Ole Miss hires Rich Rodriguez as offensive coordinator

Published 6:05 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

OXFORD — Rich Rodriguez, considered one of the top offensive minds in college football, has been named Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator, head coach Matt Luke announced Monday.

Rodriguez has previously been the head coach at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona during a 32-year career. He was one of the early innovators of the zone read and spread options offenses that have become commonplace in college football and will join an Ole Miss staff that now has a wealth of head coaching experience.

Along with Luke and Rodriguez, newly hired defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre was the head coach at Colorado and San Jose State. Offensive line coach Jack Bicknell has also been a head coach at Louisiana Tech.

Rich Rodriguez

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With Rodriguez and MacIntyre, the Rebel staff includes two of the last five Pac-12 Coaches of the Year.

Yahoo Sports reported that Rodriguez’s contract will be worth “a little under $3-million” over the course of a three-year deal. Official numbers have not been released. Currently, only 21 assistant coaches in college football make at least $1 million per year.

“Part of building a successful program means surrounding our players with the most talented coaches, and I feel like we have done that with the hiring of Mike MacIntyre to lead our defense and now Rich Rodriguez to lead our offense,” Luke said. “Rich has coached at the highest levels of college football and is one of the most innovative offensive minds in our sport. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work with his experience, creativity and toughness as part of our team.”

Rodriguez will replace Phil Longo as Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator, after Longo left earlier this month for the same job at North Carolina.

Ole Miss has finished No. 9 and No. 18 in the FBS in total offense in the last two seasons primarily using a pass-first attack under Longo’s supervision. In his final season at Arizona, Rodriguez led the Wildcats to the No. 12 total offense and No. 3 rushing offense in college football.

Rodriguez will inherit a new quarterback next season as sophomore Matt Corral takes over for Jordan Ta’amu. Corral played in four games this season, completing 16 of 22 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 83 yards and two TDs.

Rodriguez last worked as the head coach at Arizona from 2012-17, earning Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors in 2014 after leading the Wildcats to their first 10-win season in more than 15 years.

Arizona’s offense tied or set more than 100 school records during Rodriguez’s tenure, including career leaders for rushing and all-purpose yardage.

“My family and I are really excited to join Coach Luke and the Ole Miss family,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I’m appreciative of the trust and confidence of Matt and look forward to helping him continue to build this great program. There are a lot of exciting things happening with Rebel Football, and I’m fortunate to be able to join this team.”

Rodriguez led the Wildcats to 33 wins in his first four seasons, a tally that was the most in school history over a four-year period. Included were four consecutive bowl berths, another feat previously never accomplished at the school.

Along with his on-field success, however, Rodriguez has a history of messy divorces from his various head coaching positions.

He took the job at Michigan in 2008 just four months after renegotiating his contract at West Virginia. Several big losses and sanctions stemming from NCAA rules violations soured the Michigan fan base on Rodriguez, and he was fired in January 2011 after a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.

Rodriguez was only 15-22 in three seasons at Michigan, after going 60-26 in six years at West Virginia.

He was hired by Arizona after the 2011 season and led them to the Pac-12 South Division championship in 2014. In his six seasons in Tucson, Rodriguez had a 43-35 record.

In 2017, however, Rodriguez’s former administrative assistant filed a multimillion-dollar claim accusing him of sexually harassing her and creating a hostile work environment.

Rodriguez was fired on Jan. 2, 2018 after a three-month internal investigation by the university. Rodriguez admitted to having an extramarital affair, but denied all allegations of other sexual misconduct.