Sponsored by

UA Wildcats football

UA fires head football coach Mike Stoops

Set to receive $1.4 million buyout

The University of Arizona fired head football coach Mike Stoops on Monday, Athletic Director Greg Byrne announced.

Defensive coordinator Tim Kish will serve as the Wildcats' interim head coach for the rest of the regular season, Byrne said at an evening press conference.

Buying out the two years remaining on Stoops' contract will cost the UA about $1.4 million—about half of what he would have been paid if he were still coaching, Byrne said.

A press release from the university said Stoops was "relieved of his duties."

The Wildcats suffered their eighth consecutive league loss against Oregon State last week, 37-27. The Wildcats have lost 10 consecutive games against FBS opponents, winning their season opener against Northern Arizona and last beating an FBS team last year against UCLA on Oct. 30.

"Mike was first-class" when told he was being let go Monday afternoon, Byrne said. "I like Mike a lot, we get along well."

"He handled himself with class and dignity," Byrne said.

In a written statement released through his agent, Stoops said he is "very proud of the Wildcat football program and the many accomplishments we have enjoyed. Topping that list is our qualifying for consecutive bowl games the past three seasons for only the second time in school history."

""When I took this job, I was hoping to be the first coach to lead this program to a Rose Bowl. Although we fell short of that goal, we made significant progress, and our organization continues to strive for excellence," Stoops said.

Firing the 49-year-old Stoops was "absolutely necessary at this time," said UA President Eugene Sander, who joined Byrne at the hastily announced press conference.

"Decisions like this are never easy to make. There is always a great deal of heartache that goes along with these things," Sander said.

Byrne decided to fire the football coach within the past week, after evaluating the program since he came to the UA in 2010.

He talked it over with Sander on Sunday.

"It was in the last week that I decided it was time to go in a different direction," he said.

"I was concerned with the direction of the program and where we were going," he said.

Stoops was 1-5 so far this season.

"The last 11 games have been a rough road," Byrne said.

"If you're going to keep score, you might as well try to win," he said. "That's a factor as a coach."

Stoops' record in eight seasons at the UA was 41-50, with a 27-38 mark in league games. He took over the team in November 2004, after the Wildcats had fallen to a program-low 2-10 in 2003.

Despite the team's recent woes, Stoops helmed the Wildcats to three straight bowl victories (2008-2010), matching a school record for the most consecutive postseason appearances.

In 2009, the Wildcats returned to the national rankings and remained in the polls for much of the 2010 season after a 7-1 start. Arizona peaked at No. 9 in the Associated Press poll following a 34-27 victory over then-No. 9 Iowa on Sept. 18, 2010. The victory over the ranked Hawkeyes was the ninth such win over a nationally ranked team by one of Stoops' teams. He defeated a ranked team in each of his first seven years at Arizona, and went 9-24 overall against ranked foes.

Byrne called Stoops on Monday and told him to return to Tucson from a recruiting trip, the athletic director said. Stoops got word that he was out in the late afternoon.

The team was told shortly before the 6 p.m. press conference at the McKale Center, Byrne said.

"They did a lot of listening," he said.

"After today, I won't speak any more about our search until we have a new head coach," Byrne said.

Byrne declined to comment on any possible replacements for Stoops.

Although he expects to conclude the search after the regular season is over, Byrne didn't rule out picking a replacement before then.

A small search committee, consisting of his top deputies—Kathleen "Rocky" Larose, John Perrin and James Francis—will select a new head coach, he said. An outside search firm has not been hired.

The Pac-12's new media contract will give the UA room to maneuver when negotiating with a new coach, he said.

He wouldn't speak about a salary range. "We thinking about paying at least $25,000," he joked.

"There's a lot of information we're going to have that the general public just won't have access to," Byrne said of the selection process, cautioning against rumors.

"Please be patient and cautious not to get caught up in unofficial news and/or speculation from media, message boards, or other reports from people claiming to have heard this or that rumor," Byrne wrote in an email to Wildcat boosters.

The Wildcats have this week off, and will return to the field at home on Thursday, Oct. 20 against UCLA. Six games remain in the season.

Interim coach Kish was chosen for his experience and personality, Byrne said.

"I think he'll create a culture of calmness, which is probably a good thing for us," said the athletic director.

