Arizona Athletics

President Robbins Talks Sports on ‘Eye on the Ball’

President Robert C. Robbins joined Steve Rivera and Jay Gonzales on the Wednesday’s episode of Eye on the Ball on FoxSports 1450.

He talked about his love and excitement for sports and more specifically University of Arizona sports. Robbins is known to be a big sports fan, and his athletic department is having a lot of success these days.

Here are portions of the interview:

Steve Rivera: “Your teams are doing very well. You must have the feeling of a proud dad?”

President Robbins: “I am actually; it’s been a lot of fun seeing everybody continue to get better.”

Jay Gonzales: “When you talk about these two hires of Jedd Fisch and Tommy Lloyd, I can’t imagine you think that it could’ve gone any better?”

President Robbins: “It’s an amazing program that coach Fisch is putting together despite only winning one game last year, but I think things are looking up for us on the gridiron.”

Steve Rivera: “This has the same feel as the 1990’s, where all the athletic programs were doing well, it’s been a while, but we are looking forward to it.”

President Robbins: “Oh yeah, both men’s and women’s basketball, football is on the rise, baseball, softball, and our golf teams are killing it. So, I’m just so happy for our students and the success they’re having and our great coaches for helping to guide them.”

Jay Gonzales: “How much time do you feel you can devote to athletics with your busy schedule?”

President Robbins: “I don’t feel like I need to devote a lot of my time there, I think Dave Heeke and his team, and I think we have great coaches leading their units, so I only get involved at the highest level. I would say 5-10% is associated with athletics. There’s a lot of things swirling around at the Pac-12 level, the College Football Playoff, Name, Image & Likeness (NIL), and conference re-alignment. There’s just so many things that aren’t day-to-day and are more strategic, and that’s where I spend my time with athletics.”

Steve Rivera: “What type of emotions go through your mind, during a game like the one this past Saturday? Do you get nervous?”

President Robbins: “I don’t get nervous at all, I’m always fully confident our teams will pull it out in the end. I just get excited and really locked in wanting our teams to achieve success because I know how much its means to them. They put in such an incredible amount of hard work they put into practice, preparation, and studying film, so I’m just excited for them to do well. I love the attitude our coaches have, and the culture of the whole department seems to be changing, and even though I wasn’t around in the ’90’s, but I think we can get back to that time. I’ve talked to people about that time when Jim Livengood was the AD, and all the coaches seemed to be like one big, happy family. I think we are getting closer to that type of culture.

Steve Rivera: “What are your thoughts on the students saying f-bombs and all that craziness?”

President Robbins: “There’s no place in the game for that. I have enormous respect for people that can get to that level (of talent), honing their craft. They deserve the respect that they’re due. I’ve seen this on the road too, and it’s not in the spirit of the competition that we are blessed to see. I love it when that does start, our cheer squad and many others in the arena go with a “U of A” chant to drown it out. I don’t like hearing it, and I wish there was a way for me to stop it. There’s just no place in the game for that.”

Jay Gonzales: “What’s your fandom like right now?”

President Robbins: “I’ve always been a huge sports fan, but it’s much more special when you are given the incredible honor of leading a university. Obviously, I was very involved with athletics while at Stanford, but it wasn’t the same as at Arizona, where sports has such a legacy and history, and are so important to the culture of the university. Being the person who’s ultimately in charge of the entire university it makes it very special. It’s very personal to me.”

Steve Rivera: “What are your thoughts on NIL?”

President Robbins: “I’ve been a big fan of legalizing this. This type of stuff has been in the game for a long time, unfortunately. I think the first move in NIL is to reward the students who put so much time into their craft and to develop their games. I think there is going to be a lot more regulation by probably the federal government because the NCAA and the states are going in different directions. There needs to be some sort of uniformity to it, but I’m in favor of the students being rewarded.”

Jay Gonzales: “What does the Pac-12 want to see happen with the College Football Playoff?”

President Robbins: “A guiding principle is guaranteeing that conference champions get in. I think it was a huge miss not to expand to at least eight teams. Just looking at the finances, there was a lot of money left on the table. I think it’s unfortunate that it didn’t pass. We have to wait four more years for another vote, where it doesn’t need to be unanimous.

Jay Gonzales: “What is Bobby Robbins hoping for?”

President Robbins: “I like the idea of twelve teams. I think you need to look at Division II and III as an example because they got it right when it comes to this. I think the system with four teams worked well, but I think expansion works well for the fans, and financially works well for the institutions.”

Jay Gonzales: “What are your thoughts on the Rose Bowl potentially holding up some of the talks?”

President Robbins: “I’m torn on that one because it is the granddaddy of them all, and the pageantry and the parade and even the time of when it’s played make it an iconic football atmosphere. I think the Pac-12 and the Big 10 need to figure out as much of a win-win as we can get out of this situation, realizing that if the Playoff expands then the Rose Bowl will get left behind. I know that’s probably what the commissioner of the Big 10 and the Pac-12 were thinking with the vote recently.”

Steve Rivera: “Will you be in Vegas for the men’s or women’s Pac-12 Tournament?”

President Robbins: “Both, absolutely going to both. I can be pretty efficient on the road. I’ll go back and forth, and I’m hoping we can go all the way with both of them. I haven’t heard if Cate Reese will be able to play, you’d think that she would have to sit out the Pac-12 Tournament to get ready for the NCAA Tournament, but I’m not sure she can make it back and be effective, and that’s going to hurt Coach Barnes and their chances to repeat their success after the magical run they had last year. You never know though, and that’s why you got to play the games. I couldn’t be more excited for both of our teams, and then we’ll roll right into softball and baseball.”

Transcription by Jake Faigus.

You can listen to the episode here:

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