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Arizona fires head coach Kevin Sumlin following 70-7 loss to Arizona State

Sam Cooper
·3 min read
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Kevin Sumlin’s time at Arizona has come to an end.

Arizona announced Saturday that it has fired Sumlin after three seasons coaching the Wildcats. Over that span, Arizona has accumulated just a 9-20 overall record, including a current 12-game losing streak that began midway through the 2019 season and has carried into the 2020 season.

The most recent loss was the most embarrassing of the bunch as the Wildcats were embarrassed at home 70-7 by rival Arizona State on Friday night. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 0-5 on the year.

Sumlin, after getting fired at Texas A&M, was brought in by Arizona following the school’s decision to part ways with Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez had a winning record in five of his six seasons leading the program, but Sumlin could never get things going in Tucson.

“When we hired Kevin three years ago, we had very high hopes for our football program. Unfortunately, we simply have not seen the results and upward trajectory in our program that we needed to, and I believe now is the time for a change in leadership. I thank Kevin for his service to the University of Arizona and wish him the very best in the future,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said.

Arizona went 5-7 in Sumlin’s first season and blew a big lead in a 41-40 loss to Arizona State to close out the year and miss out on bowl eligibility. The Wildcats opened the 2019 season with a 4-1 record but lost their final seven games.

That poor play continued in 2020. Arizona nearly upset USC to open its season but lost the rest of its games by double-digits.

With the 56-year-old Sumlin out of the picture, defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads will serve as the team’s interim coach. The school said it will honor the terms of Sumlin’s contract, including the buyout. According to USA Today, Sumlin’s buyout is $7.5 million.

“Our attention now turns to finding the next head coach at the University of Arizona, while we continue to support our student-athletes, who sacrificed so much since returning to campus this summer,” Heeke said. “We will cast a wide net to identify and recruit a coach who shares our vision, our values and our passion for winning.”

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Sumlin previously coached at Texas A&M, Houston

Before his time at Arizona, Sumlin spent six seasons as the head coach at Texas A&M as the Aggies transitioned into the SEC. His first season, with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, was a triumphant 11-2 campaign. A&M could never replicate that success, however, despite posting winning seasons in each of Sumlin’s years in College Station. Sumlin posted a 51-26 overall record at A&M, but his record in SEC play was just 25-23.

Sumlin’s first head-coaching job was at Houston. In four seasons at UH, Sumlin had a 35-17 record. In his final year, the Cougars went 12-1 in games coached by Sumlin. It was a season that helped Sumlin land the A&M job.

Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin, center, watches from the sideline during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against UCLA on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin, center, watches from the sideline during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against UCLA on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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