The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 70 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.
What next, an automatic stoppage of play when a basketball team scores on too many fast-break opportunities so the other team can gather its senses?
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wants rules changes to slow down no-huddle spread offenses, similar to what Rich Rodriguez has instituted at Arizona. Bielema suggests the idea of a 15-second grace period for the defense to substitute when offenses gain a first down.
Alabama’s Nick Saban, a traditionalist who has a disdain for spread offenses, commented last season that the non-stop fast-paced play creates a safety issue for players.
“Not to get on the coattails of some of the other coaches, there is a lot of truth that the way offensive philosophies are driven now, there’s times where you can’t get a defensive substitution in for 8, 10, 12 play drives,” Bielema is quoted as saying by AL.com.
“That has an effect on safety of that student-athlete, especially the bigger defensive linemen, that is really real.”
What about the bigger offensive linemen? They are adept to the style. It’s called conditioning.
Rodriguez told ESPN’s College Football Live on Thursday that he does not agree with Bielema’s assertion that the no-huddle offense is a detriment to the game.
“Well, Bret is a terrific coach and a great friend,” Rodriguez told ESPN. “I don’t know if those comments are maybe self-serving a little bit from a standpoint that those guys (Bielema and Saban) don’t want to face that. But he’s had success against it. It’s still eleven on eleven. I mean, certainly the rules favor the offense as far as substitution goes.
“But fair? It’s still eleven on eleven. I didn’t hear people talking about it being fair or unfair when the Buffalo Bills were using (tempo) with the old K-Gun offense and going to a Super Bowl.”
Concerning the safety of players Rodriguez does not agree with Bielema — “Not at all,” he said — because numerous stoppages of play exist.
“If you’re in shape, you still have time to substitute,” Rodriguez told ESPN. “With all these timeouts and stoppages for play. You have three-minute timeouts in every quarter for TV. I don’t see that at all. Some basketball teams play up-tempo and fast break all the time, they don’t talk about that being an issue.”
The best line from Rodriguez’s interview: “I don’t know how much fun it is to watch a huddle.”
“That’s the biggest waste of time in football,” Rodriguez said. “I think from an excitement standpoint and the players, I think they like to play.”
Arizona ran 83 plays per game last season, ranking third among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams. Only Marshall (90) and Louisiana Tech (88) ranked ahead of the Wildcats.
The best No. 70 to wear the Arizona uniform is former offensive tackle John Fina, a Salpointe grad who is a member of the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. Although Fina never was a first-team All-Pac-10 player, he was an all-conference academic selection. He was also a first-round NFL draft pick in 1992 and lasted in the league 11 years.
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.