Wildcats head north for Phoenix scrimmage

TUCSON, Ariz. – Charlie Ragle flashed a wide, toothy smile. He’s going back home – sort of – on Friday.

For 13 years, Ragle called the Phoenix area home, but now the former Chaparral High coach is part of Rich Rodriguez’s staff in Tucson. He will return to his old stomping grounds with the University of Arizona football team for a controlled scrimmage at 7 p.m. on Friday at Phoenix College’s Hoy Stadium.

It’s open to the public.

“We can’t talk to recruits, but there may be some that show up along with the rest of the fans,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said, speaking on the opportunity to gain fans in Arizona Sun Devils country. “I think anytime our program is on display, it’s an opportunity for potential recruits and fans to enjoy watching us. I think it’s fun for our players. I wish we had more guys healthy. I still think it’ll be fun for them and fun for our players.”

It’ll definitely be fun for Ragle, who has been one of the more successful high school coaches in the state.

“I have a lot of great memories and a lot of family and friends up there,” said Ragle, who led Chaparral to three state titles from 2009-11. “It was home to me, and I’m excited to back. But (Tucson) is home to me now. Being able to go up and perform in front of people I know is exciting.”

And he has a new role with the team. He was hired to be UA’s assistant operations director about a month after his last state title at Chaparral. He has since been named as the special teams and tight end coach.

“It’s something I’ve worked my whole career for,” he said. “I’m taking it on the best I can. I get up every day, working for a guy like Coach Rodriguez and in a program like this. The program is on the rise.”

Rodriguez would like to think so, although this week he’s been a bit cranky because his team hasn’t been up to his expectations in his second spring in Tucson. On Monday, he told reporters he’s been “too nice” to his players.

Wednesday’s effort was a little better, he said, but not great.

Rodriguez said he knows his team isn’t in its best shape and it doesn’t have to be in the spring “but there should always be a certain condition our guys should always (have), and a few of them haven’t done that.”

When asked to rate spring practice to this point, he’d give it something less than a five. “It just isn’t acceptable,” he said.

Rodriguez did say he expected a good scrimmage on Friday when the team will go through about 60- to 70 plays.

“I would be real disappointed if they didn’t come out Friday night with enthusiasm,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be an easy practice.”

He said he expects more from his players, using one of his signature lines: “I want a bunch of guys where I gotta say, ‘whoa’ instead of ‘sic ‘em’ – because if I have got to say ‘sic ‘em,’ I’ve got the wrong dudes. We’ve been together long enough to know that.”