After parting ways with Kevin Sumlin, the coaching carousel brought a number of interesting rumors to Tucson. Former Wildcat and current Sun Devil coach Antonio Pierce? One-year wonder with San Jose State, Brent Brennan? A unique pitch from a passionate former player with no coaching experience in Antoine Cason?
Your head must be feeling a tinge of an itch because here’s a headscratcher for you.
Fisch was the quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots in 2020, where he was in the tough position of coaching the successor to Tom Brady—and led Cam Newton to a struggling year where he has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. Fisch has no real ties professionally to the Arizona region, coming closest with two years as a defensive quality control assistant with the Houston Texans (2002 & 2003) and three years in Los Angeles (2017 with UC Los Angeles and 2018 & 2019 with the Rams).
His only experience as a head coach came in the interim capacity during said year with the Bruins after the firing of Jim Mora. He went 1–1, losing to Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl. His one win—sigh—was against California in Justin Wilcox’s first year to block us from bowl eligibility.
In his 23-year coaching career, only eight of those years were spent at the college level—but he never spent more than two years at any university.
Despite that limited experience at the college level, he did recruit some big-time talent to those schools. He recruited four-star quarterback DTR to UC L.A. (beating out Alabama and the loathesome Tosh Lupoi) and a number of names to Michigan—including five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (now with the Browns) and our own four-star Kekoa Crawford.
Why Fisch? He reportedly has a “close” relationship with Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins and had a “strong pitch” on his offense and his vision for the program.
This is certainly an unusual hire on paper—but who knows? This might end up surprisingly working. The general reaction to ASU hiring Herm Edwards was to ridicule the move, but he’s been solid. It’s only one year—and a crazy COVID year—for Karl Dorrell, but they had a great year and he won Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Maybe this Fisch is exactly what the Wildcats need.
With a new staff likely coming in and with Fisch desperately needing to fill that staff with solid recruiters and coaches with roots in Arizona, there is the possibility that they may try to target our special teams coordinator, Charlie Ragle. Ragle spent the first 17 years of his coaching career in the state of Arizona at the high school and college level (one year as a grad assistant with ASU and five years with Arizona) before coming to Cal. He has been instrumental in recruiting talent from the state of Arizona to the Bears—with names like Brett Johnson, Tommy Christakos, and Slater Zellers being attributed to him as a primary or secondary recruiter—but special teams were a big pain point for us this year.
California is set to face Arizona in 2021, during Fisch’s first year.