On the late-November night Rich Rodriguez was announced as Arizona's next head football coach, this writer laid out all of the reasons why the hire was bound to fail miserably.
Now that the 49-year-old offensive mastermind's produced a Top 25 ranking and upsets of Oklahoma State and USC in less than a year, it's time to reverse course altogether and determine why RichRod is the perfect fit in Tucson.
After all, as a hair-triggered American, it's my constitutional duty to completely flip-flop positions in a heartbeat, especially during an election year. That's freedom.
The majority of the media members close to the situation—especially those with knowledge of the inner workings of the program and Rodriguez—slapped me sensible last November, laying out why the selection of the ex-Michigan coach, in spite of his public flaws, was a national coup.
From CBS Sports, which rated his hire the second-best among all newly inked college football coaches this year:
In seven years at West Virginia, Rodriguez won 61 games, reached two BCS bowls and lost only 26 games. In three years at Michigan he lost 22 games. So which Rodriguez does Arizona get? Either way, one thing is certain: He will bring an entertaining, high-scoring offense to Tucson—and even higher expectations.
From USA Today-affiliated blog The Big Lead:
For Arizona this is a shrewd hire. Rodriguez is one of the best offensive minds in the sport. His offense revolutionized college football. He took West Virginia to within a hair of a national title. He once rejected an offer from Alabama. He has his weak points, but that proven pedigree of head coach doesn’t come available for Arizona very often.
From Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen:
Rodriguez arrives in Tucson with 75 major-college coaching victories. That's more than Larry Smith and Dick Tomey had combined (74) when they became Arizona's football coach. He has a system, a style and a reputation.
Somehow, Arizona hired a $4 million coach for about half the price.
So far, those opinions are all right on the money.
Through eight games, including five wins—two over ranked teams—there are plenty of reasons to believe Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne made a program-altering hire for the positive.
Come inside to see the five reasons Rich Rodriguez will continue to flourish in deep Southern Arizona.