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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Stoops era on edge with UA in basement

Will+Ferguson+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+Oregon+Ducks+beat+the+Arizona+Wildcats+56-31+during+a+Saturday%2C+Sept.+24+match+at+the+UA+football+stadium+in+Tucson%2C+Arizona.+
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Oregon Ducks beat the Arizona Wildcats 56-31 during a Saturday, Sept. 24 match at the UA football stadium in Tucson, Arizona.

Arizona’s 2011 season is lost.

If head coach Mike Stoops can’t stop the bleeding ASAP, he might be the next to go.

The hot seat is scorching, and time is running out. Sure, Stoops took Arizona football from rags to riches. The Wildcats were in shambles before his arrival from the University of Oklahoma in 2004. They won only two games in 2003 and hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1998.

The defensive guru gave Arizona football an identity, and eventually brought the Wildcats to three consecutive bowl games for only the second time in the history of the program.

But in a business where the pressure to win never ends, none of that matters if the Wildcats aren’t competitive. For the last 345 days, they haven’t even been close.

Face it: Arizona football is on the decline. A fourth consecutive bowl game isn’t in the cards. The Wildcats are a sinking ship in a conference that’s rising as a national entity. Just look at the facts.

The Wildcats haven’t won an FBS game since Oct. 30, 2010. They’ve been consistently one of the nation’s worst defenses, and currently rank 115th in the NCAA in total defense.

While injuries and inexperience have decimated the Wildcats’ defense, Stoops is a defensive coach — the defensive coordinator on the 2000 Oklahoma National Championship team. Yet, his defensive unit has become the Pac-12 punching bag.

Worst of all, the Wildcats have shown no signs of life early in games. They’ve been outscored 55-3 in the first quarter of their last five games, and 136-51 in the first half. A winless Oregon State team pasted 27 second-quarter points on the Wildcats as Arizona fell 37-27 in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday.

That lack of fight and fire falls on the coaching staff.

Yes, transition years happen. Key injuries have to be taken into account. Playing three top-10 teams and four perennial contenders in a row to open the season can’t be understated.

But losing the way the Wildcats have for almost a calendar year is hard to swallow, especially when athletic director Greg Byrne has emptied the pockets of boosters in an attempt to make Arizona football a legitimate program.

More than $7 million was spent on the Arizona Stadium video board. While that’s a huge win from a recruiting standpoint, it sure looks like a waste of money right now.

A 1-5 team having one of the biggest video boards on the West Coast? It just doesn’t add up.

The estimated $85.7 million North End Zone project is next to follow, but does that make sense for a Pac-12 bottom feeder?

While it appeared Stoops was poised to lead Arizona to yet another bowl game and take the program to an even higher level, the Wildcats are stuck in reverse and the clock is ticking.

If Stoops can rally the troops and help the Wildcats run the table on their way to a fourth straight bowl game, his job should be safe.

But that’s wishful thinking to say the least, especially watching the Wildcats swing and miss at the opportunity to bounce back against a Beavers team that couldn’t beat FCS opponent Sacramento State.

The sand in the hourglass is running out. Arizona football is at a crossroads, and if Stoops can’t turn things around, Boise State’s Chris Petersen or former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach could be receiving a phone call very soon.

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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