Arizona head coach Mike Stoops saw high and lows while at Arizona. Read on for a look back at both.
Mike Stoops was hired as the 28th football coach in Arizona football history in 2003 following a 2-10 season turned in by then head coach John Mackovic and interim head coach Mike Hankwitz.
In 2004, Stoops raised the team's record to three wins and eight losses, including a victory over 20th ranked Arizona State in his first Territorial Cup.
The Wildcats again went 3-8 in Stoops' second year as head coach, but for the second consecutive season had a hallmark win, as they defeated number seven UCLA at home.
For the first time since Dick Tomey's 1998 team that went 12-1 and appeared in the Fiesta Bowl, an Arizona team posted a .500 or above record with a 6-6 mark; including a dramatic come from behind victory over a California team that was previously unbeaten in Pac-10 play and was ranked number eight in the country at the time.
2007 is when the first rumors of Stoops' job security began to emerge, as Arizona began the season with a 2-6 record, which included a 29-27 home loss to New Mexico in which the coach's famed tirade directed at an official cost him and his team a personal foul. Despite the problems with the team's performance and his behavior, it was announced Stoops would return for the 2008 season.
Stoops bounced back in a major way in 2008, guiding the Wildcats to a 8-5 season that included a lopsided victories over Arizona State and over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, the team's first bowl appearance in 10 seasons.
Following that season, it was rumored Stoops may be considering a return to his native state of Iowa to become the head football coach at Iowa State, but on December 23rd was given a contract extension by then athletic director Jim Livengood through the 2013 season.
His 2009 team may have been his most successful team during his tenure at Arizona, as it captured a share of second place in the Pac-10 with an 8-4 record and earned a berth to take on Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. The Wildcats were trounced by the Huskers in San Diego, but the momentum from the season was expected to carry over into 2010.
In 2010, Arizona got off to a fast 7-1 start and climbed as high as number nine in the national polls. Arizona's 29-21 victory on the road against UCLA on October 30, 2010 would be the last game Stoops would win against an FBS opponent, as the Wildcats dropped the final five games of the season and finish the year with 7-6 record following a 36-10 loss to Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
The rumors again began to swirl around Stoops' job security in 2011, but it seemed from the get-go that the odds were stacked against him.
Arizona lost projected starters Adam Hall, Jake Fischer, and Jonathan McKnight each to ACL injuries, lost Freshman All-American Justin Washington to an illness that made him ineffective as a defensive tackle, graduated an entire offensive line, and lost three of his best defenders in Ricky Elmore, Brooks Reed, and D'Aundre Reed.
Add to that the daunting schedule of playing three consecutive top 10 teams in Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Oregon in three straight weeks, with a fourth game coming against perennial power USC, and it appeared that the Stoops era was in serious jeopardy.
The quality of opponents was just too much for a young, injury riddled Arizona team to handle, as it was outscored 130-55 in three consecutive appearances on ESPN. Toss in a bad loss to a previously winless Oregon State team, and the Stoops era officially drew to a close on October 10, 2011.
Stoops finishes his Arizona career with a record of 41-50, including a 27-38 mark in Pac-10 play. He was 1-2 in three bowl appearances with UA, and was 9-24 against ranked teams during his tenure with eight year stint with Arizona.
Excluding the victory over Northern Arizona, the Stoops era ends with 10 consecutive losses to FBS schools, and he leaves the team with a 0-4 record in Pac-12 play and a 1-5 record overall in the 2011 season.