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Rich Rodriguez: ‘Alabama would have been better fit for me than Michigan’

Also that he believes things would have taken off in year four.

Progressive Gator Bowl - Mississippi State v Michigan Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images

ESPN’s Chris Low wrote a great story on how Rich Rodriguez’s decision to pass on Alabama in 2006 and take the Michigan Wolverines job in 2007 changed the landscape of college football as we know it.

After Rodriguez rebuffed the Crimson Tide in 2006, they were able to get their man in Nick Saban, who has won five national titles since then and was in the SEC title game as quickly as year two under his watch. Rodriguez’s road was, well, much different.

Michigan hired “Rich Rod,” as we would come to know him, to succeed Lloyd Carr and he would wind up going 15-22 in three season on the job and never saw a fourth. That was a personal decision that Low’s story says haunts him to this very day.

His greatest regret is not so much that he passed on the Alabama job, but more the manner in which he left for Michigan. He never had a news conference to tell the West Virginia fans why he was leaving. He said he was advised by Michigan officials to move forward and thus went against his own instincts.

”That’s what I think about now, not that I turned down Alabama, but that I went to Michigan and never told the West Virginia people why,” Rodriguez said. “That was my home, my school, and I should have told them why I was leaving. That was a mistake, and it’s on me.”

The story states that Rodriguez stayed at West Virginia in 2006 because of promises made to keep investing in the program and in his assistant coaches, which he states were not there by the time 2007 came around.

Of course, the season after Rodriguez was fired at Michigan, Brady Hoke came in and went 11-2 with a Sugar Bowl win with a roster composed of mostly Rich Rod players. And he admits that he felt something like that would have come regardless.

“We thought by the fourth year that we were going to be really good, and they were pretty good. I just wasn’t around to see it,” Rodriguez said. “Those guys making the catches and tackles and throws and runs (in 2011) were guys we recruited. But that’s the way it goes in this business.”

Hoke’s early success was not sustainable and he would last only four seasons on the job before giving way to Jim Harbaugh ahead of the 2015 season, who has won 10 games in three of his five seasons on the job and eight and nine wins, respectively, in the other two seasons.

“We all have things in our lives that we would do differently if we had that opportunity,” Rodruiguez said. “And, sure, hindsight is always 20-20, but Alabama would have been a better fit for me than Michigan.

”But it all happened, and you live and learn.”

Rodriguez would resurface in the college football world in 2012 when he took the head coaching job at Arizona, where he spent six seasons and went 43-35. However, a former administrative assistant of his would file a claim against him that accused him of sexual harassment and causing a hostile work environment. After an internal investigation that went three months by the university, Arizona fired him. Rodriguez admitted to an extramarital affair, but denied any other allegations of sexual misconduct.

From there, Rodriguez would join Matt Luke’s staff at Ole Miss as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2019. Luke was fired and replaced by Lane Kiffin and he was not offered a spot on staff.