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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Rodriguez not happy with start to spring ball

Keith Hickman-Perfetti
Rich Rodriguez speaks during the press conference to officially announce his appointment to the head coach of UA football, on 22 Nov. 2011. Keith Hickman-Perfetti/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Rich Rodriguez knows pressure. When he was hired as West Virginia’s head coach in 2001, he was replacing legendary retiring head coach Don Nehlen, who was 149-93-4 in his career as the Mountaineers’ coach with an appearance in the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.

Not only did Rodriguez live up to expectations in Morgantown — he completely turned the expectations on their head. Excluding a 3-8 record in his first year, Rodriguez won 76 percent of his games, going 57-18. His tenure also included Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl appearances, plus something Nehlen never accomplished — a win in the Sugar Bowl.

Then Rodriguez bolted from Morgantown to take the head coaching position at Michigan. As the head coach of the Wolverines, Rodriguez was taking the reins at one of the most storied football programs in the country. He wasn’t able to find the same success this time around, winning just 15 of the 37 games he coached there.

After his being dismissed in 2010, Rodriguez bided his time.

Fast forward to 2012.

Now, Rodriguez is the head coach at Arizona, a school that, in eight years under Mike Stoops, only won more than six games per season three times. In seven years at West Virginia, Rodriguez only won less than eight games one time — in his first year.

In light of recent events, it would make sense for Rodriguez to doubt his decision early on. Turning a coaching change into a success is a long process. It’s only March, but things haven’t been looking very rosy thus far.

In his first press conference of the spring, Rodriguez emphasized how physically “weak” the team looked early on. He remained optimistic going forward, but the team’s lack of conditioning clearly alarmed him.

“Mentally, they were ready (for spring workouts),” Rodriguez said. “We were really weak, and still are as a football team.”

He said that he knew the first few practices would be sloppy, as that is how it’s been at every one of his many stops.

After two practices without pads, the Wildcats began practicing with pads last week. Before
practice, Rodriguez said, ”More than anything in pads, you find out the guys that really love football and some that just kind of like it.”

After practice ended, things clearly took a bad turn, as Rodriguez angrily told members of the media that players would not be speaking to them.

“I really didn’t think that we practiced well enough to be interviewed,” he said. “We certainly didn’t practice well enough to have any players sit there and give their opinion of how practice went.”

On Monday, Rodriguez canceled a scheduled practice. A UA spokesperson said Rodriguez was in the locker room, going through every single play from Saturday’s scrimmage in Glendale, Ariz., and yelling at the players about their shoddy performance.

Rodriguez has said the coaching staff deserves blame as well. While it’s way too early to start panicking or jumping to conclusions, this clearly is not the way Rodriguez envisioned things playing out in the early going.

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