Am I surprised that Rich Rodriguez was fired by the University of Arizona? NO.
Am I surprised that it happened on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018? YES.
I wrote back in September that a change needed to happen after the ugly Friday night loss against Utah when Arizona’s attendance dipped to lows not seen during the ugly John Mackovic years. Clearly the Tucson fanbase gave up on these Wildcats long before I did.
Heck, even despite the emergence of QB Khalil Tate, Arizona didn’t come close to a sellout during Homecoming against a ranked Washington State team. Something had to be done.
Last week I vented after the Foster Farms Bowl that it was time for a change. Former Wildcat TE and current radio pre-and-postgame analyst Glenn Howell agreed with me.
Let me say that I’m thankful to Coach Rod for taking Arizona football to 5 bowl games in his 6 seasons as coach. I’m grateful for the 2014 Pac-12 South title and a Fiesta Bowl appearance. In the limited time I spoke to him, I was grateful that Coach was kind and enthusiastic. Personally I never had a bad word to say about him.
I’m not going to discuss on his personal life nor the allegations of sexual misconduct that were levied upon him – I want to stick strictly to football program-related matters.
In fact I believe as the primary reason, until completely proven otherwise, that Rodriguez was fired based on the negative direction of the program despite Tate’s emergence.
What I saw in last week’s bowl game vs. a lesser-talented Purdue team was a lethargic bunch that had little motivation. Sure, it happens to teams in bowls all the time…but I didn’t want to see it yet again from these Wildcats.
So now what?
Defensive Coordinator Marcel Yates has been named interim coach and according to Twitter reaction from his players, they want Yates to be named the full-time guy. I’m not a fan of this move. It’s time to bring a big-time recruiter to Tucson…someone who can energize the fanbase and bring bigger talent to Tucson.
If I were Athletic Director Dave Heeke, I’d make a hard push for recently-deposed Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who it’s been rumored has visited Tucson in the last week.
Sumlin was a recruiting machine at TAMU despite his up-and-down coaching success in college football’s toughest division, the SEC West. Having landed 5* prospects Kyle Allen and Christian Kirk, both from Scottsdale, it’s been proven that the 53 year-old coach can recruit the state of Arizona effectively.
Don’t kid yourselves folks, Arizona is an attractive job at this stage. The Wildcats have top-25 level talent including a true 2018 Heisman contender in QB Khalil Tate, who under the right system next season, could flourish even more.
My ideal scenario has Sumlin as head coach, a proven OC such as Noel Mazzone, and Yates as DC.
The next week or so should be VERY interesting for Arizona football. So much for the season being over after last week’s bowl game…