Alabama fans should be thankful about Rich Rod

Sometimes in life you just get lucky. Rich Rodriguez stayed at West Virginia instead of taking the Alabama job—Alabama fans should be thankful. Really thankful.

There is little doubt that Rich Rod was a great coach at WVU. So what changed? The size of the program.

Michigan is big.

It matters.

Kind of like Alabama football.

But there is more to it that Rich Rod’s early failures. (The Michigan defense is inept, and when not crying, Rodriguez has seemed clueless as to how to fix it.) The deeper problem is that Rodriguez cannot manage a major program. The spotlight seems to bother him. He either cannot balance the time demands, or does not have the personality for it. (Sometimes great people just cannot draw boundaries; hopefully, he can turn it around because by all accounts he is a good guy.)

Many Wolverine fans point to talent problems as a reason or excuse, and hold out hope that Rich Rod will one day have the personnel to revive the program.

However, this is why Alabama fans should be thankful. Apparently, Rich Rod recruits like Charlie Weis; that is to say, Rich Rod recruits like Tommy Tuberville. (And those are nice ways of saying, Rich Rod doesn’t recruit.)

According to this piece from Smart Football:
“Notre Dame has officially offered one of my linebackers, but no one from Notre Dame has ever spoken to the kid nor has anyone from Notre Dame ever returned any of my calls. To put it context: Will Muschamp [of Texas] returned my call, Brent Venables [of Oklahoma] returned my call, Bud Foster [of Virginia Tech] returned my call, [Michael] Barrow [of Miami] returned my call, Nick Saban returned my call, and yet no one from Notre Dame has ever returned my call. . . .
“. . . Then you take programs like Cincinnati with Brian Kelly and the guy who recruits our area, Jeff Quinn [Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator]. They are completely different. They pursue a personal relationship. He sends me a text telling us good luck this Friday, he knows who we play (and he might just be reading it online but still he made the effort), he calls asking how things are going, how the kid is doing, he knows the kid’s mother, grand parent’s, sister’s name, etc. He even calls me every few weeks. Now, I know he isn’t really interested in talking to me and that it’s all about my player but still it makes a difference. Ohio State, Alabama, Virginia Tech, and others all recruit about the same way as Cincinnati. Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Michigan . . . they recruit like Notre Dame.”

That should make Alabama fans thankful. There is no way to compete in the SEC with a coach like that. The only way to keep up with Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and Les Miles is to find the best possible athletes and recruit them.

And recruit them.

And recruit them.

And recruit them.

You recruit them faster. You recruit them relentlessly. And if you aren’t recruiting them, then you don’t have the discipline to run a major program.

This by itself would have made Rich Rodriguez a disaster at Alabama. Coaching isn’t only about X’s & O’s. And it isn’t only about the players. Coaching is the art of holding people throughout the program accountable; you must make your players, assistants and support personnel work together toward a common goal. It requires the right personality, and the right work ethic.

It is one more reason for Alabama fans to be thankful this holiday season.