The Arizona and Hawaii football families are honoring the life of former head coach Dick Tomey today. Tomey, 80, died after a battle with lung cancer on Friday.
“Our entire program is saddened by this loss, but we are also grateful to have been impacted by Coach Tomey,” Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin said in a released statement. “We will continue to do our part to represent his legacy well. Nanci and the entire Tomey family continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.”
Tomey started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Miami Ohio under the legendary Bo Schembechler in 1962. His coaching journey made stops at Northern Illinois, Davidson, and Kansas before landing at UCLA in 1971 as linebackers and defensive backs coach for the Bruins. It was at UCLA that Tomey would eventually be named defensive coordinator in 1976, and one season later he was named the head coach at Hawaii. Tomey coached at Hawaii for 10 years, accumulating a record of 63-46-3 and cracking the AP Top 25 in 1981 with a record of 9-2. Tomey was named the WAC coach of the year for the 1981 season. Tomey is credited with making a strong effort to have Hawaii sign big-name opponents
Tomey was hired by Arizona after the 1986 season. Tomey led the Wildcats to a record of 95-64-4 over the span of 14 years, which included a 4-3 bowl record highlighted by a Fiesta Bowl victory and a top 10 finish in the 1994 season and a memorable 12-1 campaign that ended with a Pac-10 championship and a victory in the Holiday Bowl and a No. 4 finish in the AP Top 25 in the 1998 season. Tomey was named the Pac-10 coach of the year for the 1992 season after a 6-5-1 season filled with tight and close losses to bring down the record. Arizona lost at No. 1 Miami 8-7 at the end of September and was upset by No. 18 USC 14-7 in mid-November to drop the Wildcats from a No. 9 AP ranking. Arizona ended the regular season with a 7-6 loss to rival Arizona State and ended the season with a 20-15 loss to Baylor in the Sun Bowl. Arizona lost four games by a combined total of 12 points in the regular season. Tomey remains the winningest coach in Arizona program history.
Tomey resigned from his position at Arizona after a disappointing 1999 season and returned to coaching a few seasons later with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. After one season as an assistant with the 49ers in 2003, Tomey joined the Texas coaching staff as an assistant head coach and defensive ends coach. The Longhorns went 11-1 and won its first Rose Bowl in school history, and Tomey returned to the position of head coach with San Jose State the following season. In five seasons at San Jose State, Tomey coached the Spartans to a 25-35 record, including a 9-4 run in 2006 that ended with a rare bowl victory for the program.
A statement from the Tomey family says a celebration of life ceremony will be announced at a later date.