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OPINION: Why are so many players leaving Arizona football?

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Wildcats Tristan cooper (31) and Samari Springs (29) are all smiles after winning their first PAC 12 game of the season.

Coming into this season alone, 12 Arizona football players have announced they are leaving the program. The question everyone is asking themselves is: Why don’t players want to play for Arizona? Here's why I believe players are continuing to take their chances and play elsewhere. 

Winning 

Whenever a player goes to play at a certain school, one of the most important things is to know they will be competing every season and showcasing their ability on a big stage throughout their career. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of NFL players that are from small colleges that aren’t talked about a lot. But in most cases, the ones playing at a Power Five conference will be taken over by a lesser-known guy. 

Since arriving in Tucson, head coach Kevin Sumlin is 9-15 throughout the two seasons. That is mediocre, and if I was a football player, I would want to have the chance to play in a bowl game, which hasn’t happened once in the last four years — that's zero under Sumlin. 

Playing opportunity

The Pac-12 isn’t one of the most-watched conferences since the games are normally televised late on the East C oast. So if a player can get playing time for a more prominent team where more eyes are on him, that can be very beneficial. 

RELATED: OPINION: Kevin Sumlin’s time in Tucson should be coming to an end soon

When I turned on the TV last week to watch the Texas vs. Texas Tech game, I heard over 10 times, “Colin Schooler makes another play” and “another catch by Brenden Schooler.” A few months ago, the Schooler brothers entered the transfer portal and later ended up on opposite ends of that Texas rivalry. That is because popular teams, like those two, are promoted on national television a lot more often and the players can get their names out there more to scouts and coaches. 

Another key player from the Wildcats defense, Tony Fields II, left the program a while back and is now leading the West Virginia Mountaineers in tackles so far this season. This should help boost his potential and draft stock for a hopeful NFL career. 

Underachieving coach 

My last idea for why some guys are leaving is because they were misled into thinking that Sumlin is the real deal and a legitimate, winning coach at the college football level. Older players who started at Arizona around the same time as Sumlin were probably expecting him to change the whole program around, but the reality is that he underachieved at Texas A&M too, only being ranked inside the top-25 two times and winning three out of six bowl games. He also didn’t recruit Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman trophy both of their first years with the program. 

It doesn’t look so good if several of your great defensive players are leaving to go play somewhere else to continue their football careers. We don’t know all the behind the scenes of what is going on in the locker room, but we can still look at the facts, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better anytime soon. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (10/20)
788 9 1.1%
Total (8/4)
52,142 2,427 4.7%
Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated October 20, 2020