The last time people saw Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin on the football field was completing an underwhelming 4-8 season with seven straight losses to finish the year, including a 24-14 loss to rival ASU.
After a season in which Arizona fielded a historically lousy defense under defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, Sumlin looked to upgrade the defensive side of the ball by cleaning house and bringing in a completely new defensive staff for the 2020 season.
Usually, this type of situation would make a third year in the program a pivotal season for any head coach trying to rebuild a program. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is no such thing as a normal situation.
Local media had a the chance to talk to coach Sumlin and hear his thoughts about the Pac-12 moving football to the spring and much more.
Here are the top three things said by Sumlin during Tuesday’s ZOOM conference with the media:
- On what it was like having to let his team know about the Pac-12 moving football to the spring:
“First, you got to tell me. Let’s start there. It’s like, ‘We’re all human,’ so it effected me.I knew a little bit before the announcement happened. Obviously, some people saw me and knew something was up because I wasn’t myself that day either. That’s our job, and as I told our guys, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ I think the communication piece with our players and with their families we have been as transparent as humanly possible with everything that has gone on. I think our players and parents have understood that.”
2. On what spring football would look like for Arizona:
“Our preparation is going to be to get us better through this process. I think it’s hard to make those kinds of plans right now based on what we’ve seen over the last couple of months. So, what we would like was to have played football and play next week, but that didn’t happen. But, what can really happen is going to be a different scenario. Do the kids want to play? The majority of them do. I really believe that. Particularly if they know it’s in about the safest environment it can be. But, from our standpoint, because of the way this virus has gone up and down, and because quite frankly the lack of respect for the virus by a lot of people in the community, you don’t know what’s going to happen. And because of the protocols and precautions that we’re taking and have taken, on our own campus, and our players have done a great job of that, you know that’s one thing. As you start to add more and more people to the mix and the community and everything else, you don’t know what’s going to happen with where the virus is.”
3. On how the SEC, ACC and Big 12 are looking to move forward with a fall football season unlike the Pac-12 and Big Ten:
“I think that communication has been going on. I know that our communication with the team and our parents has been ongoing. And that concern has been there from both sides. So, everything we’ve done, as I said, has been with player safety in front of it. And let me say this: Today, people are saying they’re going to play, just like we came out with a schedule, and a week later, we were done. Let’s wait a couple of weeks and see what happens.”
Here is the full press conference with Sumlin that includes his thoughts on how to navigate these times, and what will be in store for college football in the spring.
FOLLOW TROY HUTCHISON ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.