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The 2012 PAC 12 sleeper team and new coach is …

The 2012 PAC 12 sleeper team and new coach is …

So who is my PAC 12 sleeper team and candidate for New Coach of the Year? Could it be Arizona and Rich Rod? I wouldn’t just shuck the man off, not where he landed by a long shot. The more I think about it, the more I like the move.

It reminds me of when once upon a time Arizona went out of its way and pulled in a guy named Mike Stoops… but RR has a much, much better track record and personal resume. Stoops did have his moments of glory…. I wouldn’t call his time spent as the Wildcat HC a complete failure.

RichRod didn’t fit in at Michigan

We do know that this time around, RR arrived with a company of assistant coaches he is happy with as opposed to the debacle that caught him in a deluge at Michigan, perhaps a place where he just didn’t belong.

UM never seemed to be the right fit for an offensive minded CFB guru, a title that fits RR to this day in spite of what the Wolverines were, which was another Big Ten team that sported a plain vanilla pro-set offense. RR turned out to be a cultural misfit for UM… and so we live and learn.

RichRod’s offense should flourish in the desert

Rich Rodriguez teams have been teams whose strength has been centered around an innovative offense which was his specialty.

Pac 12 sleeper team - Arizona QB Matt Scott

Arizona QB Matt Scott

Nick Foles and now Matt Scott who has been waiting in the wings all along — both announced their presence as two bold stripes of innovation as Arizona Wildcat football history tells it. Foles and Scott both turned around point-thirsty football programs into teams that demand plenty of offense and points on the board.

This was a huge change from Arizona football historically and now enters Rich Rodriguez. This presents interesting possibilities. Senior QB Matt Scott (off a redshirt junior season according to plan) is back to start for the Wildcats in his senior year and from what I saw thus far in spring camp, he lapped up Rich Rodriguez’s offense like a thirsty Wildcat should. The plan to redshirt him so he could be Zona’s senior starting QB this season has worked brilliantly.

But isn’t it odd that the UA boards are quizzing where the wildcats are going to get their points now that Foles has left the school? Perhaps I shouldn’t mention this but Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer are both credited for developing the spread option offense with Rodriguez garnering most of the credit for the run-first option version which is what Oregon and Chip Kelly just happen to use (Kelly’s version of it.)

RichRod – PAC 12 newcomer most likely to succeed

Normally, a head coach that sports an ambitious offense will be scrutinized to the hilt in this offensive minded conference of champions. It’s because there have been so many greats over the years, it’s not easy to find one’s niche among all that have come before.

But in RR’s case, his accomplishments precede him. There is something very Pac-12 about Rich Rodriguez that most people don’t know anything about, and yes, it’s the very thing that earns RR my “most likely to succeed newcomer” candidate for 2012.

PAC 12 sleeper team - Mike Bellotti & Chip Kelly

Mike Bellotti & Chip Kelly

In 2006 when Mike Bellotti dispatched his OC at the time Gary Crowton to attend a winter spread offense clinic conducted by Urban Meyer in Florida. Crowton was also dispatched to WV to consult with Rich Rodriguez which is where he met Chip Kelly.

It didn’t take long before Crowton noticed that Kelly was spot on with the answers to his occasional questions while Meyer and Rodriguez were still thinking about it. It didn’t take long for Kelly to earn a spot on Crowton’s A-list as his goto man when he introduced Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly so Mike could just ask questions of Chip Kelly himself, thank you very much.

The following year (2007) Crowton moved on to LSU opening the door for Kelly to take Crowton’s job as Bellotti’s OC. You already know the rest of the story. Rich Rodriguez was, through Gary Crowton, the catalyst that brought Bellotti and Kelly together. OK, so now I may as well just go ahead and spill the beans, Rich Rodriguez was Chip Kelly’s mentor when Kelly was learning the spread option offense.

RR will turn Arizona into the 2012 PAC 12 sleeper team

RR arrives in the PAC-12 with a reputation that precedes him and the respect of his peers. They have come to just love their offense at the University of Arizona (Scott also moves better than Nick Foles).

