Arizona football: Stoops: Expanded Pac-12 'kind of scary'

2011-09-06T00:02:00Z 2014-09-15T10:02:58Z Arizona football: Stoops: Expanded Pac-12 'kind of scary'Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 06, 2011 12:02 am  • 

Mike Stoops believes the Pac-12's further expansion would make a challenging conference even tougher, though the Arizona Wildcats' head coach stopped short Monday of saying what he'd prefer to see happen in the upcoming weeks.

Stoops said he trusts Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott to make the right calls for the conference, which expanded from 10 to 12 teams this fall.

But, the coach conceded, "everybody's looking to grow; that's the evolution."

Texas A&M's decision to leave the Big 12 Conference has sparked rumors that Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and a fourth team - possibly Texas Tech - are considering a move to the Pac-12.

Arizona, coincidentally, plays at 9th-ranked Oklahoma State on Thursday.

"This conference is tough enough, and if you start adding Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma ... I don't know if anything would compare to it," Stoops said. "This is getting pretty crazy. When you look at the amount of quality teams we would have in one conference, it's kind of scary, especially if you don't have a long-term contract."

Quarterback Nick Foles, who grew up in Austin as a Texas fan, views expansion as an inevitability.

"It sounds like its probably going to happen down the road," he said Monday. "It'll be neat adding those teams to the Pac, but right now, I'll only be in the Pac-12. I'll be long gone before they do that. It'll be interesting when that does come."

The addition of Oklahoma would affect Stoops both personally and professionally. His brother, Bob, is the Sooners' longtime head coach; Mike Stoops spent time as the Sooners' defensive coordinator before being hired at the UA seven years ago.

Both Bob and Mike Stoops have been hesitant to play each other in nonconference games and bowl games, citing their family ties.

They wouldn't have a choice if the superconference becomes a reality.

Bob Stoops told The Associated Press on Monday that he's willing to play wherever his school's president and athletic director decide is best, even if it meant a move to the nation's first superconference. The Sooners are expected to decide by the end of the month whether they'll remain in the Big 12 or leave for another conference.

"It seems that's the direction the world's going," he said. "So if it is, so be it."

Wildcats sticking with Salazar, Shaq

Jaime Salazar has at least another week to prove himself.

The Wildcats' junior placekicker started Saturday's 41-10 win over Northern Arizona, but was lifted after missing a 47-yard field goal and a PAT. Senior Alex Zendejas finished the game, and hit a PAT following the Wildcats' final touchdown.

Stoops said Monday that he'll "stick with the same order" against Oklahoma State, with Salazar getting the first chance and Zendejas ready if he struggles.

Salazar's struggles were partly mechanical and part nerves, Stoops said.

"He missed two in pregame. That wasn't a good start," he said. "He's got to do it like he does it in practice."

Stoops also said cornerback Shaquille Richardson, who struggled in the first half against the Lumberjacks, will start against OSU and star receiver Justin Blackmon.

Quick week

The short turnaround time has forced both the Wildcats and the Cowboys to tweak their practice schedules.

Arizona practiced from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, the team's latest regular season practice in years. The Wildcats will work out again today and Wednesday morning before departing for Oklahoma.

Stoops will keep the workouts light; Monday's practice started and ended late to keep the still-recovering players out of the sun.

"We cant go too hard," he said. "It's better just to be fresh and ready for the game. Being fresh and ready to play is critical."

OSU coach Mike Gundy said his players will focus on a simple game plan against Arizona, though both the Cowboys and the Wildcats began big-picture preparation for each other during the offseason.

Said Gundy: "I hope the maturity of our team will come forth and we'll be able to play a great game on Thursday night."

Extra points

• Shane Zink will start at right guard against Oklahoma State unless Trace Biskin returns from a leg injury, Stoops said. Zink, a converted tackle, played Saturday against NAU. Running back Daniel Jenkins (sprained ankle) is questionable to play Thursday.

• Stoops' first impressions of running back Ka'Deem Carey, who rushed for a team-high 59 rushing yards on nine carries in Saturday's win: "He's going to be a good one. He's legit.

"He's got that unique ability to make people miss and not get a clean shot on him. … He knows how to feel his way on the field. He's very instinctive. He has all the qualities. He's a natural runner. He just looks good doing it."

Up next

• Who: Arizona at Oklahoma State

• When: 5 p.m. Thursday

• TV: ESPN

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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