ESPN: Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin among Pac-12 coaches on the hot seat
Arizona football made a splash hire when it picked up former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin back in January of 2018.
Multiple outlets touted it as a “home run hire” — and in the context of that period of time, it was. A couple years later, though, and hindsight doesn’t back that up.
Sumlin coached A&M to a 51-26 record in his six seasons there, with a 3-2 record in bowl games. In Arizona, though, he’s gone 9-15 through two seasons despite having Khalil Tate, a quarterback once praised as a Heisman Trophy candidate. This contrasts especially poorly with the Wildcats’ rival school, Arizona State, whose initially-criticized hire of Herm Edwards has turned out to be a great boon to the program.
All of this is good context to understand why after just two seasons, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg named Sumlin in a story outlining which college football coaches ought to be on the hot seat.
Sumlin is just 9-15 at Arizona and reshaped his defensive coaching staff after the season. Things seem very unsettled around the UA program, and Sumlin likely must deliver a bowl appearance in Year 3 to stick around.
USC’s Clay Helton was the other one on the hot seat, according to Rittenberg, and UCLA’s Chip Kelly is one to “keep an eye on.”
Arizona went 4-8 in 2019 and finished the season on a seven-game losing streak. Tate is now gone, although freshman Grant Gunnell performed well as the Wildcats’ quarterback last year when Tate wasn’t on the field. He completed 65.2% of his passes for 1,239 yards in eight appearances, throwing nine touchdowns and just one interception.
It doesn’t help, though, that Arizona has the 64th-ranked recruiting class for 2020, according to 247Sports, which is the worst ranking in the Pac-12.