Morgantown, West Virginia – It’s abundantly clear that when Rich Rodriguez accepted the head coaching position at the University of Michigan – leaving his alma mater and home state in the process – he made the worst decision of his life.
Rodriguez was fired from Michigan after 3 seasons and a 15-22 overall record and had modest success at Arizona, finishing 43-35 in 6 seasons before being fired amid sexual harassment allegations.
Rich Rodriguez would have never been fired from West Virginia University. He literally had a dream job as the head coach of the Mountaineers, the very team he grew up watching and cheering for, and he would have been the head coach for as long as he wanted. He could have died as the head coach of the Mountaineers.
Rodriguez, who is no doubt itching to regain his status as a top head coach in college football, would have never had to worry about job security or insane expectations being met ever again because he was one of us, a homegrown boy who led our Mountaineers to the very top.
Although the competition in the Big 12 is very different than the Big East, Rodriguez would have likely won at least one conference championship by now. West Virginia would still have recruiting difficulties and a talent disparity compared to schools like Texas and Oklahoma, but Rodriguez was able to turn under-the-radar players into superstars.
Rodriguez was very talented at getting the most out of underrated recruits (see Steve Slaton, Pat White, etc.) and remember, West Virginia was the favorite to land 5 star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who eventually chose Ohio State after Rodriguez left Morgantown.
Pryor was the top recruit in the country, and at 6’6 with incredible skill and strength, would have dominated in Rodriguez’s offense.
Although Pat White was one of the most talented players in West Virginia history, physically he was not on the same level as Terrelle Pryor. Pryor went on to become the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes from 2008 to 2010, winning two Big Ten championships, and then had a long career in the NFL was a wide receiver.
Rodriguez’s decision to leave West Virginia was misguided for multiple reasons, but ultimately he had the best chance of winning a national championship at home in Morgantown, particularly with an ultra-talented Terrelle Pryor running his offense.
When Rich Rodriguez accepted that phone call from Michigan and got on a plane to Ann Arbor, he flushed away a permanent, lifetime position as the head coach of the Mountaineers, a potential national championship and the opportunity to be a hero, a legend, a God in his own home state.