The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 76 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’s showcase player of 2013 — All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey — is starting to gather accolades, including a selection as the top player at his position by Lindy’s Magazine editor Anthony Gimino and ESPN analyst Danny Kannell.
Carey, whose domestic charges were dropped against him Friday, can now get past the problems that plagued him after Arizona won the New Mexico Bowl over Nevada in December.
A source close to Carey’s family, particularly his mother Tisha Carey, notified me on Jan. 31 that the running back seriously contemplated leaving the program to get away from the distractions created from his alleged domestic violence charge.
That was less than two weeks after Carey pleaded not guilty to the domestic-violence charges with his parents Tisha and Jack Carey by his side in Tucson City Court.
It was also a week after Carey was removed from the Jan. 24 basketball game between UCLA and Arizona at McKale Center after a verbal confrontation with event staff and police, according to a campus police report.
The source told me on Jan. 31 that the family had not yet communicated with Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez about the possibility of leaving. They mentioned Florida as a potential destination. The meeting happened shortly thereafter in which Rodriguez pledged his support and notified Carey that it was his responsibility to rectify his off-the-field problems.
Carey, a junior who led the nation with 1,929 yards rushing and set a school record with 23 touchdowns last season, has tried to maintain a low profile with reporters since and will continue to do so with the season approaching.
In a surprise move, Carey will not attend the Pac-12 Media Day next month with Rodriguez. Generally, the most heralded players accompany the head coach to media day. The Wildcats attending the event July 26 in Culver City, Calif., with Rodriguez will be senior linebacker Jake Fischer and senior wide receiver Terrence Miller, who has only 55 receptions in his career.
ASU linebacker Will Sutton, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, will also not attend because he reportedly is not fond of interviews.
Perhaps with the charges dropped against him, Carey can open up again with the media as the season progresses. If Arizona is serious about touting Carey as a Heisman Trophy candidate, Carey’s availability to reporters — locally and nationally — is a must.
I tend to agree with Gimino’s assessment of Carey’s Heisman chances.
“I find it hard to believe that Carey, even with slight improvement on his excellent 2012 numbers, is going to be a legitimate Heisman candidate, given that the Wildcats are expected to have only modest success this season,” Gimino writes in his TucsonCitizen.com blog. “But should he be a preseason first-team All-American? Absolutely.”
The only way Carey gets in the Heisman picture is if he has similar production as 2012 and the Wildcats win at least 10 games. Winning 10 games will be a tall order with four of the first five Pac-12 games on the road with an unproven starting quarterback.
It will be interesting to see how Arizona markets Carey after the athletic department launched the #TeamKaDeem publicity campaign after the 2012 season.
The Wildcats should not duck — no pun intended with Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas in the league — and hide because of what transpired with Carey in the off-season.
Carey stuck it out in times of trouble and did not succumb to hasty decisions. It’s time for him and the program to take a deep breath and resume the magic that was created in 2012. The worst they can do is cloud his success with privacy. That goes against his “Run Angry” principles.
A talented running back like Carey runs into tacklers and breaks free. He does not run and hide.
The best No. 76 to wear the Arizona uniform? According to Gimino, who compiles a list of such a thing, offensive lineman Bill Jensen (1977-80) gets the nod. He was a starter for more than three seasons and a second-team All-Pac-10 selection in 1980.
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.