Nine-year NFL veteran and former Wildcat all-Pac-10 tackle Joe Salave'a has been hired to join Mike Stoops' University of Arizona coaching staff as defensive line coach.
Salave'a, 35, lettered at Arizona as a defense tackle from 1994-97, serving as team captain in 1996. He earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 1995, second-team honors in 1996 and was a first-team selection in 1997.
Salave'a has been out of coaching and football for the past year, living in Las Vegas, but most recently was defensive line coach for Dick Tomey at San Jose State in 2008 and 2009. He takes over for seven-year Stoops' defensive line assistant Mike Tuiasosopo, who along with secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown have left UA's program, soon to be announced assuming posts on another Pac-12 staff.
"I'm really excited to have him join the staff," Stoops said. "He fits what we're doing very well. He has a solid history and comes highly recommended. Joe built a legacy here and in the NFL that will have an immediate impact on our players and in recruiting," he said.
"I'm humbled but also excited," Salave'a said. "I'm eager to get there, roll up my sleeves and get to work. You go to a program like the University of Arizona, play some ball and get a degree... and now I have a chance to pay it forward. It's a great opportunity and I'm thrilled that Coach Stoops has the confidence in me to make this happen," Salave'a said.Stoops said his 2011 staff won't be complete until sometime in January. Salave'a will start Monday and help prepare the Wildcats for their Dec. 29 appearance in the Valero Alamo Bowl, but Stoops still has to fill Brown's vacancy in coaching the secondary, which Stoops will help do for the bowl season. Salave'a was drafted in the fourth round by Tennessee in 1998 and spent five seasons with the Titans, one split year with the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers (2003) and his final three years in the NFL with the Washington Redskins from 2004-06.
A native of Leone, American Samoa, Salave'a has been one of the territory's foremost football ambassadors promoting the game among Samoan youth, including founding a foundation to help introduce the game and strengthen its appeal.
Salave'a made an immediate impact in his first coaching venture after a noteworthy pro football career. In 2008, he mentored San Jose State Spartans' tackle Jarron Gilbert, the NCAA leader in tackles for loss and the Chicago Bears' first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Salave'a was recruited by then UA head coach Tomey in 1993 and became one of the mainstays of the Wildcat defenses of the mid-1990s at defensive tackle. He was selected team captain and named the team's Most Valuable Player for the 1996 season. Salave'a has the unique distinction of being invited to the East-West Shrine and Hula Bowl All-Star Games after both his third and fourth seasons because he was awarded an additional year of playing eligibility.
His university career was an academic success story as well, capped by NCAA eligibility restoration after he graduated within four years. He enrolled at UA in 1993-94, but was ineligible for football as a partial qualifier, losing the year of eligibility. After his senior year in 1996-97, the NCAA changed its rules in spring 1997, and as a May graduate he was afforded a fourth year of playing eligibility (fifth year in residence), one of the first such student-athletes to benefit under the new rule.
He recorded 157 career tackles at Arizona, all as an interior lineman, with 43.5 tackles for loss, and 21.5 sacks to still rate No. 9 on UA's career sacks chart. He led the team in sacks and tackles for loss in both 1996 and 1997, and in fumbles caused in 1994 and 1996.
His NFL career spanned some 100 games. He was the 107th overall draft selection and a member of the Titans' Super Bowl XXXIV team that lost to St. Louis, 23-16.
He founded the Joe Salave'a Foundation in 2001. The foundation specializes in free football clinics for youngsters in American Samoa and Hawai'i. His work was recognized by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega in a 2005 White House ceremony hosted by President George W. Bush to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
Salave'a and his wife, Josephine, have a daughter, Katalina Elizabeth, and a son, Joseph Fatuimoana Jr.Joe Salave'a Facts
2005 NFC divisional playoffs, Washington Redskins player
Born: March 23, 1975 in Leone, American Samoa College: University of Arizona, 1997 Playing Career: Arizona 1994-97; NFL 1998-2006 Coaching History 2008 San Jose State University, defensive line coach 2009 San Jose State University, defensive line coach Salave'a in the Postseason
2000 AFC divisional playoffs, Tennessee Titans player
1999 NFL Super Bowl, Tennessee Titans player
1998 Hula Bowl, Arizona player
1998 Insight.com Bowl, Arizona player
1997 Hula Bowl, Arizona player
1998 East-West Shrine Game, Arizona player
1994 Freedom Bowl, Arizona player