After having to see issue after issue come up with Nick Saban, I asked myself, ‘Would Rich Rodriguez have more problems than Nick Saban had he actually signed that contract?’ To me, the answer is yes. He probably wouldn’t be having as many small issues right away like Saban, but he would have some serious issues develop down the road. With past WVU players having legal problems (namely Pacman Jones), the type of offense he runs verses SEC defenses, and his wife’s personality, Rich Rod would be feeling some major pressure eventually.
First, you have to look at the 800 pound gorilla in the room with Rich Rodriguez….former player discipline. Currently, there are 3 Mountaineer alums in the NFL that have legal issues. Not only is there Adam “Pacman” Jones, but there is also Chris Henry and Quincy Wilson. Does Rodriguez recruit thugs? Is his program becoming the next Miami, FL? The answers are slowly coming out.
Imagine the horror of not only having many different smaller cases (drunk in public, fights, etc.), but 2 to 3 Juwan Simpson type problems a few years from now. The other SEC programs would be using this against us every single chance they could. With Saban, you know that he is going to get higher quality people (compared to Rod) because he doesn’t put up with bad seeds. After all, he didn’t like Ryan Perrilloux for a reason.
Next, we have to determine if the spread offense could work at Alabama. I know that Urban Meyer and Florida run the spread offense, but consider the situation after Ron Zook. When Meyer got to Florida, the Gators had stockpiles of talent. He was able to work through the transition period by using the best set-up for his players at the time, going 22-4 in two years (with one of those national title things along the way). He also had some extremely talented players on defense, which was pretty helpful.
While Shula’s recruiting was slightly above-average, the talent at Alabama is nowhere near the Florida talent in 2004. Our transition to the spread offense would be much more difficult since we aren’t set up for it with the talent we have. Plus, our defense isn’t expected to be very good this season. Mix together a struggling offense with a weak defense and you have a disaster. Struggling to show that your offense can work isn’t a good recruiting tool either.
Finally, there is Rita Rodriguez herself. I do not know this lady, and I am not planning on having a Rita-bashing segment at all. But, you have to wonder if her personality would’ve worked in Tuscaloosa. Having heard the rumors about her reaction to comments made on Paul Finebaum’s radio show, I don’t think she would do well in T-town. After a poor season of football, she could have a breakdown on some kind. Maybe not a mental breakdown, but a verbal breakdown. Imagine an e-mail similar to the one that Houston Nutt’s wife sent out.
Would Coach Rodriguez end up as a failure at Alabama? I don’t think he would. Having said that, I have to wonder how much harder it would be for him to turn this program around. Not only is Saban the better coach, but his baggage isn’t nearly as damning as certain media members want you to think. Saban still has plenty of work to do himself on his own issues, but they are much more manageable than the ones Rodriguez would have to deal with. Saban’s possible big issue is having everything he does followed by the Miami media, who are waiting for him to slip up. But, knowing Saban, he is capable of working through these issues. I just don’t think Rodriguez would be able to work through these troubles if he were at Alabama.
Please feel free to share your thoughts.