June 25, 2021

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Skillful education crafters

Greg Hansen: ‘Mr. Football’ on Arizona’s rebuild, the Sumlin-Brennan connection and Heeke’s education | Greg Hansen

1 min read

The clock is ticking on those free agents.

Dear Mr. Football: What has changed in Arizona’s coaching search since December 2017?

A: In his Zoom call on Friday, Heeke repeatedly emphasized three words: passion, connection and accessibility. He didn’t toss those words around when Sumlin was hired. Almost predictably, Sumlin was none of things.

I believe the mistake in hiring Sumlin was connected to a pair of variables.

One, Heeke had been in Tucson for just seven months. He didn’t fully know the turf nor have a grasp of the Tomey culture or understand what it took — toughness — for Arizona to become a successful program from 1980-2000, and again from 2006-14. He probably had not had the time to truly know a Rob Waldrop from a Scooby Wright.

Two, I think ever-present UA President Robert C. Robbins was a helicopter boss, spending considerable time in the business of football when his time might’ve been better spent running the rest of the campus.

Was Robbins swayed by his days as CEO of the Texas Medical Center watching Kevin Sumlin win with a stockpile of talent at A&M? No doubt.

The two best football coaches in UA history, Larry Smith and Dick Tomey, were hired by one man and one man only, athletic director Cedric Dempsey, whose instincts were gold, unfettered by administrative pressure.