FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Coaches set for 1st duel - on pitcher's mound

2012-04-06T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:23:41Z Arizona football: Coaches set for 1st duel - on pitcher's moundRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 06, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Shortly after learning that he would be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at today's Arizona Diamondbacks season opener, Rich Rodriguez - ever the football coach - started watching game tape.

With help from his son, Rhett, Rodriguez googled the 10 worst first pitches in baseball history. The who's who of ha ha's includes former track star Carl Lewis, who threw well wide of home plate at a 2003 Mariners game; and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory - he of the sideways first pitch. Rich and Rhett Rodriguez watched tape of Gary Dell'Abate, "Baba Booey" from the Howard Stern Show, missing so badly that he hit a bystander, an umpire, in the chest.

"Now," Rodriguez said with a chuckle, "I want to google the 10 best ones."

The Arizona Wildcats' first-year boss and Arizona State coach Todd Graham will both throw out the first pitches at tonight's game at Chase Field.

The rival coaches will share a field, albeit a diamond, for the first time.

Rodriguez was hired Nov. 21 to turn around a program that went 4-8 in 2011. Arizona State hired Graham three weeks later, hoping that the former Rice, Tulsa and Pitt coach could revamp a program that had gone rogue under Dennis Erickson.

Today, both will smile for the cameras and show off their arms.

"I wonder if Coach is going to throw from the stretch or the wind-up," UA quarterback Matt Scott said. With Graham there, "he's going to have to throw it hard," Scott said.

Rodriguez and Graham know each other well. Graham served on Rodriguez's West Virginia staff from 2001 to 2002 before leaving to become the defensive coordinator at Tulsa. Four of Arizona's current assistants - Calvin Magee, Tony Gibson, Tony Dews and Spencer Leftwich - and one support staffer, Matt Dudek, joined Rodriguez's staff this winter after working for Graham at Pitt.

Despite their history, or perhaps because of it, the two head coaches have maintained a mostly cool relationship so far.

"Todd worked for me for a couple of years. I don't know if they mentioned that in his (initial ASU) press release or not - and he did a nice job," Rodriguez said. "(But) we haven't talked since he got the job. We'll probably keep in touch a whole lot less now, because of the rivalry. We'll be friendly, as always, but we probably won't talk football."

Today, in fact, both coaches will have baseball on the brain. Neither wants to end up on a google-able list.

"I'm going to throw a little bit to get loose," Rodriguez said. "I don't want to embarrass myself."

Name: Rich Rodriguez

Alias: "Rich Rod"

Job: UA football coach

Age: 48

Hometown: Grant Town, W. Va.

Baseball experience: Played four sports, including baseball, at North Marion High School in Farmington, W.Va. He was a shortstop and second baseman. "I was probably better at baseball than all the other ones," he said.

Throws: Right-handed

D-backs connection: Rodriguez is a friend of Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, who was a West Virginia booster when Rodriguez coached there.

First pitches thrown: Rodriguez has thrown out pitches at a handful of minor-league games, but today marks his major-league debut.

He said it: "It's exciting. It'd probably be more exciting if (Graham) was batting and I was pitching, or the other way around."

Name: Todd Graham

Alias: "CTG" (coach Todd Graham)

Job: ASU football coach

Age: 47

Hometown: Mesquite, Texas

Baseball experience: Played center field at North Mesquite High School.

Throws: Right-handed

D-backs connection: D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall is an ASU grad. He invited Graham personally.

First pitches thrown: Graham threw out the first pitch at a Houston Astros game when he coached at Rice.

He said it: "It is a great honor to be a part of such a special evening, and I am proud to represent Arizona State University at one of the most important sporting events of the year."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 8 4 0 0.667
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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