Arizona Football seems to be in a bad place, and after conversing with a former player, he broke down his opinion on what’s wrong with the program, and what needs to be done to fix it.
I know fans are unhappy with how the past two years have gone, and understandably so. The Arizona Football team has gone just 9-15 during that stretch, and there’s not a lot of optimism heading into this season.
Fans, former players, etc. everyone with an opinion has seemingly been rather vocal about the state of the program, leaving others itching for change. Something to just breath life back into a program that has seemingly grown stagnant the past few few years.
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One former player (who wanted to remain anonymous), reached out to me wanting to talk football, also offering his perspective on the current state of things regarding the program, and how he would fix and improve some things.
First off, I would like to thank this gentleman for his time, as I enjoyed the conversation, and appreciated his wisdom and insight.
Arizona is/ was a special place. Even for a program that has had its ups and downs, the school has a unique and interesting history. And as most fans know and recall, the Wildcats seemingly had their best run and stretch during the 80s until about the mid-to-late 90s (coincidentally, this player was also a part of Arizona Football during the programs illustrious era).
Players were happy, player development and fan/ alumni engagement was at an all-time high. Something that is seemingly missing from today’s program as this player noted.
So as we dived into the conversation and this players’ experiences as a former student athlete, it was refreshing and also a bit depressing to hear how the times were different comparatively speaking.
These days from this players’ perspective, the coaches don’t seem to be as engaged. There is a true disconnect from the fans, the coaches and especially the former players. The culture is broken.
And to have a successful program, and more specifically a great football culture, it takes a family. Arizona doesn’t really have one, at least not anymore.
So if this player were to be the one in charge to fix things, first he’d address the culture, welcoming a lot more collaboration and inclusiveness, especially from former players. This gentleman noted that he seems as if he and a few former teammates aren’t quite as welcome as they probably could be.
“It’s little things like that, that would turn into bigger things,” he said.
Additionally, we talked about the current state of recruiting. “Parents have figured it out – they know what’s wrong with Arizona,” he said.
They don’t seemingly have the connections like it used to as he noted, and seeing the kids of former players go elsewhere is a real shame, perhaps crediting it to the fragmented relationship between former players and the program.
Lastly, we talked coaching. He did note that he was initially optimistic about the hire of Kevin Sumlin early on, but his opinion has soured since then. Citing some of the prior points as a reason for a change of heart.
We talked hypothetically, that if he were to make a coaching hire recommendation, he would pick former Cincinnati Bengals head coach and current ASU Football analyst, Marvin Lewis.
Besides them being friends and acquaintances, the guy gets it he said. He [Marvin] just knows how to connect with players, plus the model they’ve implemented up at ASU seems to be working in recruiting, but also in on-field results.
Plus, he’d also love to see Antonio Pierce be able to return to the program in some capacity, perhaps defensive coordinator.
Anyways, these are just a few observations and suggestions from a former player. We just hope Arizona Football can figure it out and return to the successful era of football they had from the 80s and 90s! As always, Bear Down!