In college football, things can change quickly.
With the Arizona Wildcats, we’ve seen them go from the third 10-win season in school history to a lowly 3-9 finish just two years later.
So what does the future hold for this program? We wanted to take this time to try and project things out five years into the future, and what the Wildcats will be in half a decade.
Some of these are jokes — some aren’t — but there’s no way to know what in the world is going to happen....because this is the current state of Arizona football we’re talking about here.
So here are five predictions for Arizona over the next five years.
*****BOLD PREDICTION ALERT***** Rich Rodriguez won’t be the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats in 2022. I know, really stepping out on a limb here.
The only reason he would be? It’ll be Rhett Rodriguez’s redshirt senior year, and RhettRod and his father will have combined forces to go a combined 29-1 in 2020 and 2021 with a National Championship mixed in.
I don’t see that happening. Sorry eternal optimists out there.
I’m not sure how long RichRod will be in charge in Tucson. With a new athletic director in place, that adds even more variability to a currently unstable program like this one. Honestly, I could see RichRod lasting as little as four more games, or as long as three more years. It’ll probably be somewhere in the middle, but those are the extremes I’m willing to go to.
So who’s that next guy? Dave Heeke has a previous history of hiring current Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones as the main man at Central Michigan, so I’ve gone ahead and put Jones at the top of the list in my mind. Say Arizona and Tennessee both fire their coaches this year (which is certainly not out of the question). The obvious frontrunner would be Jones at that point, but it’s impossible to say things would play out that way.
I’d also like to point out that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is in the same boat in my eyes. He took over at CMU in 2004 before he was replaced by Jones. Jones also replaced Kelly at Cincinnati in 2009, so I guess Kelly has to take the Arizona job before Jones can take it because them’s the rules.
Now that we’ve run into this scenario, Kelly coaches Arizona from 2018-2020, then Jones takes over from there.
You want a fun name to think about? B.J. Denker. Now back in an analyst role, all he’s done is coach since that somewhat surprising 2013 season, spending two years at Texas A&M before coming back to Tucson this offseason. I’m not saying he’ll be a head coach, but an up-and-coming offensive coordinator? Hell yes.
Will the indoor practice facility arrive?
By the year 2022, I think Arizona finally realizes that practicing out in the sun in August and September in Tucson is a bad idea, and there will be some sort of covered, indoor-ish facility.
I believe this also doubles as a place for tailgating before games for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have RVs on the mall. This is like the only thing that RVs are still good for too, right?
Arizona Stadium changes?
As for Arizona Stadium itself, fans should be able to purchase alcohol in the general seating area by this time. I don’t think there’s any major structural changes done by this time, but there could be plans for a new shade canopy or redesign a la what the Miami Dolphins did this past year.
Last year, Greg Byrne said that the West Side could be completely rebuilt in “4-6 years”, which I’m going to take the long end of that estimate, and probably just go over in general. The thing about what Heeke will have to do with this is add his own flavor to it (and possibly a new coach’s), then raise the money, then get the thing done.
I don’t see that getting done in five years, and honestly, the practice facility is probably the first priority. Arizona Stadium has had some upgrades to the seating area outside of the north endzone the past couple of years, and small additions to those fixes would be welcome, especially on the west side. The upper level on the east side? I think Arizona prides itself on having that affordable seating, and keeping it metal bleachers keeps it affordable.
Uh, it’ll be a bunch of dudes that aren’t at Arizona right now. That’s how college football works. Hopefully it’s players that are talked about as NFL Draft prospects, and the Wildcats aren’t still at a point where every other year there’s nobody getting drafted.
Kind of like what I touched on earlier, I have extremely mixed feelings about this. Arizona is either going to be a seven-to-eight win team for the next several years, or things are going to bottom out, a new staff will come in, and then there will be even more variables to deal with.
I think the most likely scenario is a couple years of bowl ineligibility ahead, with a coaching change made in the middle of it. Then the program rebounds — kind of like it did in the first few RichRod years — to a perennial bowl maker, but not a lot more. If a change is made sooner than later, that’s where I could see Arizona potentially making a run at its fourth-ever ten-win season, but not much more than that.
You’d also have to think that we’ll be talking about more than one potential NFL Draft pick.
When you look back at the overall history of Arizona football, everything is super predictable. The Wildcats will hang somewhere between four and nine wins every year and potentially make a mid-tier bowl game to top it off. Not sure that U of A will ever be any more than that, especially in just half a decade.
All in all, the future of Arizona has a lot of uncertainty, but when you think about it, a lot of predictability as well. Typical Wildcat things will happen, and if everything lines up for a year, maybe we’re talking about another major bowl game in the next five years.
Be sure to let us know what you think is in store for Arizona football in the next five years!
Will Arizona return to a "New Year’s Six" Bowl in the next five years?
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