Kish takes different approach than Stoops
Mike Stoops was an emotional coach on Arizona's sideline, jumping around, screaming until the veins in his forehead popped out, contorting his face into positions that looked borderline uncomfortable.
Tim Kish is known for his calm demeanor and quick smile. He is, in a sense, the anti-Stoops and doesn't plan to change, even after replacing his former boss on an interim basis.
''I'm going to be who I am,'' Kish said. ''I have a different approach, a little bit than Mike, and there's no one right approach. I just want these kids to enjoy playing the game of football again and hopefully we can instill that in them as well.''
Stoops was fired midway through his eighth season on Monday after going 41-50. He led the Wildcats to three straight bowls for the second time in school history, but the program had begun to slide, starting with a five-game losing streak last season and a 1-5 start this year.
With the decision to let Stoops go, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne didn't hesitate in tapping Kish, a 36-year coaching veteran who had been on the staff since Stoops took over in 2004.
A defensive coordinator for two Big Ten schools over eight years, the 57-year-old coach shared the same job with Mark Stoops at Arizona before assuming solo duties at the 2010 Alamo Bowl. His job for the rest of this season will be to try getting the Wildcats headed in the right direction, first by easing the emotional transition that comes after their coach was fired.
''There's a grieving process,'' Kish said. ''We're all attached to the hip with Coach Stoops. He built a foundation here. I was with him for eight years. I was excited to be part of the program and still am. We've got to move forward. This is the start of the healing process and we go on from here.''
The good news is that the Wildcats will have extra time to get used to their new coach.
Stoops was fired at the beginning of Arizona's bye week, giving the Wildcats 10 days before their next game, Oct. 20 against UCLA.
Arizona was already going to have plenty to work on during its bye week, plugging the numerous holes on defense and finding some way to get a running game going heading the list. With Stoops' firing, the Wildcats have the added onus of trying to right themselves while trying to get the feel for a new head coach.
''We've got to rally around each other more than ever,'' quarterback Nick Foles said. ''The team's mindset is great right now. We've had a rough beginning of the season, but it's not going to change my preparation. I'm going continue to work to get better every day as well as everyone else here.''
Once the initial shock and awkwardness of the coaching change wore off, Kish laid the groundwork for what the final six games of the season would be like.
Instead of running a litany of drills or situational drills, he had the Wildcats go onto the field and just play football. Put the ball on the ground, run plays, first-team offense against first-team defense, second-team offense against second-team defense.
The goal, fitting to Kish's personality, was to get the players to enjoy playing again.
''We're just trying to come out here and have a little fun out here during the day, remember why we're playing the game,'' Kish said. ''That's important to us.''
If it works, the Wildcats may become more like their new coach - and possibly win a few more games in the process.