Presser Transcript: Rich Rodriguez

The complete transcript of Rich Rodriguez's comments at his introductory presser. The new Maize & Blue headman discussed his offensive philosophy, adapting it to Michigan's talent, his assistant coaches, what makes the job in Ann Arbor so special, and more.

Opening Statement:

"Thank you all very much -- great crowd. It's an honor and privilege to be named the University of Michigan's head football coach. I will tell you, it was a very difficult decision to leave a place where I grew up, a program that we had built over the last seven years, to leave family and friends and a wonderful team with great young men. As I mentioned, it was a very difficult decision and in order to leave there, it was going to take a very special opportunity and a very special place, and I think that's what this is.I do want to praise Bill Martin, the athletic director and president (Mary Sue) Coleman, as well. They dealt very quickly, very honestly and showed their great passion for this university. I don't think there's a need to really talk a whole lot about the past process, but I will tell you this ... Everything was first class. Everything was dealt in a forthright manner, and obviously I'm appreciative of the opportunity to be here. And I'm studying, I know a little bit about the tradition. I'm studying it, following it, will know it very well in a short period of time, and I'm also excited about following a legend. I followed a legend at West Virginia University in Don Nehlen, which many of you know, who I played for, has great respect and pride in this great university, and I'm following another one in Lloyd Carr. And everybody knows about the legend of Bo Schembechler; I actually got his book last night from the mayor of Toledo, who is a big U-M fan, so I'm going to read that on the way home.

"I do want to introduce some of our staff and some of my family that's here. I know you all will ask about my plans for the staff, the on-field coaches and other staff, and obviously this all happened very quickly, so I'm still in the process of getting that all together. There will be several WV people obviously coming as part of our staff. There will be several outside I think that we will look at and there will be also several that will be re-hired -- I don't call it retained, I call it re-hired -- that will be part of our staff.

"There are so many things that are already in place here, so the transition, even though the first year is always very, very difficult no matter where you go, I think the transition will be relatively smooth because of all the things that you already have in place here. But I want to introduce my family that's here, my wife, Rita, right there, stand up, Rita. My daughter, Raquel, stand up, she's got a nice little hat on and then my son, Rhett. Rhett is nine years old. He will be the most highly recruited quarterback in the class of 2017. He's already committed to the University of Michigan; so proud of that. I have a couple of my coaches here as well. My offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Calvin Magee, and his wife, Rose, is here. And my secondary coach and recruiting coordinator, Tony Gibson and his wife, Carrie, are here, as well as their son, Cody and daughter, Ashton. And to show you that I'm a true family man, I have my mother-in-law, Barbara, here (laughing). There's Barbara right there. And I have two very dear friends that were involved in the process with president Coleman and director Martin in this deal, and are great friends of mine and are tickled to death that I had this opportunity; Mike Wilcox and Mike Brown, very instrumental.

"I know you all have a lot of questions. I will tell you, before you ask about our plans of coaching, normally what happens in this situation in the past, usually a coach moves on and does not coach his current team in a bowl game and some people criticize that because they think, well, you're abandoning your team. I don't think it's that, as much as I think sometimes if a coach stays on, he becomes the focus of the game, as opposed to the team and the players; and that's what I don't want to be, a distraction, and take away the focus of those young men at West Virginia that earned that Fiesta Bowl. The attention should be on them. The attention should be on the team. But I have not talked to West Virginia about that, and I certainly don't want to be a distraction to Coach Carr and this team and their bowl preparations. And I'll talk to Coach Carr; I have great respect for everything he's done and what he's done for this university. And I will tell you this, and I'm not just saying this because I'm standing here at the podium. In our profession, in college football, all of the coaches have a tremendous amount of respect for Lloyd Carr and not only for what he's done on the field, but for what he's done off the field as well, and it's a privilege to be the guy after coach Carr. I also hope, and I know it's human nature, that a lot of folks want to compare or try to compare West Virginia University and Michigan. They are both great universities. And people want to compare why we do this and why you do that, and they want to make it reasons other than what it is. It's simply, I decided to change jobs, and I changed jobs for a tremendous opportunity for me.

