As you know by now, Rich Rodriguez has been named the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats football team beginning in the 2012 season. This is a huge hire for the University of Arizona, and Athletic Director Greg Byrne has proven that he is a visionary leader in Tucson.
It all started with the hiring of basketball coach Sean Miller away from Xavier, which was completed by longtime AD Jim Livengood. The administration showed a knack for making sound personnel decisions that reflected positively on the institution. Livengood knew that Arizona's basketball program was prestigious and would continue to draw quality basketball players even after Lute Olson's retirement. He made sure to find a young, hungry coach that would capitalize on the right opportunity, and Miller has done just that.
Will Rich Rod bring the same exuberance to the moribund Wildcats football program? Based on his track record and passion, it's a very real possibility.
This is in stark contrast to Arizona State, which has failed miserably in recent years to find solid footing in the Pac-12 conference. From the baseball program being hit with NCAA sanctions to Herb Sendek's poor showing on the hardwood, the Sun Devils haven't done much to inspire confidence. There just hasn't been much to build upon.
Add on top of that the troubles Dennis Erickson has faced since his excellent 2007 debut in Tempe, and we find ourselves on very precarious ground in our own state. At the root of this is the chasm between ASU AD Lisa Love and UA AD Greg Byrne. While Byrne continues to make savvy moves, Love has found herself clinging to her current crop of coaches, wearing their failures like an albatross.
The time has come for Lisa Love to immediately make a few big moves, beginning with the insertion of a youthful, talented coach to lead this football program back to the Rose Bowl. With Rich Rod just one hour south, there may not be much more time before UA begins to sap elite talent out of metropolitan Phoenix and into the Old Pueblo.
The answer? Butch Jones. Going toe-to-toe with his former head coach (while serving as wide receivers coach at West Virginia) would be a great selling point for the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats.