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Similar to Arizona this year with quarterback Anu Solomon and running back Nick Wilson returning, West Virginia had Pat White and Steve Slaton back in 2007 for Rich Rodriguez.
I was like any teenager who didn’t see the point in studying about some old dead people. But my teachers used to always reply that history repeats itself.
Does that same principle apply to college football? An entity that has the unthinkable happen weekly? Looking at the history books, no one expected Michigan to lose to Appalachian State. After losing two quarterbacks, did anyone think Ohio State would win the national title?
There are some patterns in everything, however, and Rich Rodriguez’s coaching history is no different.
In his first NCAA FBS coaching job, he took over the West Virginia program in 2001. He went 3-8 in his first season. In his fourth season he went 8-4 with the Mountaineers reaching as high as 6th in the AP Poll. Four years later in 2007, West Virginia went 11-2 and defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
He then infamously went to Michigan and took over a program in shambles. In his first season in 2008 he went 5-7. In his last season in 2010 he went 7-6 and was starting to move that program in the right direction before we was prematurely relieved of his coaching responsibilities. I still want to personally thank Michigan’s athletic director for making that decision.
Can Arizona evolve into the power West Virginia became under Rich Rodriguez?
So what did we learn with Rich Rod’s two previous coaching stints? In his best season in 2007 at West Virginia, he had a returning quarterback in Pat White and returned his starting running back and Heisman finalist in Steve Slaton.
In 2010 at Michigan, he had to completely rebuild because he lost his starting quarterback and running back. But he still had enough firepower to improve the team’s record from 2009.
What does all that mean for the 2015 Wildcats? In Rich Rod’s first season in 2012, he took over an Arizona team that possessed talent, especially on offense with players who fit his uptempo scheme. The situation was more favorable than with the Mountaineers in 2001 and Wolverines in 2008.
He didn’t have to completely rebuild and as a result the Wildcats went 8-5, similar to the 2004 West Virginia team.
Now four years later Arizona is returning its starting quarterback and running back like the 2007 West Virginia team. White and Slaton were going into their third season as the starters instead of Solomon and Wilson heading into their second.
UA QB Solomon seeking perfect bond with offense http://t.co/1zOJW62CLm
— Wildcat Sports Now (@WildcatSN) August 15, 2015
But there is one big difference.
Solomon threw for 2,138 more yards and 15 more touchdowns in 2014 than White did in 2006. Which was White’s second year as a starter. Also, Wilson had the same amount of rushing touchdowns (16) in 2014 as Slaton did in 2006.
In 2007, Rodriguez had his best year as a coach with some experience and talent in the backfield. In 2015, he may have a little less experience but much more talent and the Mountaineers didn’t have some guy named Scooby Wright III on defense.
You can never expect success in the sporting industry. You can be optimistic. If my teachers were correct, that history repeats itself, 2015 should be a fun year to be a Wildcat.
Nick Latta is an accomplished youth golfer from Tucson who follows high school sports and the University of Arizona closely. He currently is on the golf team at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, Calif.