As the Arizona Wildcats spiral towards their first winless conference season since 1957(!), there have been plenty of questions and speculation about whether or not Rich Rodriguez will survive it.
On Monday of Territorial Cup week, Arizona’s head coach was asked about it, and this is how he responded:
“I don’t know what you guys are writing, and it’s not because I don’t believe in your journalistic skills, or what you’re doing. I mean, you can write and report whatever you want, and I think you guys, unless I hear otherwise, have been pretty fair, and when you don’t have success, the criticism that comes with it and questions about job security comes with it.
Last year wasn’t a great year. It was a very average year, and this year was an awful year, so if one awful year makes people want to get rid of ya, then like I said before, other people’s opinions are really no business of mine. And I hate to say this, and this is not critical of you all, your opinion is no business of mine either. I shouldn’t be judging what you say or write. Obviously, you can make your opinion on it.
I think we have a great future here, and sometimes when a coach says that coming off a terrible year, they say ‘ah he’s just playing the optimistic approach’. Folks, I’ve been doing this a long time. Been a head coach a long time, and this is obviously a year that you couldn’t foreshadow or certainly expect or want, but I’m sitting here, and the reason I’m optimistic is because I know what’s in the program daily. I know what’s coming in the program in this recruiting cycle, and I know what the administration and the support that I’ll have to help us move forward.
It’ll make us enjoy it when we win the championship in the Pac-12 even moreso I guess. I just would rather not have this kind of year to have us enjoy it that much. But to answer your question, everything has been positive with my talks with Greg (Byrne) or anyone associated with the school.”
The last sentence is probably the one that sticks out. There have also been reports that Byrne told boosters that Rodriguez’s job was safe.
Also, it’s worth noting that Rodriguez’s current buyout value is right around $9 million. And while Arizona has lost 12 of its last 13 conference games, it is just two years removed from a Pac-12 South title. Byrne isn’t one to necessarily have knee-jerk reactions when it comes to these things, and tends to let coaches try and fix things themselves before making a change (see women’s basketball, men’s tennis, even baseball).
Either way, I’d expect the Arizona football offseason to be an intriguing one, and one that sees at least some more changes on the staff if it’s not Rodriguez. After Friday, that’s when things really start to get interesting with this team.