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More on the Arizona benchmark
Richard Linde, 19 January 2009

In my last article on the subject, I concluded that Mike Stoops' record of achievement at Arizona, as far as Pac-10 coaching records are concerned, could well serve as a benchmark for tracking Steve Sarkisian's progress at Washington.

Stoops took over a moribund program in 2004 and transformed it into a winner in five years' time. Likewise Sark is taking over a dying program at UW, one that is on the verge of collapse. The records of the two teams in the year prior to both coaches' takeover seasons are prophetically alike (see Table 1).

Table 1. Starting numbers before takeover seasons are similar

Sark/Stoops' starting numbers UW -- 2008 UA -- 2003
Season's record 0-12 2-10
Scoring Offense 13.2 15.4
Scoring Defense 38.6 35.8
Total Offense 263.2 307.5
Total Defense 451.8 460.2
Pass Efficiency 89.6 93.8
Pass Defense Efficiency 155.6 150.8
Last bowl appearance 6 years 5 years

Stoops took over a 2-10 team and Sark is taking over a 0-12 team -- which easily could have been 2-10 with a little luck (count wins over BYU and WSU here). Also, Washington might have beaten Stanford if wunderkind Jake Locker hadn't been injured midway through the second quarter, in this the fourth game of the season.

Over the last 11 years, Washington is 6-5 against Arizona.

Stoops' 2005 and 2006 recruiting classes, which were ranked 15th and 19th in the nation by scout.com, undoubtedly were factors leading to Arizona's winning season of 2008. See Table 2. (*)

Table 2. Arizona's numbers during Stoops' tenure. Note the last five Arizona recruiting classes are compared with Washington's. (Figures from scout.com).

Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
W/L 3-8 3-8 6-6 5-7 8-5
Points For 14.9 22.9 16.6 28.0 36.6
Point Against 25.0 26.4 19.6 26.8 21.3
Total Offense 288.9 351.3 252.8 385.3 402.4
Total Defense 379.4 408.8 326.3 372.2 313.0
Recruiting Class 64 15 19 42 39
UW Rec. Class 22 55 35 29 14

Count Sonny Dykes as a factor, also. Dykes assumed the offensive coordinator's role at Arizona in 2007, and added 130 yards to the Wildcats' offensive output that season.

Four-star-rated QB Willie Tuitama, who was part of Arizona's 2005 class, finished second in the Pac-10 this season in pass efficiency, posting an impressive 144.9. Dykes was Tuitama's quarterback coach.

As far as the benchmark is concerned, can Sarkisian win three games this upcoming season to match Stoops' three wins in 2004? Based on a look at the schedule, I'm guessing the Dawgs should be favored to beat Idaho and Washington State a priori (fancy expression for "right off the bat," which during the saying of you stroke your chin or goatee at the same time -- and act like a guru). And, ironically, I think the Huskies should beat Arizona at Husky Stadium.

Tuitama has spent his last season at Arizona, and Jake Locker returns for his junior season at Washington. Washington returns 8 on offense and 9 on defense, while Arizona returns 6 and 7, respectively. Arizona's last two recruiting classes compared with Washington's last two classes were inferior to the Huskies': 42 versus 29 and 39 versus 14.

Is a fourth win possible in the 2009 season? If so, it would be a signature win for Sarkisian and propel him past the Stoops' benchmark, with a winning season possible in 2010, Jake's last year at UW. And then, maybe, we're comparing Sarkisian's progress with Jeff Tedford's at Cal.

The point of all of this is to be patient and not harbor any unrealistic expectations for Sarkisian. A nuclear bomb has gone off, and the fallout is lethal.

Amidst the devastation, I'm giving Sark five to pull the Dawgs out of their nosedive.


Nick Daschel of Buster Sports thinks Sarkisian can spirit the Huskies into being a winner within three years. (Link). See my comment posted at the bottom of the page following his article.

(*) See my article on the subject of recruiting rankings. (Link).

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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