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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Kish takes over at Arizona

By Ted Miller

Tim Kish didn't get much sleep Monday night. Arizona's interim head coach after Mike Stoops' termination found his thinking going in many different directions.

First, he felt bad for Stoops, whom he'd been with for seven-plus seasons. Second, he had a big new responsibility. Third, he was going to have to shoulder that responsibility the next morning.

Kish didn't, however, lose his sense of humor.

"There were a lot of things running through my mind," he said. "Thank God it's not too big so I don't have to worry about it too much."

Of course, we lean on humor during tough times. And these are tough times in Tucson. Kish called Monday "a sad day for our program." But the period of mourning will be brief. There are six games left in the season, and the Wildcats -- honestly -- might be good enough to win most of them. The part of the schedule that crushed Stoops -- three top-10 teams and USC -- is over.

The first thing for Kish: regroup. He needs to convince the players that the season is not a wash, even with a fired coach and a 1-5 record. That won't be an easy sell, though. The players look at game tape.

"We definitely have to address some of our problems and issues," Kish said. "I'd rather not go into those right now but we're all pretty well aware of where we are at right now."

Kish needs to buck up his team and make football fun again. It hasn't been for them of late. But he also needs to make some tough decisions. It's certain that he won't be able to please everyone. Change, which there will be, is rarely easy.

"Hopefully, they are ones the players feel comfortable with, but there may be some who don't feel comfortable with it," Kish said. "We've got some issues. It's across the board."

The good news -- and a major part of the timing for athletic director Greg Byrne pulling the trigger -- is the Wildcats are off this weekend before playing host to UCLA next Thursday. An ESPN audience lowers the possibility that the Wildcats won't show up and fight.

But this week, it's about regrouping. The focus turns inward.

"The focus is going to be on us and no body else," Kish said. "We've got to make determinations where they problems lie and what the solutions might be. That's the starting point for us.'