a lot of work to get done."
Tomey's up at 4:45 a.m. for offseason workouts that commence at 5:30 a.m.
After spending a year as a TV analyst for his beloved University of Hawaii,
Tomey was hired by Donahue as a "defensive assistant" on Dennis Erickson's
San Francisco 49ers staff for the 2003 season.
That got him back in the mix as a coach. It was his first foray in
professional football, and he said he learned a lot. But college coaching is
"I knew I wasn't finished coaching," he said. "I didn't know I missed it as
much as I did. I didn't know I'd miss the contact with the players. It's
always been the players with me. That's why leaving Arizona was so hurtful.
I missed those relationships. Not only the players, but the coaches and the
other people in the athletic department. It's a different world."
Tomey resigned before athletic director Jim Livengood fired him. Livengood
believed the UA program had become stagnant.
Tomey said he "got no satisfaction" UA went through one of its worst
football periods ever in his absence. Last year's 2-10 mark was the worst in
"Those were players and (some) coaches I love that were involved in that,"
Tomey said. "It hurt like it hurt for most people who loved Arizona."
Softening the blow from what he termed "a devastating experience" was the
response from many Wildcats fans. He received more than 1,500 pieces of
"Fans and alumni poured themselves out with emotion. It was incredible," he
Tomey has spoken twice with new UA coach Mike Stoops.
"I think he's a terrific coach," Tomey said. "Arizona has certainly
upgraded the facilities and coaching salaries, which is what it takes to do
the job. They'll do a great job."
Meanwhile, Tomey has a significant assignment himself. Brown is derisively
called the great "February coach" because Texas annually has outstanding
recruiting classes that produce championships in November.
The defense is being overhauled with Robinson, fired as defensive
coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, leading an experienced group of
Texas fans will be expecting a dominating defense like Red River rival
Oklahoma. Tomey wants the Longhorns to play like his old Desert Swarm teams.
"We played with heart, toughness, and we were physical," he said. "I feel
like if there's any contribution I can make it is to help try and get our
team to play that way."
At 65, Tomey said he'd still like to run his own program. He's in good
health and energetic. He'll be joining a recreational baseball league in
Austin as he did in Tucson.
He maintains a permanent residence in Hawaii, which he will return to as
often as he can.
"I'm very proud of what we did at Arizona," said Tomey, who went to seven
bowls and shared one Pac-10 championship during his 14 seasons.
"I'm looking forward to helping Mack do what he wants to do here at Texas."