LOS ANGELES — Rich Rodriguez walked into the main lobby of Hollywood’s Paramount Studios on Wednesday and recorded a greatest hits album.
All those famous one-liners that the UA coach has used since his arrival in Tucson were recited over and over again in his still-heavy West Virginia accent. It’s “talking season,” after all, and few do it better than the Wildcats’ third-year coach.
On the league’s returning quarterbacks: “I think there are 10 starting quarterbacks returning, and they’re all good players. It’s not like you have 10 returning quarterbacks and some of them can’t play dead in a Western.”
On Arizona’s own quarterbacks and who might start: “The truth is, even if I knew who the starter was, I wouldn’t tell you. But this is the truth — I really don’t know. Not just about No. 1, but I don’t know who 2 or 3 will be, either.”
On the upcoming season: “I could be like every other coach in America and tell you how excited I am to be here, but that would be lying. Truth is I’d rather still be on vacation.”
On giving transfers a second chance at Arizona: “Well, if a turd is a turd, you flush the turd and move on. But if a kid just made a mistake and needs a second chance, that’s entirely different.”
On beating rival Arizona State: “Heck, I’m just trying to get a first down against UNLV.”
And an oldie, but a goodie — does pace of play really have anything to do with injuries?
“I call it a farce. That’s just my opinion,” Rodriguez said on the first of two straight Pac-12 media days. “If you think pace of play has anything to do with injuries, you drank the wrong poison. We made a movie about it.”
And if those witty responses mean anything, it’s this: Football is back.
Arizona fans will undoubtedly hear all those lines several more times as Rodriguez tries to lead the Wildcats to their third consecutive bowl win.
Wednesday, he met with reporters from all over the country and talked about the quarterbacks, Ka’Deem Carey’s eventual replacement, the depth at wide receiver, the ongoing mission to get bigger and stronger on defense and the overall state of the program.
Rodriguez nailed it.
“I think on his way to these things he doesn’t really look forward to it all that much, but when he gets in the spotlight, I think he enjoys it and has some fun with it,” safety Jared Tevis said. “He’s got a lot of really good one-liners. My favorite ones I can’t say in public.”
Rodriguez played it cool when he was asked about his quarterbacks, but revealed a little on Wednesday.
Of the four “veterans,” as Rodriguez called them — Jerrard Randall, Jesse Scroggins, Connor Brewer and Anu Solomon — Randall seemed to receive the most praise.
“Jerrard is really hungry,” Rodriguez said of the former LSU player. “He’s got a chip on his shoulder to prove himself. It’s going to be a big camp for him. Jerrard’s going to be in the mix. He’s a talented guy, and he has to continue to learn what we do here. But his attitude has been super.”
Randall and Scroggins seemed to help themselves the most in the spring. Listen to Rodriguez, though, and it seems like the USC transfer still has a lot to prove.
“His whole career has been issues; this or that, this or that,” Rodriguez said. “It’s time for no more issues. It’s time to be doing everything right. That’s the question mark with Jesse. I saw it in the spring, but that was three months ago, so let’s see how it is now.”
Rodriguez is also playing coy regarding the running backs. He said it will be up for grabs in the fall. He fully anticipates using multiple backs the first few games. Jared Baker and Terris Jones-Grigsby are the two natural backs with the most experience, and will get plenty of carries early. Wide receivers DaVonte’ Neal, Samajie Grant and T.J. Johnson will all see time there.
Rodriguez said he isn’t sure if incoming freshman Nick Wilson will be ready to compete for time right away. Redshirt freshman Zach Green still has some conditioning tests to pass, Rodriguez said, and Jonathan Haden could contribute, but it’s a long shot after the NCAA forced him to miss spring drills.
Of course, those debates will certainly roll into fall camp and the season.
Wednesday was about putting a bow on the offseason and moving on to the season.
“It was a quiet offseason, which isn’t bad at all,” Rodriguez said. “You never want to get those 3 a.m. calls on a Sunday morning, and I didn’t have any of those to deal with. I think everyone in our program has a clear understanding of what we’re trying to do, and that’s very encouraging.”