Much of the discussion Friday at Pac-12 Media Day was the level of competition that the Pac-12 South brings every week.
For Rich Rodriguez, that is an indication of each school buying in more than anything else.
“How competitive it is?” Rodriguez asked. “Well, the Pac-12 south, I think it's always been good, but what's changed is the commitment to football in our league in general and in the Pac-12 south, in particular, is unprecedented.
“I mean, everybody's putting money into the programs, reinvesting in football, so to speak. I think a lot of the talent that's been out west that maybe had left the western part of the country going somewhere else is now staying out here because they see that commitment. We're one of them.
”The other schools in our division and in our league are doing it. I think the Pac-12 South is probably going to be better this year than it's ever been. The Pac-12 will be better than it's ever been, and I think it's going to stay that way into the future.”
When it comes to national respect, Rodriguez isn’t sitting around worrying about the conference image.
“I think there are always some arguments about which league is the best, which division is the best, and that's good for debate,” he said. “I don't worry about it. Hell, I'm trying to get a first down in a first game.
“I don't think when you line up middle of the fourth quarter and it's hot and you've played 200 plays already the guy's worried about crossing the line, wondering if we're getting respect as the Pac-12 south. Hell, just try to get the first down and get a stop.
“I think if you look at the non-conference results and you look at the bowl results, I think the conference as a whole stands pretty good.”
Arizona was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South, which coincidentally is the same exact spot as last season.
”Good, that's a good sign,” Rodriguez said. “Somebody told me, maybe you'll know. There was some poll, I don't know, some expert poll that gave us a two percent chance, is that what it was?
“Hey, it's like that Dumb and Dumber. What are the chances of me, a guy like me getting with a girl like you, like one in a hundred? One in a million? More like one in a million. So you're telling me there is a chance. So two percent is better than one in a million, right?
“I've been in situations where we've been the league favorite to win in situations like last year or this year where nobody would predict you'd win. Two percent would be a pretty good T-shirt to make or a hat or something, but if it motivates your guys to run an extra sprint on their own or something, maybe it will be good.
“When you're lined up in the fourth quarter and you're hot and tired and you're like, you know, the ESPN media poll picked us to have two percent, I think I'm going to shut her down. I don't think it makes a difference.”