Mackovic handles the good and the bad

It's been a mixed bag the past few weeks for Arizona coach John Mackovic. He's had to deal with both the good and the bad, both extremes of the world of college football. Mackovic has had to deal with a pair of off the field incidents and ESPN exposing a minor violation. On the other hand Mackovic has welcomed in one of the school's best recruiting classes and gets ready to begin preseason camp.

Mackovic is excited about the 29 new players that they are welcoming into camp. This year's crop appears to be a bigger, faster and stronger group than has been signed in the past. This is a trend that will continue both at Arizona and around college football.

"Everyone is bringing in big people who are fast and strong," Mackovic said. "We're just a part of that."

With a player at every position, the coaching staff seems excited because there is no limit to what they can work on. Last season there were holes that had to be worked around. The full compliment of players means that learning formations and schemes will be that much easier.

"We have four practices to cram as much in as possible," Mackovic said. "We'll do a general agility station and then very quickly get into formations and general terminology. The key will be if we can give them enough understanding so they can get through the first couple of days with the veterans. Then they can build on that as we go. The key thing is to get the basic things entrenched so that they know where to go and they don't miss the key teaching points."

Unfortunately Mackovic could not just focus on his ball players. He also had to worry about an apparent minor rules infraction that he was made aware of due to an episode of ESPN's ‘Outside the Lines'.

"After I saw the show, I wrote to our compliance officer that we got information from our summer conditioning program that we shouldn't have," Mackovic revealed. "I don't think there is a coach out there that doesn't get some information. They (the NCAA) say you can't get any information. If you take it frankly enough, the strength coach could never talk to the coach."

Mackovic said that as soon as he learned that the team might have broken a rule, he went to the massive NCAA rules manual. The 2" thick manual is not the easiest tome to flip through. The actual rule broken was not under the section on offseason football workouts. In fact it had no link to football at all in the index. The actual rule was under the sub-title of "Voluntary Athletic Workout".

"It's hard to even find the rule," Mackovic confided. "I went to the rule book and looked under ‘football', then looked under ‘out of season conditioning' and it is not there. You have to go to another rule. It is not under football. You can not find it in the manual under ‘football'. It is close to the section, but it is not under the section for football."

Coach Mackovic went so far as to bring out the manual to show the media truly how difficult the rule is to find.

While Mackovic is not making excuses for the violation, he is very outspoken on the matter. He believes that coaches being prevented from knowing about off-season conditioning is a recipe for disaster and a danger for the student-athletes.

"It is unconscionable for us not to direct these kids for a very demanding game," Mackovic said.

Mackovic said the rule opens the door for injury as well as possible drug use, poor training and a myriad of other bad outcomes if players are left totally to their own devises to create an offseason training program.

"They will go and find someone else to guide them. Then we will open the door to possible drug abuse, unscrupulous people to work with them, people who might not be professionally trained. We would be opening the door to an entirely different world than we have."

Mackovic believes that the rules regarding summer conditioning will be altered as soon as next season.

"We don't have a choice it has to get changed," Mackovic said. "There will be another model next summer."

Coach Mackovic is still dealing with the aftermath of two off the field incidents where Wildcat players were arrested. Mackovic said there were two issues at hand when it came to dealing with any punishments. The first issue was the fact that none of the four players immediately came forward to inform the staff. Mackovic said regardless of the cases' outcomes, that the players will be reprimanded. Further reprimands would be considered based on how the cases conclude. Mackovic said he did not want to rush and punish players until all the facts were in.

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