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Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

Behind the scenes of Arizona hiring ex-Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez

By Staff

The press conference at Arizona introducing Rich Rodriguez as the Wildcats' new football coach was the end of a long hiring process.

Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples provides the behind-the-scenes details of how the former Michigan football coach wound up at Arizona.

Among the details: Urban Meyer played a role in Arizona's interest in Rodriguez; Rodriguez had to take a test on NCAA rules; expect strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis to make the move to Arizona.



Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

RR must put first things first. In the SI article, I didn't see one reference to acquiring the NCAA's best Defensive Coordinator and defensive coaching staff. Without that, good luck in the PAC 12. Urban Meyer, a well respected offensive mind himself, recognized RR's gift for running offenses. That says a mouthful. Did RR not learn anything while at Michigan? He has got to get the best defensive coaching staff Arizona's money can buy, and IMHO he will need wheel barrows full of $ to do just that. square footages of homes mean nothing at this point in time.


Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

If Miss Rodiguze is shoping for massive home like that....Think by chance she might be compinsating for something lacking. Since the big blue payday...the little lady has a different life style that wasn't affored her in the mountains of West Vrr'ginny. I've been getting the vibe that Ol'Rich Rod is acting no differnet then the last year in a half when he was here.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

I wish RR well. While I am still a little disgusted over his blatant ignoring of special teams and his craptacular defense, I still think he is a good man. He wins a lot of karma for helping out Brock Mealer.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

So if, yes I said if, RR gets caught doing anything outside the guidelines of the NCAA what will be his excuse? Everybody knows he is full of them. Since he aced the test he can't rightfully say ' I didn't know', but the test was only on recruiting so I guess he still claim ignorance. This article stuck me as a man who was looking for the biggest payout not necessarily one who is looking for the right job. Rita must have him looking for dollar signs, gotta 'think big' as she says.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

Just read the si piece and several things immediately made my jaw drop (I know I am probably being picky because of who it is but these are basics for me if I were in charge and hiring) 1. The new Arizona coach had never even been there before being hired 2. He had to actually be coached to say the goals--namely, the rose bowl, the PAC championship, "bear down" --could you even imagine Brady Hoke needing to be coached these things? Just think about the passion that Hoke had when he talked about Ohio being The Most Important Game On The Schedule. You can't train that 3. The whole house thing that was mentioned above 4. The absolutely horrible things he had to say about his "pitiful" players in his first year as coach at Glenville St. These were his guys even if he didn't recruit them. Again, could you see Bo or LC or Pat Fitzgerald or Ferentz or Hoke saying these things about any of their ex players? That just speaks of poor character and leadership as far as I am concerned.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

He consistently throws other people under the bus for his failings. Very unaccountable.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

That speaks LOUDLY to the character of the "man". Waste of space imo. Good luck zona you will need it. Go Blue!


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

"He told the story of his first game at Glenville State, in 1990. The 25 players he inherited were so pitiful that he resolved to declare the season a success if his team made one first down." This quote says it all. Despicable. These are someone's kids.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

From the article, in reference to Rita Rodriguez house-hunting in Tucson. A 6,000 square foot home "wasn't big enough" to host recruiting events, according to the article. "To get a Denard Robinson, you have to impress him," Rita says, referring to the star quarterback her husband signed at Michigan. "You want them to think you think big." Assuming Rita Rodriguez speaks at least in part on behalf of her husband in this case, that symbolizes the key difference between Rodriguez and Hoke. I don't know how big a house Hoke has in Michigan. But I'm quite certain Hoke does not believe the key to landing a recruit is the house you own or how "big" the coach is seen to "think." By all accounts based on everything I've read and heard from Hoke, he appeals to a far deeper element in the potential recruit ... traits like honor, the value of hard work, the value of mutual respect and teamwork. A recruit unimpressed by those qualities is a recruit I don't believe Hoke would want. A recruit impressed by big houses and rich cars is not a recruit Hoke would want. And if Hoke wants to show off a big house, he need not look further than the real Big House ... all 109,701 seats. Sheesh ... after reading that article I'm left thinking the proper emotion for Rodriguez is not contempt but pity. Maybe that's why Urban Meyer is involved tangentially in this -- he feels sorry for Rodriguez.

