Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez has consistently lamented the NCAA’s summer shutdown, a two-month period in which college football coaches are not allowed to supervise their players.
RichRod’s most revealing comment came a few days before last week’s USC game; he suggested that the (lack of) development of his young and inexperienced quarterbacks could be traced to their (lack of) offseason direction.
“The passing execution at the beginning of camp wasn’t anywhere near where it should’ve been,” he said. “You can’t just weight-lift all summer.”
Here’s an example: Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker often throws jump passes while on the move. Can you imagine a baseball shortstop, or any ballplayer, maintaining accuracy while throwing a jump pass under duress? Denker has been at times undisciplined and reckless, although his second-half performance at USC suggests he might be turning a corner.
It’s not all on Denker; he hasn’t had enough time at the top level of college football to learn what NOT to do. Had he been able to spend the summer working on mechanics, with a coach, rather than strictly in a strength and conditioning mode, his progress would have been swifter.
Finally, as if on cue, RichRod’s appeals have been heard. Much like Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller , who is now permitted to supervise and counsel his players in the offseason, college football seems certain to do the same.
In two weeks, the NCAA Board of Directors will vote on a proposal that would allow football players to “participate in eight hours per week of required weight training, conditioning and film review during an eight-week period over the summer.”
If passed, and it’s about 99.9 percent certain it will, it would take effect immediately.
That would put those coaches in quarterback-needy situations, such as Arizona this year, to spend the summer giving instruction rather than just hoping their QBs show up at training camp with something more than a buff upper body.
Arizona still has a bunch of problems beyond quarterbacking. Its defense is undersized and lacks star-quality players, and it neither tackles well nor has Pac-12-level depth.
But, as with Denker, it is a developing team, not one destined to come apart.
Best game of the year: Get your tickets now for Salpointe-Tucson game
A few weeks ago, the upcoming Nov. 1 football game, Salpointe vs. Tucson, didn’t have much more appeal than it had the last eight seasons.
The undefeated Lancers have gone 8-0 against the Badgers, outscoring them 348-47. It looked like just another game on the regular-season schedule.
But now it shapes up as the Game of the Year in Tucson. Get your tickets now.
Coach Justin Argraves’ Badgers are 6-1 and on a six-game winning streak after routing defending state champ Ironwood Ridge 51-30 on Friday. Tucson projects to be 8-1 when they play at Salpointe.
A lot of THS’ progress can be traced to senior quarterback Donovan Moore , son of the team’s offensive coordinator Ovean Moore . Donovan has already passed for 1,127 yards and has rushed for 841. (His brother, Rayvean Moore , is a redshirt freshman wide receiver at New Mexico State.)
Argraves has quietly built the Badgers into a playoff contender. He is 20-8 in his third season, an impressive stretch given that Tucson High was 1-19 over the 2006-07 seasons, and 2-8 the year before Argraves took charge.
How good is that? The once-dominant Badgers haven’t won eight games in a season since 1973.
Short stuff: Replacing LaRose will require three people
- Now that Rocky LaRose has retired as the UA’s deputy athletic director, replacing her has become a bit complicated. In the ’90s, all of the UA’s head coaches reported to LaRose. She is believed to be the first female administrator in Division I athletics to have men’s basketball and football coaches under her authority. UA athletic director Greg Byrne will essentially use three people to replace LaRose: Mike Ketcham will oversee men’s basketball; James Francis is the link to the football department; and Erika Barnes will coordinate the Olympic sports and replace LaRose in Pac-12 matters.
- Salpointe and UA grad Brian Prouty finished third overall in the first stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying school last week at Southern Dunes near Phoenix. He shot rounds of 67-74-69-67 (or 11-under par) to advance to stage two next month. Also advancing were CDO grad David McDaniel, who was eighth overall; Salpointe/UA grad Jonathan Khan, who was 21st; and longtime Tucson pro Jake Rogers, who was 25th in the 80-man field.
- Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona was back in Tucson on Saturday, participating in his former UA teammate Ed Vosberg’s charity golf outing at Randolph North. When the American League releases its Manager of the Year voting next month, Francona figures to be 1-2 (or 2-1) with Boston’s John Farrell.
- The two would-be Arizona football recruits from Georgia Military Academy, receiver Mario Alford and pass-rusher Brandon Golson , haven’t become steady producers at West Virginia. After making a pledge to play for Arizona last winter, both flipped to WVU late in the process. Alford has caught six passes through six games. Golson has made 21 tackles, 10th on the struggling Mountaineers defense.
