It’s been 72 hours since Arizona announced the hiring of Jedd Fisch, an out-of-the-box coach who came on the scene presumably late. Or not.
Maybe he was he guy UA had pegged all along, given he was interviewed for the job three years ago. Maybe?
It was clearly not the chic pick if you followed social media. Who? Why? And, well, how did this happen?
Well, it did and now Arizona and its fans must move on. Do they have another choice? Do they support or not?
But did Fisch, a self-proclaimed relationship builder who plans to move to Tucson in the next couple of days, even know there was some negative thoughts about his hire? If he did, he didn’t show it.
“That hasn’t really affected me,” Fisch said Saturday afternoon with a group of local media members. “I know that it’s been an incredible journey and I know it’s an incredible privilege. It’s a privilege to be a head coach in the Pac-12 and a head coach in the NFL at any college or high school level.”
He believes that if you’ve paid your dues and have worked really hard everything will work itself out.
That maybe sometime soon, maybe even this week when he starts to select his coaching staff, fans will start to like his choices.
“You guys will be very excited to see who our coaches are (and) who wants to be part of our program,” he said. “As we open up our practices in the spring, I think everyone will feel good where we are headed.”
Any road to victory would help – anything to snap that 12-game losing streak Arizona has carried for the last two years. Who he brings – Maybe? Possibly? Ricky Hunley, Chuck Cecil (in a more visible role) and another ex-cat two – would sooth the fan base at least for the moment.
Wins, of course, matter. Always have here in Fickletown, USA.
Getting talent would be paramount to get those wins. Gone are quarterbacks Grant Gunnell (we hardly knew you) and Rhett Rodriguez (we knew you and felt your pain) and so many others. Fisch will have to win the trust and hearts of those who still want to stay.
“We’ll have to get to know what they are thinking,” Fisch said of his new players. “Then the (17) recruits. And those in the transfer portal (where there’s plenty of rebuilding talent), so it’s where the college football landscape is.”
Fisch said a recruiting priority will be Arizona (without question), but so will be the surrounding states.
But it’s not like other coaches before him haven’t had that formula and beyond. Reminded me of the time when one of Stoops’ assistants was heard saying, “there were new sheriffs in town” for the turnaround. That didn’t last all that long. So, why haven’t the previous four coaches – John Mackovic, Stoops, Rich Rodriguez and now Kevin Sumlin – failed in maintaining success the last 20 years?
So, I asked him, what makes this job so difficult?
“I don’t know what makes it so difficult,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen in this job, everything I’ve heard and learned from Dave Heeke and Dr. Robbins, everything I’ve seen from the beautiful indoor facilities, stadium on campus …”
Facilities matter, of course. Support matters, of course. Culture matters, of course.
It’s all that and more. He’ll also have to learn how to do more with less. Mike Candrea did it in the late 1980s to early 1990s. He turned his program into a juggernaut. Lute Olson did the same in the 1980s and 1990s.
Adia Barnes is doing it now. Start simple then see it explode.
It can happen. I’ve seen it. Fisch has seen it.
“We need to get to the successes that were here in the 1990s, that’s the bottom line,” Fisch said. “I don’t think there is an easy way to answer that question. But we have to recognize what’s gone on.”
Winning – or not winning to be more specific – has been the biggest issue. Administrators don’t go through four coaches in 20 years because they’re happy. Maybe because those coaches weren’t “their guy” but winning solves a lot of issues. It just didn’t happen here nor has it in two decades.
What are the biggest obstacles?
“The fact that they haven’t won as much as you’d like them to,” he said. “You have to turn over a culture. You have to change over a culture of what you believe to what’s been done to what you’ve believed in … before you know how to win, you need to know how not to lose. We have to teach our team not to lose.”
That would mean good, firm small steps.
Be sure to catch Steve & Jay Gonzales on “Eye on the Ball” weekdays from 3-4 p.m. on Fox Sports 1450.