By Anthony Caruso III
Posted: November 21st, 2011 at 10:10 PM EST
I think Rich Rodriguez is making a huge mistake.
He will have his hands full worse than he did at Michigan. He has become the Arizona head football coach.
Yet, he’s taking over a program that has been stuck in mediocrity over the past decade. The best record over that period of time was 8-5, both in 2008 and 2009.
Rodriguez will not see that record at Arizona next season. He’s going to struggle again next season after one-year away from coaching.
Rodriguez struggled in his last coaching position, as he was criticized almost from Day One when he arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Those critics were eventually right, because Rodriguez’s spread offense was a fail with the Wolverines.
He was only 15-22 at Michigan in three seasons. He struggled coaching against his conference opponents, which he had a 6-18 conference mark, including three straight losses to arch rival, Ohio State.
He’s taking over a program that’s just 3-8 this season. They are even worse against conference foes with a 2-7 mark in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Wildcats have only one conference game remaining, coming this Saturday against Arizona State.
Since joining the Pac-10 Conference, now the Pac-12 Conference, they have a horrible record against conference opponents. The struggle team has a .469 winning percentage all-time mark within the conference.
It is going to be hard for Rodriguez to increase those numbers. Each week is going to be stacked against the Wildcats.
It will also hurt the team that Rodriguez will try to convert his quarterback to run his form of the spread offense. Right now, the Wildcats have been a pass-happy team with Nick Foles at quarterback.
Tom Savage, the former Rutgers transfer, is a pro- style quarterback and has never run a spread offense. He is expected to be the starting quarterback next season, unless Rodriguez decides to start somebody else.
At Rutgers, Savage had 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns in a year and a half.
Rodriguez is going to have a difficult time converting Savage into the quarterback that he wants. He wants a quarterback that will control the tempo by running the ball 65-70% more than passing the ball.
In recent years, Rodriguez has ran the ball around 70% more times than he’s called passing play. In 2005, Rodriguez, while coaching at West Virginia, ran the ball 625 times to a 193 passes. That was 76% of the calls for the run.
As he did at Michigan, Rodriguez’s defense will struggle at Arizona. The Pac-12 teams have more potent attacks than any of the Big Ten teams that he previously faced at Michigan.
Stanford, Oregon, and Southern California have proven to be better than Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin in recent years.
This season, the Wildcats defense have allowed 388 points, mainly facing Pac-12 teams. They are giving up nearly 35.3 points per game, while only scoring 29.5 points.
Rodriguez should wish he’s still working at CBS College Sports as a football analyst. Instead of taking over the struggling Arizona football team that last had a 10-win season in 1993.
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