Ex-UA coach talks about what’s next

Ro­driguez misses game, wants to coach again

The Arizona Republic - - SPORTS - Michael Lev Ari­zona Daily Star

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.”

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