“The Prelude to the Rich Rodriguez Interview”:
A message from the Interviewer: As a lifelong West Virginia fan, I’ve supported every team, player and coach that has ever been a part of WVU in my lifetime. For me, the football seasons with Rich Rodriguez as coach were some of my finest memories as a fan. Rich Rodriguez always represented passion and enthusiasm for the game, innovation and and a level of success at West Virginia that I didn’t think possible before. When Coach Rodriguez left for Michigan in 2007, I was disappointed like every other true fan. I hated to see him go, but I didn’t have the deep, visceral hate that some fans felt towards him and his departure from WVU. I didn’t view it as a betrayal but rather as a business decision by someone that desperately wanted to reach his full potential in his profession. I followed him closely at Michigan. I wanted him to be successful and win the national championship that I felt he deserved. I have an unremitting belief in his brand of football. When it didn’t go as planned at Michigan, I watched his Arizona teams closely. Now I will watch his games at Ole Miss as he serves as the team’s Offensive Coordinator.
Perhaps as a boy growing up in West Virginia, he represented something to me that not many other West Virginia-born citizens did. He worked hard and became an enormous success doing what he loves to do. He is a self-made, West Virginia born and bred success story. West Virginia does not have an overwhelming number of examples of this. Bob Huggins, Nick Saban, Mary Lou Retton, Chuck Yeager, Jerry West are a few, but the list isn’t lengthy. Rich Rodriguez exemplified what I wanted growing up. I didn’t necessarily want to be a football coach, but I wanted to be great at a job that I loved. I wanted to have the same passion and enthusiasm and dedication that Rich Rodriguez showed on the field and in the locker room. I will always look up to him for that reason.
When I learned that I would be interviewing Coach Rodriguez, I knew that I could take a couple of different approaches to it. This interview was different than with previous interviewees that are universally adored like Jevon Carter, Eugene Napoleon, Damian Owens, etc. I could bombard him with rumor-laced questions and accusations, immediately putting him on the defensive and abruptly ending the interview before it got started. Or I could ask the questions that I truly care about and have always wondered. I chose the latter.
My goal in this interview is for all West Virginians to see Rich Rodriguez as I see him. Admittedly and openly, I want to change a collective negative perception of someone I look up to and also did so much for West Virginia University. I understand the difficult climb that I will face in changing your minds in any way. I can already feel the oncoming eye rolls as I tell Coach Rodriguez how “loved and missed he is back home.” If nothing else, I got to talk to one of my heroes and express my appreciation for what he’s done for me and the university that I love so much.
The Rich Rodriguez Interview