Rich Rodriguez tweeted late Saturday night he is proud to be an Arizona Wildcat, ending his candidacy for the head coaching job with the South Carolina Gamecocks that was apparently offered to him.
Happy and honored to be an Arizona Wildcat!! Bear Down!!
— Rich Rodriguez (@CoachRodAZ) December 6, 2015
How close was Rodriguez to leaving Tucson?
Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reports that Rodriguez was offered the job after meeting with the Gamecocks and athletic director Ray Tanner. On the flight home, he decided he had work left to do in Arizona.
Adding to that report, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne tweeted that Rodriguez did not accept an offer to coach at South Carolina.
That Rodriguez felt there was more to accomplish is saying something after last year’s success. In 2014, Rodriguez’s Wildcats won the Pac-12 South Division title and earned a Fiesta Bowl bid, where they lost to Boise State to finish the year 10-4.
At the same time, it makes sense.
Rodriguez’s children have grown up in Tucson, and when the coach left West Virginia for Michigan earlier in his career he experienced moving into a more pressure-packed situation. His tenure in Michigan didn’t end well.
At the least, the situation at South Carolina may not have fit Rodriguez — either in timing or in feel.
Rich Rodriguez “did not commit to the offer” per tweet from AZ AD Greg Byrne. I’m told RR “didn’t feel like it was the right thing.”
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 6, 2015
Rodriguez entered the pool of candidates for the South Carolina job along with Auburn defensive coordinator and former Florida head coach Will Muschamp, and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, among others.
Muschamp was considered a favorite. A source to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans report the deal is ‘all but done.’
Previously, Rodriguez was also linked in rumors to head coaching jobs at Virginia Tech and Miami.
At South Carolina, Rodriguez would have received a pay increase from his $3.2 million salary at Arizona for 2015. Steve Spurrier, who resigned in the middle of the year, was due to make an estimated $4 million after bonuses, according to USA Today’s coaches salary database.
By remaining at Arizona for another year, Rodriguez can earn 25 percent of a retention bonus paid through stocks that could amount to a total of $6 million if he remains in Tucson through 2022.
Rodriguez went 32-20 in four seasons at Arizona, taking the Wildcats to a bowl game in each of those campaigns and never winning less than eight games until this season, when injuries led to a 6-6 regular season.
This year, the Wildcats are bowl eligible and await their postseason destination.
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