A new era of Arizona football began on the morning of Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018. New head coach Kevin Sumlin walked into the Lowell-Stevens Facility at 10:00 a.m. accompanied by Arizona president Robert Robbins and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke, ready to begin his next journey in Tucson.
The conference room was stuffed full of former Wildcat football players, current players, dozens of media outlets and with it all, there existed a buzz that has been missing for several years. The man who won SEC Coach of the Year in 2012 and whose offense helped shape Purdue’s Drew Brees, Houston’s Case Keenum and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel was now the head coach in Tucson.
Sumlin, dressed in a navy suit and a red tie, sat at the podium in between the two men who spent the last two weeks traveling and meeting with potential coaching candidates. In the end, Sumlin was the only person that got offered the job, according to Heeke and Robbins. Sumlin was the man for Arizona.
Heeke and Robbins spent the first 20 minutes raving about the qualities Sumlin brings to the program: his leadership, his commitment, his values and his success at every coaching position he’s had. So when Sumlin finally got the chance to speak, the entire room fixated on the former Texas A&M coach.
“Good morning. Bear Down!,” Sumlin said with a large grin. He was embracing the university already.
In Sumlin’s opening statement and throughout his Q&A session, the 53-year old head coach outlined a vision for the future of Arizona football. The vision, according to Sumlin, will be built on being a leader of young men, an involvement in the community and success on and off the football field. Sumlin even said he plans to do what no other Arizona football coach has been able to accomplish: get the team to a Rose Bowl.
“It’s gonna happen,” Sumlin said. “It’s just what time is that gonna happen? Why not now? Why not us?”
He sees a great opportunity in not only the football program but the entire University of Arizona too.
“I really believe this is a special place. It’s a great place to live,” Sumlin said. “I see great potential in this football program.”
It’s been less than two full days since he was officially announced as the next head coach, but based on his 40 minute interview session, it’s evident that Sumlin is already at work.
After arriving in Tucson late Monday night, Arizona’s new head man met with his team early Tuesday morning to familiarize himself with the players and give them a sense of direction for the program. He even confirmed to them that defensive coordinator, and player favorite, Marcel Yates would be on the staff for the upcoming year.
Sumlin said that based on conversations he’s already had with former UA football coach Dick Tomey, Arizona will be a program that welcomes all former Wildcat players and coaches back into the program, something that hadn’t been prevalent during the Rich Rodriguez era.
In terms of recruiting, Sumlin won’t be the type of coach to let local talent escape his grasp. He cited to his connections to Phoenix coaches that helped him bring five-stars Christian Kirk and Kyle Allen to A&M.
Arizona football is headed in a new direction with the hire of Kevin Sumlin. A proven winner at multiple schools who will bring energy and passion to the university and above all, someone who is ready to embrace everything it means to be at Arizona.
“The truth is I’m excited to be here, I’m excited to be a Wildcat, I’m excited to say Bear Down,” Sumlin said.
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