New Arizona Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez made his first public appearance as coach in Arizona at the McKale Center on Tuesday after signing a five-year, $9.55 million contract to replace recently fired Mike Stoops.
Rodriguez, fired in January after going 15-22 in three seasons at Michigan, stood at center court at a news conference, telling the Arizona faithfuls in the crowd of his hopes as the head coach.
I want you to help me have success here, said Rodriguez. I want to win the Rose Bowl. I want to be in the top 10 every year. I want every one of our players to graduate.
Arizona is the only member of the old Pac-10, which started when Arizona and Arizona State were added in 1978, never to appear in the Rose Bowl.
I do think I know what it takes to go to BCS bowls and be in the top 10, Rodriguez said after the news conference. The competition is obviously going to keep getting stronger because of the way the Pac-12 is committed to their programs, but we can get there, because look at other schools in our league that have had great success. What do they have that we don't? I think we have some advantages over them.
According to ESPN.com, the university will pay $8.05 million of Rodriguez's contract, with the rest coming from Nike and IMG. The deal also includes incentives--if Rodriguez does end up reaching the Rose Bowl or any other bowl game besides the BCS bowl game, he'll be rewarded with $100,000. A trip to the title game will net him $150,000.
With his trademark spread offense, Rodriguez promised to play hard and fast, similar to Oregon, saying that the huddle is the biggest waste of time in football.
Before his time at Michigan, Rodriguez went 60-26 in seven seasons at West Virginia, his alma mater. After his time at Michigan, he has seen the Wolverines scratch and claw to a 9-2 record under new coach Brady Hoke.
It's frustrating to watch them, I don't mind telling you, Rodriguez said to reporters. Those are all my guys, but I'm proud of them because they're doing so well.
Athletic director Greg Byrne told ESPN.com that when he began his discussions with Rodriguez, he was initially very concerned with the NCAA rule violations that occurred during Rodriguez's time at Michigan. The program was cited for exceeding allowed practice time and having too many assistants.
But Byrne's mind was changed thanks to a series of demands that Rodriguez made.
The more I researched and looked into it, the issues that were there-once highlighted and made aware-they were dealt with and addressed, Byrne said. Also in our conversations, he was very open, 'Put a compliance guy in every meeting. Put a compliance guy or woman at every workout. It doesn't matter. The door's wide open. We're an open book.' And I've never heard that from a coach before, and that made me feel good.
Byrne's mind was then probably made up after Former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who reportedly discussed the job with Byrne according to ESPN.com, told him Rodriguez was one of the five greatest minds in college football.
And Rodriguez will be putting his mind to work in the next couple of weeks, according to ESPN.com. Rodriguez said that over that time, he will bring in both a group of assistants who have worked with him before and others who were more familiar with the west coast and would also consider keeping assistants from the current staff. By Christmas, Rodriguez said further, the entire staff should be set so as to move as quickly as possible in recruiting, believed to be one of Rodriguez's best attributes.
Rodriguez said that he believes he can recruit nationally, having already made calls on Tuesday night.
I will not just coach Arizona football, he said. I will live it.