Some of the same folks who tipped me off to the Malzahn to Arkansas State deal last January are saying that if Auburn University makes a coaching change at the end of the season, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez will emerge as a top candidate.
The reasoning is sound.
- For the last three years, Auburn has recruited players on both sides of the ball that are suited to playing on a team dedicated to a spread-type philosophy. This year’s attempt to morph into a pro-set has failed miserably, as the players on the depth chart just aren’t suited to line up and play smash-mouth football.
- Rodriguez is still somewhat miffed over the treatment he and his wife received at the hands of the Alabama media over his on-then-off agreement to replace Mike Shula after the 2006 season. He would like nothing better than the chance to coach in the SEC and extract a pound of flesh over that episode.
- He would immediately inherit a roster that is geared towards his style of play.
- Arizona does not currently suck. A team that went 4-8 last year is now 5-3, with wins over ranked teams in Oklahoma State and USC. He knows how to win and how to turn around faltering programs.
This is not saying that current coach Gene Chizik will be dismissed. In fact, many people believe that despite the bottom falling out in 2012, Chizik has a very good shot at returning for 2013. He did hire two new coordinators who installed new defensive and offensive schemes. In December, he will still be only two years removed from a BCS National Championship and the commitment list for the 2013 signing class is promising. He really could get another season to try to turn things around and if he fails to do so, we have this conversation all over again next year.
Nor is this a prediction that Rich Rod will replace Chizik should the trigger be pulled. But I am hearing that of the spread-option coaches currently leading BCS conference schools, decision-makers believe that Rodriguez has the best credentials and the “want to” that Auburn is interested in. He’d also walk into a roster of players that he could work with and quickly turn Auburn back into a winner.
Alabama fans… what say you?