The Incredible Rise and Fall of Rich Rodriguez

Mandatory Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (8974007d) Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez speaks to reporters during the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles Pac-12 Media Day Football, Los Angeles, USA - 26 Jul 2017

The fall of Rich Rodriguez started on Dec. 1, 2007.  The West Virginia Mountaineers, ranked #2 in the Associated Press and 28 point favorites against the 4-7 Pittsburgh Panthers, were upset in the most brutal, humiliating way possible and everything that Rodriguez had built over seven seasons in Morgantown immediately and abruptly came crashing down.

Once the hottest, most sought-after head coach in college football, Rodriguez turned down the opportunity to take over the Alabama Crimson Tide football program, arguably the best position in the nation, in 2006.  This may have been the worst mistake of his life.  Rodriguez later admitted, “Sometimes I forget because I do try to move on.  All the things that have happened, the twists and turns of life, I’m sure I would have loved it there.”

The following year, immediately after the Pitt loss, Rodriguez famously left West Virginia for the Michigan Wolverines.  Michigan, Rodriguez thought, offered him the best chance to win a National Championship and a fresh start, something he desperately needed following an almost impossible-to-swallow final loss in Morgantown.

Instead, Rodriguez was faced with entirely different pressures and challenges in Ann Arbor, and was never given the full support of the fan base or boosters that he expected.  His time at Michigan – three seasons and a 15-22 record – could only be described as a complete and utter disaster.

Rodriguez took one season off to regroup and was given another opportunity at Arizona.  Despite his failures at Michigan, Rodriguez was still considered one of the brightest, most dynamic minds in the sport, and Arizona seemed like a perfect fit.

After back to back 8-5 seasons and a 10-4 season with three bowl games in his first three seasons in Tuscson, it appeared that Rodriguez was going to finally regain the success that he had in Morgantown.  However, he went 17-21 the next three seasons and was fired after allegations of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

Last year, Rodriguez was hired as the Offensive Coordinator by Matt Luke at Ole Miss.  This was the first time Rodriguez wouldn’t be in control of his own team since 2001 and taking a job as an offensive coordinator was likely very difficult for someone obsessed with control, but this was also probably the only opportunity out there for him.

After Luke was fired at the end of 4-8 2019 season, Lane Kiffin was announced as the new Head Coach and Rodriguez was not retained as the Offensive Coordinator.

While there could possibly be another opportunity in the future, this may also be the last time we’ve seen Rich Rodriguez in college football.  Mediocre results since leaving Morgantown combined with shady off-the-field issues may make Rodriguez unhireable at this point in his life.  At only age 56 and still one of the most brilliant offensive minds in the sport, it’s incredible to think that his career may be over.