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Monday, November 21, 2011
It's official: Rich Rodriguez to Arizona

By Ted Miller


Tech-savvy Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne made it official not at a news conference but with a Tweet with a photo link: Former Michigan and West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is the next Wildcats football coach.

There will be a 2 p.m. ET news conference Tuesday.

Here's the news release that followed the Tweets:
University of Arizona athletics director Greg Byrne will introduce Rich Rodriguez as the Wildcats’ head football coach in a news conference at noon (MST) Tuesday in McKale Center.

The event is open to the public, with seating in the west stands. “I encourage our fans to come help welcome our new coach,’’ Byrne said. Free parking will be available in the tailgate area of the McKale lawn.

Rodriguez, 48, becomes Arizona’s 30th head coach, succeeding Tim Kish, who took over for eight-year head coach Mike Stoops on Oct. 9. The Wildcats, 3-8, close the season Saturday with a 2 p.m. game against Louisiana-Lafayette, after winning their rivalry game Saturday at Arizona State, 31-27, for the Territorial Cup.

Rodriguez carries a career college coaching record of 120-84-2 in 18 seasons, marked by Division I records of 60-26 at West Virginia from 2001-2006 and 15-22 at Michigan, where he coached from 2008-10. He began his coaching career at Salem in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State from 1990-96. He has worked as a CBS Sports football analyst this year.

Rodriguez’ West Virginia teams were Big East Champion four seasons -- 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007, appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a loss to Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2. His 2006 club finished 11-2 after a victory over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

Rodriguez graduated in 1986 from West Virginia, where he was a three-year letterwinner as a defensive back in 1982-84. He added a master’s degree from Salem in 1987. He is a native of Grant Town, W. Va., and graduated from North Marion High School. Rich and his wife, Rita, have two children, Raquel and Rhett.

First take: good hire.

Don't be fooled by what happened at Michigan. That's a mirage. So much didn't fit there, and it's never good when the vibe on both ends is negative practically from the start. Know that Rodriguez will be plenty motivated to fix his coaching legacy. Recall that he was once one of the nation's hottest coaching prospects, one who was offered the Alabama job in 2006.

His no-huddle, spread-option attack also should work well at Arizona, though obviously it won't be much of a novelty in the Pac-12, since his version approximates what Oregon runs.

The timing is also very good. It means he can meet the current players, set expectations, get the lay of the land and quickly start recruiting. Other programs that will be looking for new coaches -- a couple likely in the Pac-12, too -- will be behind.

It will be interesting to see the mix of Rodriguez's staff. Will he mostly hire guys he's worked with? Will he want at least a couple of assistants who know the West Coast? Will he retain anybody from the current staff?

Furthermore, will Rodriguez be able to hit any recruiting home runs? He's playing catch-up, as all new coaches do, but he's got more than two months until national signing day on Feb. 1. There's no reason he can't sway a couple of touted prospects.

Arizona's portion of the Pac-12's new $3 billion TV deal also should help finance a contract that is certain to pay Rodriguez more than $2 million annually, as well as lure top assistants away from other high-paying gigs.

Rodriguez's career in Tucson begins with a Tweet. But how long before it gets roaring?