"You know, West Virginia University is a great place. And I would hope and I would pray that the folks back there -- even though I have many, many supporters that have called and congratulated me and our staff and our family for this opportunity, and now there are some people that are a little upset and probably will stay so -- but I hope for the great people that are in the State of West Virginia, they will look at what we have done over the last seven years here and try to build that program up and realize that we've left it in a pretty good situation with a lot of great players and a great program coming back. I'm also excited to be back here with my good friend, John Beilein, who I think without question is one of the best basketball coaches in America. He was one of my neighbors (in West Virginia) and I was excited for him when he got this opportunity and I was also excited when his house sold so quickly, hoping mine will do the same. But John is a terrific coach and he's an outstanding person and it was great to see him, as well. I will tell you this, and people, if you want to know our system or philosophy, if you turned on your TV and watched us over the years, that's what you'll see. And we're going to do what we've done, that's the only thing we know and I think we have the ability. I know we have the ability to adapt our schemes to our personnel with offense, defense or special teams, and our philosophy is something we've done over the last 17 years and we have enough capabilities to tweak it to the guys we have here.

"I don't know all the particulars on how things were run here, but I do know you've had great success and I know these players, they are outstanding players, they are good students, they are good people and they know how to play football. There will be a few changes as there always will be when you have a new coach coming in. They will work hard, I promise you that, some of the things they will do in the offseason program and practice and some of the workouts will be unpleasant, as I'm sure they have been for them in the past. But they also have a lot of fun

I will tell you all that this staff we've put together will work extremely hard and have great passion. I know there's great expectations here and I think there's great expectations in a lot of programs throughout America and there were great expectations where we were and that does not phase our staff at all. In fact, I would rather go to a place where they expect to have success than one where they just hope to have it. But I will talk to our team a great deal about that situation and I don't want our team to expect to win; I want our team to deserve to win, and there's a big difference in that. That's our focus for our players and our staff and everybody in our program to deserve to win football games and to win it the right way. I know everybody who is involved in this great university knows that they do things here the right way, and we will do things here the right way and we will want to deserve to win. I don't know what the timeframe is. I know we're going back (to West Virginia) with my family this afternoon. Again, I'm going to talk to coach Carr and director Martin on some of the particulars when I officially comeback. It depends on the bowl situation and how all that plays out. But for you all that are in the media, I don't know if you've covered us before, talked to our people, but I'll be pretty accessible, but I also have a lot of work to do here. I hope you'll be patient with some of my answers. Some of it, I can't answer right now. Obviously, my head has been spinning the last couple of days. I actually got three hours of sleep last night, so I feel pretty good. I can't tell you how excited I am and how confident I am that we can have great success here. One, because we're inheriting, we're coming into a situation that's already good, and because of the passion that I saw from director Martin and president Coleman, that convinced me that this is a tremendous opportunity, and I'm tickled to death to be standing in front of you.

"That's about as long as you'll hear me speak and I'm open for questions."

On why accepted the job:

"It was the most difficult decision I've ever made in my entire professional career, for obvious reasons ... my family and my mom and dad were still there, my mother-in-law is still there, many of my dearest friends, my family and those great young men on my team. We've been there seven years and we've recruited every one of them, and they are great people and great players and it was hard. I mean, this time yesterday was the toughest day of my coaching career, by far, wasn't even close. That still will be tough. What swayed it again was the opportunity and it was time. I will tell you this ... I've taken every job in my career and I tell my coaches to take the job as if it's the last job that you'll ever have. That's why as soon as I go somewhere, I try to find a house right away. In fact, we might be looking around today and either find a house or build a house because you want to set your roots there. And I even tell our graduate students to do that because you have to commit that passion and that work ethic to there. But the opportunity was there, which is a special opportunity. Doesn't happen very often, and it was just time for me to leave."

