West Virginia Football: Rich Rodriguez Loved To Recruit Thugs

Frank AhrensSenior Writer IJune 13, 2008

Exactly how many thugs did Rich Rodriguez recruit during his seven years at West Virginia University?

Do the players think that new coach Bill Stewart is a pushover because he doesn’t scream and curse like Rodriguez? Is that why they think they can get away with the boneheaded and/or criminal behavior we’ve set out below?

Or were they simply thugs all along, and it was only a matter of time until their true nature found an opportunity to exploit?

Stewart must feel like a new judge taking over a caseload of criminals from a retired judge who just couldn’t be bothered to sentence any of them.

Since Stewart has taken over following WVU’s Fiesta Bowl rout of Oklahoma, he has:

  • Kicked RB Eddie Collington, DL James Ingram and LB John Holmes off the team for possession and intent to distribute drugs. Smart.
  • Kicked S Charles Pugh off the team for—get this—allegedly picking up a set of car keys from a table in the student union then using the panic button to find the car in the adjacent parking garage. Then, he and a woman entered the car, stole a credit card, and racked up nearly $2,000 in purchases.
  • Kicked TE Evan Rodriguez off the team for assaulting a female student. Nice.
  • According to West Virginia media, applied team discipline to RB Noel Devine and WR Jock Sanders after charges were filed against the pair following a fight with students.

Last August, CB Ellis Lankster and LB J.T. Thomas were arrested for stealing a laptop form a student’s house and trying to fence it. Again, smart. They were suspended for several games.

Earlier last summer, S Quinton Andrews and okay-now-he’s-coming-back-for-real RB Jason Gwaltney spent the night in the Morgantown pokey after a dustup with cops.

All of this has landed WVU at the No. 2 spot on the vaunted Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Fulmer Cup, which awards points to college football student athletes based on arrests, convictions and so forth. (Barely behind Mizzou.)

What are we to make of all this?

Andrews has been a known problem for most of his time at WVU.

Lankster came from a JuCo. We’d hate to over-generalize, but if we did, we’d note that players with Division I talent who opt for the JuCo route do so because they don’t have the academic credentials to go straight into Division I. Now, if we over-generalized even further, we’d note that dumb athletes also often are violent. It’s why Bob Huggins got his bad-JuCo rep at Cincinnati.

Pugh’s mom said in the West Virginia media that her boy Charles didn’t act alone, implying that a woman with Pugh urged her son to become a criminal. As my friend Ann likes to say, “P***y make you crazy!”

Charles, however, died the way he lived: His uni number was 15, which made sense. He was forever drawing 15-yard personal foul penalties for late hits out of bounds and other unsportsmanlike behavior.

Devine had a crazy troubled childhood: six kids by nine different women, both parents dead, etc. However, nothing in his past indicated violence.

And let us not forget the all-time braindead Mountaineers brought to Morgantown by Rodriguez: Pacman Jones, recently reinstated to the NFL after a one-year suspension, and Chris Henry, who just today was suspended by the NFL indefinitely for being arrested about six times in eight states.

It should be clear by now that Rodriguez cared much more about 40-yard-dash times than character. And because of that, he left Stewart a mess to clean up.

Rodriguez: The gift that keeps on giving.


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