UW assistant applies for Arizona coaching job

  • JOHN SLEEPER / Herald Writer
  • Friday, December 1, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

SEATTLE – University of Washington quarterbacks/receivers coach Steve Axman is actively pursuing the opening for head coach at Arizona.

Although Axman has been mentioned as a candidate for the job left open when Dick Tomey resigned, he has not yet heard from Arizona officials.

“I’ve applied for the position,” Axman said. “It’s certainly my goal to be a head coach again. Arizona is a great school, a great place to be. I hope that, with my background, 13 years coaching in Arizona, that they’re going to be interested in me.”

Axman, 51, was the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator from 1980-84 and later was head coach at Northern Arizona from 1990-97. He is the main UW recruiter in Arizona.

Axman is regarded as having one of the leading offensive minds in college football. In his eight years at NAU, Axman’s teams averaged better than 30 points a game. His 1986 Lumberjack team set or tied 14 national records and averaged 43.2 points a game.

He has been given much of the credit for the development of UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, as well as Troy Aikman at UCLA, Neil O’Donnell at Maryland and Jeff Lewis at Northern Arizona. He has authored six books about football.

“I’d consider it a great honor to be considered,” Axman said. “I think it’s a great match. They’re looking to juice up their pass offense. I certainly feel I can do that. I have the Pac-10 experience they’re looking for. I’ve recruited in Arizona and California for 20 years. I’ve been a successful head coach. Those are the things they’re hopefully going to look at.”

UW coach Rick Neuheisel said he hopes Axman will be given strong consideration, even if it means he would have to shuffle his coaching staff around.

“That’s part of football,” Neuheisel said. “I want nothing more than for them to be happy. It’s my job to make them so happy here that they don’t want to leave. But if they get an opportunity for a head coaching job, then I want to be their biggest advocate. If Steve’s got a chance at Arizona, then I would not only recommend him and promote him, but do anything I could to help him get it.”

That feeling extends to undergraduate players who have been getting some questions thrown at them about the NFL. Safety Hakim Akbar and nose tackle Larry Tripplett, both juniors, have been mentioned as possible high draftees in the NFL draft this spring. Both said Monday that they would entertain the option following the Rose Bowl.

“If they are interested in at least exploring it, I will do everything to get all the information for them so they can make an educated decision,” Neuheisel said. “Then I’ll tell them what I think, but it’s not going to be self-serving. It’s going to be based on a good business decision. They can take it as that, as just another opinion.”

Undergraduates must declare their draft eligibility by Jan. 10.

  • Injury update: Tailbacks Paul Arnold (back) and Willie Hurst (collarbone) did not participate in practice Friday, the first in preparation for Purdue in the Rose Bowl Jan. 1. Their status is questionable for the game.

    Cornerback Anthony Vontoure, who had wrist surgery following the Apple Cup game against Washington State, practiced with a cast on his wrist. Linebacker Jafar Williams sat out practice to rest a chronically sore ankle. He is expected to practice shortly.

  • Williams may drop by: Neuheisel said the hope is that strong safety Curtis Williams, who injured his spinal cord Oct. 28 against Stanford, may recover sufficiently to attend the Rose Bowl.

    Even if he doesn’t, Neuheisel said, plans are for many of the Huskies to visit Williams at his San Jose, Calif., rehabilitation center to visit and to deliver Rose Bowl memorabilia.

    Williams’ progress is slow, although he has been able to move a shoulder. The fund to help Williams and his family has reached $72,000, media relations director Jim Daves said.

  • New old face: Wideout Chris Juergens, who missed the entire season with knee problems, ran pass patterns and caught some throws in Monday’s practice.

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