Rich Rodriguez has landed a new coaching job after spending the 2018 season without one.
Ole Miss made it official Monday afternoon that Rodriguez will replace Phil Longo on Matt Luke’s staff in Oxford. Longo went to North Carolina to be Mack Brown’s offensive coordinator with the Tar Heels.
The hire was first reported Sunday afternoon by multiple outlets including Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel.
“Part of building a successful program means surrounding our players with the most talented coaches, and I feel like we have done that with hiring of Mike Macintyre to lead our defense and now Rich Rodriguez to lead our offense,” Luke said in a statement. “Rich has coached at the highest levels of college football and is one of the most innovative offensive minds in our sport. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work with his experience, creativity and toughness as part of our team.”
Thamel reported that Rodriguez has agreed to a three-year deal. Utah also had interest in hiring Rodriguez.
“My family and I are really excited to join Coach Luke and the Ole Miss family,” Rodriguez said. “I’m appreciative of the trust and confidence of Matt and look forward to helping him continue to build this great program. There are a lot of exciting things happening with Rebel Football, and I’m fortunate to be able to join this team.”
Rodriguez went from West Virginia to Michigan
Rodriguez, who has a career record of 118-83, was one of the innovators in college football’s spread offense revolution. He perfected and popularized the read-option offense out of the shotgun with the Mountaineers, who won 11 games in each of Rodriguez’s final three seasons with the school. In 2007, his final year before going to Michigan, both running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White rushed for over 1,000 yards while running back Noel Devine averaged 8.6 yards a carry.
Rodriguez’s tenure at Michigan didn’t go nearly as well. His only season above .500 was his last when he was fired after a 7-6 record in 2010.
Arizona tenure ended ingloriously
After spending the 2011 season out of coaching, Rodriguez was hired at Arizona in 2012. His teams won eight games or more in his first three seasons and went 7-6 in 2017. Rodriguez was fired not long after the calendar turned to 2018 after a staffer filed a harassment complaint against him. In February, Rodriguez countered the complaint by saying the woman tried to extort him.
Rodriguez’s son Rhett is a member of Arizona’s football team and saw playing time under current coach Kevin Sumlin when starting QB Khalil Tate missed time because of an ankle injury.
Rodriguez becomes the second former head coach to join Luke’s staff this offseason. Earlier this month, the school hired the ex-Colorado head coach MacIntyre as its new defensive coordinator. MacIntyre was fired by Colorado in November.
Ole Miss went 5-7 in 2018, Luke’s second season as head coach. The 2018 season was the program’s second with a bowl ban. The Rebels can return to postseason play in 2019.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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