Stock report: Arizona hires veteran assistant Jedd Fisch to revitalize the program (we wish Fisch good luck; he needs it)

Reaction to recent Pac-12 news …
Falling: Arizona
The Wildcats hired a coach Wednesday, their third in the past nine years.
Jedd Fisch’s first challenge will be to navigate the enormous blowback expected from frustrated Arizona fans and a slew of irate former players.
Arizona is a difficult job, one of the toughest in the conference:
It has limited tradition, mediocre resources and little homegrown talent, and it exists in the shadow of its basketball program.
(More details here.)
To replace Kevin Sumlin, the Wildcats needed a coach who would be embraced by the community, who had deep recruiting ties to the west coast and the Polynesian community, who would rally the disillusioned alumni, who had experience sticking his face in the mud and building a program, who would bring relentless energy.
Instead, they hired Fisch.
We don’t know Fisch and cannot vouch for his level of energy and enthusiasm.
And he has NFL experience on his resume, which doesn’t hurt.
But Fisch checks no other boxes.
He has one year of college coaching experience on the west coast (at UCLA).
He has bounced around (college and pros) like a pinball: seven teams in the last 10 years.
He has zero ties to Tucson.
His recruiting connections to the pipelines essential to Arizona are extremely limited.
He won’t rally the community.
His coaching style won’t differentiate Arizona from its competition the way, for instance, the Air raid helped separate Washington State and the ground-and-pound gave Stanford an advantage.

We have been wrong plenty of times on coaching hires, but it’s difficult to see how Fisch significantly alters the trajectory of the program.
How he elevates Arizona to status of contender in the South.
How he even manages to overtake Arizona State.
The Sun Devils cannot be overly concerned about this hire, and that’s a bad, bad sign for Arizona.
How does this happen?
Multiple sources told the Hotline that Arizona president Robert Robbins, who has known Fisch for years, was the force behind this hire.
We’re curious to see how Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke handle that issue when they field questions from the media and answer to the disgruntled fanbase.
After all, Heeke recently described his ideal candidate as someone “who has unbelievable passion and a fire inside their gut, inside their belly – for football, for this job, for this place, for U of A, this city and this state.”
Did we mention that Fisch has zero ties to Tucson or the university?
The Hotline doesn’t know of many instances in which heavy presidential involvement leads to a game-changing hire.
In fact, we know of none.
Maybe Fisch will prove us wrong.
Maybe he’ll be given the resources to hire a top-notch staff.
Maybe his NFL background will offset the unchecked boxes.
Maybe he’ll lift the Wildcats out of their multi-year morass and restock the roster with high-level talent.
And if that’s the case, good for Fisch and good for Arizona.
The community would deserve it.
The Pac-12 would be stronger for it.
But count the Hotline as skeptical until proven otherwise.
Falling: Pac-12 TV cash.
In choosing to delay the start of the season until Nov. 7, the Pac-12 presidents placed the conference at a competitive disadvantage in pursuit of berths in the College Football Playoff and the New Year’s Six.
That played out as expected last weekend, when the Pac-12 sent one team into the major bowls (Oregon to the Fiesta) and secured a $4 million NY6 participation payout — the same as the American and lower than any other Power Five leagues.
But the delayed start and use of daily testing was supposed to help the conference avoid game cancellations.
That didn’t work out as planned: The Pac-12 suffered a net loss of 11 conference games over seven weeks.
At approximately $5 million per broadcast from Fox and ESPN, that’s a $55 million hit to the collective.
Whether the Pac-12 is able to work with its partners to mitigate the loss remains to be seen.
But it’s a substantial blow to the budgets that had already been revised downward.

Rising: Pac-12 reputation.
It has been a rough week or two for the conference. (Sunday morning was … yikes!)

But in one respect, one small but significant respect, it dodged serious heat this week.
Army found a bowl.
The Black Knights were under contract to face a Pac-12 opponent in the Independence Bowl … until so many teams declined bowl bids that the conference was unable to fulfill its commitment.
For two days, it looked like America’s team was going to be left out despite a nine-win season — all because of the Pac-12.
Talk about being labeled the villain.
In fact, Army coach Jeff Monken did exactly that, calling out the Pac-12 generally and USC specifically.
(The Trojans withdrew from the postseason on the advice of their medical staff.
(And to be fair, they were one of five bowl-eligible teams in the Pac-12 that decided not to play. The others: Washington, Stanford, Utah and ASU.)
Related Articles

Pac-12 power ratings: A sparse bowl lineup, but at least the teams let the players decide

My AP top-25 basketball ballot: Gonzaga remains No. 1 as Iowa holds the second spot (despite losing)

Colorado AD Rick George responds to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: “We don’t need anybody’s empathy”

Our Pac-12 postseason award winners: Colorado’s Karl Dorrell is the clear choice for Coach of the Year

Stock report (bowl edition): ESPN mocks the Pac-12, Colorado draws Texas, the committee disses Cincinnati and more

But then COVID intervened.
Tennessee was hit with cases and forced to withdraw from the Liberty Bowl, opening a spot for the Black Knights.
And taking the heat off the Pac-12.

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*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

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