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Arizona football a top 20 coaching job? New facilities, money helps

Mike Stoops says Arizona Stadium has the second-best atmposphere in the Pac-10 behind Oregon. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona has one of the top 20 coaching jobs in college football, according to Sports Illustrated.com’s Andy Staples, which seems a little strange considering the Wildcats haven’t fielded a team that finished in the national rankings since 1998.

But the program, based on the past three seasons, has improved … and the job is getting better. That reasoning has to do with improving resources — a new, mammoth video board for this season, and expected construction after the season on the north end zone project, featuring a new locker room, new offices, new weight room and all those sorts of amenities.

And all that new money from the Pac-10 media rights deal sure looks good.

Staples rated the Arizona coach job No. 19 (one spot behind Arizona State) and wrote on SI.com:

It seems as if Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne tweets every other day about a new, anonymous multimillion-dollar donation to the program. The figures have been so impressive that Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.com wondered aloud whether Mr. Anonymous has any unmarried daughters who wouldn’t mind supporting a sportswriter. The Pac-12′s new TV deal should boost Arizona into the top half of the AQ revenue bracket, and the same emerging set of players that should help Arizona State also should help stock Arizona. Just as in Tempe, this influx of resources will make the coach’s job easier and more difficult at the same time.

Stoops talked recently with TucsonCitizen.com about the facilities plan, and how he and the coaches are able to show recruits — and boosters — the designs that soon will become reality.

“The pictures speak a thousand words,” Stoops said.

“It shows a desire to compete, and that is the message that players need to understand — that our university is here to compete. We’re not here to win six or seven games; we’re here to compete on a national level. That is the message that you send out.

“We haven’t really done a great job sending that message out over that last … how many years? I don’t know if anyone has been in our locker room, but it’s not really fit for a program of our stature. So that sends a wrong message.”

Construction is under way on the installation of the 5,356-foot video board on the south end of Arizona Stadium. It is expected to be ready for the Sept. 3 opener against Northern Arizona. (You can follow the progress at the UA’s webcam.)

“I think it will have a huge impact on the atmosphere,” Stoops said of the new video board.

“What’s neat is that, outside of Oregon, we may have the loudest stadium of anybody (in the Pac-10). When we’re in there playing right, I think it’s as good as an environment as I’ve played in outside of Oregon in this league. Our fans have done a great job.”

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