Arizona Football: The three worst coaches in program history

Arizona v Arizona State
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2. 2. HC: 2001-03 (3 seasons). . John Mackovic

John Mackovic
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Pictured above is John Mackovic in his glory days. The image is from 1994 when he was leading Texas to an 8-4 finish on the season that included a win in the Sun Bowl thanks to running back Priest Holmes. He followed that up with a 10-2-1 season in 1995. Two years later, a 4-7 season that included a 66-3 thrashing by UCLA got him fired.

He moved into an analyst role with ESPN for a few years, before Arizona pounced on the opportunity to name him to successor to the legendary Tomey. Tomey had a rough final season, starting 5-1 before losing the rest of the games and resigning. Mackovic started on the right foot, winning the first three games of the 2001 season. A tough midseason slate led Arizona to finish the season 5-6 and with a win in the Territorial Cup to end the season on a high note despite having a new quarterback and a new head coach.

Things only went downhill from there.

A 3-1 start in 2002 was quickly wiped away by losing the next six games. Over this losing streak, reports of player mistreatment including verbal abuse by Mackovic began to surface, where he notably called tight end Justin Levasseur a disappointment to his family. The team, led by future 7-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, then called a meeting with the president of the university in what is now referred to as a "player revolt" to discuss Mackovic's behavior.

A team meeting was called and there were speculations that he would step down, but no resignation came. In its place was an emotional apology and a vow to do better for his players and coaches. Arizona went 1-1 in the remaining two games of the season, picking up its only conference win over a Cal team that finished 7-5. Five games into the 2003 season, Mackovic was fired after a 1-4 start and more incidents of player mistreatment cropping up.

Then-defense coordinator Mike Hankwitz was handed the reins and only won one more game the rest of the season for a finish of 2-10. Mackovic's record in his time at Arizona was 10-18, and he left a disaster for Hankwitz and successor Mike Stoops to deal with. Stoops had to endure two straight 3-8 seasons with Mackovic's players and recruits before finally hitting 6-6 in 2005, purging Arizona of Mackovic for good.