On why chose to accept Michigan and not Alabama a year ago?

"Yeah, there is something about this job, there is. There's something about Michigan. Again, Alabama is a terrific place, too, and West Virginia is a terrific place. I think Michigan is special."

On how his buyout with West Virginia will be taken care of::

"Well, as a typical response, the lawyers are working on it. They are a lot smarter than me. I was an education major, not a finance major. My history probably shows that. But the money thing was not an issue in this decision, I'll tell you that."

On how the current Wolverines fit into his scheme?

"I know a little bit about them because I've watched them a little bit, but not much because we didn't play any common opponents. So I haven't seen them on film and I couldn't tell you much about their abilities, but I know they have some outstanding skill players. Sometimes there's misinformation about our offense, and obviously now, we've been more of a running team than a passing team in our spread offense. But we've always geared our offensive game plans or offensive schemes around our offensive skill players. In the past when we had great players and great receivers, we've been probably 55-60 percent pass back. When I was at Glenville and Tulane University, and then we've done more of the running stuff. So I will be able to evaluate our players here and see what best fits. The beauty about the spread is it's not like a wishbone or a Wing T or a West Coast where you see one and you see it all. This is a little bit different. Not every spread is like another spread. Now, there will be some transitions. I think that's always the case, you'll certainly have some different techniques and different plays and the first year is always the most difficult because no matter what sport you're in, what time you come in, your first year in transition is the most difficult. I had a few hecklers on the way to the airport yesterday saying, oh, you better not go 3-8 in your first year at Michigan like you did at West Virginia. It's tough. I didn't say anything, I just shook my head. we want to deserve to win. I'm sure the players will buy in. They are used to getting coached and playing hard and I'm sure they will buy in. They won't have much choice, but they will. I'm excited to meet them and I hope I get to meet several of them today. I'm big on the names. I don't know y'all's names, but I'm big on them knowing my name and knowing their families' names, and those of us that follow West Virginia, we are a big family atmosphere. Some people say it and some people live it; we prefer to live it. Our kids, I don't know when they can move up and all that, but if you come over to Schembechler Hall, you come over to practices, you'll see my family, you'll see my kids and we're around a lot. How am I going to get ready in 2017 if he (son, Rhett) doesn't have anything to practice? He'll be over there."

On the Michigan / Ohio State rivalry:

"Pretty big one, huh? The hecklers let me know that yesterday, as well. That's probably what bothered me the most is when they were doing that "O-H" thing. But I understand it. It's obviously one of the greatest rivalries in college football. Michigan is unique, and director Martin told me this, you have three rivalries ... you have Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame. That's unique. Most programs maybe have only one or two. And when you have great success like they have had here in the past and hopefully will have in the future, every game to the other team becomes a rivalry. And I'm sure that will be the case. I know we're going to be sold out, and I'm sure everywhere we go, if we do what we want to do and hope we can do, they will be sold out at the other places, too."

On his first reaction to overtures from Michigan:

"Again, I don't want to go through the whole process. Again, we talked, it was very quickly, just a couple days ago, if it's right in my mind, Friday or something. It's a very quick process and they did it. I mean, everybody wants to talk about the past and I have two young children and I don't watch a lot of cartoon movies, I don't have a chance. But there's an old movie called 'The Lion King,' I don't know if you've seen it. And there's a scene where the monkey hits the lion over the head and the lion says, 'What did you do that for?' And the monkey says, 'Doesn't matter, it's in the past.' It doesn't matter, it's in the past."

