In athletics, when a new coach is introduced at the press conference his job is simple: tell the fan base why he was the best candidate for the position. At the end of each season, dozens of these press conferences take place across the country with all the coaches delivering the same message: we’ll be competing not only for conference titles, but national championships as well. In a way, it’s basically a “tell them what they want to hear” script.
At Arizona, Rich Rodriguez was no different. When Rodriguez was named the Wildcats new coach in November he vowed to take the program to new heights. He talked about taking his team to the schools first-ever Rose Bowl appearance, something that Wildcat fans have heard before. In the process, he embraced the new challenge ahead and pledged to be a Wildcat for the long term. Coaching in Tucson can be hard especially when you consider its lack of resources that other schools have. Instead, the former West Virginia and Michigan coach is looking at this as an opportunity rather than making an excuse. And that pleased the Wildcat community.
“I think I’m doing ok, we haven’t played a game yet so I have to reserve judgment,” Rodriguez told the Victor and Matt Show on 110SportsPodcast.com about how he thinks he’s done his first few months on the job. “It’s a process. I think everybody understands that we’ve got some work to do from the players to the coaches. I think the fans realize that. I’m really pleased with the attitude of everybody, not just the players and the coaches, but everyone that is supporting the program has been fantastic and has been very supportive. We’re off to a good start.”
Then there’s recruiting. Anytime a new coach enters the picture, the first recruiting class can be up in the air. Being able to sell your system and the university is vital as recruiting is the cornerstone to having a successful program year in and year out.
“We have some tradition, more so then people think, but we haven’t been to the Rose Bowl and no national championships, so we can’t sell that,” Rodriguez added. “What we can sell is guys coming here and being apart of the first team to do that.”
Again, to this point Rodriguez has done a remarkable job in terms of building excitement in the community and embracing the challenge of getting the Wildcats over the hump to their first Rose Bowl. But results must follow. Plenty of coaches in the past have “won” the beginning stages of building a strong program, but have failed on the field. Arizona has a favorable schedule for 2012 and a bowl appearance is a strong possibility. Rodriguez will definitely have more success in the desert then he had in Ann Arbor. How much success won’t be determined until games started being played. But for now, he’s winning and is off to a good start.
– For the full interview with Rich Rodriguez listen to Episode 144 on 110SportsPodcast.com.
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110SportsPodcast.com features a weekly sports podcast and daily blogging. Episodes include interviews, entertainment, comedy, insight and analysis.