OPINION: Kevin Sumlin’s time in Tucson should be coming to an end soon


Cyrus Norcross

Kevin Sumlin motivates his players during the UA vs Southern Utah game on Sep 15. 

Ryan Wohl

Ever since the Arizona Wildcats hired former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, I questioned the move for a few different reasons. Sumlin finished with a winning record with the Aggies but, besides the one season where he won 11 games, he never showed that he could lead an above-average football team.

A general rule of thumb that I believe in throughout every sports league is this. If another team fired a coach after being disappointed in them for a few seasons, why is it okay for you to hire them as your next leader? That applies to this situation because after two seasons coaching in the Pac-12, the Wildcats have not won six or more games and have not appeared in a bowl game since Sumlin’s arrival. I believe that the only reason why it’s taking athletic director Dave Heeke longer than expected to move on is because Heeke wants to convince himself that Sumlin can still manage to put together a few winning seasons as he did in his past.

The Wildcats will be embarking on its seven-game season starting on Nov. 6. If we are being realistic, how many games can this depleted roster put together with a very young and inexperienced team?

I am predicting a one or two-win season while sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell shines and saves coach Sumlin’s job for one more season. In these tough times where we couldn’t have even dreamed of having a football season a few months ago, I don’t think that it’s fair for any coach to be fired after dealing with this pandemic.

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This football program has had two ten-plus win seasons in the last 25 years — which is just flat out embarrassing — and I don’t believe Sumlin is the guy who is going to turn this around. If Arizona fails to make a bowl game this season, then that will make them 0-3 in winning six or more games in each of his first three seasons coaching in Tucson.

The way he handled the team’s quarterback situation last season was unacceptable. After the first week of having Khalil Tate as their starter, he pulled him in the second game for Gunnell who was a freshman and had no experience at the time. This was unfair to both players. Unless your backup quarterback is a veteran, it doesn’t make any sense to throw your very talented young QB right into the fire in the first few weeks of his career.

Another thing I have been wondering is: Why have so many of the Wildcats’ talented defensive players transferred out of the program this season?

The two big names that left this offseason were Tony Fields II (transferred to WVU) and Colin Schooler (transferred to Texas Tech) who said in their parting statements that they wanted to know they were 100% going to play football this season surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. They were two of the Wildcats’ biggest impact defensive players last season and have now left this defense in shambles after parting ways. But if Sumlin is supposedly such a great coach with a good track record, why are these talented players continuing to go find opportunities elsewhere? I think it is a combination of the players that have been at the program for a few years simply being tired of losing and wanting to be on a bigger stage where they can hopefully get drafted in the next few years.

I would be very shocked if Kevin Sumlin is the head football coach of the Arizona Wildcats after the 2021 season as he has shown zero growth with this program over the last three years.

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