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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Kish’s first time in the spotlight

There’s no getting around the fact the Arizona Wildcats football team has not won an FBS game in almost a year. But in light of Mike Stoops’ firing, that fact couldn’t be further from the mind of interim head coach Tim Kish.

“We kind of trashed that. We put that away,” Kish said. “We’re focused on a new journey right now and that’s got to be our focus. It starts one day at a time for us and that’s the way we’re thinking.”

While the 10-game losing streak to FBS teams is forever a part of Arizona history, it remains Mike Stoops’ problem.

Yes, Stoops left a team that lost five straight games, but Kish is the man now, and it’s his time to shine as a head coach.

His prowess shouldn’t be judged on the fact that he’s never had the opportunity before.

Only one other time in more than 30 years of coaching did Kish come this close to a head coaching job. Before the 2001 season, Kish interviewed with Bowling Green State University during its search for a new coach. The decision came down to just two candidates — Kish and the coach they hired: Urban Meyer. We know how that story ended for Meyer.

As for Kish, his first chance at head coaching comes as an interim position halfway through the season for a 1-5 team. But lack of experience isn’t cause for the Arizona faithful to abandon ship.

Kish knows his role in the transition of the program; he is here to get a struggling football team through the end of the season. He doesn’t know where he’ll be next season — no one does. But that’s not stopping Kish from doing what he believes is his most important job.

“You take an oath as a coach professionally, we get in this to help develop these young men and help them become better citizens and just better people,” he said. “(You) send them out into society at the end of their career with hopefully a smile on their face and a great experience. That’s the most important thing to me.”

There have been worse days for the Wildcats since Kish started his tenure seven and a half years ago, but in order to make this transition, Kish will need support.

So far his fellow coaches and his players have given him that.

“He’s done a great job, he’s really organized,” secondary coach Ryan Walters said. “He’s firm in his beliefs, and he cares a lot about these kids. That’s what I think is the most important thing. They know that they’ve responded well to his style, his practice structures and things like that.”

When athletic director Greg Byrne made the decision to promote Kish to head coach, people were quick to question his choice.

Since the defense has been one of the biggest problems for the Wildcats this season, why would you name the defensive coordinator as interim head coach?

It’s because of his experience and knowledge of the program, but also because he has proved his ability as a representative and leader of the program for the better part of a decade.

“He’s phenomenal, he really is,” special teams coordinator Jeff Hammerschmidt said. “He’s a great leader. He’s always been that way, he’s a great people person. It’ll be interesting, we all hope he gets a chance to (succeed), but the guys gotta play hard for him.”

Throughout Thursday’s game, though, keep in mind that Kish’s duty is to fill the void. He is not the answer to Arizona’s prayers — he’s only trying to do what he thinks will work and what is best for the program.

“This not an audition for Tim Kish to be the head coach of the University of Arizona,” Kish said. “This is for Tim Kish to help lead this football team in a positive manner and give us a chance to be successful.”

­—Dan Kohler is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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