Normally I write 1,000+ words after each Arizona football game, covering multiple topics that dissect what went right and what went wrong for the Wildcats.
That’s pointless after Friday’s 70-7 loss to ASU because only one thing needs to be said: Arizona needs a new head coach.
UA’s losing streak, which Kevin Sumlin admitted he is the “common denominator” of, now sits at 12 games—the longest in program history. Even worse is that almost none of those games were even competitive. The Wildcats lost 11 of them by double digits.
They lack any kind of identity as a team and are 0-5 for the first time ever, the third straight year their winning percentage has fallen under Sumlin. That is nothing new, of course, as a Sumlin-coached team has not improved record-wise from one year to the next since 2011, his last year at Houston. That’s a real stat. Look it up.
Players are leaving Arizona (or opting out if you prefer euphemisms) in droves. Sumlin has been terrible at developing them, producing just two NFL draft picks over the last three years.
Arizona can’t recruit, either. Certainly not at the level that was promised when Sumlin was hired. That was supposed to be his strength. Instead all Arizona got was classes that ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in 2019 and 2020.
And now the Wildcats just got historically embarrassed by their rival in primetime, on ESPN. Why would any prospect pick them over ASU now?
Former Arizona players are seethed, and rightfully so. The program they were once a proud part of is now the laughingstock of the Power 5. Only Kansas has lost more games in a row.
“Can’t even try to be optimistic anymore,” former UA safety Jared Tevis, a Tucson native, tweeted Friday. “Worst day in Arizona football history.”
Arizona fans are angry too—assuming they can even muster enough interest to care anymore. The blowouts are numbing.
A $7.5 million (or even $5 million) buyout is a lot of cash, especially during a pandemic that has left the Wildcats with a massive revenue shortfall. And it’s not a great look to find the funds to pay a coach millions of dollars to go away when tens of hard-working people in the athletic department have already been laid off and furloughed.
But maintaining the status quo will do even more long-term damage to the department. Football ticket sales are its lifeblood and if Sumlin sticks around, Arizona Stadium won’t look much different in 2021 than it did Friday when fans were literally banned from the stands.
We didn’t need ASU dropping 70 on the Wildcats to tell us that Sumlin isn’t fit for the job, but maybe we should thank the Sun Devils for giving Arizona no choice but to let him go.