It may not take very long for people to realize that RichRod is quite an upgrade from Mike Stoops. I am not sure how well the Wildcats will open their season, they might do OK, but in any circumstance, I bet you they finish strong with a half a season’s worth of experience and Rich Rodriguez’s spread option offense under their belt.

What do you think about Arizona hiring Rich Rodriguez to be their new head coach?  What do you think about the possibility that the Wildcats will wind up as the Pac -12 sleeper team this year?


3 Responses to “The 2012 PAC 12 sleeper team and new coach is …”

  1. SoonerBS says:

    I agree with you, Conan. I don’t really see their question to success being with the offensive side though, I wonder how the defense will do. I actually think that the offense will catch on pretty well because they have already been running a spread type offense. But the real test to this team’s success will be in how well the defense adjusts to a new 3-3-5 scheme.

  2. ERockMoney says:

    I like Oregon State as the sleeper in the Pac 12 this season. The Beavers don’t seem to be on anyone’s radar, which I think is a massive oversight by many media publications/outlets.

    Riley is an outstanding HC who consistently does more with less. He falls into a progression driven system, unlike to the elite powers who simply reload and an incredibly fast rate, Oregon State must build their cohesion over multiple years. This approach typically will lead to a down year every so often, as the stock pile of talent simply is not there and younger, inexperienced players must be used to build towards future seasons.

    2011 was that down year and I expect the tides to turn in Corvallis this season. The Beavers are loaded at the skill positions and I expect the offensive line to show vast improvement from the 2011 version. Riley and staff have had a knack for molding offensive line units in the past and this group should be a surprise this season.

    The defensive line was horrendous last season, but should improve. One of the main question marks this season will how much does this unit improve? The linebacker corps is stacked and should be one of the stronger units in the conference. My other main are of concern is the secondary, which should struggle, especially with the high power passing attacks within the conference. Lastly, I like the looks of the special teams unit and expect them to be at the top of the conference even with the loss of their outstanding punter.

    I’m big on the “flow” of the schedule and I really like how the Beavers schedule flows in 2012. They catch UCLA (following Nebraska and Houston back to back) and Arizona (following the fast paced frenzied Ducks) early, both on the road, but winnable, as these are teams I would expect to be stronger later in the season. The Beavers have five conference home games and face three comparable teams at home in Washington State (also following Oregon), Utah (HC) and California (also following Oregon).

    The other two conference road games are difficult at Washington and Stanford. These games are later in the season and I’ll be curious to see how both the Huskies and Cardinal respond if their seasons aren’t going as planned, which is more than possible based on the incredibly difficult Washington schedule and the lofty recent history Stanford had under Luck and Harbaugh. They also avoid the mighty Trojans this season, while divisional foes Oregon, Stanford, California and Washington don’t have that luxury.

    The non conference slate features two difficult games in Wisconsin and at BYU. I’m not sure how far Wisconsin will fall and I suspect catching them early in the season is preferable, but it may be a daunting task to ask the Beavers to slow down the Badger rushing attack. The BYU game is homecoming for the Cougars, but is a lead into consecutive road trips at Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

    Look for the Beavers to be the cardiac kids of the conference and far exceed expectations with a possible second place finish in the North. Call me crazy, but I think 8-9 win season is within reach and the finale versus Oregon could be for the North title. I don’t think the Beavers can get by the Ducks, but this type of season would be a huge accomplishment for Riley and the Beavers if things unfold this way. I think those Ducks just might find their way into another title game appearance, but that’s another story.

  3. Kiel says:

    Perhaps Arizona improves this season, but I dont think they have much talent to work with. I would be more inclined to select UCLA.Mora has more to work with then RichRod, especially on defense.


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  2. 2012 College Football Win Totals: PAC 12 - [...] otherwise and the The Saturday Edge’s PAC 12 aficionado Conan picked Arizona as his 2012 PAC 12 sleeper team.…

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