As many of you are aware the Arizona Wildcats fired then coach Mike Stoops after a 1-5 start to the season. His teams gave up 72 points in his last two bowl games while scoring only 10 and he lost his last 5 games last year. That means in his last 11 games he was 1-10 with a lost bowl game in a blow-out. Arizona hasn’t really bounced back as they have only won 2 of their last five games with an interim coach as their search for a new coach has progressed.

It appears that search is coming to a conclusion. Many are now reporting that Rich Rodriguez, the former blockbuster coaching hire by Michigan, will be coaching the Wildcats next year.

This could be a match made in heaven for both organizations, at least for the next 3-5 years. Rodriguez was not a popular coaching candidate after he was ousted from Michigan, and while he could not win or play defense at Michigan with the players he recruited there Brady Hoke and his staff have molded this team into a legitimate Big Ten contender in less than a year. Despite this, Rodriguez’ ability as a recruiter can’t be denied and he has had success building potent offenses everywhere he went, but especially in West Virginia and even in Michigan. As far as I am aware Matt Scott, a senior quarterback that is Nick Foles’ primary back-up, hasn’t played yet this season. I can’t comment on this with any kind of certainty, but there is a possibility that Scott could be back next year with Rodriguez. We will have to see.

Arizona operates a pretty wide open offense right now, but it’s about to get even more wide open with Rodriguez in the fold. I think this is a great hire for Arizona because he knows how to draw talent to a program and I don’t think he will have any trouble doing that with solid access to both Texas and California where he is located in Arizona. Additionally, this is a pretty significant hire for a program that really hasn’t proven itself in the Pac-10 or the new Pac-12. Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez to replace a fantastic coach in Lloyd Carr. Arizona hired Rodriguez in the wake of… Mike Stoops?

I consider this a win for Arizona right now, but it’s a win for Rodriguez too. He has a chance to prove that he can rebuild this program and start to win at a school that has not won consistently in this sport for years. It will be interesting to see if he can do it, but one thing for Arizona Wildcat fans to be careful of is this: If Rich Rod turns you around and in three or four years you have a shot at a BCS game and finish with 9 or 10+ wins he is going to be getting calls from other high end/elite programs in college football to come do the same for them only with better resources and superior tradition. So while this looks like a steal for you guys in the short term, don’t forget that many people consider Rodriguez a snake for abandoning West Virginia and chances are his firing from Michigan hasn’t made him more loyal as a head coach. Should he succeed in turning Arizona around from their recent struggles I would not be surprised to see him leave Arizona for a “superior” coaching job.

It will be interesting to see what happens with other coaching vacancies. Houston Nutt will be out of Ole Miss as soon as they can finish the paperwork, Luke Fickell isn’t likely to be the coach of Ohio State next year (though apparently Urban Meyer is?) and Butch Davis needs to be replaced at North Carolina. Other openings will come after the season, but with Rodriguez’ hiring as well as rumors of Meyer going to Ohio State, Gus Malzahn being mentioned for the Ole Miss job, and Skip Holtz potentially going to UNC the carousel has definitely started to spin!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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