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Kevin Sumlin Has to Be Arizona's Top Target to Replace Mike Stoops in Tucson

Mike Stoops was fired by the University of Arizona late Monday, and depending on whom you read, it was either too hasty a decision (three bowl games in a row!), or the right one (10 straight losses against D1 teams – six of those opponents were ranked). Clearly, the defense was a massive issue this year – the Wildcats are ranked 117th out of 120th. The passing offense, behind future NFL QB Nick Foles, is 3rd in the country. I’m guessing Stoops’ sideline antics might have played a tiny part in the decision, because the logical move here was to just bring in a new defensive coordinator.

The Wildcats promoted defensive coordinator Tim Kish to the head coaching spot for the rest of the season, but like Luke Fickell in Columbus, nobody expects Kish to keep the job. So who’s getting it?

Kevin Sumlin, who has Houston at 6-0, has to be the first call. Spare me pipe dreams names like Chris Petersen (who cares if he’s friends with the AD?), any of those hot SEC assistants or Urban Meyer. Why even waste time with them? I don’t know if those guys would return Arizona’s call.

[Enter obligatory Mike Leach commentary here ... just a guess, he'll tell Arizona to be patient because he's going to be waiting for bigger and better jobs to open - like UCLA and Georgia; I can't see the Pirate at Ohio State, but stranger things have happened.]

Sumlin knows offense (he spent time at Oklahoma St. and Oklahoma – ironically, under Stoops’ brother, Bob). Tucson is a party school with low academic standards – that should make recruiting easy. (Sure, it’s kind of close to Afghanistan Mexico, but the fence is going up soon, right?) When it comes to producing high school stars, Arizona’s nowhere near Florida, Texas, California or New Jersey, but there are usually one or two Top 100 recruits from the state every year.

Sumlin signed a lucrative contract in January, 2010, but his buyout is only $600,000 if he leaves before Jan. 2, 2013. When you combine the $1.4 million buyout of Stoops and the Sumlin buyout, you’re looking at $2 million before you even start talking about Sumlin’s new deal.

Fact that may or may not be worth anything: The last Houston coach to get hired by another D1 program has found success. Art Briles is doing extremely well at Baylor.

Two other guys who I would consider to be realistic candidates for the gig:

- Sounds like defensive-minded former Wildcat Chuck Cecil will get a look
– Sonny Dykes? He was the Arizona OC two years ago and is currently at Louisiana Tech

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