On why he feels it's not best for him to coach West Virginia in the bowl game:

"Again, I'm a little naive in that situation. It's usually the university that makes that decision. It would be very uncomfortable probably from the standpoint that my focus, and I'd be honest, my focus is going to be on the University of Michigan and this football program and I don't think it would best serve West Virginia if I'm thinking about the Big House, while trying to prepare for a bowl game. And that's just being honest. Probably what happens is they will name an interim coach. The bad part is the players, but our players have been trained pretty well I think. They are pretty focused. The game plan had already been started. We practiced four or five times already before this situation even came up. So a lot of the things are already in place. The schedule is in place for the bowl game and everything like that. To president Coleman and director Martin's credit, (they said) if you want to coach the bowl game, you certainly can. I know that would be a tough situation, but certainly for the assistant coaches and staff members that want to come here, I want them and those young men to enjoy the bowl and I'll be there to support them any way I can."

On his feelings about the Michigan Stadium renovations:

"Well, that was just part of it. When I asked a few questions about 'What about this or what about that,' or even the things that I thought maybe we should have, it was never a question. 'Yes, we'll do it, or we're doing it.' And that's pretty neat to hear. All coaches want things. They want this and that, and like myself, most of them aren't very patient. That was pretty neat to hear that, boy, we're already doing this, which is impressive. And I asked about a couple other things and said, hey, no question, we can do that as well. That was music to a coach's ears."

On if this will be his last job:

"I hope (laughing). We will start by trying to find a house somewhere soon or a place maybe to build, I don't know. It's kind of hard to build in the snow maybe. And this is not the first time I've seen snow, by the way, but yes, I would plan to retire here. I'm 44. I don't want to go as long as some of my colleagues. We have until 2017, what is it, nine years, his (son, Rhett) senior year, say he doesn't get redshirted. Yeah, about 14 years."

On becoming a head coach at 24:

"It's an interesting story. I was a head football coach, youngest ever hired at 24, and youngest fired at 25, and I set two records in two years. So it was an interesting situation. You know, when the university got bought out, it was a private school two weeks before my wedding, a month after I bought my first house and three weeks after I bought my first car, and I get a phone call middle of June saying, 'You don't have a job because the university got bought out,' it was quite shocking. And I knew I wanted to be a lifer in the profession and right after they called, the reporter called, and said, 'What's your reaction to the school getting bought out.' I thought it was a joke. And another guy called, 'Coach, school got bought out,' and I hung up and thought it was a joke. And then the athletic director called, said, "The announcement will be detrimental to your program." Well, that was pretty detrimental. And I called my wife-to-be, my fiancee, and I said, 'I have good news and bad news.'She says, 'What's the bad news?' 'Bad news is I just got fired. The good news? I'll still marry you.' She said yes, and we scrambled around for a few years. But I knew at that point if I stay in this profession now, I'm a lifer and I love what we're doing. I have great passion for the game and I have great passion here."

On not being a Michigan man but being hired to Coach Michigan::

"People have asked, and I think director Martin brought it up. Obviously you want your staff to understand the tradition here, and it seems this university has it. I don't think you have to be here to have that. I think you can learn that. I think you have to respect that. I think I've got to be who I am and that was very clear in the interview process. I can't be somebody I'm not. I didn't come to school here. I had to walk on at West Virginia and it's 'Do you have to be a Michigan man to be a Michigan coach?' Gosh, I hope not, they hired me. But I think you've got to have great respect and admiration for what they have done in the past and what this place is all about, and I have that. And my staff will have that. The ones that are not from here or who have never been to Ann Arbor before will love it, I'm sure. I've heard enough positive things. I'm just going to be who I am and we'll coach the way we coach and we've had success with it in the past and we certainly think we'll have success with it now."

On what a Rich Rodriguez team is:

"It's probably hard for me to define because I'm in the middle of it. Everybody says, boy, you guys are one of the fastest teams in America. I don't know, we watch ourselves, and I think it's easier now as I analyze that from the outside than the inside. But I hope you see fast guys playing fast, playing hard, playing with great passion. That when you watch them from your house, you watch a game from the stands, even though not all of them are experts, they may sometimes think so, but they can watch and say, boy, that team plays hard. That team will get after you. You have that mentality with great talent and you're going to have a lot of success."

