Arizona QB Khalil Tate says tweet against triple-option influenced coaching hire

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, who tweeted his opposition to running the triple-option during the Wildcats' head coaching search earlier this year, told Bleacher Report that he took to social media specifically to influence the process.

"I knew exactly what I was doing when I tweeted that out," Tate said in a story published Tuesday. "I don't do Twitter. When I tweet something, I download the app, tweet, then delete the app from my phone. So when I tweet, it's important."

In January, Tate tweeted: "I didn't come to Arizona to run the triple-option." It was a pointed reference to Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who was one of the candidates for the job that eventually went to Kevin Sumlin.

"I had to make sure I was heard, make sure the team was heard, because my teammates didn't want to run the triple-option, either," Tate told Bleacher Report. "So the idea was to tweet it out, let it get traction, then delete it. I knew people reading it would say, 'Why did he delete it?' But that just magnifies it more."

University president Dr. Robert Robbins, who has said he wants his students to be a bigger part of the university decision-making process, told Bleacher Report: "I saw it, and I thought, wow, man, the power of social media."

Athletic director Dave Heeke told the Arizona Daily Star that, "at the end of the day, it's my responsibility, my duty and role as the athletic director to select the head coaches in a program. I value the input and the comments from our student-athletes. It's their experience. It's very impactful to them. But again, while very important, that's only one factor that goes into making sure we have the right kind of leadership."

Tate, who ran for 327 yards in one game last season and more than 200 in two others, said he talked regularly with athletic director Dave Heeke during the coaching search. He said that Heeke asked for Tate's thoughts after meeting with coaches.

"I was basically the spokesman for our team," Tate said. "I would tell (Heeke), I like this, I don't like that."

The Wildcats ended up hiring Sumlin, but could Tate have successfully steered them away from the former Texas A&M coach if he wanted?

"Maybe," he said. "I think it definitely would've been a discussion. The process would've lingered on a little longer. I'm just very grateful that they allowed me to be part of the process. Dr. Robbins and Dave Heeke, I consider them friends. We talk all the time."

Heeke told the Daily Star that he has a "great relationship" with Tate.

"Speculating and hypothesizing about the decision-making process, without any knowledge of it is, in my opinion, inappropriate and unfounded," Heeke told the Daily Star. "Khalil and our other student-athletes, they can talk to me at any time. It's important for me to get their perspective. That's a very valuable tool.

"I want our student-athletes to have the best experience in the country. I want their experience to be transformational and powerful. So their input is critical. I'm also very confident in the process I use internally to get to the ultimate selection of a head coach."

Sumlin, who had been fired by Texas A&M late last season, signed a five-year, $14.5 million deal with Arizona in January.

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.