Arizona at Pac-12 Media Day: It's a problem-free philosophy

UA coach gives views on Carey, game lawsuit and QB competition
2013-07-27T00:00:00Z Arizona at Pac-12 Media Day: It's a problem-free philosophyDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CULVER CITY, Calif. - One minute, Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez was talking about "The Lion King." Shortly after, he brought up excrement and then managed to separately reference Justin Bieber.

The second-year coach was in midseason form Friday under cloudy and cool skies at the Pac-12 media day at Sony Studios outside of Los Angeles.

Getting grilled by reporters isn't Rodriguez's favorite part of the job, but he knows how to be charming and own a conversation.

In case that had been forgotten, it was on display Friday.

"If this is the hardest part of my job, then shoot, I'm living the dream," Rodriguez said. "You control the message, and nobody here is trying to knock your head off or trying to beat you."

Rodriguez and his 11 other counterparts from the conference individually addressed national media members under bright lights on Sony's Stage 8. The coach, along with receiver Terrence Miller and linebacker Jake Fischer, managed to get in and out in nine minutes - by far the shortest of any of the teams. That's certainly fitting for Rodriguez, who preaches playing as fast as possible.

"It was quick - like one of our practices," Rodriguez said. "I like that."

But, we managed to chat with all three following their appearances on stage and go more in depth on some of the most pressing issues facing the Wildcats a week before camp begins.

Here are the three most interesting nuggets we took away.

1. Ka'Deem Carey is in good standing.

Rodriguez is genuinely pleased with where his All-America running back is.

According to his coach, Carey has done everything that's been asked of him and will open fall camp on equal footing with the rest of his teammates.

However, that doesn't mean the Canyon del Oro High School product might not face some discipline once the season starts for his offseason troubles, which included a run in with police and an altercation with a security guard at a UA basketball game.

"His status with us is good," Rodriguez said. "Whether I have any more discipline with him, I'll determine that on what happens in August. Ka'Deem knows the deal."

Carey's teammates have his back.

"We wanted to support him and get him on the right page, which he wasn't too far off from," Miller said. "He made a mistake, which tons of people do. Since then, he's been phenomenal."

2. The lawsuit won't be a distraction.

Predictably, Fischer was asked numerous times about joining the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit versus the NCAA, EA Sports and The Collegiate Licensing Co.

Fischer explained his motives in joining the case and also said he won't let it be a distraction to his team.

"I became aware of it two years ago, and when the case came back up again and they said they would be using current players, (kicker) Jake (Smith) and I talked about it," Fischer said. "When we had the opportunity, we jumped at it."

Fischer said he has talked with several of his teammates about it, and they're fine with the linebacker and Smith joining the suit.

"It's not going to be a distraction at all," Fischer said. "We're competitors, and we came here to play football. All of my teammates support what we're doing."

Rodriguez is on the same page.

"It's not a big deal to me," the coach said. "The lawsuit is a big deal, certainly. But, when Jake and Jake called me and said they wanted to talk to me at my house, I thought, 'Uh-oh, what's going on?' There won't be any distractions. They won't be doing anything for a year.

"When it's fourth-and-10, do you think I'm going to be thinking about a lawsuit?"

3. The quarterback competition could go past the season opener.

Rodriguez was asked early and often about the UA quarterback situation. The coach said when the team opens practice next weekend, senior B.J. Denker will likely get the first snap and work with the first team. That obviously doesn't mean Denker will be the starter when the Wildcats open their season Aug. 30 against NAU.

"B.J. was the top guy coming out of spring, and when we take the first rep the first day, it will be B.J.," Rodriguez said. "But the competition will go on. I hope we have at least two guys that emerge. If not, it may take a couple of games to find out who the best guy is. We'll be OK. Will they be as good as Matt (Scott)? That's asking too much. Will they be productive? That's not too much to ask."

The coach also talked at length about Jesse Scroggins, who struggled both in and out of the classroom at USC and El Camino College before transferring to the UA.

"What's that movie? The Lion King? The monkey hits the lion over the head and the lion says: 'What did you do that for?'" the coach relayed. "The monkey said: 'It doesn't matter, it's in the past.' What's important to me is how he does now."

Added Rodriguez: "Some guys make bad decisions because they're immature, and some make bad decisions because they're a turd. Nobody wants a turd in the program. All I care about is how he handles things now."

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

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 8 4 0 0.667
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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