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Arizona AD: Rich Rod’s name is out there for the right reasons

(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)
LISTEN: Greg Byrne, UA Athletic Director

It’s been an off season for the Arizona Wildcats, who are 6-5 overall and 3-5 in the Pac-12 a year after winning the conference’s South division.

But while his team has been struggling, UA coach Rich Rodriguez’s name has been consistently popping up in rumors regarding other jobs around the country. That’s a sign, according to Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, that Rodriguez is one of the best coaches in the country.

“People get concerned about his name being out there and I’d much rather have his name out there for the great job he’s doing for us instead of ‘Is this the right guy for us? Can he get it done?’” Byrne told Bickley and Marotta Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “And that’s because of the great football coach Rich Rodriguez is because one, he’s still our coach and two, he’s doing a good job.”

But while the rumors are out there and the possibility of Rodriguez leaving exists, Byrne thinks the coach, who has guided the Wildcats to a 32-16 record since taking over the program in 2012, is content where he is.

“I think there’s been a natural speculation since Rich has been there since he’s not from Arizona that he’ll be on the first Greyhound out of town,” Byrne said. “I can tell you he’s probably had some people knock on his door and he’s been very happy to stay at the University of Arizona.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say I can 100 percent guarantee he’ll be our coach next year because no one can guarantee that. But the way we’ve compensated him, the way we’ve invested in our program, he knows we’re committed to having a very strong football program that competes for championships and we want that to be with him and the University of Arizona and he knows that directly.”

While Byrne feels good about his head football coach, he said he realizes part of being an AD is preparing for those situations. The other side of the coin is, coaches have left Arizona before and they’ll leave again.

“We tell our student athletes, our staff, nothing is bigger than our university, the block A. We’re very fortunate to be a part of it. I think we’ve got a good lineup of coaches we want to have continue to be at the U of A. I certainly hope it’s not something where we’re searching for a new coach.”

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