Arizona State or Arizona: Which Program Will Have Smoother Transition?
When the Arizona Wildcats upset the Sun Devils in Tempe this fall, ASU head coach Dennis Erickson's fate was sealed.
Erickson could not turn around the program despite expectations and aspirations of appearing in the inaugural Pac-12 title game.
The Wildcat administration couldn't wait that long. They fired Mike Stoops mid-season during an off week, amid a five-game losing streak.
By making that move in the middle of the season, Arizona received an early jump on the rebuilding process.
Both Arizona and Arizona State will have a new head coach in 2012, and both will have new starting quarterbacks—the most pivotal position on the football field.
Brock Osweiler surprised many and declared early for the NFL draft, while Nick Foles graduated.
Let's take a gander at which program is ahead in the two major categories: quarterback and head coach.
Quarterbacks: Edge Arizona (in 2012)
ASU head coach Todd Graham finally budged on his latest fan conference call by stating Michael Bercovici has a slim early lead in the quarterback battle.
The latest revelation by Graham states Bercovici is the early favorite in the battle with Michael Eubank (the fan favorite) and Taylor Kelly.
Which program will have a smoother transition?
None of the three have much experience in college and that will hurt the Sun Devils in the near future.
On the other side of the state, Arizona knows with 100 percent certainty that their quarterback will be Matt Scott. Scott played sparingly from 2008 to 2010 before redshirting in 2011 in hopes of playing this year.
Scott is an agile runner and performed well when Foles nursed various injuries.
The fact that Scott has significant experience on the field in college football bodes well for the Wildcats.
But what do the Wildcats do once Scott departs after 2012? That is a murky situation.
While Arizona has the edge at quarterback for the 2012 season, the pendulum could swing back into Arizona State's favor beyond then.
Head coach: Push
On paper, the matchup between Rich Rodriquez and Todd Graham would seem to favor Rodriquez, but in actuality, they're closer than one might think.
Rodriquez won BCS bowl games with West Virginia, but had a debacle at Michigan and left both schools amid scandals and NCAA violations.
Todd Graham had success at Tulsa, but had a bad year at Pittsburgh. Graham will work tirelessly to rebuild the Arizona State program; he is always out in the community garnering support for the program.
The main knock on Graham is that he's known as a "job-hopper" and used the University of Pittsburgh as a "pitt stop."
But I get the feeling he is totally invested into the ASU program and will be the coach in Tempe for at least five years.
Neither school had a great recruiting class for 2012. Both coaches will struggle early on in the recruiting game because neither is very familiar with the local area.
They will build relationships with the local high schools and then venture out to Southern California to take the elite prospects.
In sum, both programs have a ways to go to appease their fans. Arizona and ASU are tied closer than the first glance.
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