It doesn't take a genius to figure out that whenever Arizona and Michigan meet in any sport from now on, there will be some sort of undercurrent that has to do with Rich Rodriguez.
Well that undercurrent swept the Wolverines out of Tucson along the water-soaked roads Saturday afternoon after they were beaten to a bloody pulp by the Arizona basketball team by the tune of an 80-53 final score.
This game was so much more than a basketball game for Tucson sports fans. It started about ten minutes before tip, when RichRod made his way along the sidelines to first talk to a couple of the guys on the Michigan coaching staff. As he got closer to the ZonaZoo, the roar kept getting louder and louder, and then he was greeted with a standing ovation by the student section as he walked down the tunnel.
Also before the game, the former Michigan football coach found his way to the Arizona locker room to give the guys a few words of encouragement.
"He stopped in unexpectedly before our game and said 'Good luck"," Sean Miller said afterwards. "And I can tell he had a twinkle in his eye."
With Arizona up 36-25 at halftime, the Athletics department stepped up its Michigan-trolling game by bringing the entire football team out onto the court along with the Territorial Cup to honor the team's Pac-12 South Championship and Fiesta Bowl bid. It wasn't by accident the honor wasn't done at halftime on Dec. 6 against Gonzaga or Tuesday against Utah Valley.
Rodriguez grabbed the mic and talked for several minutes about the senior leadership on his team, and to thank everyone for standing behind him in his first three years at Arizona. A three years that has resulted in a 26-13 record to this point. Michigan the last three years? 20-18.
When Rodriguez was talking during halftime, some of the fans in attendance that were dressed in maize and blue were clapping. I noticed at least three. The rest of the pretty decent amount of Michigan fans at McKale? Heads down, probably wondering what has happened to their school.
The basketball team put the game away right after the presentation, opening the second half on a 12-0 run to grab a 23 point lead heading into the first media timeout.
Now, during the first half, ZonaZoo was chanting "N-J-I-T" at Michigan players while they were shooting free throws. That chant changed slightly in the second half to "Rich-Rod-Ri-Guez".
Rich Rod pic.twitter.com/7qyb0H9eu1— Ezra Amacher (@EzraAmacher) December 13, 2014
Look at that smile!
Michigan, a team that had high hopes coming into this season, looked downright depressed for the final 15 minutes or so against Arizona. And RichRod along with the rest of the coaching staff at Arizona that once used to call Ann Arbor home? So happy they couldn't even hide it in the tunnel.
"We respect and appreciate Rich," Miller said. "We're glad he's at Arizona as I know all of us are."
Yes, all of us definitely are glad you are here coach Rodriguez.