Friday, August 11, 2006

Why we like coach Rod

Outside of taking WV to a bowl game in every year since his first, and generally taking the program to a level it has not been at this consistently in a long time, there are a lot of things to like about Rich Rodriguez.

From the moment he was hired as the coach of WV football, his goal was to take this program to the level that it would be competing for national championships on an annual basis. After a rocky first season (3-8), I most certainly had my doubts. Outside of an 80-7 win over Rutgers, there was very little to be excited about. No one was quite sure what to make of this new "spread" offense. I had my own fears that we would end up being like all the run and shoot teams of the late 80's early 90's. But, slowly over the next two years it became apparent that yes, his plan could work. We started to see the devastating effect this offense could have running the ball. As he started to get the players he needed to run his system, the wins started coming. The first milestone being the 28-7 victory over fourth rated Va. Tech in 2003. While the team had wins over ranked teams in 2002, none had the exclamation point feel like the 2003 Va. Tech game.

2004 brought high expectations, and was probably one of the biggest learning experiences for the young head coach. He had several NFL caliber players on the team, and predictions were for the Mountaineers to play in a BCS bowl, if not in the national title game. Something happened on the way to that place, though. The highly touted players seemed more interested in themselves rather than the team. The result was a team in name only, and they went on to get throttled in a couple games they could have easily won.

Although it has only been one season removed, Rodriguez has visibly taken a harder stance on the team first mentality. Highly touted players such as Jason Gwaltney and Brandon Barrett have found out the hard way that they are not above the rest of the team.

While the Sugar Bowl victory was by far the biggest win in recent WV history, I don't think I've seen Rodriguez as happy as he was after the Louisville win last year. As far as team victories go, the ones that have always meant the most to me are the comeback wins. For the better part of 3 quarters, WV wasn't able to get much done. But, WV was able to keep battling and eventually won the game and introduced the world to Patrick White and Steve Slaton in the process. The credit for that has to go to Rodriguez for instilling in the team a never quit attitude.

This didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, but I hope to have given some insight into why we like Coach Rod so much. We're all very proud of the program he has built. And sometimes that's a lot more important than the wins and losses.


Cool Hand Mike said...

Did WV really hang 80 on Rutgers?

Johnny said...

It's true! Everything that could go right did! WR's lined up with no one covering them on the goal line! Of course we also lost to Temple that year, which was one of the low points in my life.

Xose said...

2 other great reasons to like Rod:

He's from WV. Unlike 99% of his players. :-(

He's Asturian-American, like all truly great West Virginians are. ¡Puxa Asturies! ¡Folixa Asgaya!

Johnny said...

Hey Xose, where you going with that gun in your hand?