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November 25, 2011

Is Rodriguez right for Arizona?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Arizona has hired Rich Rodriguez as its new coach. Good hire or bad?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
I think it's a tremendous hire. So it didn't work out for Rodriguez at Michigan. That doesn't mean it won't work out in Tucson. Frankly, his style of play seems better-suited for the Pac-12 than the Big Ten. And there are a bunch of speedy players from California to Texas that he can recruit to fit into his system. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Arizona resembles Rodriguez's teams at West Virginia in just a year or two.

David Fox's answer:
This hire seems to be getting a thumbs-up from everyone, but I'm a little more skeptical. Rodriguez is an excellent coach who probably wasn't in an ideal situation at Michigan. Like many elite jobs, the Michigan job can be a beast for a coach who isn't a great fit. Once the losing starts, everything else snowballs. Arizona won't have similar expectations of Rodriguez; this is a program that has never been in the Rose Bowl, after all. Rodriguez will get a fresh start at a program looking for one. I have two major questions, though. First, how will he recruit on the West Coast? Rodriguez never has coached West of the Mississippi, so staff will be critical in that regard. At Michigan, offense never was an issue. At Arizona, Rodriguez's defensive coordinator hire will be under the microscope. Will he be able to pry Jeff Casteel away from West Virginia? If not, where will he look?

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Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think it's a good hire and a good fit. Rodriguez never fit in at Michigan because he wasn't a "Michigan man." That won't be an issue in Arizona, which is looking for a "winning man." Rodriguez knows how to recruit; the players he left behind in Ann Arbor look to be in line for a BCS bid. And, remember, Rodriguez got West Virginia to the BCS. It should be much easier to find players willing to attend school in Tucson than it was in Morgantown; California and Texas are filled with players who are great fits for the spread. There are two issues, though: One is that the Pac-12 is vastly tougher than the Big East. Two is that he needs to find a top-notch defensive coordinator, something he didn't have at Michigan. That coordinator is going to be taking over a team that has been roasted on an almost-weekly basis this season. Still, the hire should fire up the fan base because Rodriguez knows how to win.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I like the hire quite a bit. Rodriguez should provide some excitement to a program that definitely could use a spark. I think his struggles at Michigan have caused some people to forget just how successful he was at West Virginia. There arguably wasn't a more fun team to watch in all the nation than the West Virginia in the years when Pat White, Steve Slaton and Noel Devine were in the backfield. Rodriguez shouldn't have a problem finding offensive skill-position players to come to Tucson, and his offense should get more people in the stands. The one concern I have with this hire is that Arizona already has a good offense and desperately needs to upgrade its defense. That's why I figured Arizona might choose a coach with more of a defensive background. After all, a lousy defense is what ended up costing Rodriguez his job at Michigan. That said, if Rodriguez manages to hire a quality defensive coordinator, he ought to do just fine at Arizona.

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