Spring football is supposed to be a college football team’s chance to thaw after a long, cold winter, to return to the field and shake off that cold-weather rust. But in Arizona, where warmth lasts yearlong, you might as well hold spring practices in… February.
Or so says Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, who will hold the Wildcats 15 spring practices this month, according to Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel.
Arizona isn’t the only team to move up its spring practice — Duke started last weekend — but its decision to take the field in February has some side effects. The Wildcats, like the Pac-12’s other teams, are slotted to hold an official spring game on the Pac-12 Network, but their spring schedule means they’ll have wrapped up practice before then.
According to Fox Sports, Rodriguez will take advantage of his team’s slot on TV anyway.
Rodriguez doesn’t want to waste that opportunity in the event some recruits are watching.
“We may just do slip and slide,” he said. “We may have some sort of competition — let the fat boys mud wrestle or something. But no true spring game.”
It’s to blame Rodriguez for going this direction. Slip and slide does sound a lot more fun than exhibition football and it’s not all just talk as Rodriguez has used the slip and side in the past for the football team. Rich Rod loves the slip and slides and how can you blame him?
Beyond the television implications, the Fox story had a lot of interesting thoughts from Rodriguez on the conventions of spring practice. In addition to eschewing a spring game, Arizona will also apparently move away from traditional 11-on-11 and focus more on drills. Rodriguez said teams typically worry to much about scheme at this time of year.
“Spring practice from a scheme standpoint is way overrated,” he said. “From a fundamental standpoint, it’s critical, doing some of the thing you don’t have time to do in August.”
“If your scheme is so complicated you need all that time to teach it, then it’s probably too complicated,” said Rodriguez. Instead, “We’re going to teach offensive players how to have better ball security, teach defensive players how to create turnovers.”
Rodriguez is entering his fifth year as Arizona coach, after stints at West Virginia and Michigan. Arizona has reached a bowl game each season under Rodriguez but finished only 7-5 last year, so maybe it makes sense for them to switch something up.