1st Down

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

Have they even sold their Michigan mansion yet?

1st Down

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

Yeah lol DonAZ I caught that Rita quote too.... another funny one is where RR tries to take credit for inventing the zone read by witnessing a mistake that one of his QBs made back in Glennville... funny how RR invented so many concepts of football, that have been around since the 30s and 40s.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:17 a.m.

@7718 - "RR is great guy and a great family man. If he has a big ego, I have never seen it. He is always very cordial and is genuinely interested in what you have to say." You've met him personally? I'll confess I have not. My impressions are based on his actions as seen through media reports and interviews. I'm curious ... is Rodriguez on record as crediting Hoke for doing a great job with Michigan this year without adding that it's "his" players? The gracious man would simply acknowledge Hoke's success if asked and leave it at that. I found Rodriguez's treatment of Gibbons last year shameful. Contrast that with Hoke ... not just the coaching but the public comments of support. The comment about Vince Lombardi not being able to fix the defense was not the mark of a man standing tall under scrutiny. So he might be a fine family man and gracious in one-on-one conversations, but his public personna and his public comments have struck me as less than those of a true leader.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:57 a.m.

@LS -- "By the way, I expect Meyer to NOT be at ohio, very long, for a variety of reasons." Really? Do you have a sense for the time window? See, I see him being there at least five years. 20 years? Probably not. But not two then bail. If he goes two and quits then he'll officially be rubber-room-ready in the minds of football fans.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

Excellent stuff don. There is so much to being a head coach beyond the knowledge of an offense. You have to be a full time manager, have to be ethical, have to deal with various constituents, discipline, delegate, etc. All of these things basically come down to base leadership, an idealistic notion but one I subscribe to strongly. Not leadership because you have the title but because you just have it. Hoke has that in droves and really understands the things that make Michigan football and the university tick. He has prepared for it for his whole career. The former coach? Not so much. All we hear about him is that he is an "offensive genius". Not good enough to be the head guy. We will see about Arizona but I will be surprised if he has success down there. And the funny thing is that he has Toledo on his schedule next year. Until he learns the other factors than x's and o's, he will not set up to do well.

Terry Star21

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

I think most of us do agree urban meyer will not stay the long haul at osu. An exception might be if he comes in and posts 10 victories right away and somehow beat us - this could lengthen it out. I really don't believe it's hatred for this belief, just past experience with urban's character and how hard the buckeyes can be on their coach/team.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:05 a.m.

Lorain, I agree with you on Meyer. I have a feeling he won't be at Ohio for the long haul, either.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

Lorain, RR is great guy and a great family man. If he has a big ego, I have never seen it. He is always very cordial and is genuinely interested in what you have to say. Many of these people on these posts probably have never had the opportunity to meet him, I think many of them would view him differently from what their preconceived notions are.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

Don, I agree that Hoke probably doesn't put much stock in pretense. A large house is NOT what he's all about. Although to be fair, I've never met Hoke. I think I'd get along better with Hoke than RR, but....folks have said that RR was a great guy too. Understand that coaches like Tressel, Meyer, Sabin, Miles, and perhaps, Rodriguez, have huge egos. I'd throw Carr, Brandon, and Harbaugh in there, as well. When you make the kind of money that these guys do, and get 24/7 adulation from the fans base, it can go to their heads real fast. Lets' hope that Hoke stays grounded....I think he will. By the way, I expect Meyer to NOT be at ohio, very long, for a variety of reasons..

Terry Star21

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:09 a.m.

Great Don....I'm thinking I need you and ERMG to do my writing and proof reading. Notice all the insurgents flocking to our site recently - ah yes, the sweet smell of success (sucks em' in every time).


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

It's linked in the second paragraph of the article above ...


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

Where is the article?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

Excellent post, Don! Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

I would be surprised if Mike Barwis leaves his established business in Plymouth to rejoin Rich Rod. Unless Barwis get a real pay raise. Anything is possible. Barwis made a decision to remain in Michigan a year ago. As for the Rich Rod-Urban Meyer connection, strange bedfellows. Anyway, good luck to Rich Rod. I'll keep an eye out West.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 9:55 p.m.

