Stoops Fired at Arizona

Mike Stoops has been let go as coach of the Arizona Wildcats.  Not stunning news if you look at their record of 1-5 this season.  Stoops overall record at Arizona was 41-50 with three minor bowl games.

Outside the state many might be surprised at this firing.  Inside Arizona, including the alumni, this move wasn’t made soon enough.  Clamoring for Stoops’ job has been going on for years.  It took a new Athletic Director to pull the trigger.

Greg Byrne decided enough was enough and fired Stoops on Monday.  Byrne made the call to do it now, rather than wait for the end of the season.

Arizona has been reeling in the past year.  The ‘Cats finished last year on a five-game losing streak and lost five straight this year after a win the opening week. UA hasn’t defeated a Football Bowl Subdivision school since beating UCLA on Oct. 30 of last year.   Longtime linebackers coach Tim Kish was named interim coach and will coach for the rest of the regular season.   Kish has been with Stoops’ staff since he came to Tucson.  He is 57 and not believed to be a candidate for the full time job.

Even though Stoops had been at Arizona longer, Arizona State was the premier football school in the state under Dennis Erickson.  Erickson was better at recruiting and rubbing elbows with the top people in Arizona.  Plus he had shown his ability to win in other jobs, including a National Title at Miami.

Stoops is owed a $1.4 million buyout from the school for his dismissal.  He was given a contract extension through 2013 after a bowl win over BYU two years ago.  Arizona has never been a school that paid their football coaches well, now they have to shell out a large amount of cash for a coach to leave.

Now the search begins for a new coach, and one the alumni hope comes with a history.  What kind of history could be a problem.  Byrne issued a statement on the search.

“I expect the search to end sometime after the regular season is over, we will make the best decision for Arizona football.  We are open to a variety of candidates, but the next time you will hear anything from me about this search will be when we introduce our new coach.”

The typical coaches being named are Urban Meyer and Boise State’s Chris Peterson.  Meyer supposedly is interested in the Ohio State position, should he decide to return to coaching.  Peterson has a history with Byrne, but probably wouldn’t be interested in the salary Arizona would offer.

One coach that would make sense is former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach.  Leach is a winner and employs a high powered, entertaining offense.  He is anxious to get back into the coaching profession and would be excited about an opportunity of this magnitude.  He also has the personality to battle with Erickson inside the state.

However you look at it, the first coach is history in college football for the season.  More are sure to come.  This is just the first of many.

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