Running out of turf

The world of sports is a busy place. Bowl victors and national champions have been decided. NFL playoffs are in full swing. Competition on college basketball floors is heating up.

Many coaching heads have rolled in all levels of football. Most notably, Rich Rodriguez was fired at Arizona in the midst of a scandal.

Referring to the former WVU player and coach as “Rich Rod” might invoke a sense of warmth and friendship. I can’t go there, even after all these years. 

If comments responding to the statement Rodriguez released on Twitter are any indication, I’m not the only one. 

At last count, over 400 people posted their thoughts on what the former head coach at Arizona, Michigan, and West Virginia had to say. 

Amid negative assessments, there are positive comments that indicate the embattled coach had some fans in Arizona.

The number of references to Rodriguez’s tenure at WVU reveals lingering wounds, scars across the mountains.

One post summed up others like it: “Did u throw the Pitt game Rich please answer.”

Another said, “West Virginia karma.”

Yet, another revealed an angry fire that 10 years have failed to ebb: “Does this have anything to do with the time he screwed the whole state of West Virginia on an ego trip to Michigan?”

One tweeter has been counting the days since the 2007 Pitt game: “Amazed it took 10 yrs, 1 month, and 1 day for your career to come to an end.”

A former fan of Rodriguez said, “He was a not a good dude….He won, so the stories got hushed.” 

Keep in mind, all the above are individual opinions. Collectively, however, they make a strong statement: West Virginia fans don’t forget, particularly when a betrayal comes at the hands of one of their own.

I agree with sportswriter Bob Hertzel. In the Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram, he said, “Rich Rodriguez’s story has become an American tragedy.”

Like Hertzel, I believe that things would have turned out differently for Rodriguez had he kept his ambition in check and remained at WVU all those years ago when he said he would never leave.

But Hertzel appears to think the infamous loss to Pitt embarrassed Rodriguez and threw him into the waiting arms of Michigan. 

I beg to differ. Throughout the preparation for and during the Pitt game, Rodriguez’s mind was not in Mylan Puskar stadium but planted firmly on what he thought was greener turf in the Big 10. 

I’m not the sportswriter. Hertzel is. But that’s how I see it.

How that turf meant more to Rodriguez than a national championship in his home state, we’ll never know.

As for his career coming to an end, don’t be so sure. One tweeter put a realistic spin on Rodriguez’s future:

“If Bobby Petrino can survive a similar ‘fall from grace’ we shouldn’t be surprised when RR lands at another school who will blindly overlook his failings and mediocre win-loss record.”

Sad, but true, unless Rodriguez sets his arrogance aside in favor of a more humble existence. I hope he does.

Also sad, but true: I had not planned to expound upon the misadventures of Rich Rodriguez. Believe it or not, there are positive stories to report in the world of sports.

You probably missed the most important headline of all—because it did not make headlines. It wasn’t even a blurb on any sports pages—until now. 

Brace yourself—MACRUSH won the Family League Fantasy Football Championship (say that 10 times—fast). 

I give full credit to my team manager and husband for masterminding genius game plans. And, no, he will not jump the MACRUSH ship to entertain offers from other fantasy football leagues.

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