Byrne gives insight into hire

Greg Byrne did a lot of work before deciding on Rich Rodriguez. Read on for insight into his decision.

University of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne named Rich Rodriguez as Mike Stoops' successor in a Tuesday press conference from McKale Center. After introducing the coach and his family, Byrne met with the media and while he admitted that while he did feel some pressure to make the right hire throughout the process, he brought the search to a close with a coach he felt was the right hire.

"I have such a passion for what I do, I have a passion for this university and our student athletes and fans, and so I did feel that pressure," Byrne said. "At the same time I knew that getting nervous about it wouldn't do us any good. I had to stay calm, cool, and collected and think about the task and not lose sight of that.

"I feel great about the hiring of Rich Rodriguez. It's a very inexact science. You look at what your options are, you understand what's available to you in the marketplace, and you look at all of the different options and evaluate and research as best you possible can., and then you make the best decision.

"Everbody has issues, everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and you have to understand where you are and what makes the most sense for us. As we went through it, I became very comfortable that Rich Rodriguez was the right guy for us."

While many Arizona fans are excited with the hire of the former Michigan and West Virginia head coach, there is a minority of fans that do not trust Rodriguez for multiple NCAA infractions during those stops. Byrne admitted that Rodriguez's former violations were initially troubling, but once he investigated further, he felt comfortable hiring him to take over at Arizona.

"The violations were very concerning," Byrne said. "We have five goals and principles as a department: one is graduate our student-athletes and two is follow the rules. I take that very seriously and I want our coaches to take that very seriously.

"The more I researched and looked into it, once the issues were highlighted and he was made aware, they were dealt with and addressed.

"I made a trip to Indianapolis and met with the NCAA. I had conversations with them on the phone. I talked to conference offices to get an understanding. I talked to different athletic departments, athletic directors, compliance people, and high school coaches. Through all of those different things, I became much more comfortable (with Rodriguez) in time."

By digging deeper into Rodriguez's past, Byrne not only learned all of the details of the case, but he also saw a side to his coach that showed him a high degree of accountability and desire to make things right with respect to his program's NCAA violations.

"I don't think it was too hard to get to the bottom of it," Byrne said. "I have a much clearer understanding of what the issues were, and the other thing is that once the issues were highlighted, they were addressed.

"One of the things in one of our conversations that really stuck out to me was when he said, ‘Greg, you can put a compliance guy in my meetings. Have a compliance guy at my practices every day, have one at my workouts; I have nothing to hide. If it's a rule, we're going to follow the rules, and that's what I like.

"I've never heard that from a coach before, and that made me feel good. I won't divulge private conversations, but I felt that he was totally committed to compliance going forward."

Byrne's inquisition into Rodriguez didn't stop with his off the field issues, as he also determined that he would be a fit schematically at Arizona as well. It took a little bit of studying up on, but in the end, Byrne came to the conclusion that a new version of the spread offense will work very well for UA in 2012 and beyond.

"There's a quote that someone told me that Nick Saban was asked about the spread and he said that it will keep me up at night that offense. I'm thinking Mike Leach at Texas Tech spread, but what I learned about the spread is that you can run more out of the spread than pass if you want, it doesn't matter; it's what your personnel allows you to do."

"If you look at Coach Rodriguez's history and you look back at a guy like Shaun King at Tulane, he could throw it better than he could run it. If we have a throwing quarterback we're going to throw more out of it and if we have a running quarterback we'll run more out of it.

"I really think it'll play very well. If you look at how the game has evolved, to get that great NFL throwing quarterback, there aren't many of them walking around. We probably have one of the best ones we've ever had in a senior whose last game is Saturday. There are more quarterbacks that can throw well and run as well, so I think it diversifies our pool of players we can recruit here."

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