RR was a failed experiment at Michigan, I doubt he will have success in the Pac 12 at a basketball school but good luck to him. If Michigan puts them on the schedule in 3 years michigan will destroy them. RR has no QB coming in to run his offense so is he going to do the same thing there as at Michigan? or is he going to run a prostyle offense until he gets his guy? Just a question for everyone out there that still thinks RR is great. Why did ohio not hire him? His offense is the same as Urban Meyers. If it was RR that got Michigan to where they are now then why did ohio not recognize that and hire him? I hate them as a school but they are not stupid! Ya thats right because RR did get Mich to where they were before the year started, and that was to the level of a mediocre Big East team. Then a great coach came in, took RR's players that were undersized/underskilled compared to other elite programs and won with them by adapting to what he has and molding them into very good players! Go Blue! RR sucks and Arizona made a huge mistake!

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

truWCiMFHfan wrote: "RR ran I-form a lot" Now I understand why you thought the WCiMFH was a success: you likely were watching the A2 Pioneer football team and thought it the U of M football team. Both play at the corner of Main and Stadium. But only the Pioneer team ran the I-formation. Oh, and Pioneer had a much better record than did the UM during the tenture of the WCiMFH. So that explains it. "RR ran I-form a lot" LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL GN&GL


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 10:30 p.m.

Cousin Eddie -- RR ran I-form a lot, maybe as much as Borges ran it this season. Look at how the offense got better as we went TOTALLY away from under center to shotgun as the season progressed. The only power we ran was on 3rd or 4th and short, or, Denard power from shotgun. In other words, Hoke and Borges proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the spread with a dual threat QB at the helm WORKS spectacularly in the B1G. Combine this offense with a good defense, as we had this year, and we have a 10-2 team. And we should've been 11-1. Thank the Iowa loss on too much under center pro style baloney!

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

"The fact is barwis is running Richrod's offense. he tried to run a pro set and deemphasize Denard, but he found out he had no offense by doing that. Right now, UM's offense is still based 100% on Denard." Wow. Talk about someone who has no idea what they are writing about. Barwis was RichRod's strength development coach. Borges is Hoke's offensive coordinator. As for Denard being 100% of the UM offesnse, Fitz Toussaint would be interested in hearing that. As I have said elsewhere, anyone who thinks that this year's offensive scheme remotely resembled last years does not know the game of football. There is a difference between an offensive scheme and an offensive formation. Those who think this year's scheme was the same as last year's are confusing formation with scheme. And, even then, the number of times we set up In an I-formation makes clear this was not last year's offense--fullback traps, naked bootlegs to the fullback and/or the tight end, off-tackle power plays with the fullback lead blocking--all of these and more were important parts of this years offense. They were missing in action in the former scheme. And as Brandstatter made clear in the radio broadcast, the I formation opens up passing lanes because linebackers and likely a safety have to be concerned about the blocking potential of the fullback on a run play. The value of the I was made clear on Dileo's second reception. So keep on believin' that the offense hasn't changed. GN&GL


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Chiro19, The fact is barwis is running Richrod's offense. he tried to run a pro set and deemphasize Denard, but he found out he had no offense by doing that. Right now, UM's offense is still based 100% on Denard. How many times did he run the ball against OSU? Let it go man. RR is at Arizona. Wish the man luck and move on.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:55 a.m.

@LS -- "He pulled Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh in from Arizona a couple of years back." True enough. Lewan a real catch ... Roh seems a great young man but I doubt he'll ever be a real dominant DE. @LS -- "I'd look for RR to harvest Florida again, but also pull kids from California." I'd have to take a look at the recruiting information, but if I had to guess the order of talent harvest is California, then Texas, then Florida somewhere below that. I could be wrong. I grew up in Michigan, and spent time in North Carolina and Virginia. Then I moved to Tucson. Holy cow ... what a shock. Six years later it's still jarring to step into 110 degree heat and see nothing but gravel and scrub brush for miles and miles and miles. I still think some Florida kid will take one look at that and run back to the lush greenery of Florida. @LS -- "He'll need to get serious about a big time DC. Don't know if Casteel will go out there, but you know what I mean." Absolutely, and in fact that will be THE litmus test of how seriously he learned his lesson at Michigan. If he takes a half-hearted stab at DC and then simply hopes for the best ... then he's toast. Oh ... and Mike Leach is going to Washington State. So yet another big name, high-profile run-and-gunner is in the Pac 12 ready to vacuum talent from California. Leach, Kelley ... a resurgent Kiffen at USC ... it ain't gonna be a walk in the park for our boy Rich.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:41 a.m.

