Arizona announced Wednesday that it is hiring New England Patriots quarterback coach Jedd Fisch to replace Kevin Sumlin as the program's next football coach. Fisch, 44, boasts a long resume of NFL and collegiate experience that includes a recent stint in the Pac-12 as UCLA's offensive coordinator in 2017. This will be his first head coaching job.
"We are tremendously excited to have Jedd Fisch come to Tucson to reinvigorate our football program and lead us to championships," Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. "Jedd has a unique ability to teach the game of football effectively to his players and to inspire them with his passion. We conducted a comprehensive national search with an impressive array of candidates but in the end, Jedd is exactly what our program needs right now and I cannot wait to partner with him to move us forward."
Fisch then spent 2018 and 2019 with the Rams before joining the Patriots this season. Sumlin was fired earlier this month after compiling a 9-20 record in three seasons at Arizona. The Wildcats were 0-5 this season. San Jose State coach Brent Brennan and Arizona State co-defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce were among the other names connected to the opening.
"I am honored and humbled to lead the University of Arizona football program," Fisch said. "I am 100% committed to building a program that all Wildcat fans will be proud to support. We will study hard, compete hard, recruit hard and be relentless in all aspects of our program. I want to thank President Robbins and Dave Heeke for their belief in me and in my vision for Arizona Football and my family and I cannot wait to immerse ourselves in the UA and Tucson communities."
A New Jersey native and University of Florida graduate, Fisch is unique in that he did not play football in high school or college. But he landed a spot as a graduate assistant on Steve Spurrier's staff at Florida by leaving notes on the windshield of the coach's car, according to a recent profile of Fisch in the Boston Herald. In the 20 years since his stint on Spurrier's staff, Fisch has held numerous jobs in the college and professional ranks.
His other college experience includes a 2009 stint as Minnesota's offensive coordinator and two years at Michigan as Jim Harbaugh's passing game coordinator in 2015 and 2016. Fisch's stop at UCLA in 2017 on Jim Mora's staff also included leading the Bruins to a 1-1 record during two games as interim head coach.
He will face an uphill climb at Arizona, which has only finished a season ranked in the AP Top 25 poll just once since 1998. Arizona nearly upset USC to begin the 2020 season before the Trojans pulled off a 34-30 victory with some late-game heroics. The Wildcats then lost their final four games by double-digits, culminating with an embarrassing 70-7 loss to Arizona State on Dec. 11. Sumlin was fired the following day, and starting quarterback Grant Gunnell has since entered the transfer portal.