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College Football Analysis: Will Arizona be a Pac-12 Sleeper Team in 2012?

o who is my PAC 12 sleeper team and candidate for New Coach of the Year? Could it be Arizona and Rich Rod? I wouldn’t just shuck the man off, not where he landed by a long shot. The more I think about it, the more I like the move.

It reminds me of when once upon a time Arizona went out of its way and pulled in a guy named Mike Stoops… but RR has a much, much better track record and personal resume. Stoops did have his moments of glory…. I wouldn’t call his time spent as the Wildcat HC a complete failure.

RichRod didn’t fit in at Michigan

We do know that this time around, RR arrived with a company of assistant coaches he is happy with as opposed to the debacle that caught him in a deluge at Michigan, perhaps a place where he just didn’t belong.

UM never seemed to be the right fit for an offensive minded CFB guru, a title that fits RR to this day in spite of what the Wolverines were, which was another Big Ten team that sported a plain vanilla pro-set offense. RR turned out to be a cultural misfit for UM… and so we live and learn.

RichRod’s offense should flourish in the desert

Rich Rodriguez teams have been teams whose strength has been centered around an innovative offense which was his specialty.

Nick Foles and now Matt Scott who has been waiting in the wings all along – both announced their presence as two bold stripes of innovation as Arizona Wildcat football history tells it. Foles and Scott both turned around point-thirsty football programs into teams that demand plenty of offense and points on the board.

This was a huge change from Arizona football historically and now enters Rich Rodriguez. This presents interesting possibilities. Senior QB Matt Scott (off a redshirt junior season according to plan) is back to start for the Wildcats in his senior year and from what I saw thus far in spring camp, he lapped up Rich Rodriguez’s offense like a thirsty Wildcat should. The plan to redshirt him so he could be Zona’s senior starting QB this season has worked brilliantly.

But isn’t it odd that the UA boards are quizzing where the wildcats are going to get their points now that Foles has left the school? Perhaps I shouldn’t mention this but Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer are both credited for developing the spread option offense with Rodriguez garnering most of the credit for the run-first option version which is what Oregon and Chip Kelly just happen to use (Kelly’s version of it.)

RichRod – PAC 12 newcomer most likely to succeed

Normally, a head coach that sports an ambitious offense will be scrutinized to the hilt in this offensive minded conference of champions. It’s because there have been so many greats over the years, it’s not easy to find one’s niche among all that have come before.

But in RR’s case, his accomplishments precede him. There is something very Pac-12 about Rich Rodriguez that most people don’t know anything about, and yes, it’s the very thing that earns RR my “most likely to succeed newcomer” candidate for 2012.

In 2006 when Mike Bellotti dispatched his OC at the time Gary Crowton to attend a winter spread offense clinic conducted by Urban Meyer in Florida. Crowton was also dispatched to WV to consult with Rich Rodriguez which is where he met Chip Kelly.

It didn’t take long before Crowton noticed that Kelly was spot on with the answers to his occasional questions while Meyer and Rodriguez were still thinking about it. It didn’t take long for Kelly to earn a spot on Crowton’s A-list as his goto man when he introduced Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly so Mike could just ask questions of Chip Kelly himself, thank you very much.

The following year (2007) Crowton moved on to LSU opening the door for Kelly to take Crowton’s job as Bellotti’s OC. You already know the rest of the story. Rich Rodriguez was, through Gary Crowton, the catalyst that brought Bellotti and Kelly together. OK, so now I may as well just go ahead and spill the beans, Rich Rodriguez was Chip Kelly’s mentor when Kelly was learning the spread option offense.

RR will turn Arizona into the 2012 PAC 12 sleeper team

RR arrives in the PAC-12 with a reputation that precedes him and the respect of his peers. They have come to just love their offense at the University of Arizona (Scott also moves better than Nick Foles).

It may not take very long for people to realize that RichRod is quite an upgrade from Mike Stoops. I am not sure how well the Wildcats will open their season, they might do OK, but in any circumstance, I bet you they finish strong with a half a season’s worth of experience and Rich Rodriguez’s spread option offense under their belt.

What do you think about Arizona hiring Rich Rodriguez to be their new head coach?  What do you think about the possibility that the Wildcats will wind up as the PAC-12 sleeper team this year?

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