Tim Kish's first day as the Arizona Wildcats' interim football coach figures to be a busy one.

Kish will take Mike Stoops' place on this morning's Pac-12 conference call, meet with his players to talk about next week's game with UCLA and, if the schedule holds, coach his first practice. The UA has an evening workout scheduled - or at least it did, before Monday's announcement that Stoops had been fired with six games remaining in the 2011 season.

By the end of the day, the 57-year-old longtime lieutenant will know what it's like to be in charge. Kish is in his 36th season as a football coach; never, not even at the high school level, has he been a head coach. That didn't prevent athletic director Greg Byrne from promoting the UA's eighth-year assistant to a new role, even though it's only temporary.

Byrne said the Cats' interim head coach will "create a culture of calmness, which is probably a good thing for us."

Kish did not return messages left Monday night. In a statement, he referred to Stoops' firing - and his promotion - as both "a tough day for the program" and "an important moment, for sure."

"I appreciate Greg's faith in me to provide leadership to our young men in this difficult time," he said. "I've been with Coach Stoops for each of his eight years here and know that we have a strong foundation for not only the future but for our immediate tasks. I know the coaching staff will work hard and support our players as we compete for the remainder of the season. We're here to help these players succeed."

It's Day 1, Coach Kish. Have at it. 


The sports editor of the Arizona Daily Star.