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Mackovic Hires Larry Mac Duff as Football Defensive Coordinator
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/10/2001
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TUCSON, Ariz.-Larry Mac Duff, special teams coordinator for the New York Giants for the past four seasons and architect of UA's double-eagle flex defense in the early 1990s, was hired today by head football coach John Mackovic to return to the University of Arizona as defensive coordinator.

Mac Duff, 52, was coordinator and inside linebackers coach on the Wildcat staff under former coach Dick Tomey from 1987 to 1996. He and then line coach Rich Ellerson tinkered with the Cats' 50 defense during the 1992 season and created the pressure, gap-control system which subsequently was dubbed "Desert Swarm" by television commentators after considerable success in ensuing seasons.

"Larry's innovation in developing the double-eagle flex is well known," Mackovic said. "The fact we can move right into spring practice without hesitation on the defensive side of the ball will help a great deal. We would have faced a difficult task if we had to drop this defensive scheme and quickly start a new system," Mackovic said.

Mac Duff is expected to join the staff early next week in time for final preparations for UA's spring practice, scheduled to start Saturday, March 24. "All our current players arrived here after Mac Duff left following the 1996 season, so there will be a break-in period for both players and coaches. But we face that challenge nearly across the board anyway. He's the right defensive coordinator for Arizona football," Mackovic said

"I'm excited, and my family's excited, about coming back to Tucson and the University of Arizona," Mac Duff said. "We consider it home. It's a tremendous opportunity to work with coach Mackovic and the new staff and I really look forward to work with college football student-athletes again.

"I've missed college football and the interaction with young players. I wouldn't make the switch from professional football to the college game were it not for all the positives about joining the Arizona program," Mac Duff said.

In 1992 Mac Duff's Arizona unit led the nation in scoring defense at 8.9 points per game, in 1993 it led the nation in rushing defense with a Pac-10 record low of 30.1 yards per game. It was No. 2 in total defense both those seasons, No. 2 in rushing defense and in the top 10 in total defense in 1994, and No. 7 in total defense in 1995. In his final season the Cats were seventh nationally and led the Pac-10 in turnover margin.

Mac Duff's defenses produced a number of profile players including two 1989 first-round NFL picks in tackle Anthony Smith and linebacker Chris Singleton, Jim Thorpe Award winner Darryll Lewis in 1990, Outland Trophy and Bronco Nagurski Awards winner Rob Waldrop in 1993, and Lombardi Award finalist and NCAA sack champion Tedy Bruschi in 1994 and 1995. Five Wildcats were named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year during his tenure including Bruschi in 1995, tackle Waldrop in 1993, cornerback Lewis in 1990, nose tackle Dana Wells in 1988 and free safety Chuck Cecil in 1987. Linebacker Sean Harris was a two-time first-team all-league selection in 1993 and 1994 as was strong safety Brandon Sanders in 1994 and 1995.

Mac Duff has been special teams coordinator for the Giants since 1997. This past season he helped the club post a 12-4 regular-season record, beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional matchup, beat the Minnesota Vikings for the National Football Conference championship and play in the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens won, 34-7, and one of their defenders was cornerback Chris McAlister, who earned first-team all-Pac-10 honors on Mac Duff's 1996 Arizona unit.

Under Mac Duff, Giants' punter Brad Maynard developed into one of the most consistent punters in the NFL. In four years he punted 380 times for a 42.0 average. He dropped three of a Super Bowl-record 11 punts inside the 20 yard-line in Super Bowl XXXV. Placekicker Brad Daluiso also developed into one of the best in Giants history and moved into No. 2 on the club's scoring chart with 526 points, plus carries a .719 field goal percentage, third-best in Giants history.

Kick returner Ron Dixon, a New York rookie in 2000, became the first player in NFL history to return two postseason kickoffs for touchdowns, with a pair of 97-yard efforts against Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Mac Duff was a two-time all-conference linebacker and standout baseball player at Fullerton, Calif., Sunny Hills High School in 1964-65 and a two-time all-conference defensive end at Fullerton Junior College in 1966-67. Fullerton won the national juco title in his last year with a 12-0 record when Mac Duff earned All-America honors. He was a starter under Chuck Fairbanks at Oklahoma in 1968-69.

He entered coaching as outside linebackers coach at Fullerton Junior College under Hal Sherbeck in 1970, was line coach and defensive coordinator at Sunny Hills High in 1971-73 and back as defensive line and linebackers coach for Sherbeck from 1974 to 1979. He moved into Division 1-A football as defensive line coach for Paul Wiggin at Stanford in 198081 and 1983 and was Wiggin's defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach in 1982.

In 1984 Mac Duff joined Dick Tomey's staff at Hawaii as the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator. Among his charges was the Rainbows' first Division I first-team All-American, tackle Al Noga. When Tomey moved to Arizona in 1987, Mac Duff joined the staff as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and remained for 10 seasons until taking the position with the Giants.

Athlon Magazine named Mac Duff national Assistant Coach of the Year following the 1995 season when Arizona ranked No. 7 in total defense, No. 14 in pass efficiency defense, No. 21 in scoring defense and No. 23 in rushing defense.

"It's an exciting development for our football program and a homecoming for coach Mac Duff," Mackovic said. "It should help make it homecoming in the stands every week at Arizona Stadium because I feel Larry will help develop our defense into the swarming, rugged unit it became during his tenure here."

Mac Duff's bowl experience includes the 1989 Copper, 1990 Aloha, 1992 Hancock, 1994 Fiesta and 1994 Freedom bowls as an Arizona assistant, and the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl as an Oklahoma Sooner.

He received a degree in physical education from Oklahoma in 1970 and a master's degree in physical education from California State Fullerton in 1972. He and his wife, Barbie, have a son, Justin, 19, who has applied for admission to the University of Arizona. Mac Duff was born June 22, 1948, in Clinton, Iowa.

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