Year in Coaching: 32nd
Year at Arizona: Fifth
Entering his fifth season as head coach at Arizona, Rich Rodriguez has guided the program to four consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history, including playing for a Pac-12 Championship and a first-ever New Year’s Six bowl game in 2014. He was introduced as the Wildcats’ 30th head coach on Nov. 22, 2011.
Heading into 2016, Rodriguez carries a career record of 153-104-2 in 21 seasons, marked by Division I records of 60-26 at West Virginia, 15-22 at Michigan and 33-20 with the Wildcats. He began his head coaching career at Salem (W.Va.) University in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State (W.Va.) from 1990-96.
Rodriguez’s third season with the Wildcats was highlighted by a 10-4 record, a Pac-12 South Championship, a Fiesta Bowl berth and winning the Territorial Cup game against ASU. Arizona finished the regular season with 10 wins for only the third time in program history as Rodriguez was named the 2014 Pac-12 Coach of the Year. The streak continued as Rodriguez and the squad defeated a top-10 ranked program for the third-straight campaign with a 31-24 road victory over No. 2 Oregon on Oct. 2.
Offensively, quarterback Anu Solomon became the first freshman ever to start a season opener for the school and went on to throw for 3,793 yards with 28 passing touchdowns and only nine interceptions. He owns the UA freshman records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts (540) and pass completions (313). Freshman Nick Wilson collected seven games with 100+ yards and with his 1,375 markers on the season, he set the school freshman rushing record.
Linebacker Scooby Wright III was easily the nation’s most prolific defender. Based on a vote of head coaches, media and college athletics personnel, he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, all given annually to the nation’s top defender. Also the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, he ranked in the top five among FBS players for total tackles (163), tackles for loss (29.0), sacks (14.0) and forced fumbles (6). Wright is UA’s sixth all-time unanimous All-American.
In 2013, the Wildcats posted an 8-5 record with a bowl victory over the Boston College Eagles in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La. Arizona knocked off a top-10 ranked team with a 42-16 win over No. 5 Oregon on Nov. 23.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey earned consensus All-America honors for the second-straight season, was named the 2013 Pac-12 offensive Player of the Year and a Doak Walker Award finalist. He ended his three seasons in Tucson as Arizona’s all-time career rushing leader (4,239 yards) and all-time all-purpose yardage leader (5,483). Carey recorded 16-straight games in which he eclipsed the century mark rushing, the longest streak in Pac-12 history and the longest for any FBS player in the last 10 seasons.
Senior B.J. Denker threw for 2,516 yards, completing 233 of 381 attempts with just seven interceptions, and connected on 16 scores to eight different receivers. Showing his versatility, Denker also rushed for 949 yards on 181 attempts with 13 scores. Against Colorado, he amassed 457 yards of total offense (265 passing, 192 rushing), the sixth-highest single-game output in school history and a school record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback.
The 2012 season proved successful for Arizona in Rodriguez’s spread-offense, no-huddle system. The Cats beat No. 10 USC, 39-36, on Oct. 27 en route to an 8-5 season and a win over Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Carey led the nation in total rushing yards (1,929) and yards per game (148.38) while rewriting the Arizona record book. For his efforts, Carey was named first-team All-Pac-12 and a consensus All-American, UA’s first on the offensive side of the ball.
Rodriguez inherited a fifth-year senior in quarterback Matt Scott who was perfectly suited to run the Wildcat offense. With Scott as signal caller, Arizona was 7-5 as he orchestrated come-from-behind wins against No. 10 USC and Nevada. Earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors, Scott led the conference in yards per game with 301.7 and ranked No. 2 in the league in total yardage.
Austin Hill totaled 81 catches for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns to lead the Wildcat receivers in 2012. He was named a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, second-team All-Pac-12 and fourth-team All-America by Phil Steele. He ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in total receiving yards and yards per game (104.9).
UA led the Pac-12 in total offense for four-straight weeks (weeks 6-9) and ranked as high as fourth nationally in weeks three, seven and nine. Arizona's offensive triple-threat attack featured a 3,000-yard passer (Scott - 3,620 yards), a 1,500-yard rusher (Carey - 1,929 yards) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Hill - 1,364 yards).
Defensively, Arizona was led by linebacker Jake Fischer, an All-Pac-12 honorable mention and CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree. Fischer ranked third in the Pac-12 in total tackles with 76 and 9.2 per game. Cornerback Shaquille Richardson ranked fourth in the league and No. 16 nationally in passes broken up with 14. Safety Jared Tevis also earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention nods.
Rodriguez served as a football analyst for CBS Sports during the 2011 season. Previously, Rodriguez was head coach at Michigan from 2008 to 2010 and made a Division I statement as head coach at West Virginia from 2001-07, where he compiled a 60-26 record and won four Big East Conference titles.
Rodriguez's West Virginia teams were Big East Champions in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 while appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2 shortly after Rodriguez had left for Michigan. His 2006 club finished 11-2 after a victory over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. He also coached the Mountaineers to the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl and the 2003 and 2004 Gator Bowl.
While at Salem, he was a secondary coach and special teams coordinator in 1986 and assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 1987. He was the youngest head coach in college football when appointed by Salem in 1988 at age 24. The school disbanded its football program the next year and he served as a volunteer assistant at West Virginia working with outside linebackers in 1989.
Prior to accepting the West Virginia job in late November 2000, Rodriguez served as offensive coordinator and associate head coach for Tommy Bowden at Clemson in 1999 and 2000, with the Tigers recording a 15-9 record in two seasons. He was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Bowden at Tulane for two years prior to that, 1997-98, when he helped lead the Green Wave to a 19-4 mark, including an undefeated 12-0 season with the Conference USA Champs and Liberty Bowl victors in 1998.
At Glenville State, his teams won or shared four consecutive West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and he was named WVIAC Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994, as well as the NAIA Coach of the Year after leading his team to a national runner-up finish. He also was recognized by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as the state College Coach of the Year for all sports in 1993. He led the Pioneers to the national playoffs twice and posted a 43-28-2 record. He also served as Glenville's AD in 1995-96 and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2003.
Rodriguez graduated from West Virginia in 1986, where he started as a walk-on in 1981 and became a three-year letterwinner as a defensive back from 1982-84. He added a master's degree from Salem in 1987. He is a native of Grant Town, W. Va., and graduated from North Marion High School. Rodriguez and his wife, Rita, have two children, Raquel and Rhett.