After suffering a 31-25 loss to Ball State under the Tuesday night lights which ended with a potential game-tying touchdown instead turning into a game-ending fumble, the University of Akron announced a change in leadership on Thursday morning, dismissing head coach Tom Arth.
Current inside linebackers coach and associate head coach Oscar Rodriguez Jr., who came with Arth from UT-Chattanooga in 2019, will be the interim head coach over the remainder of the 2021 season.
“We appreciate Coach Tom Arth’s work on behalf of our student-athletes and coaches and we wish him well moving forward,” University of Akron athletic director Charles Guthrie said via press release regarding the move.
Arth, who was originally hired on in 2019 following the departure of Terry Bowden, finsihed 3-24 at the helm of the Zips, with only two wins against FBS competition— both against BGSU.
Arth, whose coaching career featured great success at nearby Division III John Carroll, was expected to bring back a local flair to the Zips program after Bowden’s dependence on JUCO transfers and Southern-based recruiting pipelines, and was successful on that part, with Akron now rostering 53 players from the Buckeye State.
The rest of Arth’s duties were a struggle, however.
Offensive line play regressed mightily under Arth, as did play at the quarterback position, with Kato Nelson, DJ Irons and Zach Gibson all playing more or less in rotation due to injuries, performance, or both. Depth has also been an issue, with several players at key positions transferring out throughout Arth’s tenure. What few bright spots remained are either underutilized due to inefficiency (such as WR Konata Mumpfield) or dismissed for team violations (such as 2020 breakout HB Teon Dollard.)
It didn’t get much better defensively, as the Zips are amongst the worst teams in the country as well, currently ranked 112th in total defense (446.4 yards per game) and 125th in scoring defense (38 points per game), while also allowing 45 opposing touchdowns, good for 126th overall. The defense never improved as time went on despite having relatively similar personnel on a yearly basis, which put the Zips in a lot of vulnerable positions— including against FCS competition, as shown in their performance vs. Bryant earlier this season.
Arth will be owed a buyout of $637,500 as part of his contract, per the Akron Beacon-Journal, an amount commensurate with his 75 percent of his annual salary over the duration of his remaining contract.
The search for a new head coach will begin effective immediately.