Sunday, December 16, 2007

Michigan: The West Virginia of the Slightly Further West

After a coaching search that left hundreds dead and thousands mutilated, Michigan finally has its man: West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez. This is the second time this year that the Wolverines have seen the departure of a nice yet stale coach and replaced him with a couch-burnin' Mountaineer.

Rodriguez has had great success at his alma mater, posting a 60-26 record and five Big East championships in seven seasons. He has won at least eight games in all but one season (his first), and in true Michigan fashion, he has a 2-3 bowl record.

Rodriguez is one of only two Hispanic coaches in Division I-A (the other is the Cubanly awesome Mario Cristobal of Florida International). He has a tenuous connection to Bo through former WVU head coach Don Nehlen, who served as QB coach at Bowling Green in 1955 while Bo was also on staff. So he doesn't really have any Michigan ties whatsoever.

Rodriguez became Salem University's head coach in 1988 at age 24, the youngest head coach in the NCAA. He took over Glenville State in 1990, where he earned three consecutive West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and four overall. He was named the WVIAC Coach of the Year twice and the NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1993.

Rodriguez left for Tulane in 1997 to helm the Green Wave's offense. His ingenuity helped Tulane go undefeated in 1998. Rodriguez followed Tulane head coach Tommy Bowden to Clemson and served as his offensive coordinator for two years.

In 2001, Rodriguez replaced his old boss Nehlen as head coach of West Virginia. Nehlen's 21-year tenure at WVU was marked by inconsistency, reaching nine wins only five times. Rodriguez, widely credited as the inventor of the modern spread offense, overcame a 3-8 rookie season at West Virginia to reel off six consecutive seasons of eight or more wins, including two straight 11-win seasons and three straight ten-win seasons. He is 33-8 in the Big East since 2001. He was named the Big East Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Rodriguez took West Virginia to four consecutive New Year's Day bowl games and back-to-back top-10 finishes, an accomplishment matched only by Pete Carroll of USC, and unmatched by Jim "Piss" Tressel of The Ohio State Penitentiary.


Flop said...

Actually, Lloyd Carr took Michigan to New Year's Day bowls after the 1996-2004 seasons. Which is eight in a row.

Anonymous said...