More short stuff: Peabody is forced to sit out Pima's opener
- In attempt to rebuild Pima College’s struggling men’s basketball program, former Ironwood Ridge and Salpointe coach Brian Peabody will be unable to coach the Aztecs in their Nov. 4 season opener against LA College Prep. That’s because former coach Gabriel Van Guse was ejected from last year’s final game. The ACCAC automatically suspends an ejected coach for the school’s next game, even if it’s a year later, and even if that coach is replaced. Peabody will be replaced by his assistants, Mike Morgan and Tony Romano. The Aztecs’ season is likely to swing on the availability of former Tucson High guard Shakir Smith, a transfer from Wyoming. Smith is expected to be eligible for the second semester.
- At 33, former Arizona Wildcat Richard Jefferson has quietly surfaced as a role player for the Utah Jazz. That’s not such a bad role. Jefferson is being paid $11 million this year, the highest on the Jazz payroll.
- Andre Iguodala also has a new home this year, the Golden State Warriors. ESPN the Magazine featured Iguodala last week, highlighting his interest in finances. (Who wouldn’t be when you’ve already made $73 million and have $47 million left on your contract?) Igoudala told the magazine he has spent time in the summer working for Merrill Lynch and the Bank of America. “I have aspirations to own an NBA team and a WNBA team, too,’’ he said.
- Former Arizona point guard Mark Lyons made his pro basketball debut last week, scoring 10 points for Cholet of France’s top Euroleague division. Lyons is playing in the same league as Santa Rita grad Terrell Stoglin, who also scored 10 points in his season opener last week, for Cholet of the France Euroleague. Their teams are scheduled to meet Dec. 20.
More short stuff: Peña selected for prestigious national award
- The selection of former Salpointe Catholic running back Johnny Peña as one of five scholar-athletes of 2013 by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame is amazing. He was chosen over Western region nominees from Arizona, California, Washington and Utah, which includes seven competing Hall of Fame chapters. And why not? Peña had a 4.03 GPA at Salpointe and rushed for 4,765 yards in four seasons. He is a redshirt this season at Brown University. Peña will be honored on Dec. 10 in the annual Hall of Fame banquet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Among the previous scholar-athletes honored at that banquet: Stanford and Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck. Susan Marchese-Ryan, a board member of the Southern Arizona chapter of the Hall of Fame, was diligent in advocating, assembling and forwarding Peña’s nomination.
- UA baseball coach Andy Lopez returned home Friday after a week in the hospital and triple bypass heart surgery. His recovery and return to the field is uncertain. Here’s a comparison: former Tucson High and Santa Rita head football coach Will Kreamer, an athletic director at Sabino, Ironwood Ridge and Tucson, had a similar triple bypass in late June 2012. He, as Lopez, was 59. Kreamer returned to coaching Pima College’s offensive line six weeks later, and spent winter and spring as the head coach of Italy’s Islanders Venezia, a pro football franchise in Venice, Italy. Talk about a gamer, Kramer will return to his Italian coaching job again in 2014.
- Lopez will be inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame Oct. 27, part of a seven-man HOF coaching class almost unprecedented in a Tucson scope. Lopez will join well-deserving inductees Paul Dull, Gary Clifford, Dave Cosgrove, John Mulay, Tom Pierson and Chuck LaVetter. Lopez’s presence would make the event one to remember.
My two cents: Tucsonan Curley making mark in distance running
Tucson has become one of the nation’s distance-running centers, blessed recently by Bernard Lagat , Lawi Lalang , Stephen Sambu , Robert Cheseret and now by the UA’s third-ranked women’s cross country team.
But you can’t mention that group without prominently including Tucsonan Craig Curley , a Pima College product, who last week finished eighth in the USA Men’s Marathon Championships in St. Paul, Minn.
Curley, 25, coached by Pima College’s Greg Wenneborg , has made a national impact in the last year, going to Ohio to win the Columbus marathon, finishing fifth in the USA Half-Marathon and seventh in the USA 15K.
His performance last week in Minnesota was his best yet; Curley ran the marathon in 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, almost four minutes off his previous best.
Curley has come a long way since he arrived at PCC seven years as a virtual unknown from Kinlichee, a small community on Arizona’s Navajo reservation. He is now part of the Mizuno Racing Team, has worked with Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills in mentoring Native Americans and put himself on the map.
It’s a good story that promises to get better.