The Jacksonville State Gamecocks football program appears to have found their man to help them transition to the FBS level, along with a move to Conference USA.
First reported by Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com, then later confirmed by local reporters, including Mark Edwards of the Anniston Star, the Gamecocks are set to hire for West Virginia, Michigan, and Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is expected to be introduced at press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Rodriguez would replace former Albertville coach John Grass, who stepped down from the head coaching spot with two games left in the season, and was replaced on a interim bases by Maxwell Thurmond, who went 1-1 in the final two games. JSU finished the 2021 season with a 5-6 record.
Rodriguez, 58, was born in Grant Town, West Virginia, and played college football at the University of West Virginia. He has long been viewed as one of the most innovative offensive minds in modern college football, having led dominant rushing attacks in all three of his FBS head coaching stops. During his head coaching tenure, he’s amassed a 163-119-3 record.
After being fired by the University of Arizona in early 2018, Rodriguez spent the 2019 season as the offensive coordinator for Ole Miss, then the 2021 season as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach at Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference.
His college coaching career dates back to 1986 when he was an assistant at Salem College, coaching defensive backs and special teams, before eventually taking over as head coach in 1988.
Rodriguez got his first FBS job in 1989 at his alma mater where he coached linebackers for a year before taking the head coaching job at Glenville State (WV), where in seven seasons he led the school to four conference championships, a 2-1 mark in the NAIA playoffs, and was named the NAIA Coach of the Year in 1993.
From Glenville State he moved on to Tulane for two seasons under Tommy Bowden, then two seasons at Clemson after following Bowden there.
In 2001, Rodriguez returned to his alma mater again, this time as the head coach, and in seven seasons in charge of the Mountaineers, he turned around a struggling program, finishing with three-straight 10-plus win seasons, including trips to the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl, along with four Big East championships.
His success at West Virginia put him on the national radar, where he was rumored to be the next head coach at Alabama, before eventually turning the job down and heading to the University of Michigan. Alabama would go on to hire Nick Saban.
Things never clicked in Ann Arbor, with Rodriguez getting ousted after three seasons in 2011 and a record of 15-22.
In 2012 Rodriguez took over the Pac 12’s Arizona Wildcats, who he took to five bowls in six years, making the conference championship game in 2014 along with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Rodriguez was 43-35 in his six seasons at Arizona before being let go in 2018 after an internal investigation.
Rodriguez and his wife Rita have two children, Raquel and Rhett.