EUGENE OR - NOVEMBER 26: Head Coach Mike Stoops of the Arizona Wildcats walks the sidelines against the Oregon Ducks on November 26 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
The University of Arizona has fired head coach Mike Stoops after his Wildcats fell to the previously 0-5 Oregon St. Beavers on Saturday. The loss gave the Wildcats their fifth straight loss on the year on top of a five game losing streak to end the 2010 season. Even though the schedule lightens up considerably the rest of the way, Athletic Director Greg Byrne apparently thought that the bye week was the best time to let the coach go. Defensive Coordinator Tim Kish, he of the 115th ranked defense in the country, has been named interim head coach. With the Wildcats now residing in the Buffaloes division, the pending coach search will be one to watch.
While the team has struggled this year, they have played a schedule so far that makes Colorado's look easy. The team was expected to start slowly, with an entirely new offensive line and several key injuries on defense and running back. Stoops took over a program that was, to use a phrase we know all too well, "burnt to the ground", and guided it (albeit slowly) back to respectability. During his seven and a half seasons with the team he lead them to their highest ranking in twelve years and equaled their best consecutive bowl streak with three. Remember, this is the only Pac-12 team (obviously CU and Utah don't really count yet) to never reach the Rose Bowl, so this isn't a team with a sustained history of success.
Unless, Byrne has an ace up his sleeve (and I in no way consider the Chris Peterson rumors to contain any amount of truth), then making this move mid-season, right when the team could have made some improvements, could prove to be very risky. Damage to this recruiting class could severly set the team back and leave them with little depth, right at a time when Arizona State seems to be on an upswing. Byrne seems to think he can pull another Sean Miller to Tucson, but he may not realize that the football job isn't nearly as appetizing as the basketball position.
For more, head over to Arizona Desert Swarm.