College sports fans love coaching searches but it’s a very passive process. Unless you have huge dollars to contribute directly to a new coach’s salary, there’s not a whole lot you can do.
Until now. Until this week in Tucson.
If you are a fan of the Arizona Wildcats you have one chance to have a direct impact on the search for a new football coach.
Thursday is the first game since the firing of Mike Stoops. It will be a main theme during the ESPN broadcast. Who is Tim Kish? Have the players quit? What is the overall state of the program?
The last time the ESPN cameras came to Arizona Stadium it wasn’t pretty. The score of the Oregon game was ugly and the empty seats were uglier. It was not a good promotional piece for Wildcat football.
Now it’s time for everyone to show signs of life. For the players that means energy and intensity. For the alumni and fans it means buying a ticket and using it. For the ZonaZoo it means making the night your own personal episode of ESPN GameDay.
Signs of life means actual signs!
Make some ESPN related, such as:
Hey Jesse, Arizona is even better than Applebee’s!
We don’t want to be divisive so do not make signs about your favorite coaching candidate:
This Leach doesn’t suck!
Petersen is a beater, son!
Either make them pro-Kish:
Lou Holtz says, “Give me a Kish!”
Don’t be a bish. Back Kish!
Or just make them pro-Arizona:
(OK, I’ll stop. You can do much better than me.)
Zoo, we’re counting on you. I don’t want to hear any complaints about short notice. This is college. I know you have midterm papers that you won’t start until six hours before they’re due. Higher education is built on performance under self-induced pressure.
This game can’t wait. ESPN won’t be back this year. You never get a second chance to make a first post-Stoops impression.
If the potential coaching candidates aren’t able to tune in Thursday night you can be sure their agents are.
A big, loud crowd for one game in October by itself isn’t going to convince a top-flight coach to come here, but it is part of the package. If you aren’t an elite football power you have to sell your school’s potential to become a football power, and a key component is fan support (i.e., money) and an electric game day atmosphere (i.e., recruits).
Sign(s) up, Wildcat fans.
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The bowl bubble isn’t that much fun anymore so we’re introducing something a lot more important to UA football: the Pac-12 coaching hot seat. As we discussed, the Cats want as few BCS-level job openings out west as possible. Who is in jeopardy of joining Mike Stoops in getting thrown off the coaching carousel?
Besides Arizona there are six Pac-12 teams at 3-3 or worse. Colorado just hired its coach so he gets a free pass. Utah’s coach has a .723 career winning percentage and an undefeated season under his belt. He’s not going anywhere.
The other four guys are feeling toasty. Here is my thermal analysis of the seats on which they sit, from hottest to not-as-hot:
Rick Neuheisel, UCLA (3-3)
Jeff Tedford, Cal (3-3)
Paul Wulff, WSU (3-3)
Mike Riley, OSU (1-5)
I think Neuheisel needs a bowl game to save his job so he’s halfway there. Also in his favor is the fact he hasn’t lost consecutive games this year so negative momentum hasn’t been building, and he’s coming off a win. Yes, the Cats would be indirectly hindering their coaching search by beating UCLA and driving Neuheisel closer to extinction, but he could bounce back next week with a home win against Cal.
Speaking of the Bears, I believe Tedford also needs a bowl game. That is, unless Cal can’t afford to fire him since Tedford has a sweet contract with no buyout clause. (Note to Greg Byrne: Don’t offer a contract with no buyout clause.)
Washington State has been so terrible the last few years that five wins shows great progress. Four might even be enough to keep Wulff around.
That leaves Oregon State to take the losses. We’re counting on Riley having built up enough goodwill with the three nine-plus win seasons and showing loyalty to OSU when USC came calling.
So the best case scenario the rest of the way looks like this:
UCLA beats Cal, Utah and Colorado to finish 6-6.
Cal beats Utah, WSU and OSU to finish 6-6.
WSU beats OSU and Utah to finish 5-7.
OSU beats Utah to finish 2-10.
Then you hope Arizona hires its coach before the bowl games begin so it doesn’t matter if UCLA and Cal end up with losing seasons. It sure would help if the Beavers could upset somebody (Washington at home?) but if you’re going to be competing with someone in the head coach market you’d rather it be Oregon State than UCLA.
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The updated bowl bubble because blog winners never quit:
With Stanford moving to 6-0 the Pac-12 officially has its first bowl team. The only other change is Utah jumping over Cal because the Utes got a solid road win last week and they don’t have any more ranked teams on their schedule.
And now you’re a blog winner too.
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