Rich Rodriguez has Arizona dreaming of the Rose Bowl
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Thread: Rich Rodriguez has Arizona dreaming of the Rose Bowl

  1. #1
    Head Administrator IT'S MILLER TIME's Avatar
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    Rich Rodriguez has Arizona dreaming of the Rose Bowl

    Rich Rodriguez has Arizona dreaming of the Rose Bowl - NCAA Football - Sporting News

    Rich Rodriguez says he’s happy, and really, it’s time to forget about the other stuff.

    You know, the stuff that nearly buried him professionally not so long ago.

    So I had to remind Rodriguez of the day we spoke after his first season at Michigan four years ago looked like it took 10 years from his life.

    “I obviously wasn’t in a good place,” Rodriguez says, and I can’t tell if he’s laughing at himself or laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

    Three years of hell at Michigan. Three years of not being a Michigan Man, of changing the old familiar with the new unconventional, of completely turning over a roster to start from scratch.

    All the things those in charge at Michigan knew the day they hired him.

    All things they eventually used against him.

    “All of a sudden, I had forgotten how to coach,” Rodriguez said.

    Now look at him: A year after getting fired from Michigan and sitting out a season, after enduring the worst coaching move in decades—he was a few plays away from coaching his alma mater, West Virginia, into the BCS National Championship Game, for the love of God—he has Arizona thinking about the Rose Bowl.

    “There’s no doubt in my mind,” says now former Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, “this program will win a Rose Bowl with Coach Rod.”

    If they do win it, it’ll be the first time ever. Hell, if they even get to Pasadena, it will be the first time ever.

    And if they do get there, won’t it just be a kick in the shorts if the Maize and Blue is there, too?

    “Let’s just get there first,” Rodriguez says.

    If he led West Virginia to within a sniff of that BCS National Championship Game one year and a Sugar Bowl win over SEC heavyweight Georgia in another; if he built the program so strong that even when he left for Michigan, that same team rolled on remote control and destroyed Oklahoma; he certainly can get Arizona to the Rose Bowl.

    There’s a reason Michigan hired him, and a reason Alabama thought it had closed a deal with him the season before.

    “You can’t judge him on three years of a bad fit at Michigan,” says one BCS coach. “Especially when they started bailing on him after the first season.”

    How scarred by Michigan was Rodriguez? He took the Arizona job sight unseen.

    Knew nothing about the roster. Knew nothing about the history of losing. Knew nothing about plans for a $65 million facilities expansion.

    Knew nothing about the Pac-12 or West Coast recruiting or the legend of student body president Button Salmon, who 86 years earlier—on his deathbed after an automobile accident—pleaded with the Wildcats to “Bear Down.”

    He just knew this: It was football, it was coaching—and it wasn’t Michigan.

    “We got total buy-in from the get-go here,” Rodriguez said. “From the players to the support staff to everybody that was touching the program. We had some guys committed at Michigan, but we had others that weren’t. Some guys felt a sense of entitlement. The name on the chest, and 'I’ve already arrived.'

    “The Chad Hennes and the Jake Longs put the work in and succeeded before us, and guys behind them thought they were entitled to the same status but hadn’t proved anything.”

    That’s why those 20 seniors were so important to Rodriguez this time around at Arizona. Why, when he took the job, he told players on the day they met that he was good friends with popular former coach Mike Stoops, and “I know where all the bodies are buried and all the traps are laid.”

    Those seniors pulled together and became the foundation of Rodriguez’s plan, instead of the fabric of the program tearing away at the ends. Michigan won three games in Rodriguez’s first season after winning 11 the previous season.

    Arizona won eight games in Rodriguez’s first season after winning four the year before. Michigan didn’t get to a bowl game until Rodriguez’s last season, and then was blown out by Mississippi State.

    Arizona beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl this season, only the second bowl victory in 14 years for the Wildcats.

    “I don’t know why it didn’t work somewhere else,” said linebacker Jake Fischer. “I just know it worked here.”

    Four years ago, Rodriguez bathed in anonymity while standing in the cavernous convention center in Orlando during the annual coaches convention—miles from the microscope of Ann Arbor and that nine-loss season. He was confused and frustrated and still had two years of misery ahead of him.

    Maybe he really hadn’t forgotten how to coach.

    All it took was one year at Arizona to prove it.
    TexAZCat likes this.
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    My greatest fear is that he's poached away before he takes us to that Rose Bowl. I hope he stays in Tucson for a long, long time.
    IT'S MILLER TIME likes this.

  3. #3
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    Coach Rodriguez has openly stated that this is his last stop.
    He wants to build a Dynasty, not just go somewhere for more money at a more prestigious program.
    Every time you move you have to start fresh, it takes its toll.
    Changing programs is a drain on your family and creates unneeded stress for the whole staff and their families.

    Tucson is a great place to be!
    Arizona Wildcat Football - "ALL IN"
    "HARD EDGE"
    Every Down - BEAR DOWN

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    Veteran LJTucson's Avatar
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    Great article. I agree with Matt, I think Rich will take Arizona to the Rose Bowl and more than once...

  5. #5
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    If he had known then what he learned at Michigan, he would still be at WV.
    I believe he will be here for a long time!
    Both fb and bb are in good hands now.
    If they can follow up on the baseball softball success we have had?

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