Update: Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne tweeted that he expects Rich Rodriguez to be Arizona's head coach for the long term.
First, it began by a few radio personalities throwing out a name. Then, it became clear a rumor that Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez might be a candidate to take over for Charlie Strong in the Louisville Cardinals football program wouldn't go away.
So after waiting it out over night and the rumors -- not reports, mind you -- still persisting, we might as well talk about it.
Football Scoop's rumor page lists RichRod as the leader of a shortlist that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich will start with. Jurich is apparently hoping to land a proven head coach rather than dip his hand into the pool of top assistants. That's the most substantial rumor thus far, though it's hardly something to call an official report at this point.
CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler writes that Rodriguez is worth a call, and our counterparts at Cardinals blog Card Chronicle list Rodriguez as a target worth pursuing as well -- that said, they also note Louisville is a stepping stone job. The Cardinals don't have a long-standing tradition of a big-time football program and like the Wildcats are considered to inhabit a hoops school. RichRod is already in a similar situation.
RichRod can win 9-10 games next year with young players. Could, theoretically, get MUCH better gig 365 days from now. #Arizonawildcats— Ryan Finley (@ryan_finley) January 5, 2014
That said, Louisville probably could offer a lot more money (have you seen the Yum Center?). Outside of the financial advantages of jumping to the AAC school, Rodriguez is closer to familiar territory; the comment he made in his introductory presser about not knowing much about Tucson is concerning, I suppose, though he clearly has had time to find out whether he fits or not.
Also. Rich Rod spent two years in the ACC at Clemson as offensive coordinator and loved his time at the school and in the league.— Daniel Berk (@DSBerk) January 5, 2014
Obviously, Rodriguez has investments in Tucson. His son is starring at Catalina Foothills as a quarterback. RichRod is bringing in a top-15 recruiting class for 2014 and likely has unfinished business with the Wildcats. Greg Byrne has shown the effort to improve the football facilities, so that's not an outright negative as it was in the past. Arizona is trying to build itself into a respected football power.
In the end, this is all wild speculation but worthy of discussion since Rodriguez does seem like a solid fit at Louisville.
One possibility: Rodriguez could listen to any phone calls from Jurich and then -- like Sean Miller did when Maryland was looking for a new hoops coach -- use it as leverage to earn more money and possibly an extension. At this rate, it'd be hard for Byrne to say no with UA coming off its second eight-win season in two years.
So what do you think? Do you think Rodriguez might consider leaving?