Arizona Football

Fisch wins the press conference; now, he must win some games

So, how was your day?

For University of Arizona athletic officials, it was a great day to be a Wildcat in hiring who they think will bring back some respectability to the program.

For Jedd Fisch, it was a great day to be named a head coach at the University of Arizona.

For the Arizona letter winners/former UA players, it was a strange day of having been told one thing and delivered another.

New UA football coach Jedd Fisch

For the Arizona the fan base, it was a perplexing day of having to google the name Jedd Fisch to see who they’d be cheering for next season and why.

So, to say it was a mixed bag of emotions in Wildcat Nation would be an understatement.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said Fisch is the “right man at the right time to rebuild and bring this program to prominence, a proud program.”

He said they’ll fall in love with his energy and genuineness. And his commitment to UA.

“We are excited about the future and we are excited about bringing championships to Arizona Stadium,” Arizona president Bobby Robbins said. “I’m particularly excited about the next chapter in University of Arizona football.”

Good luck with that.

And I’m not saying that in a condescending way, but a legitimate good luck way because the next two to three years are going to be one of the most unbelievable tasks in Arizona’s recent history of college football. He’ll have to be a builder of a program many feel has hit rock bottom after the terrible hire of Kevin Sumlin.

Is Fisch the right guy to do it? Time will tell, but Robbins and Heeke have gone all in with a man who has more stops and starts than a Greyhound bus.

But the two have brought on a coach – a 44-year-old good guy and family man – who has been through several college programs and through a number of NFL teams.

Yes, his resume is impressive. It lacks one thing: head coaching experience.

Welcome to Arizona’s Trial by Fire – the First Chapter. It isn’t going to be easy.

Without question, he has great endorsements from Bill Belichick (his latest employer given he was the QB coach of the New England Patriots) and a former boss in Pete Carroll. What employee wouldn’t want those two as references?

Fisch had them. Now he’s on his own and must find some head coach magic to move forward at a program looking for any kind of hope or fortune to get back to UA’s glory days of the, um, 1990s. But more on that later.

He called being the head coach at UA “the perfect opportunity” and that he’s “extremely grateful” for the chance at the job. Oh, by the way it will pay him more than $2 million a year.

He’s now on the clock to make it all work. If he’d like to tackle a couple of issues from the start, it would be best to sooth the alumni and the former players who invested blood, sweat and tears into the program (and time and effort in a Zoom call with Heeke last week), he can get some notable former players on his coaching staff. Maybe he has already spoken to them.

Chuck Cecil? Ricky Hunley? Antoine Cason? Brandon Sanders? It could be an all-star lineup of former UA players with NFL pedigree. Diversity is of importance, he said.

“We’re going to be able to find some coaches that have coached or coach in the NFL,” Fisch said. “We’re going to have some coaches that currently coach or have coached in the Pac-12 or in the Big 12 in the surrounding areas.

“We’re going to find some coaches that have played in the National Football League. We’re going to find some coaches that have played at the University of Arizona or at other places across the country. We’re going to build a tremendous staff. I feel very confident in that.”

Yes, he won the press conference. It wasn’t 70-7 but a victory is a victory. Now, he must win over the letter winners who for all intents and purposes where told UA would get a guy who had some UA blood in him or some UA lineage or had some of those qualities. Fisch wasn’t that guy, but he did speak to the ex-players in a Zoom call shortly before he spoke to the media.

He said it was a “great meeting” in as much as his message was relayed to them. He knows their history. He rattled off the coaches who have been here: Larry Smith, Dick Tomey, John Mackovic, Mike Stoops, Rich Rodriguez and Kevin Sumlin.

So, there’s that. Heeke said Fisch realizes “he needs to bridge that gap” between the past and the present.

““What I’ve asked them to do is to open up this forum and open up this relationship and welcome our family to Tucson in the same way that we want to welcome them into our building,” he said. “That our football facility and our practices are going to be open in the springtime. We want people to watch us go. We want our alumni, and we want our fans and we want people to see what we do because I want everyone to understand how hard we’re going to work, how much we’re going to try to get back to where it once was in 1998 when they were fourth in the country and 12-1.

“I had an unbelievable conversation with Tedy Bruschi, both last night and this morning, and really understand where University of Arizona football was, and really looking forward to trying to get it back to that place that nobody wanted to play Arizona football and were a team that played angry, a team that played mad. We were a team that played tough and we were a team that found a way to hold the team to 30 yards rushing per game, which is about the craziest statistic I think I might have ever heard in the game of football.”

Here’s another: Arizona is riding a 12-game losing streak and right now, that’s the most important thing that needs to be fixed. We’ll see about the honeymoon and we’ll see about the progression.

Coach Fisch, here’s to you gaining a large School of Fisch fans because there have been a few coaches before you in the last 20 years that didn’t do justice to the job.

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