Well, I guess Miss Lorraine is back. Is it a Jeckyll and Hyde thing? She wrote: "Not having a previous coach at UA, tell players he'd sign their transfer papers. ( Lloyd's behavior over the past four years has been disgraceful, and uncalled for. LC obviously has serious 'issues'.)" Pure fiction. Never happened except in the imaginings of those with man crushes on the former coach. GN&GL

Nic schweigert

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:08 a.m.

That's one vote for you from me

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

DonAZ. I think RR could do well out there. Recall his first year at UM, he had no real QB at all. He pulled Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh in from Arizona a couple of years back. I'd look for RR to harvest Florida again, but also pull kids from California. He'll need to get serious about a big time DC. Don't know if Casteel will go out there, but you know what I mean. One side note, to our 'buckeye posters'. Ohio's recent hire of Meyer, is the same as hiring Rodriguez, as it relates to the spread. RR basically taught Meyer the spread, and they go back a long way. Meyer had the benefit of a decent DC while at Florida...Greg Mattison, although he eventually went on to the Ravens. ARE right about RR hopefully not having a previous coach at UA, tell players he'd sign their transfer papers. ( Lloyd's behavior over the past four years has been disgraceful, and uncalled for. LC obviously has serious 'issues'.)


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

@BUCKEYE6574 -- "Arizona has one of the best dual threat QB's in the country as theur current back-up." Who would that be? Their current depth chart shows the following QBs -- Nick Foles, Bryson Beirne and Matt Scott. All are seniors. Two other QBs are on the roster -- Daxx Garman and Tom Savage. Garman is a Freshman; Savage is a Junior. Garman is a 3-star from Oklahoma. He may be good, but his recruiting ranking doesn't seem to indicate greatness.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

@7718 - "DR and Fitz did okay this year too" Yes they did ... and by that I assume you mean to say if Rodriguez could recruit them to Michigan he can recruit them to Arizona as well. You may be right. After all, he was able to convince Pat White and Steve Slaton to go to Morgantown, West Virginia. It's pretty country (I've been there), but it's definitely off the beaten track. Tucson should be no worse than Morgantown. My point is simply that Rodriguez is going to have a tough time drawing talent to Tucson. But then again there's a lot of diamonds out there in 3-star recruits. I went back and looked up Steve Slaton's recruiting ranking and he was only a 3-star. The other point you may have had in mind is that the combination of DR and Toussaint could have mimicked White/Slaton at WVU. Again, maybe. What we don't know is how much of Touissant's production was due to the offensive line running a different blocking scheme from Rodriguez. It's possible this year's offensive line was able to create seams a more traditional Rodriguez offensive line would not. In the Big 10 ... that's the key. Clearly it did in the Big East. Not so much the Big 10.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

DonAZ: DR and Fitz did okay this year too.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:42 p.m.

He'll do okay at Arizona but not great. There's virtually no talent base in Arizona itself, which means he has to go elsewhere. California is heavily recruited by all top-tier schools. Ditto Texas. Ditto Florida and the deep south. What does Rodriguez have to draw talent to Arizona? Little more than his name, and that's all well and good but in the Pac 12 there's a more potent spread name that's spelled "Kelley." His only hope is he finds another Pat White / Steve Slaton combo ... that's the only reason for his fame today ... absent those three years with White/Slaton then Rodriguez is a slightly-better-than-average coach, but little more.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

That shows just how little a true Michigan fan like yourself knows. Arizona has one of the best dual threat QB's in the country has their current back-up. Do you mean why did Ohio State not hire him Ohio University is a MAC school. I'll bet you think Lllloyd Carr won the 1997 national championship with his own players and system.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

RR should do fine in Arizona. The previous coach hasn't told the players he will sign their transfer papers to go elsewhere.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Not sure about the Pac10 but maybe the Pac12 will be quaking.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

Force of habit ... heck, I still call them the Pac 8 sometimes when my mind slips back to the 1970's. :-)

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:48 p.m.

