Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday that he finds it hard to watch the University of Michigan play football games.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “They’re my guys out there They’re winning but I didn’t get the chance to be with them. I still root for them but it’s tough to watch them.”
Rodriguez was fired last January after three years as Michigan coach. His record with the Wolverines was 15-22, the worst stretch of Michigan football in a generation.
Rodrgiuez, who has spent most of the year as a football commentator for the CBS Sports Network, was hired as head football coach at the University of Arizona Tuesday. He signed a five-year deal for $9.55 million.
Rodriguez, 48, said it will be his last coaching stop in a career that began in his mid-20s and he said he hopes to stay at Arizona for 12-15 years.
“I’m blessed to have this opportunity” he said.
Rodriguez said of his Michigan career, “the biggest regret I have is that I wasn’t able to see it through. We had some tough years but I thought in the fourth and fifth year we were going to break through but we never had the chance.”
Michigan, under new head coach Brady Hoke, is 9-2 this year.
The biggest problem for Rodriguez was the play of his defense, worst in Michigan history. Rodriguez ended his coaching career in Ann Arbor with three blowout losses last year, to Wisconsin, to Ohio State and to Mississippi State in a bowl game.
At Mchigan he took over a program that was the nation’s winningest in NCAA history and he followed legends Fielding Yost, Fritz Crisler, Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr. At Arizona, he takes over the only Pac-12 team that has never played in the Rose Bowl.
“I came here because I think this is a place where we can win a national championship,” he said. “I really believe that. Why not Arizona?”
Rodriguez is known for his spread offense and the Arizona athletic director said former Florida coach Urban Meyer called Rodriguez, “one of the five brightest minds in football.”
At West Virginia, where Rodriguez graduated, he led the Mountaineers to three BCS bowls and the team was just one game short of the national title game in the late 1990s.
John U. Bacon, an author and former professor at the University of Michigan is author of the current bestselling book, “Three and Out,” a chronicle of the Rodriguez year in Ann Arbor, and he feels Rodriguez will succeed at Arizona.
We saw Bacon at the press box of a recent Michigan football game and when we told him we enjoyed the book, he said, “don’t say that too loud around here. They’ll be after you.”
Most Michigan officials refuse to comment about the book, including Rodriguez and Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon. It remains a no-holes-barred excellent book, as Bacon had unlimited access to the program under Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said he “learned a lot” during his Michigan years that will help him in Arizona.
One of the first things Rodriguez was asked when he came to Michigan was whether he thought “a Michigan Man” was necessary to coach the Wolverines. No one asked him at a press conference Tuesday whether “an Arizona Man” was need in Tucson.
“You’all have a hillbilly as your head coach,” Rodriguez, the West Virginia native told the press conference with a big smile.
For more info: Tucson citizen, espn, annarbor.com