The grass isn't always greener on the other side.
Rich Rodriguez seemed to admit as much in an interview with CBSSports.com over the weekend. The former West Virginia coach -- who is a guest analyst for CBS Sports' coverage of the NFL draft -- was asked about making the move from the Mountaineers to Michigan in December 2007. Here is the question and answer:
Any regrets in hindsight jumping from West Virginia to Michigan?
RR: You know that's a fair question, and I've been asked that before. I think it's easy to go back now and say, "Gee, made a mistake." And you can say that now because of hindsight. But at the time, some of the things I was looking to do and the opportunity that was there you kind of make the move. The frustrating part for us was that we thought we battled through the tougher times to get it to this point where we had a lot of the team coming back and we thought we were getting ready to take off, but you know hindsight is always easier to look back and say, "it was a mistake." Because we did have a good thing going at West Virginia, and we really enjoyed it. As you look back at it, wasn't the best move. Easy to say now.
Notice that Rodriguez never directly says, "I made a mistake" or "I shouldn't have left West Virginia." As he notes, it's much easier to look back with hindsight and realize that it was not a great move for him. It's hard to criticize anyone for wanting to take over Michigan, one of the true blue-blood programs in college football, and perhaps Rodriguez would have gotten it going in Ann Arbor with better defensive players or another year or two.
At the same time, Rodriguez did have a good thing going at West Virginia. He was coaching in his native state and had led the program to two BCS bowl bids in three years. He was close to playing for the national championship in 2007 before an upset loss to Pitt. Maybe he could have kept it rolling with the Mountaineers and dominated the Big East had he stayed. Or maybe the Pitt loss was a sign that teams were starting to figure out his spread offense, and that he would have had the same difficulties getting back to the top as Bill Stewart has had.
Regardless, I find it interesting when coaches jump for supposedly greener pastures and then wonder if they should have stayed where they were. When Bobby Petrino left Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons, he thought he was going to coach Michael Vick. Instead, he quit before the season ended. Brian Kelly had a rough first few months at Notre Dame but seemed to turn it around at the end of his first season in South Bend. We'll see if Randy Edsall actually has it better at Maryland than he did at UConn.
No one should feel sorry for these coaches when the moves don't work out. They are handsomely rewarded and are able to take care of their families with the money they've made. What I wonder is if West Virginia fans feel any better hearing Rodriguez express some sign of regret for leaving, or whether the hard feelings from his acrimonious exit remain cemented. If the latter is true, what would it take for you to look more fondly on the ex-coach?
It's a safe bet Rodriguez will be back on a college football sideline sometime soon, as the following exchange from the interview showed:
Getting back into coaching
RR: We played the Gator Bowl, then when we were let go in January there wasn't a lot of coaching jobs that were available. I still love coaching, I'm open to another opportunity, but we'll see. Here, that window looks like it's closed, but if something comes open after this season, and it seems like it may be a good opportunity for me and someone is interested, I'm sure I'll look into it.