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Arizona Wildcats football

Wildcats assistant coach returning to Texas

A Dear John letter, not a valentine, is what the Arizona Wildcats got on Monday.

Duane Akina is resigning as secondary coach and returning to the University of Texas after just a month on the job.

Akina, who was hired in January, informed the University of Arizona on Monday that he was leaving the coaching staff, said spokesman Tom Duddleston.

"We are disappointed," head coach Mike Stoops said. "We were excited to have Duane on our staff. We respect his decision and wish the best for him and his family."

Akina, who coached for a decade at UT, served under former Arizona head coach Dick Tomey for 14 seasons, Duddleston said in a press release.

"I'm not happy that I had to put both of these institutions in this situation," Akina said. "It's been a tough month for me and my family making these decisions. Any time you have younger children, it becomes a very difficult decision and that was the driving force behind this decision."

UT assistant coach Jerry Gray took a job as defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans this weekend, creating an opening on the Longhorns' staff.

"Duane alerted Coach Stoops and myself this morning that he would be returning to Texas due to family considerations," athletic director Greg Byrne said. "Although disappointed because of the commitment we had made, we respect Coach Akina's decision based on family."

"Mike and Greg have been terrific to me," Akina said. "Arizona is a wonderful place that is special to me. I came here because this is a solid program that is on the rise. Mike is an outstanding coach and I am sorry it didn't work out. He has a tremendous staff in place."

Arizona will begin a national search for a replacement immediately, Duddleston said.

Two other assistant coaches were hired since the end of the season. Robert Anae joined the Wildcats as running game coordinator and offensive line coach, while Joe Salave'a was hired as defensive line coach.

"We have always hired good people to come into our program," Stoops said. "We've always had great coaches for our system and players. We will make sure that we hire another quality person."

The Wildcats will begin spring football practices on March 21. The annual Spring Game is set for April 16.

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