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Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

Ex-Michigan assistant Rod Smith to join Rich Rodriguez at Arizona

By Nick Baumgardner

Ex-Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez is putting his band back together in the desert.

Less than a week after hiring three former Wolverine assistant coaches to join him at Arizona, Rodriguez has now hired former Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith as his co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, according to the university.

Thumbnail image for Smith_Rod_2008_CT.jpg

Rod Smith

Smith spent this past season on Kevin Wilson's staff at Indiana, serving as a co-offensive coordinator.

Smith's stay in Bloomington lasted only one season, as the university confirmed the news with a written release Thursday.

“We appreciate Rod’s efforts with us this season,” Wilson said in the statement. “We’re sorry to see him leave and wish him and his family the very best. Rod has a long-standing relationship with Coach Rodriguez and we understand his decision."

Smith followed Rodriguez from West Virginia to Michigan prior to the 2008 season, and spent three seasons in Ann Arbor.

Also Thursday, Rodriguez named Mike Parrish as his director of football operations at Arizona. Parrish filled the same role on Rodriguez's staff at Michigan in 2010.

Last week, Rodriguez announced Arizona's hiring of ex-Michigan assistants Calvin Magee, Tony Dews and Tony Gibson.

Rodriguez has yet to name a defensive coordinator.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

The only coach I want to hear about is Jeff Casteel. If Casteel goes to Arizona, watch out. If not (or at least a comparable high-end defensive coordinator), Arizona will be 6-6 every year.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

Only way for RR to succeed in defense is to hire Buddy Ryan who had the guts to tell then HC Ditka to get out of his Bears defensive team meeting.

1st Down

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

lol all of these coaches are hitching their wagons to Rich Rod. Bad career move. It will show on their resumes that they can not strike out on their own as assistants, or are unwilling to. They will be most likely all out of work in 3-4 years as the RR error at AZ has not gotten off to a smooth start with RR still focused on objects in the mirror.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:27 a.m.

Until he gets a respected DC to sign up, none of this other stuff means anything.

1st Down

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

any respected DC will avoid working for RR... because they know they will be saddled with having to work with RR's lackey coaching staff... the only respected guy who may do that is Casteel, because he already knows RR's Lackeys.... but if its not Casteel...then it will be some young inexperienced DC looking for work, or a retread DC on the tail end of his career... no one else would do it and be saddled with the Lackeys.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

Hmmmm.........Let's get the worst coaching staff in America back together and see them ruin another university football team. The irony is that all of these assistants didn't make one ounce of difference at their programs this year w/o their fearless leader, as Indiana was below bad and Pitt was a weak shadow of its Big East conference teams--the only conference worse than the Big Ten.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

Yeah, a totally bad reality show at that and is even worse than the Kardashians one.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

However, he did win a couple BCS games already.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

To be fair, the offensive coaches weren't at all bad. In fact, they had the o-line playing very well and Rod Smith (who was the QB coach) had Denard completing upwards of 60% of his passes. Tony Gibson, on the other hand, is maybe the worst secondary coach in the FBS. I realize he's Rich's best friend, but if he wants to win, he's going to have to hire a DC who will eventually tell Rich that Gibson has to go.

Kai Petainen

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

hmmm.. i don't know enough about this stuff. i apologize for my ignorance. is this good news or bad news?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

Please stop with RR he is not here! Which we are all thankful for!

Blu n Tpa

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

This is Michigan. He is NOT MIchigan. Our present coaches are Michigan. Go Blue!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Be selective with a defensive coordinator, but without a physical running attack that can milk the clock and get first downs a defense will only get worn out. The quick strike, no huddles don't do anything for a defensive to endure four quarters. This does sound familiar to many Michigan fans. Finally RR, recommend not hiring Greg Robinson. Nothing against the man, but he didn't seem to stress physicality or maybe he was stuck using the 3/4 instead of the 4/3 at RR's request, who knows... Good luck RR, hopefully lessons learn serve well, at least he embraced rivalries and traditions at his first press conference. Good start. Do not schedule Michigan...we will smash your team like a bug.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

Oregon's defense doesn't get worn out. The whole "burn the clock to rest your defense" mumbo-jumbo is ridiculous. The defense earns their own rest by making plays on 3rd down.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

Sorry but I really just want to say that I'm sick and tired of hearing about Rich Rodriguez and his former staff following him to Tuscan, Arizona. His whole staff is the real definition of "yes" men and it doesn't matter who he hires as a defensive coordinator unless it's Jeff Casteel cause as long as he has Tony"clueless"Gibson on his defensive staff it is gonna be a major crash and burn. Greg Robinson had his faults but if he was hired to be the DC than Rodriguez should have given him the full reigns to run his scheme and have his assistants to deal with the kids not Gibson, Tall, and Hopson. Same thing with Scott Shafer he should have been able to have some say with some of his assistants but he didn't get to cause Rodriguez is a dictator more than a head coach. Anyone who thinks that Rich Rodriguez didn't get a fair shake at Michigan and still wants him to be the coach in Ann Arbor just consider becoming a Arizona Wildcats fan. This is Michigan and we have bigger fish to fry! GO BLUE!!!


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

i think he will do well


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

Rodriguez can bring back all his coaches if he wants, but if he doesn't find a good defensive coordinator, he'll be doomed. In the case of Tony Gibson I understand that they've been good friends for a while. But the fact of the matter is, our defensive backs were poorly coached for the last 3 years. It was obvious from their on field play last year, and from how much better they've played under new coaches this year. Loyalty can be a good thing, but I think in this case, it's hurting Rodriguez. Still, I hope he succeeds in Arizona.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

You said it!!! I remember db's running after guys with the ball for 3 long years... Rogers in particular, nr. 18. I am glad Countess is representing that number.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

250, It may very well have been based on talent. If so, what an amazing coaching job Mattison and Co did this year to maximize the potential of such poor talent and turn it into the #9 scoring defense in the country. After giving up an average of 35+ points per game last year, they didn't give up that many points even once this year, not even against the Bucks. So, for UM to give up close to (yet still under) 35 only twice this year with the same poor talent that gave up that amount every game last year is truly outstanding coaching. You're right, Mattison and Co probably are the best coaches in the world! Great insight!


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

@rightmind -- the burden is on you to reconcile the fact the defensive personnel is largely, though not exclusively, the same. Two variables changed -- time and coaching. One year more playing time normally suggests improvement, but you're saying no improvement. The statistics clearly indicate improvement. So either coaching, time or both.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:52 p.m.

I think the poor db play has more to do with talent than coaching. The OSU game showed that. mattison and co are supposedly the best coaches in the world, but UM's defense looked like they did in the Richrod era.

al hunter

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

I understand "Gerg' Robinson is looking for a DC job!