On3 analyst: Arizona Football at No. 19 in post-spring transfer portal Top 25, Washington not listed

University of Arizona Introduces Brent Brennan as Head Football Coach
University of Arizona Introduces Brent Brennan as Head Football Coach / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

Back at the end of May, On3's Andy Staples released his post-transfer portal Top 25. The usual suspects lead the top spots: Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, etc.

What's more pertinent to our purposes is who appears at No. 19: the Arizona Wildcats football team. To make a good deal even sweeter, a newfound rival in the Washington Huskies are notably absent from the list after appearing in the National Championship Game just months ago.

Barring a roster meltdown of catastrophic proportions, Arizona will enter the 2024 season ranked inside the Top 25 for the first time since 2015 — nearly a decade ago. The same cannot be said for the NCAA Division I runners-up.

Why is Arizona in a better spot than Washington?

January 12, 2024, linked the two former Pac-12 programs for the foreseeable future. Fresh off of a masterclass three-year turnaround, former Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch jumped ship to take the vacancy at Washington after leading Arizona to its first bowl game in six seasons and its first win on that stage in eight seasons.

The fear in Tucson was of a similar thing happening to Arizona that had just been witnessed at both Alabama and Washington: the old coach who assembled the roster and staff cuts and runs, leaving the programs hemorrhaging talent and looking markedly different when the bleeding eventually stops. Curiously, though, it didn't.

The two biggest poaches Fisch successfully made were presumed starting running back Jonah Coleman and former four-star cornerback Ephesians Prysock. The biggest fish that he wasn't able to reel in were quarterback Noah Fifita, wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, and linebacker Jacob Manu.

Washington, on the other hand, was due for an exodus. Starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and the top three receiving options in Rome Odunze, Ja'Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan were taken in the top two rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, and a plethora of others transferred — either to Alabama or elsewhere.

Not a single offensive starter is returning to Washington, and only three defensive starters from the National Championship Game are coming back. The rest of the roster is comprised of the recruiting class that used to be Arizona's, backups elevated into starting roles, and new incoming transfers.

When comparing where the two programs are at in the life cycle, Arizona is a clear cut above Washington right now. New Arizona coach Brent Brennan has been extremely effective at retaining the core talent: quarterback, wide receivers, offensive line, linebackers, and the secondary will all look mostly the same in Tucson.

For Fisch and the staff up in Washington, they're staring down the barrel of a second rebuild-from-the-ground-up scenario in just four seasons. General perceptions around Arizona and Washington make one thing clear: loyalty pays dividends.

ICYMI. B12 QBs. Big 12 quarterback power rankings. dark

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