Yes, it was less than a year ago that the Birmingham News and ESPN Sportscenter reported that Rich Rodriguez would be the next Alabama coach. At the time, I was pretty PO’d when Richy Rich used it to get a pay raise and new facilities out of the West Virginia Governor and WVU officials. But, we got the original #1 target of our search in the end, which is a nice way to go out.
If you remember correctly, Ian Rapoport of the Birmingham News reported it to be a done deal (LINK). Of course, Rodriguez saw himself on ESPN with the crimson logo, and decided to stay. He went on to claim that there was no deal, agreement, or any contract negotiations of any kind. Of course, this went against what most people were saying, as Rodriguez’s agent was in Tuscaloosa that night before Rod said he was staying.
Rapoport decided to share his side of what happened on AL.com as he talked of Rod interviewing with Michigan:
And if I knew then what I know now, I would know this: It was absolutely true. Actually, by 12:30 a.m. that night, I confirmed it through three more sources, not all of which came from Alabama’s side. I have since learned from more people that the story was accurate. Rodriguez told Alabama he was in, though he denied he did so the next morning. (It didn’t hurt that his agent was in TTown negotiating for hours and hours and hours with AD Mal Moore.)
The only caveat, my sources told me, was that they were nervous Rodriguez would change his mind once he saw his team. That happened, though it wasn’t the only thing that happened.
Rodriguez went home, watched himself in Crimson on SportsCenter, met with WVU boosters and the state’s governor in the morning, received a huge raise, and stayed in Morgantown.
I tend to believe Rapoport for one simple reason: coaches lie. Why people cannot accept this I’ll never know, but it is the truth. The media knows it, and they only get offended by it if a coach decides to push the line too far with his lieing. Of course, we never get upset with them when they say things like “I have a job”, “I’m happy here”, “I’ll stay here as long as you want me to.” Then, they lie about interviewing for jobs, which fans seem to eat up like a dog searching for scraps.
It isn’t ethical, but it is the way this industry works. Coaches nowadays are just as willing to use a job interview for their advantage as well, such as Rodriguez with Alabama, Tommy Bowden with Arkansas, and Greg Schiano with Michigan. People will laugh at you for getting a no in return from a coaching candidate, pretending that the coaching world is not changing. But, they are only denying themselves.
This game is built on lies. Coaches lie to recruits (I’ll be here for all 4 years), they lie to fans (I have a job, my family is happy….. oh, hello Mr. Jerry Jones), and they lie to the media (I won’t be the Alabama coach). Most of all, fans lie to themselves. ….it just depends on how much kool-aid you’re willing to drink, and how much you can ignore when you’re winning games. This isn’t an ethics court, this is a game! We cheer, we boo, and we all become hypocrites at one time or another.
Should we just roll over and accept it as fate? No. It’s a free country, and everybody deserves to be criticized at one time or another. But, it just seems that after a certain point, it crosses over from an opinionated discussion to total buffoonery. Heck, the guy who showed his privates to interns got on ESPN and told people to never play for Arkansas……… sounds like a buffoon to me.