Rodriguez Era Begins in TucsonPosted on: November 11, 2011 in People & Places
Rich Rodriguez was introduced as head coach of the University of Arizona football program today, November 22, 2011, ending a stint as a sports television commentator to return to an 18-year coaching career.
Rodriguez, 48, was most recently head coach at Michigan from 2008 to 2010 and made a Division I statement as head coach from 2001-07 at West Virginia where he compiled a 60-26 record and won four Big East Conference championships. He has served as a football analyst for CBS Sports for the past year.
Rodriguez becomes Arizona's 30th head coach, succeeding Tim Kish, who took over on an interim basis for eight-year UA coach Mike Stoops Oct. 9, after the Wildcats opened the year 1-5. Kish has guided the Wildcats to an overall 3-8 mark entering the season finale here Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette.
A Talented, Proven Leader
"We looked far and wide for our next coach and found what we were looking for in Rich Rodriguez," said UA director of athletics Greg Byrne. "He's a talented, proven leader with outstanding success at the top level of college football," he said.
"I'm eager to get back to coaching and look forward to becoming part of the Arizona family," Rodriguez said. "It's a great individual opportunity for me and I believe that outstanding success is on the horizon for Arizona Football."
Rodriguez carries a career college coaching record of 120-84-2 in 18 seasons, marked by Division I records of 60-26 at West Virginia and 15-22 at Michigan. He began his head coaching career at Salem (W.Va.) College in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State (W.Va.) from 1990-96. He was a secondary coach and special teams coordinator in 1986, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 1987. He was the youngest head coach in college ball when appointed by Salem in 1988 at 24. The school disbanded its football program the next year and he served as a volunteer assistant at West Virginia working with outside linebackers in 1989.
Rodriguez' West Virginia teams were Big East Champions four seasons in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007, appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2 shortly after Rodriguez had left for Michigan. His 2006 club finished 11-2 after a victory over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. He also coached the 2002 Mountaineers to the Continental Tire Bowl and Gator Bowl appearances in 2003 and 2004.
Prior to accepting the West Virginia job in late November 2000, Rodriguez served as offensive coordinator and associate head coach for Tommy Bowden at Clemson in 1999 and 2000, with the Tigers recording a 15-9 record. He was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Bowden at Tulane for two years prior to that, 1997-98, where he helped lead the Green Wave to 19-4 mark including an undefeated 12-0 season with the Conference USA champs and Liberty Bowl victors in 1998.
At Glenville State, his teams won or shared four consecutive West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and he was named WVIAC Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994, as well as the NAIA Coach of the Year after leading his team to a national runner-up finish. He also was recognized by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as the state College Coach of the Year for all sports in 1993. He led the Pioneers to the national playoffs twice and posted a 43-28-2 record. He also served as Glenville's AD in 1995-96 and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2003.
Rodriguez graduated in 1986 from West Virginia, where he started as a walk-on in 1981 and became a three-year letterwinner as a defensive back from 1982-84. He added a master's degree from Salem in 1987. He is a native of Grant Town, W. Va., and graduated from North Marion High School. Rich and his wife, Rita, have two children, Raquel, 15, and Rhett, 13.