"Today is tough day for the program," said Kish, 57, the defensive coordinator throughout Stoops' tenure in Tucson. "It's an important moment, for sure. I appreciate Greg's faith in me to provide leadership to our young men during this difficult time."

"I've been with Coach Stoops for each of his eight years here and know that we have a strong foundation for not only the future but for our immediate tasks. I know this coaching staff will work hard and support our players as we compete for the remainder of the season. We're here to help these players succeed," Kish said in a press release.

Byrne encouraged fans to back the Wildcats for the rest of the season.

"We have nearly two dozen seniors on our football team and we want them to finish their Arizona career by playing in a bowl game," he wrote to boosters. "We need you to continue to show the seniors and the entire team your support. I look forward to seeing you next Thursday against UCLA."

- 30 -
have your say   

1 comment on this story

1
1479 comments
Oct 10, 2011, 7:41 pm
-1 +2

Funny how the AD is always the last person to figure out when a football coach should go. The rest of us have known for some time…

I remember back in ‘04, when the U of A thought it would be a great idea to nearly double ticket prices for long time season ticket holders…following a 2-10 season. It was at that moment that I knew this whole thing wasn’t going to work out.

The U of A hasn’t had a decent football program for roughly 20 years now. I hope the next guy can get it together and return the Cats to bowl contention (I mean bowl games that actually mean something and aren’t just filler)

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Click image to enlarge

Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne announces Stoops' firing at a Monday evening press conference.

“If you’re going to keep score, you might as well try to win.”

— AD Greg Byrne

Mike Stoops' record at Arizona

  • 2004: 3-8
  • 2005: 3-8
  • 2006: 6-6      
  • 2007: 5-7      
  • 2008: 8-5      
  • 2009: 8-5      
  • 2010: 7-6  
  • 2011: 1-5

Byrne's email to boosters

A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP

Today I write to you to announce that Mike Stoops has been relieved of his duties and will no longer be the head coach of the Arizona football program. Coach Stoops did many things to improve our program and we are appreciative of his efforts.

This decision is the result of an ongoing evaluation of our program since my arrival a year and a half ago. While Coach Stoops did an admirable job and was able to re-establish Arizona as a football contender, it is a critical time for our football program, and I feel we need a change in leadership. Defensive coordinator Tim Kish will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of this season.

I recently met with the team  to notify the players of my decision. I  also have spoken with the football staff. Our immediate focus is the team. The support service areas that take care of our team – such as academics and medical services – will continue to provide our student-athletes with first-rate support.
We have nearly two dozen seniors on our football team and we want them to finish their Arizona career by playing in a bowl game. We need you to continue to show the seniors and the entire team your support. I look forward to seeing you next Thursday against UCLA.

WHAT’S NEXT (please read and share this with your friends and family)

We will begin a search immediately for our next head football coach. I expect the search to end sometime after the regular season is over, so please be patient as we go through this process. Something I will work at diligently is to keep public information to a minimum during the process. This is important to an effective search process. During this time please be patient and cautious not to get caught up in unofficial news and/or speculation from media, message boards, or other reports from people claiming to have heard this or that rumor. I may send out an occasional note via Twitter, but other than that the next time you will hear anything from me about this search is when we introduce our new coach.

I’m sure I’ll receive a lot of emails, calls and letters suggesting that we need to hire a certain candidate. I am always pleased to hear your input and glad that you care. We will make the best decision for Arizona Football, which means being open to a variety of candidates. Please know that we will have access to information on candidates that the general public may not have. There are reasons that a certain candidate would or would not be considered based in part on that information. So whomever we hire I want you to know we will go to great lengths to ensure we have as much information as possible before we make a decision.

Stoops' statement

Mike Stoops released a statement through his agent Monday night:

I am very proud of the Wildcat football program and the many accomplishments we have enjoyed. Topping that list is our qualifying for consecutive bowl games the past three seasons for only the second time in school history.

I am also proud of the success our players demonstrated off the field. Not only has our team Academic Progress Rate (APR) improved significantly each of the past five years, but also our players have made great strides in conducting themselves in a manner that reflects the ideals of this University.

When I took this job, I was hoping to be the first coach to lead this program to a Rose Bowl. Although we fell short of that goal, we made significant progress, and our organization continues to strive for excellence.

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.

  • A
  • A
  • A
  •   Share:
  • more»
Show previews