The future looks bright at the University of Arizona.
Athletic Director Greg Byrne’s vision has led to the hiring and, more important, retaining of head basketball coach Sean Miller, as well as bringing in Rich Rodriguez late last year to take over for Mike Stoops who was fired in mid-season after an underperforming start.
Off the field Byrne has been proactive, successfully fundraising the needed resources to renovate Arizona Stadium, as well helping land UofA back in the state’s spotlight with numerous functions in Phoenix over the past several months.
The Valley is now littered with “This is Wildcat Country” billboards on interstates and near busy intersections as Byrne continues to spread the word.
Saturday, Rich Rod and his new-look ‘Cats held an open practice and scrimmage at Glendale Community College which drew close to 3,000 fans.
Arguably the school’s most famous basketball alum sees the vision in Tucson.
“Arizona is always in good hands,” 1989 John Wooden Award winner and Associated Press Player of the Year Sean Elliott told Brad Cesmat Tuesday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “With what Sean Miller is doing with his recruiting class next year (a Top 5 national class)…he’s going to have his guys in place. He’s going to have an excellent opportunity to [win].”
The former San Antonio Spurs NBA Champion and Tucson native hasn’t had a chance to meet Byrne in person, but has kept a close eye on the UofA football program, as well.
“Hiring Rich Rodriguez was big,” Elliott explained to Cesmat. “A guy who’s been there and won BCS games. Hopefully he can turn the football program around and get it back to where it was in 90’s when we had ‘Desert Swarm’ and we had a phenomenal defense.
Elliott says, despite the parity in all sports around the Pac-12, the Wildcats can compete in all sports across the board.
“We have those capabilities. It’s a great school in a great area with great athletic facilities,” he said.
Under Byrne, those visions could become reality in the near future.