Arizona AD Dave Heeke says he’s committed to Kevin Sumlin for year 3

Dec 1, 2019, 1:22 AM | Updated: 8:44 am
Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin greets his team's defense as they play Arizona State during the second h...
Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin greets his team's defense as they play Arizona State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Despite missing a bowl game and losing to Arizona State in both of his first two years as head coach of Arizona, Kevin Sumlin’s job as head coach appears to be safe.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke told reporters after the game that Sumlin will return for the 2020 season.

“We have no reason not to be committed to coach Sumlin, to Kevin, and the process he’s put in place,” Heeke said.

Arizona has won nine games in two seasons under Sumlin and six of them have been against Pac-12 opponents.

Year three for Sumlin will begin with a new starting quarterback, following the departure of senior Khalil Tate who played in his final game as a Wildcat against Arizona State.

Freshman Grant Gunnell took 144 pass attempts for Sumlin’s Wildcats in 2019 and is expected to fill the role. He finished the season with 1,239 passing yards, nine touchdowns and one interception, including a 352 yard passing performance against UCLA to start the Pac-12 season.

However, with the departure of Tate, Gunnell will have big shoes to fill. Tate threw for more than 6,000 yards and rushed for more than 2,000 yards through his career as a Wildcat.

Sumlin will rely on Gunnell for more production in the win department.

The offense under Sumlin really fell off in the last three weeks of the season scoring a combined 27 points against Oregon, Utah and ASU to close things out.

Arizona fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, linebackers coach John Rushing and defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei in the second half of the 2019 season.

“Getting a defensive coordinator on board, continuing to build through player development, continuing to build the talent level and the number of players through recruiting, we’re looking forward to year three,” Heeke said.

Sumlin was brought on to replace Rich Rodriguez who went 7-6 in his last season at Arizona in 2017, including a loss in the Foster Farms Bowl against Purdue to end the season.

He finished with a 43-35 record with the Wildcats and went to a bowl game in each of his first four seasons and five of his six total seasons. Sumlin is 9-15 through his first two seasons.

Penguin Air

Penguin Air

Arizona Football

The new turf field at Arizona Stadium.
Aug. 11, 2022. 
(Photo by Mike Christy / Arizona Athletics)...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Wildcats finish install of new football field turf

The Arizona Wildcats announced the athletic department finished installing new field turf at Arizona Stadium.
3 days ago
Arizona Wildcats safety Christian Young. (Arizona Athletics Photo)...
Jake Anderson

Arizona Wildcats DB Christian Young lands on Feldman’s 2022 ‘freak’ list

Arizona Wildcats senior safety Christian Young has found himself on a unique preseason list for his athletic prowess.
4 days ago
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham speaks during Pac-12 Conference men's NCAA college football media ...
Associated Press

Top-heavy Pac-12 places 3 in 2022 preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll

The Pac-12 placed three teams in the top-15: Utah, Oregon and USC. Only two more teams earned any points, however.
7 days ago
Pac-12 Conference commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at Pac-12 NCAA college football media day Fr...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12, Larry Fitzgerald-backed startup to monetize highlights for NIL

The Pac-12 is entering the NIL space by partnering with a startup that will help athletes earn money from their personalized game highlights.
11 days ago
Arizona State defensive back Chase Lucas reacts after knocking down a pass against Colorado in the ...
Nikash Nath

Wildcats WR Jacob Cowing named his son after ASU product Chase Lucas

Here's something you don't see every day: A college football player naming his son after a former player from his rival school.
12 days ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Nikash Nath

CBS Sports: Wildcats among top 30 best 2021-22 sports programs

CBS Sports released rankings Monday with over 130 colleges ordered on the success of their athletic programs. 
15 days ago
Arizona AD Dave Heeke says he’s committed to Kevin Sumlin for year 3