Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Year Ago...

One year ago, Greg Hunter of West Virginia Metronews broke a story that Rich Rodriguez had accepted a deal to go to Alabama. Hunter took some words from Pat Forde and speculated that Rod was ready to accept the offer and had actually been talking about which staff he would take with him to the Tide. Hunter went on to discuss coaching prospects.

The story set off a firestorm throughout Mountaineer country. Rodriguez was silent on the subject. Forde said MetroNews and Greg Hunter are "morons" and have a comprehension problem. And fans around the state took sides, either trashing Rodriguez or hoping that the stories were incorrect. For the next week, WVU endured ESPN, CBS and several media outlets in Alabama reporting the deal was done and Alabama officials were ready to pay Rodriguez's buyout clause. News couldn't come fast enough...and Rodriguez remained silent. And then, it was over. Rod stayed, Alabama was embarrassed and went after another West Virginia native in Nick Saban.

One year has passed and both West Virginia and Rich Rodriguez have reaped the benefits of his decision. West Virginia is one win away from playing for a national championship for only the second time in the history of the program. Rodriguez, whose image was damaged a bit in the debacle up north, has seen his stock rise on a national level and, if they beat Pitt tonight, will be in rare company as a Mountaineer coach (not that he wasn't already). Rodriguez could be stuck in Alabama where he would already be a pariah for the season Saban led them to this year...instead, he's a legend in Morgantown.

West Virginia fans were also fortunate throughout the ordeal. Number one, it did show them that coaches do leave successful programs (such as Les Miles leaving LSU for Michigan). Number two, it prepared them for John Beilein's leap just a few months later and set West Virginia up to go after a bigger fish in Bobby Huggins.

It was quite an ordeal one year ago...thankfully it looks like we won't go through the same this year. But, if we do, at least we're a little more prepared. All those years of Nehlen and Catlett had given us false security. Coaches's life. Rodriguez is most likely here for a few more years...and we're pretty safe with Huggins for now. And if Rod decides to move on -- well, if there's a BCS Championship Trophy on the shelf, I think we'll get over it.

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