The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 79 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez continues to be Public Enemy No. 1 in Ann Arbor, Mich., although he is three years removed from that program.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan’s football program is last in the Big Ten with a four-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 951 on a 1,000-point scale. Rodriguez coached the Wolverines in three years of that span from 2008-2010.
“Former U-M coach Rich Rodriguez — who saw U-M’s football APR go down to 928 in his second full season — just completed his first full year at Arizona, so data on his APR there won’t come out until next June,” writes Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.
Brady Hoke, Rodriguez’s replacement at Michigan, coached a program that had a 981 APR in the 2011-12 school year. The Wolverines placed sixth in the Big Ten with that number, one better than Arizona’s mark, which topped the Pac-12.
The UA’s APR of 980, topped Stanford (978) and UCLA (977). ASU was No. 11 with a 935 score, which is a reflection of the program under former coach Dennis Erickson. As Snyder wrote, the 2012-13 APR results — which will include the first seasons of Rodriguez at Arizona and Todd Graham at ASU — will be released next June.
Here is how the APR works: Each student-athlete receiving a scholarship earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate score.
To avoid sanctions, a program must maintain a four-year average of 900 or two-year average of 930.
The Arizona football program is in its best shape since the NCAA imposed APR-related penalties in 2004-05. The UA has a multi-year score of 956 in a four-year span, the program’s highest mark.
Arizona can thank former coach Mike Stoops for the steady climb from an 883 APR score in the 2005-06 school year. Stoops was fired midway through the 2011 season because of the UA’s lack of progress on the football field.
Michigan can also thank Rodriguez for its 981 score in 2011-12 because he recruited a bulk of those athletes. He was fired by Michigan on Jan. 5, 2011, a month before the national signing date. The seven players who honored their commitment to the Wolverines in 2011 after Rodriguez’s firing, and his athletes from the recruiting classes of 2008-10 contributed mightily to the 981 score in 2011-12.
Of Michigan’s approximate 85 scholarship players in 2011-12, roughly 92 percent were recruited by Rodriguez.
While it’s true that Rodriguez was the head coach during the time the Wolverines accumulated an APR that currently ranks last in the Big Ten, much of it has to do with how he was not the right fit in Ann Arbor and the stigma left from previous coach Lloyd Carr. Also, how can you adequately judge a coach in terms of APR after only three years? Stoops had seven years to rectify Arizona’s APR.
Rodriguez’s unfettered style did not sit well with the Michigan hierarchy and its traditional fans. That negative perception trickled down to the players, who often used Rodriguez and the coaching staff as a scapegoat for their shortcomings before they transferred.
That should not be the case at Arizona. Rodriguez is a natural fit for a program without grandiose expectations. He will recruit his style of athletes, who will feel more at ease with him in Tucson as he tries to coach the Wildcats to their first Rose Bowl. They will feel welcomed, not transfer, attend school and — Rodriguez hopes — maintain a high APR.
Furthermore, as was pointed out in commentary at UASports.Net, Michigan’s 928 APR score in Rodriguez’s second year is largely a result of players who transferred after Carr left in 2007.
Multiple reports surfaced that Carr suggested to at least one player and some recruits who verbally committed to Michigan to go elsewhere after he resigned and one of his assistants was not hired as head coach.
Carr reportedly wanted his offensive coordinator, Mike DeBord, or his defensive coordinator, Ron English to be his replacement. He even opposed the idea of Michigan alum Les Miles, the successful coach at LSU, to replace him.
This was a mess from the start but what mostly comes from Ann Arbor is propaganda that Rodriguez was responsible for wrecking the Wolverines. They now attack Michigan’s APR with Rodriguez as head coach.
Professional journalists must tell the whole story, including those who cover Michigan.
The best No. 79 to wear the Arizona uniform? That honor goes to the late great Joe Drake, a dominating nose guard from 1981-84. His shining moment was recording two safeties — a near impossible feat — in Arizona’s upset win over ASU in 1982, which started “The Streak”. He died at 31 of a heart attack.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.