I stand corrected. But with RR at Arizona, maybe it's really the PAC 11.5. GN&GL

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Barwis is going to make the move to Arizona?? Really. Now the Pac10 is REALLY quaking in its boots!! Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

Cousin Eddie -- I should hope this season's offense averaged more PPG than last year's, they returned nearly everyone from last season, they're a year older, they ran mostly shotgun as the season progressed, and they had the benefit of a healthy #1 RB all season long to take the pressure off Denard.

1st Down

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

Barwis came in along with RR full of bluster and hype and hyperbole about "changing bodies"... talking 1000 miles an hour and shouting explictives in pregame locker room rants about "lets kill them all!"... this is true... and soon enough, we saw our team being run down, small, weak and unable to compete in the second half vs decent opponents... and we saw this for 3 years... under the stellar S&C of the hype machine... New staff comes in... Coach Wellman does his job quietly and efficiently without trying to promote himself or attract any attention to himself. This team is bigger, stronger and did not wear down in the second half... in nearly all games this team was a great second half performer. Thanks Coach Wellman! have fun in AZ to the other guy

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Point taken, Don. When the D is spending 35-40 minutes on the field every game, they're going to be gassed. And that is one of the truly big changes in the offense this season over last--they managed to score more points per game than in 2010 AND improve TOP. 2010 ppg = 32.8 (25/120) 2010 TOP = 27:10 (110/120) 2011 ppg = 34.2 (23/120) 2011 TOP = 31:56 (23/120)


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5 a.m.

@ERMG -- I recall when RR and Barwis came to Michigan all the rage in the papers was about Barwis' training routine and how it was a difference maker. I wonder how much of the fatigue was simply time on the field ... particularly for the defense? I don't know a darn thing about strength and conditioning so I couldn't hope to no right from wrong in that space. During RR's tenure I struggled to see where lack of fundamentals ended and lack of conditioning started.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

There you go again, Lorainne, just making it up as you go along ab out what other people know or think. Those kinds of comments do you no service. @Don: Specific? Yes. For three years I watched a team that was gassed at the end of games. For three years I watched a team that got out-muscled at the line of scrimmage on both sides of ball. For three years I watched a team that had what seemed to me to be an inordinately high number of injuries. All of these speak to very poor conditioning. Next thing we'll hear is that Greg Robinson will be his DC. GN&GL


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:32 a.m.

I don't like what Barwis did at UM specifically because I don't feel like our teams were well conditioned for the rigors of B10 football under his watch. Our teams routinely were physically overmatched both in terms of strength AND in endurance. Our teams wore out not only over the course of season's (1-7 down the stretch 2 straight years, 2-6 the other) but also over the course of games. We could not compete physically past the half in the B10 for three straight years. Compound that with Barwis' false claims of being an MMA fighter and...voila! I'm with Ghost on this one.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

DonAZ, Ghost doesn't need anything specific. It is just a derivative of his RR hatred. While I would not have brought RR into AA, I never saw the need to undermine him while he was here. I feel he inherited a mess. And at the end of the day, RR had a block M on his hat. Barwis was well regarded here. I think he'll move out there. FWIW, the article mentioned that Urban Meyer played a part in getting RR out there. Not surprized really, as they both have BGSU roots, and RR helped Meyer in his early understanding of, and development of, the spread. There are other ties, which I could mention. I would expect RR to pull some of the coaches, that left UM during the past year, and possibly, players, that have scattered about. Ghost and I can agree, that Hoke has been an awesome hire, and in the end, both Arizona AND Michigan, may profit from the turn of events. I think Brandon would be wise to schedule some home and homes, with Arizona. Heck, why not do the same with LSU, or WVU? Throw in a Florida, or Stanford...maybe a Texas. I think there would be great fan interest there! I know DB may have to wait until the league goes to 9 games, in, what 2014? But it would definitley make a statement about where this program is headed.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Not a fan of Barwis, huh? Anything specific?