Many Arizona Wildcats fans I have come across are disgruntled about the football team’s performance the last two seasons under Rich Rodriguez, who enters his sixth season in Tucson this year.
A few have mentioned they have relinquished their season tickets, fed up with how Rodriguez’s teams only won four Pac-12 games in 2015 and 2016 after capturing the Southern Division title in 2014.
I posted a question the other day on Facebook if Arizona fans are interested in the upcoming season. I got a couple of “nope” and “no” responses.
With a new athletic director in Dave Heeke, who didn’t hire Rodriguez, that could add to the intrigue of the coach’s future with the Wildcats.
The situation is definitely a win-or-else proposition for Rodriguez no matter how you slice it after going 10-15 overall and 4-14 in the Pac-12 the last two seasons. A few assistant coaches have left to other schools, a sign that they are securing their future with Rodriguez’s days ahead not so certain.
Some fans have gone so far as to ask me if Rodriguez will last the entire upcoming season. Perhaps they are a bit gun shy of such outcomes after the previous two coaches — John Mackovic and Mike Stoops — were ousted before being able to conclude their last seasons.
Something to hold on to for Rodriguez and his believers — who still far outnumber the doubters: He is not one of the top coaches on the hot seat nationally, perhaps because of the stature of Arizona’s program right now.
Arizona does not have the name value of Texas A&M, Notre Dame, UCLA, Tennessee and Auburn, all of whom have the top five coaches on the hot seat entering this season, according to FoxSports.com.
Rodriguez ranks all the way down at No. 15 as the coach with the hottest seat according to CoachesHotSeat.com.
ASU’s Todd Graham ranks higher at No. 3. Coaches from schools such as Kent State (Paul Haynes, No. 6), UMass (Mark Whipple, No. 8), Buffalo (Lance Liepold, No. 9) and Charlotte (Brad Lambert, No. 13) have hotter seats than Rodriguez according to the site.
The site proclaims: “After Arizona’s 2014 appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game Rich Rodriguez let things slide…he let-up on the accelerator…he let small things go unattended…he let recruiting slip…and finally team discipline slid some…which led to the 7 – 6 record in 2015 and what looked to us to be nothing short of a… Total Disaster of a College Football Team.”
And it offers this blunt recommendation for Rodriguez: “Go back to having fun coaching college football again Son because what you have been doing in the last year or so is not only hurting the Arizona football team it is making your life miserable as well.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.