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The team was 1-5 at the time with the only victory over FCS member Northern Arizona. The Wildcats had lost 10 straight to FBS schools.

After five seasons of building the program, Stoops seemed to have the Wildcats back among the top teams in the Pac-10, leading them to a pair of eight-win seasons and trips to the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl and the Holiday Bowl the next year.

Arizona seemed poised to become one of the nation’s elite teams by cracking the top 10 and opening 7-1 last season, igniting hope that the Wildcats could end their run as the only school from the league’s Pac-10 days to not play in the Rose Bowl.

Then things started to fall apart.

The Wildcats lost their last five games in 2010, including a 36-10 blowout by Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl that came on the heels of a 35-0 rout by Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl the year before.

Stoops‘ contract ran through 2013 under an extension granted in 2008, and Byrne has said the buyout for the remainder of it will be about $1.4 million.

Stoops was 27-38 in conference games.

Defensive coordinator Tim Kish took over as interim coach and the team won two Pac-12 games, over UCLA and last Saturday 31-27 over rival Arizona State. The Wildcats (3-8) conclude their season Saturday at home against Louisiana-Lafayette.

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AP Sports Writer Bob Baum in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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