Arizona Football

Sumlin makes a decision: Yates out, Cecil In

So, we’ve seen the last of Marcel Yates … and his defense that, well, didn’t defend much the last couple of weeks

Some say it was about time. Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin said it was times up.

The Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev reported earlier tonight Yates was relieved of his duties after yet another 40-point-plus game from an opponent. Saturday’s 41-31 loss to Stanford was the fifth time UA had given up 40 or more points this season.

Marcel Yates out as UA’s defensive coordinator. Chuck Cecil in.


Clearly, Yates wasn’t the answer and wasn’t when Rich Rodriguez wooed him from Boise State the winter of 2016. He signed a $500,000-a-year contract in 2016.

“He is a bright young coach that is an outstanding evaluator of talent and someone who has shown he can develop players,” Rodriguez said at the time. “He will bring an energy on and off the field that will have an immediate impact on our program.”

Three-plus years was hardly immediate enough. Under Rodriguez for two years, Yates’ defense drew criticism. It only grew under Sumlin, who retained Yates after he had been Sumlin’s defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

But, now the partnership is over after news broke on Sunday night.

The thought recently was not a case of if, but when it would happen. Arizona’s defense had become anemic. Clearly, not aggressive enough or productive enough to help Arizona win the last two games.

Chuck Cecil addresses the local media a few months ago.

Arizona is last in the Pac-12 Conference in points allowed and 11th in yards allowed. In Yates’ three-plus years at UA his defense never ranked higher than 9th overall. It ranks in the lower 100s in the same categories.

Yikes, again.

Whether it improves is anyone’s guess but Arizona’s defense will get new life under former UA star Chuck Cecil, who will likely move into Yates’ role. Arizona fans have long trumpeted Cecil’s return to the field after a 15-year NFL career.

He had been UA’s senior defensive analyst after Sumlin rehired him from Rodriguez’s staff.  In his position, Cecil was not allowed to coach the players on the field. That will change this week as UA prepares to face Oregon State on Saturday.

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