It’s gotta be weird. You’re regarded as the godfather of the modern college football offense, but yet you let someone else develop and coach your son in high school.
That’s the position Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez finds himself in with his son Rhett.
Catalina Foothills has not exactly been a power on the Arizona high school football landscape, but the younger Rodriguez, in his fourth year as the Falcons’ starting quarterback, has led them to an undefeated season at home, and will play in the state quarterfinals on Thursday.
“All week, I thought I’m gonna miss it cuz it’s Friday, and then I find out it’s Thursday night that my son plays, so I may be able to go,” Rich said at his weekly Monday press conference. “The good thing is we do practice in the morning, so that may give me an opportunity to go, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
When myself and fellow AZDS writer Gabe Encinas went to go watch CatFoot in the first round of the playoffs, we were amazed at the command of the offense Rhett possesses. Never before had I seen a high school quarterback make checks at the line, but that’s what he did throughout the night.
“I’m very proud of my son,” Rich continued. “It’s good.”
It has to be hard for Rich to stay out of the way of the Foothills staff, but he’s found a way to do that with legendary coach Jeff Scurran.
Keep the conversations away from football.
“It’s more of a father relationship,” RichRod said of how he views his relationship with Scurran. “Those guys put a lot of time in, so I don’t think it’s my place to give football suggestions — not like anyone would want to listen now anyway.”
“The times I talk to (Scurran), it’s more like how he’s doing. There wasn’t a whole lot of football talk. Now back in the summer, his team and staff came (to U of A) for camp, and we talked a little ball then, but he’s been good.”
“We talk all the time,” Scurran explained to us after Friday night’s game. “And there’s three things we never talk about, ever: U of A football, Falcon football, and Rhett as a quarterback. And that takes a lot for a guy in (Rich’s) position. I’m sure I could learn a lot, but he’s just there supporting.”
But Scurran had even fonder words for the entire family.
“Of course (Rhett’s) dad brings the football knowledge, but let me tell ya something, that’s a tight, well-knit family,” Scurran said of the Rodriguez clan. “It’s really fun to watch the whole group. With the daughter Raquel, and Rita, and RichRod, it’s really fun for me for over four years to watch them operate as a family, and it doesn’t matter whether U of A wins, or loses, or whatever happens to us, they stay tight together.”
“It’s really a model for everybody.”
“I tell people this, and I’m not ashamed to say it: they are the right people to have here in Tucson. If you want your son led by a true leader; a man that knows how to raise a family right and take care of business off the field with his own family as well as a big university job, they’re a model to watch. It really is fun for me.”
I’m also friends with the deputy that has been designated as Rodriguez’s security detail during Arizona home games, and he tells me similar things about the entire family and how they interact with each other before, during, and after games.
While Rodriguez comes across as a gruff, sometimes combative guy in the public eye, maybe it would benefit him to show some of this softer side he has in his personal life to win back some of the Arizona fanbase that he has lost. Maybe.
Catalina Foothills plays at Sunrise Mountain Thursday night at 7 PM MT. Arizona hosts Colorado Saturday night at 8 PM MT.