Friday Fix: Fighting within reason is part of football





Always fighting to prove himself, Tedy Bruschi became successful by being contentious -- including with teammates-- since his high school days

Always fighting to prove himself, Tedy Bruschi became successful by being contentious — including with teammates– since his high school days

— Teammates fighting each other is part of the game. To some coaches, in-fighting is encouraging because it shows the players are at least filled with emotion. Arizona’s Cody Ippolito and Tevin Hood happened to have their dispute caught on national television last weekend at the New Mexico Bowl. They were sent home with their parents halfway through the game and are awaiting further discipline. …

If they sparred in the locker room or at practice away from the cameras, would anybody besides their teammates, coaches and UA support staff know about it? Not a chance. Hood’s swing at Ippolito was ill-advised because it was embarrassing in front of the cameras and it came at a lax moment when the Wildcats were down 21-0 in the first quarter against Nevada. … Neither should be kicked off the team. Ippolito played for new Arizona tight end coach Charlie Ragle when Ragle was head coach at Scottsdale Chaparral. …

Fighting is part of the territory, especially with a physical sport such as football. One of the most popular Wildcats — Tedy Bruschi — has a documented history of not holding back when it came to standing up to (or over) a teammate. ”I’m a Gemini,” Bruschi told Jackie MacMullen in a 2005 interview in the Boston Globe. ”I’m a split personality. I was crazy on the field, and I was crazy off it. Everyone has their own speed. Mine was very high.” The article details Bruschi’s aggressive nature on and off the field, mostly in the years before he flourished with the New England Patriots. The reason why Bruschi came away from his Arizona days a hero instead of a hindrance is he was able to mostly channel that aggressive style into 51 school-record sacks. When you are a player like that, a quarrel here and there is not condoned but is forgiven. …

— Is it any wonder why Sean Miller scheduled a four-year renewal of Arizona’s rivalry with UNLV starting next season? Miller’s two most productive players to date — sophomore guard Nick Johnson and freshman forward Brandon Ashley — are from Las Vegas-area powerhouse Findlay Prep. Las Vegas also boasts Bishop Gorman High School, which plays a national schedule like Findlay. This weekend, Gorman is hosting the inaugural Jerry Tarkanian Invitational which includes 24 teams including Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Chicago Morgan Park, Fresno (Calif.) Modesto Christian, Brooklyn Lincoln, Los Angeles Fairfax, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, Phoenix Pinnacle and a team from Australia. With Arizona playing the Runnin’ Rebels and competing now in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas annually Miller’s program will get the exposure in that area that he wants. …

Phoenix Pinnacle Class of 2014 recruit Dorian Pickens has Arizona on his list of many suitors (Pros2Preps.com, click on photo to access video)

Phoenix Pinnacle Class of 2014 recruit Dorian Pickens has Arizona on his list of many suitors (Pros2Preps.com, click on photo to access video)

— Pinnacle includes Arizona Class of 2014 target Dorian Pickens, a 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound multi-skilled guard. Arizona, Syracuse, Georgetown, West Virginia, ASU, Boston College, New Mexico, NAU, Rice and Weber State have all offered Pickens a scholarship. He has already taken unofficial recruiting visits to Syracuse, West Virginia and Georgetown. He has also visited Arizona a few times and has experienced one-on-one conversations with Miller during the contact period. Landing Pickens would continue Arizona’s ability to draw the best talent in the state on a consistent basis since Cholla’s Sean Elliott signed with Lute Olson in 1985. The last player that ASU won over Arizona was Lafayette “Fat” Lever of Pueblo in 1978, but that was during the declining Fred Snowden years. … Listening to Pickens’ interview at Pros2Preps.com in June indicates that he is an expressive, intelligent young man who would bring more than his basketball skills to a program. …

Jabari Parker’s commitment to Duke was significant inasmuch as the Chicago product shunned college coaches in the Big Ten area to head east and play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Parker, of Simeon Career Academy, is part of a resurgence in talent in the Chicago area that some media in that area are calling the best since 1998. In that class were former Arizona player Michael Wright, Quentin Richardson (DePaul), Corey Maggette (Duke), Bobby Simmons (DePaul), and Frank Williams (Illinois). Because of his Big Ten and midwestern roots, Lute Olson was able to lure recruits from Illinois and Indiana. Arizona is experiencing the same type of recruiting success under Sean Miller, only more so in the eastern United States such as Pennsylvania and New York. If Miller can tap into the midwest and steal a recruit from under Tom Izzo, Tom Crean and John Beilein than his recruiting stature could surpass Olson. Of course, Miller would have to sustain that kind of success for more than 20 years to reach Olson’s caliber as a legendary coach. …

