University of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne says that taking the Territorial Cup back from Arizona State University is the first step towards winning the Pac-12.
“That’s obviously one of our goals as a department, is to win the Territorial Cup both in football and the overall Territorial Cup,” Byrne told Bickley and Marotta Friday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “They’ve got both of them this year and we had an all-staff meeting Wednesday this week and that was one of the first things we talked about across the board.”
Byrne is optimistic about the Wildcats’ chances and gives the credit to head coach Rich Rodriguez.
“I know we’re putting ourselves in a long-term position for that type of success,” Byrne said. “We’re already having a very good year in recruiting for this upcoming signing class, and I think people are buying into what Coach Rodriguez is doing. When you spend time with him and his staff, they see that he is very genuine.”
Byrne said that one of the reasons for Rodriguez’s success is that he finds a balance between pushing the players and taking it easy on them, earning him respect from the team.
“They buy into what he’s doing and they respect the fact that he demands a lot out of them,” Byrne said. “Athletes of this level, they all want high demands because they know that if they have those high demands, that’s going to push them to succeed in what they do.”
With the progress that UA is making in football, the Wildcats see winning the Territorial Cup not as the ultimate goal, but a step along the way.
“We want to be the top athletics department in the Pac-12,” Byrne said, “and so in order to do that, we first and foremost have to be strong within our own state, and I think we’re making good progress with that with our sports across the board. But obviously that rivalry means a lot to everybody here throughout the state and we want to make sure we get that Cup back here to Tucson as soon as possible.”
The UA-ASU game will take place in Tucson on November 28.