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Rich Rodriguez visits Cardinals practice to learn, market program

If there's a new feel to the Arizona Wildcats since Greg Byrne has taken over as AD, it'd have to do with marketability.

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez was visiting the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday. He took in practice, which seemingly could be an odd way to spend the offseason when he could be holed up in his office doing scouting work for next season or working on his recruiting.

But this is about showing a face.

Rodriguez fits the Greg Byrne mold of being a people person. Where Mike Stoops might have spent the summers looking for holes in Oregon's spread offense, Rodriguez is building -- or keeping -- relationships. He's about learning, he told Arizona Sports.

"Got a chance to watch a little bit of a practice, talk to some guys, saw one of our former players (receiver Dan Buckner) and some other guys I know so it's been good," Rodriguez said of the experience. "And had a little shade tree, you know that's nice; we don't have a shade tree around our practice field, so it gave me some good ideas, too."

Seems obvious, maybe silly or inconsequential.

But Rodriguez's attention to the little details should give Arizona fans hope that the program is on the rise, if not next season then the ones thereafter. He of course took in how the Cardinals ran their practice. Maybe he learned a few schematic theories as well.

Even though RichRod told the media he wasn't there for any marketing reasons, it doesn't hurt. To make his presence felt in the Phoenix area is exactly what Greg Byrne, an ASU grad, has pushed since arriving in Tucson. It's about recruiting, fan support and the idea that the Wildcats' marketing slogan "This is Wildcat country" is true in Chicago, Texas, New Mexico, California, across Arizona and especially in ASU's backyard.

Learning things from the pros doesn't hurt, either.