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December 29, 2014

Rich Rodriguez


THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll start with some opening comments from Coach Rich Rodriguez.
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ It's an honor to be here.テつ I know all the players are excited, the staff, certainly our fans.テつ I think we're going to have a great atmosphere in a couple days.
I'm really proud of our players, particularly our senior class, that's fought really hard through a transition with a coaching staff, a lot of close ballgames this year, to be in one of the best bowls in the history of college football.
We're excited to be here and excited for your attendance.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll open the floor for questions.

Q.テつ What is the significance of playing a game in Phoenix to the program?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Well, certainly from a convenience standpoint, for our fans, I think it's great.テつ I think it's comfortable for our players.テつ We know the environment.
I don't know how many bowls I've been in, 18 or 19 or so.テつ This is the first one I've ever had the opportunity to drive to.テつ So that was really nice and convenient for our operation folks.
For our fans, not only our fans from Tucson, but we have a lot of fans, a lot of alumni here in the valley.テつ I think it's going to make for a great atmosphere here on Wednesday.

Q.テつ I'm sure there's a small amount of people outside of Tucson when they think of Arizona, they think of it as a basketball school.テつ Having a season like this, do you think that starts to change the culture?テつ Can it?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ That's a fair question.テつ I've been asked that quite a bit.テつ How do you feel about being in a basketball school?
To me, I think it's great we're known for something.テつ I think we're known for more than just basketball.テつ You look at a lot of our programs, our softball program, Olympic sports, our football program has had success in the past.
I think it shows we can have success at the highest level in various sports at the U of A.テつ This is certainly a nice pathway to where we want to be.
We want to have the best football program in the country at some point.テつ We're not there right now, but I think we've made progress in the last couple years towards that.

Q.テつ You've talked about this before, but could you go over the recruitment of Scooby and what you saw in him.
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I can remember watching the film.テつ Normally the process goes the coach that has that area in recruiting, he'll identify a guy, pass it on to the position coach, then it goes to the defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator.テつ Once they approve it, it comes to me.テつ We have a process where all of us watched it.
I can remember watching Scooby's film.テつ What are we missing here?テつ We're going to be the first Division I school to offer him?テつ He's big, physical, runs hard, great kid, comes from a great family.
When we offer him, we were like, We hope nobody else finds out about him.テつ He was tucked away in Santa Rosa, California, not a highly populated area.
There were no hesitations or qualms about offering him.テつ He really liked us when he got to know us a little bit.テつ For him to get all the accolades in two short years is pretty remarkable.テつ I'm not worried about it getting to his big head.テつ He got a big head anyway, he can handle a lot.
The way he works, he'll play with a chip on his shoulder throughout his entire career.

Q.テつ How unusual is it, the effort he plays with?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ He does play with great effort.テつ I would hope it's a standard that's set for every guy on our program.
Scooby does play hard.テつ That's why he gets so many numbers, sacks, TFLs, whatever you call it.
We're trying to build our program around that principle.

Q.テつ Your freshman quarterback, how much has he grown throughout the year?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Quite a bit.テつ I think for anybody that plays at that position at this level, experience is invaluable.テつ For Anu, he got thrown right in as a redshirt freshman.テつ From the first game through the last game, I think he's learned a little bit in each game.
There's been some highs and some lows, he's had to fight through some nagging injuries.テつ But he's competed throughout the whole year, understanding what we need to do offensively.
His best football is still out in front of him.テつ That's what is most exciting.
I had redshirt freshman before, Pat White.テつ Played back then in what was called a BCS bowl as a redshirt freshman.テつ Fabulous career.テつ I think Anu is on that same track.
He going to have to keep battling for his job every year.テつ We want to have competition each and every year.テつ Anu is enough of a competitor, I think he'll keep getting better.

Q.テつ At the PAC‑12 championship game, there were very few Wildcat fans.テつ Do you expect a little bit of a different atmosphere with the weeks leading up that people knew that you were going to be in this game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I think obviously you have time now to prepare to come up here.テつ It's an easier trip.テつ It's around the holidays.テつ It's a big‑time bowl game, something we've only been a part of a couple times in our history.
I would expect a huge crowd dressed in red and white and the Arizona blue, not the other blue.

