Arizona job was the ‘right place at the right time’ for Kevin Sumlin
Arizona’s search for a head coach put the Wildcats in a tough spot, but for Kevin Sumlin, the timing couldn’t have been better.
“The fit was the right fit at the right time even though it was late for most coaches,” Sumlin told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “It gave me a chance to kind of decompress over the six weeks or so and say ‘is this something you really want to do?’
“Our president and our athletics director have great vision and the student-athlete experience is important to the administration and when you have that kind of vision, that kind of support, it starts at the top and that gets you excited for what can happen here.”
Sumlin has held an 86-43 record as a college head coach at Houston and, most recently, Texas A&M.
Now, he is turning his attention to a Wildcats team that provided a lot of big-time plays in 2017.
“I think we got a lot of energy on campus right now, something we can sustain and build on,” Sumlin said.
When asked how he was going to utilize star junior quarterback Khalil Tate, Sumlin wasn’t quick to jump the gun.
“First thing we got to do is we got to get around our guys and get some offseason workouts going and then establish where he is, what his strengths are, what his weaknesses are, work on those, play to his strengths and then get to football practice and then start to make our offense quarterback friendly.
“Obviously, he’s a dynamic player, but until we get on the field with him, we’re not going to force something down his throat.”
And while a coaching change can cause a lot of grief on programs and players alike, Sumlin feels the moves that were made weren’t as huge as others.
“There was a comfort level walking in the door with this team that it wasn’t going to be a drastic departure from, offensively and defensively, what they know,” he said.
“These situations, there’s a lot of stress, there’s guys wondering what’s going to happen, but I think that comfort level is going to help us really grow a lot faster than maybe coming in and going to some completely different systems that these guys were not used to.”