Mike Stoops Fired: How Will the Arizona Football Program Respond to the Change?

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Mike Stoops Fired: How Will the Arizona Football Program Respond to the Change?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ten losses in a row to Football Bowl Subdivision (a.k.a Division I-A) schools low-lighted by a double-digit loss to an atrocious Oregon State squad, combined to cost Mike Stoops his job as the Arizona football coach.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne acted aggressively in releasing the 49-year-old program leader, cutting ties with Stoops midway through his eighth season at the helm, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Defensive coordinator Tim Kish will take over the head coaching role as a national search gets underway for Stoops' replacement. 

Mike Stoops, the younger brother of Oklahoma's extremely successful Bob Stoops, finished his tenure in Tucson at 41-50 overall, taking the program to three bowl games, including a win in the Las Vegas Bowl over BYU in 2008. Arizona's two best seasons under Stoops peaked at 8-5, taking advantage of a down Pac-10 in both.

If ever there was a fireable offense on Stoops' slate, it involved losing convincingly to a pitiful, previously-winless Oregon State team that earlier fell at home to Sacramento State—a program that plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (also know as Division I-AA)

Although this season's Arizona crew was beset by injuries (four projected defensive starters have missed the bulk of the season due to ACLs torn in the offseason) and graduations (three starters on the defensive line from 2010 were picked in the NFL draft), there are no excuses for the complete lack of competitiveness displayed through the last five embarrassing weeks of football.

Since an opening week victory over the state's whipping boy, Northern Arizona, the Wildcats proceeded to get destroyed by their next five opponents. They lost by a combined total of 216-123, including 20-plus point blowouts by Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona also went down huge, early, at both USC and Oregon State—they trailed 27-12 and 27-6 at the half respectively in those two—and was unable to overcome those deficits in either contest.

Considering the program is unlikely to be favored in any game the rest of the way, the fact that Stoops is being relieved of his duties is not a surprise.

But doing so in the middle of the season seems slightly strange, especially when the entire meaningful array of Pac-12 South games have yet to be played. 

Stoops generated excitement early in his tenure by producing commitments from high-level recruits. But that part of his repertoire seemed to have stagnated recently, and that lack of high-quality depth became extremely apparent this year.

Say what you will about the timing, but Byrne acted decisively to push his athletic department's football team out of its current state of misery.

Now he must act equally efficiently in snatching up a coach to bring the program back into consistent respectability.

Let the name drops begin as far as what the future holds for Arizona. All of this is pure speculation.

Though highly unlikely, this writer would like to start with the snarky but effective Mike Leach, who put together a perennially-ranked squad in Lubbock freaking Texas while coach at Texas Tech. 

Another formerly successful, but controversial, choice is ex-Michigan and West Virginia head man Rich Rodriguez, who is seeking coaching redemption.

And Boise State's Chris Petersen is the name being floated by Jon Wilner.

Any of those choices seem ideal, as they all already own proven track records of high profile success—something Stoops did not have when he showed up.

No matter who he chooses, Byrne's early legacy at Arizona will be decided by his next move.

This will mark his first major hire during his time in Tucson.

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