Arizona Football: Let’s not play and just plan ahead for next season

Nov 30, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate (14) against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the Territorial Cup at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate (14) against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the Territorial Cup at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Are we going to say what you have been thinking? Arizona Football is better off not playing this season and just preparing for next season. There, I said it!

Just last week, the Pac-12 CEO Group decided to move forward with the 2020 College Football season, even though fans likely won’t be in the stands with COVID-19 still running rampant. Also, it seems like not all the schools are on board when it comes to playing, but should Arizona Football add their name to the list of schools that opt-out?

Well, as I have been thinking about it, perhaps it would be a good idea for Arizona to forego the season, and I attempt to break down why.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

First off, things are not looking good heading into the season. The perception of the program is way down, and things are not optimistic as Arizona is fresh off a season in which they placed dead last in the Pac-12 South with a 2-7 record under a Kevin Sumlin/ Noel Mazzone coached team.

That was with experienced players on both sides of the ball, who were familiar with their playbook (if there even was one). As an aside, I heard a few players’ parents tell us there wasn’t a playbook.

Beyond that, the perception from an outsider’s view in regards to the athletes and their relationships with the staff seems to be fractured. To me, the culture is bad right now.

Arizona has already seen a mass exodus and large attrition of players leave the team, and I can’t help but think that the treatment of some players, and in my opinion the treatment to Khalil Tate in particular should be an example of that.

I know not everyone will agree with this point, but the treatment of Tate and the mismanagement of players seems to be like a growing trend under Sumlin. And as you may recall, Sumlin did not have the decency to start Tate on Senior Day. From an outsiders perspective, what kind of message does that send to your players?

There’s no doubt that last season was an abysmal one, and with the season in the tank before Senior Day, he [Sumlin] had a chance to redeem himself with the team and show respect for a player, his Senior QB. Tate was a notable face to Arizona Football who gave it everything he got for four years, sometimes playing hurt, and often helped get butts in the seats at Arizona Stadium.

Need further evidence of his mismanagement, he replaced Tate with future superstar QB Grant Gunnell, blowing his freshman red-shirt for what turns out to be no reason at this point.

Again to me, the culture is off, and the pattern of disrespect seems to have fractured the program from top to bottom.

We haven’t heard many players speak positively about this staff, and you cannot win without that trust that your head coach has your back. Maybe the players Sumlin recruited will get the proper support and won’t be thrown under the bus, but to my knowledge, that’s not something we saw with Rich Rodriguez, and the relationship he had with his players. There was a lot of trust.

Additionally, you can’t help but cite the lack of development from this current staff in terms of getting guys ready for the next level. Arizona dwindled Tates’ talent, and they currently have few players in the league. Thank God J.J. Taylor got a shot with the Patriots!

Now you can blame the COVID19 pandemic and a lack of a pro day for this past season, but you cannot deny that Sumlin hasn’t helped Arizona getting over that hump, even though he was deemed a great recruiter coming in.

I know this has been long-winded thus far, but because of the bad culture and lack of development, that may be playing a part in the large attrition and turnover Arizona is seeing.

As a reminder, Arizona Football has already lost numerous players to the transfer portal this off-season, and those departures are leaving some sizeable holes for the Wildcats to fill prior to having a season.

Now, this is not a dig on the players who are committed or have committed to the Arizona Football program, it is quite the opposite in fact, but to recap, here is who’s transferred thus far… Tony Fields II (WVA), Colin Schooler (Texas Tech), Brenden Schooler (Texas), Kylan Wilborn (Transfer Portal), Scottie Young, Jr. (WVA), and Troy Young (UAB).

Some of the best teams prosper from mentoring and guidance from senior and experienced players on the field, and our team doesn’t have too many of them left right now. Because of that, those departures could feasibly make our struggles even worse.

It’s already bad enough Arizona plays a shortened season, so the young, hungry players they do have will be getting cheated out of having a normal season.

Arizona will need a lot of coaching and development (not one of their strong suits), and as it stands, with the Wildcats likely playing just seven games with half the time to prepare than teams usually get, that alone is going to present a lot of developmental and coaching challenges.

The shortened season gives Arizona limited time to prepare heading into the season, and also less able to adjust mid-year either. The condensed season gives less of a chance for the team to build some chemistry, understand the schemes, work out, get bigger, etc.

And lastly, the biggest obstacle is money. I mean, let’s face it, the school doesn’t have the money to fire and hire another coach, even though I feel it is time to do so. So given those challenges, it seems foolish to trot out players in a season that will likely be a forgettable one.

To me, it is inevitable that Arizona is going to struggle this year anyways, and is only going to cause frustration among fans. Fans will undoubtedly start calling for the coaches head, or worse, call out the players, so it seems unnecessary to have a football season this year.

And as a reminder to fans, let’s not forget, it is never appropriate or fair to trash or lash out at players. It is something I have seemed to notice from some beat writers who thrive on that kind of content for views and paid subscriptions. I have always tried not to do that here at Zona Zealots, even though compensation is tied to views, to me, it is not worth it to make any money by trashing our Wildcats.

Next. Pac-12 CEO Group decided to move forward with Football. dark

If Arizona bows out, this will save the administration, fans, the players and the coaches a lot of heartache this season. So let’s just bow out and get ready for next season. We all know it is about the money and this will never happen, but we just ask that you have absolutely NO EXPECTATIONS this season, if it ever happens. Best case we get pleasantly surprised and everything was fixed in the last several months. In any case, maybe we can use this season as an exercise in supporting this team and players no matter what.