If Arizona beats Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, maybe Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez will finally be able to kick back and enjoy some of what has happened at Michigan since he got fired. It really will have come full circle.
You may recall that RichRod was unceremoniously thrown out of the Michigan head coaching job almost as ceremoniously as he received it. After lumbering through the Brady Hoke era, the Wolverines had to resort to Roy Williams/North Carolina begging strategies to get Jim Harbaugh to forget about the NFL, at least for a while.
When Michigan hired Rodriguez after the 2007 season, he had just completed his seventh year at West Virginia, taking the Mountaineers to a Fiesta Bowl berth. It was a game he did not coach because he had already taken the job in Ann Arbor. He got three years at Michigan. This Fiesta Bowl will mark the end of the Rodriguez’s third season at Arizona, and this time he’ll be on the sidelines.
After Michigan, Rodriguez was thought to have lost his mojo. If you can’t succeed at Michigan, the country seemed to reason, you can’t succeed anywhere. But Arizona, coming off the Mike Stoops derailment, needed a name coach in the new-fangled Pac-12 and gave Rodriguez the job.
Rodriguez has done more than just make Arizona good — he’s made them really good. The Wildcats were very close to only being a one-loss team in the regular season, and nobody gave them a chance to win the Pac-12 South and make a New Year’s Six Bowl — but UA did.
Now, the Wildcats will go into 2015 as a team with a legitimate shot at the CFB Playoff, and Michigan will be starting over. Again. RichRod finally gets to coach in the Fiesta Bowl, and he probably doesn’t mind that it worked out the way it did. Perhaps he’ll take more than a few minutes to enjoy it when it’s over.