Arizona coach Rodriguez not concerned with fourth-place prediction

Jul 31, 2015, 10:10 AM | Updated: 1:41 pm
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, left, and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez speak prior to their Pac-12 Conf...
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, left, and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez speak prior to their Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

University of Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez does not mind his team being picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South.

Though they won the Pac-12 South last season and return a host of key players, the conference’s media still thinks the Wildcats will finish behind USC, Arizona State and UCLA in the division.

Underrated much? Maybe, and that’s just fine with the fourth-year coach.

“Is that where we were picked last year,” Rodriguez asked, somewhat rhetorically. “Oh good, that’s a good sign.”

Indeed, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in the South this time last year. They then used an explosive offense and surprisingly stout defense to earn a 7-2 conference record, a mark that included road wins over Oregon and Utah as well as home victories over Washington and ASU.

Six of Arizona’s 10 wins were by seven points or less, and some think the team may have less luck in 2015. Or maybe they’ll improve to the point where they won’t need as much good fortune.

At any rate, Rodriguez pointed to an ESPN.com poll that predicted his team would win eight games and gave them just a 2.4 percent chance of winning the Pac-12. He quoted to the movie Dumb and Dumber for reason to feel good.

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance,” he quipped. “Two-percent? Better than one in a million, right?”

The way Rodriguez sees it, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that his team is being counted out again.

“I’ve been in situations where we’ve been the league favorite to win or a situation like last year or this year when nobody ever thinks you can win — two percent — that would probably be a pretty good t-shirt to make, or a hat or something,” he said. “But if it motivates your guys to run an extra sprint on their own or something, maybe it will be good.

“I said, when you’re lined up in the fourth quarter and you’re hot and tired, and you’re like, ‘You know, the ESPN media poll poll picked us to have two percent, I think I’m going to shut her down.’ I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.”

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