Mike Stoops is summoned back to Tucson from a recruiting trip and fired, his team mired in a 1-5 start and two days removed from a 37-27 loss at previously winless Oregon State. Defensive coordinator Tim Kish is named interim head coach for the rest of the season. Athletic director Greg Byrne begins a national search to replace Stoops, who receives a $1.4 million buyout to cover the final two years of his contract. Reached by phone, Stoops declares, "I don't really have anything to say."
Kish says that while "the head coach always gets too much credit and too much blame," he'll try to steward the team with a positive approach. The UA gives Kish a $100,000 raise on top of his $300,000 annual salary to serve as head coach the final six games; the Wildcats' new leader changes the flow of practices and gives the offensive staff complete autonomy the rest of the way. "We're all attached at the hip with Coach Stoops. I was with him for eight years," Kish says. "I was excited to be part of the program, and I still am. We have to move forward. This is part of the healing process."
The rumor mill begins churning, with former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and Boise State coach Chris Petersen leading the list of candidates associated with the opening. ESPN analyst Mark May declares that Petersen is "the top choice"; Bellotti tells The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., that he's unsure whether he wants to coach again.
Arizona wins its first game since Stoops' firing in dominant fashion, thrashing UCLA 48-12 in a nationally televised game at Arizona Stadium. The game is marred, however, by a streaker posing as a referee and an ensuing fight between the Wildcats and Bruins just before halftime. Byrne breaks his self-imposed silence, appearing on ESPN's broadcast to speak generally about the opening and the UA. The athletic director calls it "an opportunity on ESPN to talk about what our strengths are as a university (and) as a program, going forward."
The Pac-12 Conference suspends six UCLA players and four Wildcats for their roles in the previous night's brawl.
Arizona's Shaquille Richardson and Jourdon Grandon receive one-game suspensions; Mark Watley and Lyle Brown miss the first half of the next week's game at Washington.
Byrne attends the Wildcats' 42-31 loss at Washington, though he offers no comment on the ongoing search. Kish falls to 1-1 as the UA's interim head coach.
Bellotti tells a Portland, Ore., newspaper that "there is nothing to" rumors that he is poised to take over the UA program. "That's the easiest thing I can say," Bellotti tells The Oregonian. Byrne, who has vowed silence throughout the search, does not comment. Bellotti says the speculation is flattering but unsubstantiated. "Every year, it's always nice to hear your name associated with jobs," he said. "The first thing I have do is determine what my job is with ESPN and where I want to go with that."
Arizona loses its homecoming game to Utah 34-21 in front of 50,839 fans at Arizona Stadium. The Utes' victory eliminates the Wildcats (2-7) from any hope of making the postseason; as is, Arizona would have needed to "win out" to make even a low-level bowl game.
Byrne and 215 of Arizona's most influential boosters watch as Colorado routs the Wildcats 48-29 in Boulder, Colo., marking the program's first-ever Pac-12 win. The UA falls to 2-8 overall and 1-7 in Pac-12 play and extends one of the nation's worst road losing streaks to more than a year. The Wildcats' last victory in white uniforms came Oct.30, 2010, at UCLA.
The Arizona Wildcats score two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes and upset rival Arizona State 31-27 in Tempe. The win is Arizona's first on the road since Oct. 30, 2010, and is played amid rumors that Bellotti will take over as the next head coach. Greg Byrne laughs off an internet report that Bellotti is not only in Tempe but attending the game. He calls the unsubstantiated reports "funny."
Arizona announces that Rich Rodriguez, formerly of West Virginia and Michigan, is the team's 30th head coach.