— I have followed Arizona football since the Jim Young years in the mid-1970s, and I can not recall the last time the Wildcats executed a successful onside kick that ultimately led to an Arizona win, as was the case last week when John Bonano mastered the feat against Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. I quizzed longtime Tucson sports journalist Anthony Gimino, the TucsonCitizen.com’s sports editor, about it and he was not certain. The Wildcats had a chance to take the lead in a bowl game — the Fiesta Bowl against Dan Marino and Pitt in 1979 — but the Panthers recovered an unsuccessful onside attempt by Brett Weber with 5:20 remaining. Arizona coach Tony Mason decided to try the onside kick after fullback Hubert Oliver rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. The TD run was set up by a trick play in which Oliver took a lateral pass from quarterback Jim Krohn and completed a 48-yard pass to Greg Jackson. Perhaps Mason got caught up in the moment after the trick play and touchdown run and wanted to maintain the momentum with a relatively early onside attempt. Pittsburgh managed to keep the ball for almost four minutes before punting. Krohn then threw an interception to end Arizona’s threat. …

Will Daniel Jenkins become the best transfer to leave Arizona? He does not have a lot of competition.

Will Daniel Jenkins become the best football transfer to leave Arizona? He does not have a lot of competition.

Daniel Jenkins’ decision to transfer and immediately play running back at the FBS level elsewhere next season is understandable. Ka’Deem Carey will be the focus of attention next season and Jenkins has his degree in tow. Why not try somewhere that will welcome him with open arms for a season? Advice for Jenkins: Try Fresno State. The Bulldogs lose senior running back Robbie Rouse, who has rushed for 1,468 yards, and they will have one of the nation’s most potent offenses next year with NFL-ready quarterback Derek Carr leading the Bulldogs. Jenkins has the challenge of having to impress his new coaching staff after playing in the shadows of Carey and Keola Antolin. Another possibility is San Jose State, where Minnesota transfer De’Leon Eskridge (992 yards on 192 carries) has exhausted his eligibility. …

Jenkins is an unproven commodity rushing for a career-high 293 yards and two touchdowns this season. Depending on how he fares as a senior at his chosen school, he could become one of the top five transfers to leave Arizona (all of which are basketball players). My list: 1, Leon Wood (from Fred Snowden era went to Cal State-Fullerton and was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team); 2, Ruben Douglas (departed in 1999 to New Mexico where he became the nation’s leading scorer as a senior with 28 points a game); 3, Will Bynum (led Georgia Tech to the 2005 Final Four after leaving Arizona in 2003); 4, Luke Recker (former Mr. Indiana who played for Bobby Knight, transferred to Arizona but left to Iowa before playing for the Wildcats to be with his girlfriend who was paralyzed in a car crash they were part of); and 5, Deron Johnson (the former Sunnyside star who became a prolific scorer with Division II Clark College in Atlanta). … The best football transfer? Not an easy choice. Richard Kovalcheck left Arizona for Vanderbilt in 2006 because he knew Willie Tuitama would be Mike Stoops’ No. 1 quarterback. Kovalcheck, who passed for 1,351 yards in 2005 for the Wildcats and had 11 interceptions and 10 touchdowns, hoped to be Jay Cutler’s replacement at Vandy but that never materialized. He attempted only 65 passes, completing 40 for 374 yards for the Commodores in his last two seasons. Former Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage transferred to Arizona but then left to Pitt where he will be a senior in 2013. He departed from UA (for personal reasons after Rich Rodriguez was hired) without playing a down in 2011 because of NCAA transfer rules. …

Scott Terrell of TucsonCitizen.com put together a nice stat package of players still playing in bowls trying to catch Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey‘s yardage total and average. The players who have the best chance to catch Carey’s 1,929 yards rushing are Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (158 yards shy of Carey going against Florida State in the Orange Bowl) and UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin (who needs 229 yards rushing against a porous Baylor defense in the Holiday Bowl). As far as the average-per-game title, Carey is in a good spot. Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell needs 282 yards to catch Carey against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe on Dec. 29. …

— While those players are chasing Carey, the Wildcats’ hoops team is chasing history. If the UA beats East Tennessee State in the first game of the Diamond Head Classic tomorrow it will become only the second team in the program’s history to start 10-0. The only team that has surpassed that mark is the 1987-88 Final Four team that started 12-0. Elliott and Steve Kerr’s team won their 10th game at Washington State (the Wildcats started their Pac-10 schedule before Christmas that year). In what was one of the most tantalizing three-game stretches in Wildcat history, the UA beat Michigan State and Duke in the Fiesta Bowl Classic to start 12-0 as the No. 1 team in the country before losing to New Mexico at The Pit on Jan. 2, 1988. The UA dropped to No. 3 after the loss to the Lobos but returned to the No. 1 spot the following week. The Wildcats achieved a feat that will probably not be matched again. They were ranked in the AP Top 5 in the last 15 weeks of the season (six as the No. 1 team).

Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner



Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.