The Kevin Sumlin experiment has come to an end.
The Arizona Wildcats formally announced Saturday it had fired Sumlin, one day after losing 70-7 at home ASU to extend the program-worst losing streak to 12 games. Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads will be the interim head coach.
“When we hired Kevin three years ago, we had very high hopes for our football program,” athletic director Dave Heeke said in a news release. “Unfortunately, we simply have not seen the results and upward trajectory in our program that we needed to, and I believe now is the time for a change in leadership. I thank Kevin for his service to the University of Arizona and wish him the very best in the future. Our attention now turns to finding the next head coach at the University of Arizona, while we continue to support our student-athletes, who have sacrificed so much since returning to campus this summer. We will cast a wide net to identify and recruit a coach who shares our vision, our values and our passion for winning.”
The UA (0-5) has not won since a 35-30 victory at Colorado on Oct. 5, 2019.
Sumlin went 9-20 in his three seasons since being hired in January 2018 to replace Rich Rodriguez, who was let go despite a 43-35 mark in six seasons including five bowl appearances. In Pac-12 games he was 6-17, losing his final 12.
The nine wins are the fewest by a non-interim coach since Ed Doherty went 4-15-1 in 1957-58. For reference, John Mackovic was 10-18 in two-plus seasons from 2001-03.
Arizona went 5-7 in Sumlin’s first season, blowing a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter to ASU that kept it from being bowl-eligible. The 2019 team started out 4-1 and led Washington at halftime before losing the final seven contests.
The 2020 squad had its first game at Utah canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the Utes, then nearly upset USC at home before giving up the game-winning score with 25 seconds left. The following week the Wildcats fell behind 37-0 at Washington, then scored first at UCLA and against Colorado only to lose both games by double digits.
Per Sumlin’s contract, he is due to receive a $7.5 million buyout. Per Chris Vannini of The Athletic, half of that buyout would be due within 30 days of termination.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.