Arizona Football: Despite ASU Loss, Rich Rodriguez Proves His Worth in Year One
After being dismantled by UCLA in Pasadena, I wrote that Arizona fans would be wise to keep the season in perspective.
Roughly 48 hours after losing to Arizona State, I began to follow my own advice once again.
The fact of the matter is, the Wildcats have a chance to accomplish two feats that are rather infrequent in Tucson: Win a bowl game and win eight games.
The Wildcats have a grand total of six bowl wins in program history, the last of which came against BYU in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl.
The 'Cats have reached eight wins just twice since 1998.
Whether they wind up in Albuquerque, San Francisco or even Las Vegas, there is plenty to be gained.
To further illustrate where this program has been and where it is headed, consider that it took Mike Stoops five years to produce a winning season. He directed the 'Cats to back-to-back 8-5 seasons before the wheels spun off.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, put out a winner in year one. He can match Stoops' highest win total in his first year at the helm.
What's more, no one could have reasonably expected this. Rodriguez had never won more than three games in his first season at any previous coaching stop. He, along with his staff, expertly covered up deficiencies, especially on the defensive side of the ball, well enough to beat two ranked teams and win seven games.
For my money, it's about attitude.
Months after being fired, Stoops compared coaching at Arizona to fighting with a toothpick.
With major facilities upgrades in place, the toothpick is now resembling a baseball bat. Add a proven coach to the mix and Arizona may just wind up being relevant after all.
So, if there is anything to make you feel the slightest bit better following Arizona's loss, let it be that the program is in good hands.
And if that isn't enough, there's always basketball.
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