Arizona vs. Michigan? A coach says it’s a matchup that Rich Rodriguez wantsby Javier Morales on Dec. 08, 2011, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category
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The Detroit Free-Press recently quoted a Louisiana high school football coach remarking that new Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez chose the Wildcats over Tulane because the Wildcats have a better chance to win a national title, and because of one other interesting motivation.
“They (Arizona) promised him they’d put Michigan on the schedule in three years,” J.T. Curtis, the head coach of John Curtis High School in River Ridge, La., told Tulane boosters Nov. 30. “I’m telling you, it was a big deal.”
You can see Curtis make this remark at about the 13:45 mark of this video: J.T. Curtis at the New Orleans Quarterback Club
Curtis said that Rodriguez talked to him during the process of when Tulane courted the coach.
”My understanding is, in talking to coach Rich Rodriguez, and I was involved in that just a little bit, is that it was a much closer decision than people realize between Tulane and Arizona,” Curtis said. “I know that might not sound right to you, but I think Tulane did all they could do to give him an opportunity to come there and a chance to coach.
“I think his expression to me was that he felt like he had a better chance to win the national championship at Arizona if he recruited properly.”
Curtis then offered the line about Arizona promising Rodriguez a matchup with Michigan, which fired him following the 2010 season after Rodriguez went 15-22 there in three years.
For Arizona to play Michigan, the Wolverines would have to oblige. My hunch is Michigan’s athletic administration would rather not allow a chance for its former embattled coach to beat the Wolverines. Of course, the lure of TV money can ultimately be the deciding factor.
A question to ask: Would Arizona be willing to play only at Ann Arbor, Mich., without the Wolverines having to make a return trip to Tucson to make this arrangement happen? If that’s the case, Rodriguez and Arizona would have to beat Michigan in front of a hostile crowd at The Big House. That could set Rodriguez up for embarrassment if the Wildcats do not win or keep the game close.
The possibility exists that Arizona and Michigan can meet at a “neutral” site in a kickoff classic arrangement similar to when Boise State played Georgia at the Georgia Dome instead of in Athens, Ga., to start this season. And, of course, Michigan and Arizona can meet in the Rose Bowl, right? Is that part of Rodriguez’s three-year plan to face the Wolverines?
The Wildcats have played Michigan twice before with the Wolverines balking at the idea of making a return trip to Tucson. Michigan won both games against the Wildcats while ranked in the Top 10, but the Wildcats kept both games close. In 1970, No. 8 Michigan beat Arizona 20-9 in front of 80,386. In 1978, third-ranked Michigan beat the Cats 21-17 in front of the largest crowd (104,913) to watch an Arizona football game.
The 1978 encounter was set up two years previously when Jim Young, a former assistant under Bo Schembechler at Michigan, was coaching the Wildcats. Young left in 1977, however, to be the head coach at Purdue. Tony Mason coached Arizona against the Wolverines.