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ASU football's Antonio Pierce on list of Arizona Wildcats defensive coordinator candidates

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic

The University of Arizona will be looking for a new defensive coordinator after Don Brown was hired as UMass head coach earlier this week.

One name on a list of possible candidates for the job will catch the eye of fans of Arizona's biggest rival: Antonio Pierce.

As in the defensive coordinator at Arizona State.

The Arizona Daily Star's Justin Spears included Pierce on a recent list of 13 possible candidates to replace Brown on Jedd Fisch's staff in Tucson.

Pierce, 43, also ASU's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, was a standout defensive player at Arizona during his college playing career.

It a "why he fits" section under Pierce, Spears wrote: "He probably doesn’t. But Pierce, a former UA player, is still highly regarded in Tempe — even with the Sun Devils under investigation for recruiting improprieties."

More:Herm Edwards' future at ASU football coach questioned ahead of Territorial Cup vs. Arizona

Last month, some speculated about Pierce's future at ASU when it was discovered that Pierce had "scrubbed" recent Arizona State football mentions from his accounts.

The most recent ASU football mention on his Twitter account is a retweet of a recruiting story from July 2.

His profile also now doesn't say anything about ASU, although it still has a profile picture of him standing on the Sun Devil Stadium field.

The ASU football team is currently embroiled in an NCAA investigation into recruiting allegations and Pierce is the Sun Devils' recruiting coordinator.

When asked about the changes to Pierce's social media last month, an ASU athletic department representative said Pierce made the changes to his account "months ago" and dismissed any implication that they were related to a departure from ASU.

More:Antonio Pierce scrubbing Arizona State football mentions on social media prompts questions

ASU defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce coaches his players during spring football practice in Tempe, Ariz. March 28, 2021.

In December, Pierce was included on a list of potential candidates to replace Kevin Sumlin as head coach of the Wildcats after ASU defeated Arizona 70-7 in Tucson.

SB Nation's Brian J. Pedersen wrote of Pierce: "If Arizona were to turn to a former player to run its program, one of the first ex-Wildcats to take a look at is up the road in enemy territory. Pierce, who played for the UA from 1999-2000, is ASU’s co-defensive coordinator. Yeah, the same defense that just forced seven turnovers against Arizona in that 70-7 beatdown on Friday night. The 42-year-old Pierce, who began his coaching career at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School, was Herm Edwards’ linebackers coach in 2018-19 before getting elevated to co-DC alongside former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis."

The Arizona Daily Star's Michael Lev also included Pierce on a list of potential candidates for the Arizona job, although those lists were made before the alleged recruiting violations for Arizona State surfaced.

Arizona and Arizona State face off in the Territorial Cup on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

Some other candidates on Spears' list of potential candidates for Arizona defensive coordinator included former Washington coach Jimmy Lake, current LSU coach Ed Orgeron, current Arizona assistants DeWayne Walker and Chuck Cecil and Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio (yes, a current NFL head coach).

You can see the Arizona Daily Star's complete list here.

More:Arizona vs. Arizona State picks, predictions: Who wins Territorial Cup football game?

Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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