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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Stoops fired as Byrne looks “long term”

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Mike Stoops has been fired as the UA’s head football coach. Defensive coordinator Tim Kish will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the season, athletic director Greg Byrne announced Monday.

“Coach Stoops did a lot of great things for this program,” Byrne said. “He took over a challenging situation and made it better. (But) this season had gotten to the point that I was very concerned about the long-term impact of our decision and where the program was going.”

Byrne said the decision to fire Stoops was made in the last week, and the former coach was told about the decision late Monday after Byrne asked him to return to Tucson from a recruiting trip.
Players were told about the decision late Monday afternoon.

Stoops went 41-50 in seven and a half seasons at Arizona, including a 27-38 record in conference play. Arizona’s last win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team came on Oct. 30, 2010, at UCLA, and the Wildcats have lost 10 straight games against FBS teams since.

Byrne said he hopes the coaching change will help salvage a 2011 season that’s off to a 1-5 start, in which the Wildcats have trailed by double digits in each of their losses.

“I felt that needed to be addressed in the short term for our 22 seniors,” Byrne said. “We believe they can play in a bowl game this season, and we want to give them every opportunity to do that.”

Byrne said Stoops’ contract buyout will cost about $1.4 million.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve been evaluating the football program as a whole,” Byrne said. “The last 11 games have been a rough road. We very much have tried to support coach Stoops.”

Byrne said the coaching search will begin immediately and that he hopes a new coach will be in place “a couple weeks” after the regular season ends, but he didn’t rule out making a hire during the season. Byrne also said Kish knows that he’s the interim coach for the time being, but didn’t rule out retaining him past this season.

According to Byrne, the biggest advantage of making a coaching change mid-season is that it changes the mentality of the team.
“We felt we needed a fresh start at this season,” Byrne said. “We wanted (the players) to have fun playing football and we wanted the coaches to have fun coaching. These are games we feel we can go out and compete in.”

UA President Eugene Sander said the school could not delay a decision on Stoops’ future.

“This decision was absolutely necessary at this time,” Sander said. “Hopefully this will get beyond the situation where we’re continually speculating on the future of coach Stoops.”

Sander said Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred DuVal fully agrees with the decision.

Stoops led Arizona to three consecutive bowl games for just the second time in school history.

“I am very proud of the Wildcat football program and the many accomplishments we have enjoyed,” Stoops said in a statement. “I wish the entire Wildcat football program the best of luck going forward, and I thank the University of Arizona for the opportunity to be a part of the successes we have achieved over the past eight seasons.”

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