In the past month the Wildcats have lost both coordinators and a tight end to the NFL draft. While Wildcat fans may be wondering “why us?”, they should be glad. Arizona fans got what they wanted.
Losing coordinators, losing players to the pros, welcome to “big boy football”.
Arizona brought in Mike Stoops to try to duplicate the success he had when he was a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. While the rebuilding process has been slower than folks would like, and they have not had the successes as Stoops had at Oklahoma, it is clear the program is on the up swing.
The better the team plays, the more the coaches will be a hot commodity. The better players a team recruits, the more likely you are to lose them early to the draft.
Pete Carroll had three coaches get head coaching gigs. Bob Stoops has seen four of his coordinators leave for head coaching jobs (five if you count Bo Pelini who had a one-year stop at LSU before getting the Nebraska job).
Get the picture? While it would be great to have staff continuity, it just does not happen. It is a good thing. If coaches know you can move up from a place like Arizona, they will be drawn to the job. While some life-long coordinators have been great, don’t you want your coaches to be ambitious? While you don’t want to hire a bunch of mercenaries, you also don’t want coaches who no one else is interested in.
The same goes for players. Fans always lament that their teams can’t land five-star players, but then turn around and get mad when those talented players leave the program for the draft. You can’t have one, without the other.
Look at the programs that have the most players declaring for the draft, and I’ll show you programs that win football games. Washington State is not losing a ton of the guys early for the pros. Baylor does not see a rash of players declare for the draft. Duke coaches are not sweating out the declaration deadline.
The fact is, Arizona has had players declare early for the draft in three of the last four years and had to wait and see what Antoine Cason was going to do.
John Mackovic never lost a kid early. Dick Tomey lost just one.
Urban Meyer and Nick Sabin lose five a year.
Arizona is not in that elite level yet, but they are inching closer. They may never play for a national title, but a BCS bowl berth is not a possibility. The side effect to that success is that coaches and players move on.
Enjoy big boy football.