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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Despite coaching offers, Rodriguez will stay

Sally Lynx / The Daily Wildcat
The Ghosts exhibition is on display at the University of Arizona’s Joseph Gross Gallery. The exhibition features the work of Ralph Ziman, a South African artist working to bring the realities of the African arms trade to light.

Arizona football is in an unfamiliar state compared to last season. The Wildcats were ranked in the top 10 and searching for a College Football Playoff bid after head coach Rich Rodriguez led Arizona to its first Pac-12 Football Championship Game appearance in program history.

Now, Rodriguez might be packing his bags because, according to Fox Sports, South Carolina will interview him for its head coaching vacancy in hopes of finding the successor for Steve Spurrier.

It’s been nearly two full weeks since the Wildcats took the field and even though the college football world is shaping up for an unpredictable ending, Arizona and Rodriguez have done their best to remain out of the spotlight.

The only news for Arizona has been punter Drew Riggleman being named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team while the Wildcats are still awaiting their bowl destiny, and then Rodriguez flirting to go coach in the SEC.

Is it really that suprising Rodriguez would look elsewhere after going 6-6 this season?

It could be argued he was saying his farewell to Arizona when the Wildcats coughed up the Territorial Cup. Rodriguez choked up in the press conference after the game when talking about the effort his team displayed.

“There’s nothing else they showed that had a little bit of competitiveness,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t even know if that’s the right word. Heart, competitiveness, they showed something.”

Alleged rumors had Rodriguez possibly headed to Virginia Tech, Miami (Florida) or pulling the ole’ LeBron James and returning back to his former squad in West Virginia.

Virginia Tech was the frontrunner because the style and finesse Rodriguez puts to the game seems more suitable for the ACC.

There were also rumors he could head to South Florida to utilize its recruiting hotbed, but that will be nothing but an image floating in our minds, because the Hurricanes are expected to hire former Georgia head coach Mark Richt.

Still, wasn’t recruiting one of the reasons why Rodriguez was so frustrated in the first place? According to him, in-state talent wouldn’t even give Tucson a visit, let alone a verbal commitment.

“I am frustrated at times,” Rodriguez said. “[Recruiting] is a lot better with the facility we have now; [recruits] see the profile and the program has been raised. … I get frustrated with in-state guys who say, ‘I have to go to school X because it makes me look cool.’ I think it is pretty cool to play at Arizona myself.”

Just imagine if Rodriguez was right-smack in the middle of a town that could finally attract the hometown kids to stay home.

The Virginia Tech job, though, was also taken off the table after Memphis’ former head coach Justin Fuente was hired Sunday.

The only reasonable options left are South Carolina and West Virginia. It’s not likely he’s returning to West Virginia, and the SEC would punch his 3-3-5 defense in the mouth. So the Gamecocks would be rolling the dice if they were to offer Rodriguez a handsome contract.

Even the money was better at Michigan than it was at West Virginia when Rodriguez jumped ship, but his experiment in the Big Ten Conference lasted just three seasons before he was fired.

Accepting the South Carolina head coaching position is a high risk-high reward decision, and it may not be the right fit for a guy like Rodriguez.

Face it, he probably isn’t going anywhere, and the mission to take Arizona football to new heights is still in full force moving into the program’s fourth straight bowl appearance—something that has never happened in school history.

Bowl games such as the Cactus Bowl, Sun Bowl, Independence Bowl, Royal Purple Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl and the inaugural Arizona Bowl could play host to the Wildcats this postseason.

No matter what bowl Arizona will place, Rodriguez deserves a pat on the back because not a single word has been recorded from him since the ASU game. With all of the wild twists and turns to the season, the fact the Wildcats are even bowl eligible proves Rodriguez can win consistently.

The selection day for bowl games is Sunday, Dec. 6, at 1 p.m. The show will air live on ESPN.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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