Wildcat fans mostly optimistic about coaching change

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- His team faced one of the toughest schedules to open the season of any college football team, but a 1 and 5 start wasn't good enough.  Arizona Wildcats Football Coach Mike Stoops, fired mid-season.

It's not all that common for a mid-season coaching change in college football but that's the path Athletics Director Greg Byrne is taking.

Doubt had begun creeping into the Arizona football program.  Monday Byrne, with the blessing of interim president Eugene Sander and Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred Duvall, pulled the plug on the Mike Stoops era of Wildcat football.

Stoops was on the road recruiting when he was called back to McKale Center and given the news by Byrne.

The coach released a statement through is agent Neil Conrich Monday night:

I am very proud of the Wildcat football program and the many accomplishments we have enjoyed. Topping that list is our qualifying for consecutive bowl games the past three seasons for only the second time in school history.

I am also proud of the success our players demonstrated off the field. Not only has our team Academic Progress Rate (APR) improved significantly each of the past five years, but also our players have made great strides in conducting themselves in a manner that reflects the ideals of this University.

When I took this job, I was hoping to be the first coach to lead this program to a Rose Bowl. Although we fell short of that goal, we made significant progress, and our organization continues to strive for excellence.

I wish the entire Wildcat football program the best of luck going forward, and I thank the University of Arizona for the opportunity to be a part of the successes we have achieved over the past eight seasons.

Defensive Coordinator Tim Kish has been named interim coach. Byrne says he will rely on his lieutenants Rocky Larose, James Francis and John Perrin to assist him with finding the schools next head coach.

Once the word was out, fans on campus were buzzing about the decision.

Some fans said they'd gotten bored with Wildcats football and they think new blood will bring new excitement to the team.

"I think it will be a good thing because we haven't been doing very good."

"When we're losing by like three touchdowns it's hard to stay there."

"I'm just hoping for a positive attitude on the sidelines.  I don't like that negative stuff."

Overall students say they are optimistic about the change.