Rich Rodriguez says staff losses are 'byproduct' of UA's success; 2013 schedule 'challenging.'
By TYLER LOCKMAN FS Arizona
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez certainly didn't seem pleased about the recent departures of three assistant coaches when asked about it before the National Football Foundation Arizona High School Champions luncheon Friday, but he also didn't seem the slightest bit worried.
"We'll be all right," Rodriguez said. "The core of our program will always stay the same."
The Wildcats have lost three coaches since winning the New Mexico Bowl. First to leave was tight ends and offensive special-teams coach Spencer Leftwich, who took an assistant head coach/offensive line position at UTEP five days after the bowl game.
Next, offensive line coach Robert Anae, the only holdover from the Mike Stoops era in Tucson, returned to BYU, his alma mater, on Jan. 4 to be offensive coordinator.
Then, on Wednesday, it was announced by the school that safeties and defensive special-teams coach Tony Gibson had left the program. He is reportedly returning to West Virginia, where he coached with Rodriguez from 2001-07.
Such departures, Rodriguez said, tend to happen after a season like his first at UA, as the Wildcats went 8-5, the best start for a coach in program history.
"That is a byproduct of it," Rodriguez said. "When you have a little bit of success, guys get opportunities, whether it's extra money or extra titles. Sometimes that happens, but we've got a great situation at our place. Our administration is very supportive, and I hope we don't lose too many in the future because of (success)."
Assistant director of football operations Charlie Ragle has already been promoted to replace Leftwich. The other spots remain open.
HITTING THE ROAD
The Pac-12 released its 2013 schedules Thursday, and Arizona's home-road split seemed to stand out most to Rodriguez.
"It's another really competitive schedule," Rodriguez said. "We've got only four home games in the conference, so that's a little tougher, but it should be exciting for our fans."
UA struggled mightily on the road last season, going 1-3, with the win coming in its final road game in mid-November. Of UA's six road games in 2013, five are Pac-12 games. Even with last year's struggles, Rodriguez said the preparation for and the approach to road contests won't change.
"We don't change the preparation, whether it's 12 at home or 12 on the road," Rodriguez said. "Last year, we were spoiled a little bit -- we had eight home games. So this year's going to be a little more challenging with six on the road. We're going to have to have our young guys grow up in a hurry."
-- Rodriguez said he was not surprised at senior running back Daniel Jenkins' decision to transfer with one year of eligibility remaining. Jenkins, who would have been stuck behind All-American Ka'Deem Carey on the depth chart, will be eligible to play right away as long as the school he chooses offers a graduate program Arizona does not. He rushed for 293 yards and two touchdowns last season.
"He's a great young man, he got his degree, and I think he'll have success wherever he lands," Rodriguez said.
-- Rodriguez expressed excitement at the addition of former USC quarterback Jesse Scroggins, who transferred to Arizona from El Camino (Calif.) College last month. Rodriguez said Scroggins will compete with senior-to-be B.J. Denker.
"We want competition at every position, and Jesse will provide that at quarterback," Rodriguez said.