Ex-UA coach talks about what’s next
Rodriguez misses game, wants to coach again
Former Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez expressed a desire to get back into coaching in his first media interview since the university fired him in January.
Rodriguez appeared Friday on the “Roc & Manuch” show on Phoenix radio station 1580 The Fanatic. The hosts did not ask Rodriguez about his dismissal from Arizona. They did ask if he has been offered any other jobs.
“Not really,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve talked to some people about that. None of the situations have worked out. The way everything has happened, it’s maybe a little late in this cycle.
“But at the same time, I didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing. I wanted to take this opportunity to get better, learn. (I) have more time to study it than I’ve ever had before. Right now, I’m in a wait-and-see mode.”
Rodriguez, 55, said he has spent time visiting friends with other programs and teams, as well as doing home-improvement projects. He hasn’t been in this position in more than three decades. Even when Rodriguez was out of coaching in 2011, he worked as an analyst for CBS and spent July and August preparing for that season.
“It’s really the first time in 40 years I haven’t had an August full of football,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been different.”
Asked what he missed the most, Rodriguez said: “There’s no question it’s the interaction with your players and your staff. The games are fun, of course, because it’s competition. I love practice time, watching guys get better, teaching and coaching. And the film sessions with your coaches, your staff … a bunch of guys talking ball, you miss that.
“I’ve talked to other coaches that are retired or aren’t coaching, and that’s the one thing they all seem to miss as well.”
Arizona fired Rodriguez on Jan. 2. His termination came in the wake of a notice of claim – a precursor to a lawsuit – from Rodriguez’s former administrative assistant, who levied sexual-harassment allegations against him. The assistant, Melissa Wilhelmsen, never filed the suit.
The UA administration cited the “direction and climate of our football program” as a primary reason for parting ways with Rodriguez. He compiled a 4335 record at Arizona, leading the Wildcats to five bowl appearances in six seasons. The school hired Kevin Sumlin on Jan. 14.
Rodriguez’s son, Rhett, remains with the team and is battling to become the No. 2 quarterback behind Khalil Tate.
Rhett Rodriguez has not been made available for media interviews since his father’s dismissal. But Rhett’s best friend, tight end Bryce Wolma, spoke on his teammate’s behalf after practice Friday night.
Wolma wasn’t sure how Rhett would react to what Wolma described as “a pretty bad situation.”
“He’s handled it tremendously,” Wolma said.
“There’s been no sour moments. He’s kind of put the past behind him. He really likes the new staff.”