What a ride it has been for the Arizona Wildcats to this point in the season and the work is not yet finished. As the Pac-12 South Champions for 2014 prepare for the conference title game, two Wildcats received honors from the Pac-12. Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was named the Coach of the Year and sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III was named the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach Rod had won eight games in his first two seasons at the helm of the Wildcat program but got over that hump this season with 10 regular season wins and seven in-conference which are both the most since coming to Tucson. It was the program’s third 10-plus-win season in school history and its first 10-win regular season since 1998. Rodriguez’s is Arizona’s first to earn the honor since Dick Tomey in 1992. Daniel Berk of the Arizona Daily Star tweeted out that Rodriguez also won conference Coach of the Year in his third year at West Virginia as well. The rest is history for what he accomplished with the Mountaineers.
“I’ve always thought that it was a staff award and a players award because you don’t get coach of the year when your team does poorly,” said Rodroguez. “If anybody has been out here, they would know that I have a great staff. Those guys all deserve it.”
Only one time since the Pac-12 started giving out the Defensive Player of the Year award has an underclassman won it. That was Washington’s Steve Entman back 1990. On Tuesday, a second name was added to that list short list of underclassman winning the award as sophomore Scooby Wright is the 2014 recipient. ‘Two Star Scoob’ lead the conference in forced fumbles (six) and ranked third in the nation in sacks (14). He is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Naguraski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award and led both the conference and the nation in tackles for loss, recording 27.0 total and averaging 2.25 per game.
The Pac-12 later announced their all conference teams which included Wright making first team All-conference. Center Steven Gurrola and punter Drew Riggleman was named second team. Austin Hill, Cayleb Jones, Jonathan McKnight, Dan Pettinato, Anu Solomon, Jared Tevis and Nick Wilson were named all-conference honorable mention.
The Wildcats are preparing for their first appearance in the Conference title game against Oregon this Friday where they will face the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year. Quarterback Marcus Marriota.