TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats lost their seventh straight game Saturday to ASU to complete Kevin Sumlin’s second season at 4-8, but UA athletic director Dave Heeke told reporters afterwards that he will return as head coach in 2020.
“I just want to make it real clear that as we embark into year three of this rebuild program, Coach Sumlin is our head football coach,” Heeke said. “We’re not where we want to be. This isn’t what we wanted, the spot we wanted to be at this point. But we’re committed to the process of moving this thing forward, moving into year three, and getting a defensive coordinator on board, continuing to build through player development and continuing to build the talent level and the number of players through recruiting.”
Here’s Arizona AD Dave Heeke’s statement on Kevin Sumlin returning as head coach in 2020.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) December 1, 2019
He said the program is not where it wants to be, but they’re committed to the rebuilding process. pic.twitter.com/qXdoSA3ZM7
The Wildcats are 9-15 in two seasons under Sumlin after going 43-35 in six seasons under Rich Rodriguez. Arizona went 5-7 in 2018. 2019 marks the first time UA has failed to reach a bowl game in consecutive seasons since 2007.
The Wildcats’ 2020 recruiting class ranks 73rd in the country, per 247Sports, 18 spots lower than last year.
Here is Sumlin’s message to fans who are frustrated with the direction of the program:
“People, including myself, care very deeply about this program. There’s a lot of things that go into it, and a lot of things that are involved. The way you get better is through recruiting and player development, and that’s where we are. Is it frustrating? Yes. I know fans are frustrated. But we’ve got to trust the process, and we have a process in place that I believe in and a lot of our players believe in. I can say this, our guys don’t quit. We play hard, and you start there. But you’ve got to execute better, you’ve got to develop players. And that’s my job. That’s my job to fix things. I know the fans are frustrated. Believe me, we’re frustrated. The way you handle these situations becomes important. You can’t go back and do a bunch of different things. How you respond to this is going to be extremely important.”
Here’s Kevin Sumlin’s message to Arizona fans who are frustrated with the direction of the program pic.twitter.com/0mEmRuccjY— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) December 1, 2019
This story will be updated.