Rich Rodriguez didn’t just leave the WVU football team in 2007. He actually shook up the entire college football landscape.
Rodriguez came to the WVU football team in 2001 and flirted with leaving several times before he eventually bolted to Michigan in 2007, after losing to Pitt in the Backyard Brawl. The year, prior he turned down an Alabama offer that now looks like one of the worst decisions anyone could ever make.
But that seems to be the career path for Rodriguez, who is now out of a job. Rodriguez was fired from his post as head coach at Arizona, where he coached for six seasons. The Wildcats were mediocre in his tenure but the reason for his firing doesn’t seem to be related to the on-field results. Rather, it was the odd, creepy lifestyle Rodriguez lived off the field that proved to be his undoing.
Rodriguez could have been a legend at WVU. He was already part of something special as the Mountaineers were competing for the Big East Championship almost every year he was coaching there. But with that success came great accolades and Rodriguez’s ego continued to grow. He was cocky and arrogant, though every college football coach may have those fibers embedded in them. But Rodriguez was also hungry for power. He didn’t see eye-to-eye with former athletic director Ed Pastilong, who was outdated in his own right. But Rodriguez tried to overstep his boundaries as a head coach by wanting full control over the program. He didn’t want to listen to rules and wanted to make his own polices.
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That seems to be what he was trying to do at Arizona. Rodriguez created a sour environment that wasn’t a safe place for some employees. That’s why he and the university were facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit. That’s nothing new for him, though, as he was also deposed on several occasions for his contract with West Virginia.
Rodriguez only stayed at Michigan for four seasons before he was fired and there were also allegations he faced while coach of the Wolverines. Wherever Rodriguez went, a cloud of misconduct seemed to follow. That’s why the WVU football ties with Rodriguez appeared to be cut at the right time. It didn’t seem so at first, but West Virginia is in a better place without Rodriguez being associated with the WVU football team.
After Rodriguez left, the Mountaineers won a BCS Bowl game. Another BCS Bowl win came a few years later under now-head coach Dana Holgorsen. That’s not to say Rodriguez wouldn’t have had that same success, but West Virginia was able to win without Rodriguez. It hasn’t been proven that Rodriguez could win consistently without superstar players Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt, among other who dominated the scene for the WVU football team 10 years ago.
If Rodriguez was still at West Virginia, the allegations that he is facing right now probably would have come out sooner. He wouldn’t have cleaned up his act and he’d probably see himself as the most powerful man in the state.
The WVU football team isn’t exactly in the best graces of the fanbase currently, but having to go through what Arizona is right now isn’t better than losing to Utah in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The WVU football team has some things to fix, luckily that doesn’t include the morality of its head coach.