Arizona coach Rodriguez goes off on Pac-12 for scheduling

Oct 20, 2015, 2:19 PM
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez argues a call during the first half of an NCAA college football g...
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez argues a call during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Stanford, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez was already miffed with the Pac-12 for not placing a bye week in his team’s 2015 schedule. As it stands, the Wildcats — along with the Colorado Buffaloes — will play 12 consecutive games without a week off.

It’s a tough break dictated by broadcasting windows, and given the Wildcats’ injury troubles this season, it is one that has had and will have an impact on their results. But it’s not the only thing that has the fourth-year coach peeved, as the league’s decision to have Arizona hit the road on Oct. 31 for an 8 p.m. tilt with the Washington Huskies led to him going off on the conference in his Monday press conference.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Rodriguez said. “I understand TV is going to pick the times, they have the right to do it, they’re paying us all this money so they’re going to pick the games, but every road game it almost seems like it’s a late night and you’re getting back and then no open date. You’ve got to turn around and go back on the road again.

“Don’t go on your soapbox and ‘let’s talk about student-athlete welfare’ and then have these kids get back at five, six in the morning, then you’re going to go back on the road again. If we’re in it for that part of it and all that, I think there has got to be a better way. At some point a conference has to have a little bit of an ability to step in and say, ‘Hey, give this team one afternoon road game — maybe all the rest of them are night, but give them one break so they get home at a reasonable hour’ because it’s silly.”

Due to television scheduling, the Pac-12’s kickoff times are generally not decided on until a couple weeks before the game is set to take place. Including the game at Washington, five of Arizona’s first nine games will have kicked off at 6 p.m. or later, with three of those being Pac-12 road tilts (Stanford, Colorado, Washington). And while the kickoff time for UA’s Nov. 7 matchup at USC is not yet set, it would not be a surprise if it was a late game, too.

Rodriguez said he was going to complain about it now and then never again because while the lack of an open date is “still disturbing,” adding late-night road games on top of it is “a little bit, I think, not being cognizant of what the student-athletes go through.”

The coach, whose team is 5-2 with a 2-2 record in the Pac-12, said he’d rather have his team play on a Thursday or Friday — assuming the opponent has the same amount of days off before the game as his team — because it would mean an extra couple days of rest so that the players could catch their breath before having to prepare for the next game.

But as it is now, getting back in the early Sunday hours does not really allow the coaches to give the players a true day off, which is not a good situation.

“Play me on a Thursday, give us a couple Thursdays,” he added. “I’ve been saying that since Day 1, let me have a Thursday night conference home game. Why can’t Arizona play a Thursday night conference home game?

“I don’t care if it’s five days for each school or 10 days (off) for each school, give us one of those. I think it would be off the charts. I think our Zona Zoo would be there packed to the hill, I think our people in the community would come out, it would be a great atmosphere.”

Rodriguez checked to make sure the Wildcats have not hosted a conference game on a Thursday night since he’s been in Tucson, and he received confirmation.

“We’ve had them on the road, we haven’t had one at home,” he said. “So Arizona’s got no open dates, give them an open Saturday, let them play a conference Thursday game. Can you tell I’m bothered by it?”

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