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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: With Rich Rod at the helm, anything is possible

Arizona+head+coach+Rich+Rodriguez+chuckles+on+the+sideline+of+Arizona+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+26.+Rodriguez+will+lead+the+Wildcats+into+their+fourth+straight+bowl+appearance.
Rebecca Noble
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez chuckles on the sideline of Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26. Rodriguez will lead the Wildcats into their fourth straight bowl appearance.

Wildcat fans should be overjoyed with the news that head coach Rich Rodriguez will still be donning the block “A” next season. In fact, had he even decided to leave Tucson, fans shouldn’t have seen him go with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The fourth-year Wildcats head coach deserves thanks and praise, and another season with him at the helm of Arizona football should be welcomed with open arms.

Think about the coaching career Rodriguez has had.

After having been the head coach at huge football programs like West Virginia and Michigan, can you blame him for taking a look into the SEC and South Carolina? He would have been thrust back into the biggest college football scene in the country.

The Pac-12 Conference has some great football, but it doesn’t compete with the SEC, and Arizona will forever and always be a basketball-first school.

That being said, what Rodriguez has done in his four years at Arizona has been nothing short of impressive.

He has compiled a career record of 32-20 (.615) while at Arizona and has beaten a top-10 team each year with wins over No. 10 USC in 2012, No. 5 Oregon in 2013, No. 2 Oregon on the road in 2014 and No. 10 Utah this season.

The latest upset victory over Utah sent Rodriguez to his fourth straight bowl game, something that had never been done in Arizona history.

He won the Pac-12 South title last season, clinching it with a thrilling home victory in the Territorial Cup over ASU.

While achieving big upsets each season, Rodriguez has seen his fair share of struggles. He is 1-3 against rival ASU, as well as USC, while also failing to beat UCLA through his first four seasons at the Wildcats’ helm.

However, Rodriguez has found success at a school that is not known for its college football. He has to compete with the likes of ASU, UCLA, USC, Oregon and even some Texas schools when it comes to recruiting.

These other schools have programs that are more established and have found more success than Arizona over the years. Rodriguez’s ability to find players like Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright III, All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention Anu Solomon and Arizona’s freshman rushing record holder Nick Wilson, have helped steer this program to be relevant on a grander stage than in the past.

This season undoubtedly fell short of expectations. At 6-6, the Wildcats had a complete reversal from the previous year. But not all of this is Rodriguez’s fault, as injuries were the story of the season. A healthy Wildcat team might have performed better, but the rest is history.

And even so, this season had plenty of excitement to cheer for—see Jerrard Randall, Brandon Dawkins against ASU, a 77-point performance against NAU, a College GameDay appearance and another top-10 upset.

So while it may feel like Rodriguez “betrayed” Arizona fans by exploring another position, we can’t blame him for looking. With the success he has recently brought to this school and program, he’s earned his shot at another chance with a bigger program—at least the chance to explore one.

So don’t feel too bitter toward the soon-to-be fifth-year head coach; he’s done some great things with this program. Enjoy the fact Arizona gets to keep him for another season and embrace the craziness that comes with it. Who knows what type of team we will see next year, but with Rodriguez leading the charge, anything is possible.


Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.


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