Arizona athletics: Decade of Decline? Pt. 1
As the decade closes, I wondered if the Arizona athletic program was in a better or worse spot heading into 2020 than it was 2010. In late 2009 the writing was on the wall and most Wildcat fans knew the end of the Jim Livengood era was at hand. Livengood had some great things occur on his watch, and some huge missteps. There was a lot of successes but also a number of bad coaching hires and some failings in fundraising.
Over the next 10 years Greg Byrne and Dave Heeke would have their share of highs, but also a lot of lows. So was Arizona better off in 2009 than they are in 2019? It’s debatable.
Over the course of a few articles we’ll look sport by sport at where the program was back then, where it is now and where it was in between,
2009: 8-5 (6-3 in Pac-12) – Lost to Nebraska 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl
Head Coach: Mike Stoops
2019: 4-8 (2-7 in Pac-12) – No Bowl
Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin
In 2009 Arizona football was in a strange place. Arizona had finally had bowl success after a long drought but in just two seasons Mike Stoops would be out. Stoops would follow that Holiday Bowl loss with an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. Kevin Sumlin is fighting for his job after two losing seasons and an apathetic fan base.
While the honeymoon had worn off with Stoops, there was still a sense of optimism. Although letting Stoops go was probably the right decision at the time, in 2009 there were still reasons for optimism. In 2019 it seems as most fans are not very optimistic about Sumlin turning things around, and worse, many have lost interest in Arizona football.