On if he spoke with former Michigan assistant (and West Virginia head coach) Don Nehlen about taking the job:

"I talked to coach Nehlen after the initial conversations a little bit. Coach Nehlen, he's not around a lot of times in the winter because he goes down to Florida, goes down to work on his golf game. He called me and we chatted a bit, he called me yesterday afternoon, I talked with him and he has great admiration for this place. He was here under Bo and absolutely loved it. He's excited for me. He loves West Virginia, too. He was like me; he was torn. He was very excited for me and my family and told us we would absolutely love it here."

On the spread option offense:

"The spread, read, option, zone thing, it's really about 16-17 years old and we started it. It was when I was at Glenville State and a lot of it was out of necessity. We took over a program which, unlike this, we took over a program that had never won. They were shutout nine times in one season, scored 20 points the entire year, so when I got a first down I got a standing ovation. I thought that was great -- I told my guys I ain't never leavin' here. We stayed there seven years, and almost out of necessity we developed an offense. And then we tweaked it at Tulane, tweaked it a little bit at Clemson and then at West Virginia the past seven years, we've slowly integrated some other things. A lot of it has been copied or spread across football, and we were very open with our information. But like I said, when you see one spread, it's like another and I want to evaluate our personnel here and see what best they can do in our offense and go from there."

On his message to his players about leaving West Virginia:

"I talked about it yesterday to our players. Again I think the players understand more than some of the general public. It's never easy. I mean, when is the right time or an easy time to leave a program? I don't think any coach will tell you there's a right, easy time. Now there's a right time, but it's never easy and it's never going to be easy to do that. As I mentioned earlier, you're there as a coach and will your focus be there or will you take attention away from the players who deserve it, and the one thing I feel confident is our guys that we left, the young men at West Virginia, I think have grown to the point where they can handle adversity. They will have the assistant coaches there and they will be just fine. But it's never going to be easy."

On what coaches he'll bring with him:

"This has all happened so quickly, so I don't have the entire staff in mind, but I do have a few, and as I mentioned earlier there will be a few more from West Virginia that I know will come. And I want the opportunity to interview several of the staff members here. But you always, a lot of coaches say they always keep a list ready, but I really haven't done that, because I didn't have a plan to leave. I don't know if you can do that. If you're always keeping a list ready for another school, then maybe you have plans to leave. Now you sometimes keep a list of people in mind in case somebody on your own staff leaves and so that's what I had in my mind, in case one of my coaches goes out, like a Butch Jones gets a head coaching job (Central Michigan), which by the way, I'm proud of him, terrific, won the MAC the first year. And when that happens, you've got to have a guy or two in mind to replace but that's hey short one. But we'll get a feel. We're in a non-contact period of recruiting, we can call once a week and we can't visit them and they can't visit us here. We'll get some thoughts in mind. I'll evaluate the recruits, already called a handful of them, and I can't mention them by names but the ones I've talked to seem excited, I hope they are. I'll certainly explain our vision for the program to them as the next few weeks go along."

On if he'll have to change his recruiting philosophy at Michigan:

"I don't think so. This staff here has always recruited very well. Now, will we have maybe a different type of athlete at certain positions? Maybe, yeah. People say, this offense, you can take a great thrower and build your offense around that or take a guy that runs and throws and build your offense around that. We've done both. You just want great players, you want fast guys, but you want great players and good people and good character and good students that will understand what it's going to take to have great success here."

On whether there are different academic standards at Michigan:

"West Virginia, you have to be NCAA eligible to get in and to be part of the program. There's a few years back that you were able to get one or two maybe non-qualifiers, but that rule, things have changed. For several years now you've had to have the NCAA requirements which have increased each and every year, so that's really leveled that off in college football."

On the recruits he has contacted since he accepted the position:

"Most of the guys they have recruited here, and they have 16 or 17 commitments, I haven't gotten ahold of them all because we've been so busy, but I will, and we'll talk to all of them. As we get along there will be some that maybe we knew about that were looking at West Virginia that will call, as well. All of that is kind of in the air right now, and as we evaluate and look at what we need and what we have here, we'll determine that."

