Mike Stoops got the boot at Arizona. (Don Ryan/AP)

The Wildcats faced a brutal early schedule with a road trip to No. 9 Oklahoma State followed by home dates against No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 Oregon.

But Saturday’s 37-27 loss to previously winless Oregon State dropped Arizona to 1-5 and ultimately cost Stoops his job.

The Stoops era began with incremental progress, then from 2008-10, the Wildcats played in three consecutive bowl games for just the second time in the program’s history. Arizona tied for second on the Pac-10 in 2009 for its highest finish in 11 years.

But after a 7-1 start landed the Wildcats in the top 10 last fall, the team lost five straight to end the season and suffered an embarassing 35-0 blowout by Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

“When I took this job, I was hoping to be the first coach to lead this program to a Rose Bowl,” Stoops said in a statement issued by his agent, Neil Cornrich. “Although we fell short of that goal, we made significant progress, and our organization continues to strive for excellence.”

Stoops went 41-50 during his 6 1/2 years in Tuscon. He will be replaced by defensive coordinator Tim Kish for the rest of the season. If the university was going to make a move mid-season, this was the time to do it. The Wildcats don’t play again until Oct. 20 against UCLA, giving Kish time to try to get the team back on track.