From NCAA College Football Information & Resource
Rich Rodriguez (Born on May 24, 1963 in Grant Town, West Virginia) is the head football coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA college football tournament. Rodriguez, a WVU alumni, was one of a select number of coaches to mentor their alma mater's football program and is (as of 2008) only one of two Hispanic head football coaches in the FBS (the other being Mario Cristobal of Florida International). Prior to taking the Michigan position, Rodriguez mentored West Virginia for seven seasons where he made quite a stride in the development of WVU's football program highlighted by the team's three straight Big East Conference titles, five straight bowl appearances, a top 5 finish, and many other feats and accomplishments that were achieved under Rodriguez's highly-innovative system.
Rich, also known as "Rod", was raised in Grant Town which is just a half-hour away from West Virginia's Morgantown campus. Rich, whose dad Vince was a coal miner, has two daughters to wife Rita, namely Raquel and Rhett.
Rodriguez attended North Marion High School where he was a four-sport letterman and an all-state honoree in football and basketball. Under coach Roy Michael, Rodriguez led the Huskies to the 1980 Class AAA state football championship before graduating a year later.
After high school, Rodriguez came to WVU as a walk-on and earned a scholarship under coach Don Nehlen to play for the Mountaineers where he was a three-year letterman at defensive back from 1982-84. In three seasons, he recorded 54 career tackles and three interceptions, including a team-season-long 43-yard pick-off against Pacific in 1983 and a 14-yard interception in 1984's 17-14 win over Penn State, WVU’s first defeat of the Nittany Lions in 29 years.
Rodriguez, who earned a degree in Physical Education and Safety at WVU, served two seasons as a student assistant coach to Nehlen from 1985-86 before moving to Salem International University, now known simply as Salem College. He began his career at Salem as a secondary coach and special teams coordinator in 1986 before getting promoted as an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator the following year, while completing a master’s degree in physical education. He got his biggest break in 1988 when he was elevated into the head football coaching position, making him the youngest college head coach in America at the age of 24. But his tenure didn't last that long as the school got bought out a year later with the football program being dissolved. Nonetheless, Rodriguez posted a 2-8 record in his very first attempt as a head coach.
After a brief stint as a volunteer assistant coach working with the Mountaineers' outside linebackers in 1989, Rodriguez left again to become Glenville State College's head coach. His stay with his new team was quite a success, leading Glenville to four consecutive WVIAC conference championships from 1993-96. The Pioneers also advanced to the national playoffs twice and reach the national championship game once, in 1993. In seven seasons with Glenville, Rodriguez compiled an overall record of 43-28-2.
Rodriguez won several awards during his Glenville tenure including the 1993 and 1994 WVIAC coach of the year honors and the 1993 NAIA national coach of the year award. He was also recognized by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as the state College Coach of the Year for all sports in 1993.
Rodriguez's players, who set five national career records for Division II, also received accolades. Three Pioneers received the WVIAC Player of the Year honors in succession, including Jed Drenning in 1992-93, Chris George in 1994, and Scott Otis in 1995.
Tulane and Clemson
Rodriguez left his head coaching spot at Glenville at the end of the 1996 season to become an assistant at Tulane. From 1997-98, Rodriguez was an assistant coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback coach for the Green Wave who was then handled by Tommy Bowden. Tulane was 19-4 in two seasons, capped by an undefeated season (12-0) in 1998 when the team bagged the Conference USA championship and beat BYU in the Liberty Bowl.
When Bowden was hired by Clemson as its head football coach, Rodriguez was retained on his staff as offensive coordinator and associate head coach until the 2000 season.
Rodriguez made his return to his alma mater after two seasons with the Tigers and was hired as the Mountaineers' 31st head football coach, replacing his former mentor Don Nehlen who retired that year. He was signed on November 26, 2000 with a contract that is to last for atleast 14 seasons.
Rodriguez made his official coaching debut in September 1, 2001 when the Mountaineers took on Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. The Mountaineers lost 10-34 which set the tone for a disappointing season. Outside wins over Ohio, Kent State, and Rutgers, WVU suffered losses in clusters with a four-game losing streak (Maryland, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, & Miami) and a three-game losing streak (Syracuse, Temple, and Pittsburgh) to end the year. Despite Rodriguez's employment of a unique and innovative offensive style, West Virginia suffered a 3-8 losing season on his maiden coaching year with his alma mater.
