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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Versus column: Should Rich Rod move on from Arizona football?

Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne is at the most crucial point in his career, and it involves a decision about football head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The Wildcats are at a frustrating 5-4 record with only two wins in the conference against teams that will most likely miss out on the bowl season. Since Arizona is playing horrifically right now, it only makes sense for Byrne to approve Rodriguez’s departure before the end of his contract and let him go on his own to another program.

Let’s be real, Arizona is not a coaching destination. The Arizona football program is a stepping stone to one that has a great resume of winning on a consistent basis.

Plus, it’s difficult to attract recruits to Tucson. So having Rodriguez leave the program now will save Byrne the trouble down the road, just in case the current situation takes an even bigger turn for the worse.

Rodriguez proved he could win at the national level last season when he took the Wildcats to the Fiesta Bowl. Just imagine what he can do with a program like Virginia Tech, Miami or his ex-employer, West Virginia.

He can still maintain his buddy-buddy romance with defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and the 3-3-5 defense can thrive much better in the Atlantic Coast Conference than the Pac-12 Conference.

If Arizona’s season keeps nosediving, then Rodriguez needs to bite the bullet and say, “Bye Felicia,” to Greg Byrne.

— Justin Spears


VS


Rich Rodriguez brought Arizona football out of the Pac-12 Conference gutter, made it relevant on a national level and led the Wildcats through their most successful season since Dick Tomey was in town. There’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again.

Rodriguez turned an irrelevant West Virginia program around and made it relevant on a national level, as it was one win away from a national championship birth in the 2007-2008 season.

The Wildcats’ head coach similarly led Arizona out of the depths and into its first-ever Pac-12 Football Championship Game, just one win away from the program’s first bid to the Rose Bowl in just his third season.

The Wildcats weren’t supposed to defend their Pac-12 South title this season, unless you ask anyone in Tucson, but they were supposed to be a contender—not a team hovering around .500 in November.

With all that said, the blame doesn’t rest solely on Rodriguez’ shoulders.

Arizona has endured—or at least done its best to endure—more injuries than you can count this season. Go ahead and count them. I’ll wait.

You can stop yourself after you get through the best defensive player in the country, Scooby Wright III, and starters Anu Solomon, Nick Wilson, Trey Griffey, Tyrell Johnson, Cody Ippolito, Carter Wood and Trevor Wood.

The fourth-year Wildcat is right where he belongs: with Greg Byrne, dangerous offensive weapons, a recruiting class that just played in a Pac-12 Championship and paired with defensive specialist Jeff Casteel.

Rodriguez doesn’t need a new school. He needs a healthy team.

— Dominic Baciocco

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