Q.テつ How was the week of practice?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ It's been good.テつ This is as good of a practice field area facility that I've ever been a part of.テつ I mean, it's Super Bowl quality.
We got two great grass practice fields, 10 minutes from the hotel.テつ People in Scottsdale have been terrific, locker rooms and everything.テつ It's a great setup, really great.
It's been a good week.テつ Guys worked hard.テつ I get a little nervous because they've got so much time, particularly in the evening, dinnertime, from 5:00 till 10:00.テつ There's a lot of places to go and eat, but I don't want them running around too many places.
I think they've had that balance.テつ I think their focus has been really good.テつ Today is going to be an important practice, but the last two days we got some good work in.

Q.テつ (Question about the changing culture.)
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I don't know, I guess a little bit of a culture change.テつ I guess that's the right word.テつ Maybe a mindset.テつ It's okay to talk about loving football and commitment.テつ We had a lot of guys that liked it, but some of them loved it.
This is a hard sport.テつ You have to put so much extra work in.テつ The work you put in that's required is not fun a lot of times.テつ You have to embrace that part of it, want to be an elite athlete at the highest level.
That's a different mindset than we've had here.テつ But that's a different mindset than a lot of programs are struggling with, especially on the West Coast.テつ I think there's so many other things to do.テつ It's such a happy place, the weather, whatever.
My happiness is based on winning.テつ I want the players to have the same mindset.

Q.テつ (Question regarding practices.)
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Our normal pace of practice, today I can remember our first spring practice that we ever did, they couldn't make it through halfway.テつ In fact, we have a break halfway through practice where it's a true break.テつ You can sit down, lay down, do whatever you want to do.
We had laid out Gatorade, popsicles, that's how soft I am, for them to go get it.テつ They were so tired, they couldn't walk over to get the popsicles.テつ These were BCS Big 6 level popsicles.テつ They sat over there too tired.
My goal at the end of spring practice was they were in good enough shape to go over and get the popsicles.テつ Now it's all good.
We had some really good practices on campuses.テつ Half spring ball, half preparation deal.テつ We had a couple really physical times when we scrimmaged with the young guys.テつ I thought it was pretty good.
We got more in.テつ I think we got maybe 11 good practices in, maybe 12.テつ I think it was 11 good practices in on campus.テつ I thought beneficial.
Again, I don't know how much it helps towards next year, but it helped towards our evaluation now and leading into spring ball.

Q.テつ (Question regarding Brandon.)
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Brandon Dawkins, redshirt year is about over.テつ Now he's got to compete for it.テつ That's the good thing about having good recruiting classes back‑to‑back, which I think we will.テつ Provide some competition in practice.
Guys know whether somebody is pushing them or not at their own position.

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Good question.テつ What's required, they're going to do.テつ There are different levels of commitment.テつ There are guys that are compelled, committed and compliant.テつ We want everybody to be compelled.テつ You can tell Scooby Wright Reggie Gilbert, these guys are truly compelled.テつ They're there when they don't have to be.
When you see them an extra 20, 30 minutes a week in the weight room, in the film room, you know they love football.

Q.テつ (Looking into the future for the program.)
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Like I said, I haven't had a chance to reflect, probably won't reflect for years, just the way the guys competed all the way to the end, even when things looked really bad.テつ There were several games that it did.
Play all the way in.テつ Play all the way.テつ Sometimes that's hollow words.テつ But our guys really did that.テつ They played all the way to the end.
I like the team.テつ The senior class is kind of quiet, a nice mix, fifth‑year guys, two‑year guys, one‑year guys.テつ They've been a fun team to coach because they're pretty competitive.
I hope they've established the kind of attitude that the young guys have taken on.

Q.テつ Have they enjoyed being on the big stage this week?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I told them this is different.テつ A game is a game.テつ But a Big 6 bowl game, it's different.テつ There's eight, nine uniform policemen escorting us everywhere, taking us to practice, taking us to eat.テつ This is not normal.テつ What they're getting, what they're experiencing this week is different.
I hope they realize that and appreciate that.テつ Hopefully we'll win one every year.テつ For our guys, this team, this is the first one they've ever been in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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