In just his sophomore coaching year at WVU, Rodriguez anchored what is said to be the best turnaround in Big East history as the Mountaineers rose from its 3-9 standing to a 9-4 record to finish the season as the league runner-up with wins over ranked teams Virginia Tech and Pitt. He also led the team to a postseason game after a one-year absence but lost to Virginia, 22-48, in the Continental Tire Bowl. The 2002 WVU team finished the season 2nd in rushing and 4th in turnover margin, nationally. Rodriguez was honored by The Sporting News as the Big East Coach of the Year, and by the Virginia Sports Writers Association as the state college coach of the year for all sports.
Rodriguez, who received the 2003 Frank Loria Award for coaching distinction from the West Virginia chapter of the National Football Foundation in June, was faced with a handicap on his lineup as his 2003 squad was minus their career rushing leader, and majority of the offensive and defensive lines. The loss seemed to have hampered the Mountaineers in the season-opener against Wisconsin and after claiming their first win of the season against East Carolina, WVU went on to lose three straight. But Rodriguez and his boys would rebound with a seven-game winning streak to end the season, earning themselves a share of the Big East title and a trip to a postseason game. But for the second straight year, WVU would be humbled, this time courtesy of Maryland in the Gator Bowl, 7-41. Rodriguez finished his third year with an 8-5 record overall.
Rodriguez was named as unanimous choice by his peers for the Big East Coach of the Year award, and was also named by the American Football Coaches Association as the District I coach of the year, one of five district AFCA winners.
The team attained almost the same amount of success as the previous year, again claiming a share of the Big East title and earning a trip to the Gator Bowl, but had to deal with their third-straight bowl game loss at the hands of Florida State. The team went as high as sixth place in the rankings and spending 15 straight weeks in the top 25. Rodriguez finished the year with an 8-4 tally overall.
Rodriguez found himself a very potent tandem at the offensive side in the form of freshmen quarterback Pat White and first year running back Steve Slaton. The team won four-straight to begin the year and then after a loss at home to Virginia Tech, won six straight to finish the year to bag the Big East title and claim the conference's automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Rodriguez piloted the Mountaineers to a 38-35 win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl for his first ever bowl game win and the school's first ever BCS game win. The team went on to finish with a 11-1 record and a no.5 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll, to tie the school's highest finish in its history (WVU also finished 5th in 1988).
Rodriguez was asked to join the AFCA Board of Directors and was again voted Big East coach of the year following the 2005 season.
West Virginia's 2005 breakout year placed the Mountaineers as one of the favorites for the '06 season. WVU started strong as they zoomed to seven straight wins with an average winning margin of 28 points. The streak however was halted by Louisville and after back-to-back wins over Cincinnati and Pitt, the Mountaineers were on the losing end of a shocking upset by South Florida. The team however was able to recover with a two-point win over Rutgers and despite playing without Slaton in the Gator Bowl, WVU was able to win its second-straight bowl game with a classic come-from-behind victory over Georgia Tech. Rodriguez tallied an 11-2 record on his 6th year at WVU.
West Virginia was ranked third in the AP Top 25 in the preseason and 6th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. But after four straight wins to begin the year, the 5th ranked Mountaineers fell prey to 18th ranked South Florida, 13-21, to drop to no.13 the following week. WVU recovered well with six straight wins including three over top 25 opponents to reach as high as number two in the rankings going into the final game of the year. Rodriguez also guided WVU to its fourth conference title in the last five years.
|Rich Rodriguez guides WVU to its fourth Big East title with a lopsided win over UConn.|
|Salem Tigers (WVIAC) (1988)|
|Glenville State Pioneers (WVIAC) (1990 — 1996)|
|1993||Glenville State||10-3||6-1||1||WVIAC title.|
|1994||Glenville State||8-3||5-1||1-T||WVIAC title.|
|1995||Glenville State||8-2||6-1||1-T||WVIAC title.|
|1996||Glenville State||6-4||6-1||1-T||WVIAC title.|
|At Glenville State:||43-28-2||32-15|
|West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East) (2001 — present)|
|2002||West Virginia||9-4||6-1||2||Continental Tire (L)||#25 in the final AP Poll.|
|2003||West Virginia||8-5||6-1||1-T||Gator (L)||Big East title.|
|2004||West Virginia||8-4||4-2||1-T||Gator (L)||Big East title.|
|2005||West Virginia||11-1||7-0||1||Sugar (W)||Big East title. #5 in the final AP Poll.|
|2006||West Virginia||11-2||5-2||2-T||Gator (W)||#10 in the final AP Poll.|
|2007||West Virginia||10-1||5-1||1||Big East title.|
|At West Virginia:||60-25||34-13|