And so, the Kevin Sumlin era begins.
It’s not a lot unlike the Rich Rodriguez era or the Mike Stoops era, the John MacKovic era or the Dick Tomey era over the last 30-plus years. Each offered hope for a successful season and future bright enough where it would eventually get to the Rose Bowl.
Maybe. One. Day.
Sumlin, you're on the clock.
But Sumlin & Co., it all begins Saturday night against visiting Brigham Young University. So, more than eight months after officially being hired, it’s Sumlin’s turn with a group young but talented group will have an improving defense and a star in Khalil Tate on offense.
“Our guys are excited,” Sumlin said this week. “Our students are excited … our students are fired up. That really helps because you can feel it on campus.”
You can feel it pretty much everywhere given the last couple of years where mediocrity hit hard under Rodriguez, save for a winning season last year. Still, the community – still thirsting for a consistent winner on the football field – is hoping for more. Much more.
“A lot of people tell me how excited they are,” Sumlin said, referring to the fans. “Different restaurants, gas stations … I think there is some excitement. Wherever I’ve been they have been nothing but great to me and our coaches. Everybody wishes us good luck and majority of them say they will be there Saturday night.”
They will return to a refurbished Arizona Stadium and a venue where the big news – drum roll, please – is beer will be served for the first time at an Arizona game. The question, however, still is: will it keep the fans in the seats along with Heisman candidate Tate?
Arizona fans, notorious for leaving at halftime, will have plenty to see and be curious about under Sumlin.