On if he plans to take in some of Michigan's bowl practices:

"That's up to coach Carr. I have to talk to him about that. I don't want to be a distraction. I have an immediacy and sense of urgency right now, but I have to be sensitive too. We're trying to win a bowl game here, and I wasn't a part of this team this year. I didn't deserve to go to the bowl game that they are going to, and I don't want to be a distraction to take away from that. If I get a chance, I'll talk to Lloyd today and see what his plans are and see when I can get back. Obviously if I'm not going to coach the bowl at West Virginia, I just don't want to sit around at home. My mind is going to be on this program. I've been in a similar situation when I got hired seven years ago. They were in a bowl game and I obviously knew coach Nehlen, so he let me watch practice a little bit. But they had all their staff there. So I bunkered up in the press box at the stadium and interviewed all the players, got to know a little bit about them, interviewed the coaches, evaluated the practices and built a staff, and that's probably maybe something similar that I'll do here in the next couple weeks."

On his defensive philosophy:

"We ran a little bit of a unique style in our odd stack defense. I'm proud of our guys, I think they finished fourth in the country in total defense this year, and I want to do something similar, whether it's the odd stack or a variation of it. Our defense is pretty multi-dimensional, just like our offense. I have some ideas to do that, and again, I want to look and evaluate our personnel before making a final determination."

On his assistant coaches:

"First off, they are very loyal, not only to Rich Rodriguez, but obviously they need to be and they are, but they are loyal to the vision and the things we want to do in our program, they understand our philosophy. You want to get a mix where you come here and you have guys that know this program, know these players and that helps them transition. And then you want to have a guy who can help you implement your system and that's what Calvin Magee and Tony Gibson we can do. They know our system and they have been with me the entire time at West Virginia. Coach Gibson played for me, and they are the kind of people that I think you want, any coach would want on their staff. I'm appreciative because they are loyal to me and our program and they will be loyal to the University of Michigan."

On whether he was frustrated with the facilities at West Virginia:

"No, there were a lot of positive things at West Virginia going on. And we worked hard at it, from the academic center to the locker room and some of those things, I was very pleased with it. And I will say this ... The people that supported the program at West Virginia, the boosters and the people that gave the money were unbelievable. We didn't have as many, probably, in number as other places, but boy, they give and they supported and some of them are my dearest friends. I talked to a lot of them over the last couple days and they are still friends with me, which I appreciate. You know, I don't want to get into all the reasons why. I don't want to compare. I'm happy where I'm at. It's in the past."

On when he'll find out if he'll be coaching West Virginia in the bowl game:

"I don't know if I already made it or not for them, but I would think it's pretty immediate. I would expect and assume that West Virginia is going to have an interim coach for the bowl, but they may have a permanent coach. I don't know the plan. In defense of everything, this happened so fast, this is not something that (was going on) for several weeks. If it caught everybody off guard a little bit, I guess I can apologize, but I don't know if I have to - it caught me a little bit off guard, too. So that's where it is and we move on."

On his hometown of Grant Town, West Virginia:

"There's more people in this room than in Grant Town. The population was 398, 397 when I left. They had a sign, which they probably scratched it out today, but they had a sign ... 'Grant Town, Home of Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia Football Coach,' and on the back of it, it said, 'Thanks for coming.' That's how quick you see the town. It's just a small coal-mining community. My dad was a coal miner and my brother was in the mines for a little bit and my uncles and all them were in coal mines. We grew up as sons and daughters of coal miners. And I don't know, I went to the mines one time and didn't want to go again. I thought, 'Well, I'd better go to school and get an education and take that route.'"

On the perception that he was Michigan's third choice for the job:

"Really? Boy, I wish you'd told me that earlier! I might have been my wife's third choice, too. (Laughing) She wasn't mine, though. She was my first, I'll tell you that. I don't know, I didn't ask, and I don't care."

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