I think it's fair to say that the consensus option of Sun Devil nation at the time is that Snyder had to go. It was obvious that he had failed to keep the momentum of the 1996 season (and a pretty good 1997 season) going, and it was hard to present a solid case for his retention.
Meanwhile, Dirk Koetter was received with cautious optimism. Remember, we whisked him away from Oklahoma State at the last minute; he was certainly a hot commodity that winter. However, two red flags went up early following his hire: first, the announcement that he planned to retain the 4-2-5 defense he had used at Boise State; and second, when we saw photos of his coaching staff and realized just how young they all looked.
One thing was certain, however: Koetter was a much better selection than John Mackovic, who the Rats introduced as their new head coach at around the same time. In January, 2001, Rob Miech of SportsLine.com wrote a good piece on the challenges facing both men: Arizona schools' new coaches hope to beat heat in desert.
"As I told people when I took the job, my number-one objective is to go and win the Rose Bowl," Mackovic said. "It has to be. If it isn't, I shouldn't be here. No one should be here. It can't be any less, because we haven't done it. It's like scaling Mount Everest. It's there, and you have to do it."Of course, things never did work out for Dirk in the desert, and six years of mediocrity later (was it really six years?) he was fired, to be replaced by his polar opposite, Dennis Erickson. The best summary of Erickson is Portrait of a winner, written by Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review in August, 2006, while Erickson was at Idaho. At the time of writing, the jury is out.