Let’s start with the season-ticket base for Arizona Football before COVID-19. It had dipped below 10 thousand patrons (go look up what the number was under Rich Rod and you’ll see it was north of 20K).
Add in the fact that a Level One violation against the Wildcat basketball program is hanging over the university. Arizona wrote a big check to say “goodbye” to the titanic coaching miss that was Kevin Sumlin (9-20).
Finish it off with this bit of news from earlier this year – The University of Arizona’s athletic department will eliminate 21 full-time positions as it continues to deal with the stark financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also not fill 15 positions that became vacant during the past six months, the department said in a news release.
It doesn’t take a 70-7 beatdown at the hands of your archrivals to figure out that the next head coach at the University of Arizona is not going to be a big name, big contract move. It simply can’t be.
Graham Harrell coming over from USC or Jay Norvell moving up in conference from Nevada sounds more likely to make cents (yes, cents) in Tucson than established coaches like Bryan Harsin at Boise State or BYU’s Kalani Sitake.
But even the most ardent supporter of Athletic Director Dave Heeke is going to question the Wildcat’s next hire. How can you miss SO BADLY on Kevin Sumlin and be trusted a second time to get it right?
Why would Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo want to go back down the aisle with a potential employer, when their knees buckled over a whiney quarterback complaining about the style of play?
If Heeke had tuned out the noise from Khalil Tate and media, and just hired Niumatalolo the first time around, the program in my opinion wouldn’t be the butt end of jokes and eye rolls this morning on College Gameday.
Here’s a wild card name to throw at you in this desperate situation. Cal Bears special teams coordinator Charlie Ragle. What he doesn’t have in head coaching experience can be made up with a veteran staff around him. His recruiting expertise has been well documented. The man can flat recruit. Yes, simple to bag on the idea of Charlie because he’s not been a head coach.
Facts are he’s great with donors, sponsors, media, and the little things that the CEO of a football team is charged with. He knows the inner workings of Arizona (there are supporters of him within the building), having served on Rich Rod’s staff.
He would immediately open recruiting doors in Arizona that have been closed for years. But there’s NO CHANCE I’d hire him unless he had proven coaches lined up to join him in Tucson. This hire would also not break the bank in a time when the vault is basically empty.
There is no easy fix on this one because Sumlin was such a failure. There is no box to think out of if you’re the AD. You can’t screw up another head football coach hire.