TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez is the Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year and sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III is the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, it was announced by the league office on Tuesday.
In just his third year at the helm of Arizona football, Rodriguez earns Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors after leading the Wildcats to a 10-2 record overall and a 7-2 mark in conference play, claiming the South Division title and the program’s first-ever berth in the Pac-12 Championship after finishing with the best record in league play. It was the Wildcats third 10-plus-win season in school history and its first 10-win regular season since 1998. Rodriguez’s is UA’s first to earn the honor since Dick Tomey in 1992.
The Wildcats closed the regular season out with back-to-back wins over AP ranked opponents, defeating No. 20 Utah, 42-10, and No. 13 Arizona State, 42-35. On the year the Wildcats had wins over three ranked opponents, also knocking off No. 2 Oregon on the road, 31-24. Arizona ranked in fourth in the conference in scoring (36.7 ppg), rushing (189.8 ypg) and total offense (481.2).
Wright, a sophomore from Windsor, Calif., is Arizona’s eighth Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and the first since Tedy Bruschi in 1995. He is the first underclassman since Washington’s Steve Entman (1990) to win Pac-10/12 Defensive Player of the Year. Entman is the only other underclassman to have won the award since it began in 1983.
Wright anchored an Arizona defense that captured its first-ever Pac-12 South division title, while leading the conference in forced fumbles (six) and ranking third in the nation in sacks (14). A finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Naguraski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award, he led both the conference and the nation in tackles for loss, recording 27.0 total and averaging 2.25 per game.
Wright helped spearhead a defense that forced two or more turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown in each of its last four games en route to clinching the South title. Wright, who recorded 139 tackles this season (11.6 avg), helped the Wildcats to their first 10-win regular season since 1998. The sophomore was selected as the Pac-12’s defensive Player of the Week three times this season and earned Pac-12 honorable mention honors as a freshman last season.