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Sonoran Hot Reads: Rich Rodriguez says he would be disappointed if players didn’t stand during National Anthem

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Arizona’s head coach gives his take on the wave of silent protests started by Colin Kaepernick

Arizona v BYU Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When sports and society collide, it’s always interesting me to see how it plays out. Colin Kaepernick started sitting during the National Anthem before 49ers preseason games, drawing attention to the racial injustice in America. The cause has spread, and Kaepernick’s former college teammate Brandon Marshall knelt during the Star Spangled Banner before the NFL’s season opener on Thursday. We probably shouldn’t expect any Arizona players to do that though. Rich Rodriguez said on his weekly radio show that he would be disappointed if they did so. An excerpt:

"Let me give you my take. Part of the rights of this country is free speech, and you’ve got to respect that and that’s what makes America great. So I’ll exercise mine now. Here’s what I think: I would be disappointed if anybody in our program would not stand at attention with their hand over their heart during when they’re singing of the national anthem, because I love this country. Now, that’s my opinion; that’s the way I think."

My take: disappointing that Rodriguez wouldn’t take well to college athletes exercising their right to make a social statement. I hope he hasn’t taken it to the level that John Tortorella has. However, I realize that Arizona is more progressive than most football programs. One piece of evidence towards that is the hiring of an entirely African-American defensive staff this offseason. I give Rodriguez credit though for taking advantage of the platform to give his opinion. It is part of what makes this country great, and hopefully it just furthers the conversation

- I also give Rodriguez credit for putting Anu Solomon on the injury report. The quarterback injured his knee during Wednesday’s practice, and it is likely that Brandon Dawkins starts on Saturday

- Arizona was an enormous favorite before this news came out. They’ll also be wearing uniforms that people claim to not care about but our analytics say different

- A few defensive players have had to do a little more than football....they’re parents as well

- The Grambling State band is in Tucson, which is something you should get out to see if you have the chance on Friday and Saturday

- In addition to the band, there are at least five football players that you should know about before Saturday night

- Next week’s opponent, Hawaii, is on the Worst 25 list

- The Arizona Bowl is going to be broadcast on the American Sports Network again, guaranteeing that not a lot of people are going to watch it again

Basketball

- What is Arizona getting with DeAndre Ayton? Ricky O’Donnell gives his take

- Want to know more about Kobi Simmons? Here’s a nice look at the skills he’ll bring to the McKale Center court

- We now know when Simmons and Co. will be playing since the Pac-12 released the full conference schedule on Thursday. Also of note, the game against Michigan State has been moved to the University of Hawaii, and is now open to the public

- Nick Johnson has been added to the Orlando Magic’s training camp roster

- Mark Tollefsen signed a rookie deal overseas with BC Kalev of the VTB League

Baseball

- This is an awesome story about how Robert Refsnyder is looking to give neglected kids some love and provide them with some stability

Other sports

- Pac-12 Networks will now be available on Sling

Soccer hosts Northern Illinois Friday night

- Volleyball plays two games on Friday at the Borderland Invitational in Las Cruces

Tucson news

- OSIRIS-REx successfully launched from Cape Canaveral. Here’s a neat photo slide show of it

- There’s now a GO Kart track downtown, and downtown is now officially the best

- The hurricane brought plenty of rain to Tucson, but it also may have blown seabirds into the desert as well