When Rich Rodriguez was hired, the immediate reaction was cemented in what we knew about him.
We knew he had failed at Michigan, perhaps unfairly. It was undeniable that Rodriguez had a great deal of success at West Virginia before leaving on not the best terms.
A positive sign for Arizona Wildcats fan was the research that Greg Byrne put into making the hire that could define Byrne himself. Obviously, Rodriguez is a hire that could tip the scales of a football program that finally appears to have acknowledged that it's been behind the curve. So it's important to know that, while the results can't be judged fairly for two or three years, the RichRod hire is probably not one other coaches in the profession are snickering about.
How do we know? A good start would be reading Andrea Adelson's piece on how college football is a game of copycats, and she means that in a good way. To be copied -- even the ability to be allowed to copy -- is an entry into an elite club of sorts. Copying or being copied is part of the profession, and unavoidable happening in the sport, at least if you know what you're doing.
And Rich Rodriguez is a man many, many high-profile coaches have copied going back to his days at Glenville State.
Said Rodriguez to Adelson:
"Everybody has probably taken some ideas from somewhere and then you start thinking if we weren't as open would it be out there as much now? I think it would because coaches are among the most creative people in the world. It's such a competitive business. You study other people and see if they can help you. It's going to be out there. The fact Chip's (Oregon coach Chip Kelly) in our league and other teams run the spread, helps us out. If things they do look like a good idea, or maybe we like the way we're doing it better."
Kelly? He visited Rodriguez back in the day while the Ducks head coach was at New Hampshire. Ohio State's Urban Meyer? The man told Byrne that Rodriguez had one of the five greatest football minds when the Arizona AD visited the then-unemployed Meyer during UA's coaching search.
Hawaii's Norm Chow visited RichRod. Tommy Bowden, formerly of Clemson, gave Rodriguez his big break at Tulane after coming to appreciate the Glenville State coach.
And when copycats to Rodriguez are being compared offensively to Nick Saban's copycats for his defense, well, that's just high praise.
I know the football coaching world is tight-knit. Like any business, and I use that term broadly, coaches and their relationships with one another could be BS, holding more of a networking purpose than any heart-felt reasoning like friendship. Still, something must be said about those relationships.
Just as former Iowa coaching great Hayden Fry was the patriarch of an ever-growing coaching tree that dictates the sport today, Rodriguez's influence on college football is already a sizeable imprint on the landscape of it all. And though that's not by his own development of others, as was Fry, his impact is great becuase of his progressive ideas that fit well with the frontiers of the Pac-12.
Take a look at Ted Miller's post of the full Q&A interview of Adelson with RichRod.