OXFORD • Ole Miss offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez jokes that he isn’t given enough credit for his impact on the national college football landscape.
In December of 2006, Rodriguez was the head coach at West Virginia, having gone 50-24 in six seasons with the Mountaineers, including a 22-3 mark over the 2005 and 2006 seasons, when he reached an agreement in principle to succeed Mike Shula as head coach at Alabama.
Upon further review Rodriguez changed his mind, and Alabama hired Nick Saban.
Rodriguez will coach against Saban when Ole Miss visits Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
“I just wonder why all the national championships they’ve won in the last 13 or 14 years … I should get a little bit of credit. There’s no mention at all of my responsibility in helping them win all those championships,” Rodriguez joked.
Rodriguez went 10-2 in 2007, his final season at West Virginia, and was named head coach at Michigan.
“Everybody asks, ‘Do you have regrets?’ and I think every coach at some point in their career has regrets that they look back on, decisions that they made, that they think twice about,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve had great experiences since then. I’m blessed to be here. I’m grateful to have this opportunity.”
Saban has the Crimson Tide ranked No. 2 this season behind Clemson – to whom Alabama lost last January in search of its sixth national championship under Saban.
When Rodriguez reconsidered in 2006, “The Crimson Tide got Nick Saban, the greatest college coach of all time. It’s worked out well for Alabama,” Rodriguez said. “What he’s done there, he’s built the best college football dynasty of all time, and I don’t think anybody can argue with that.
Byrne’s buddyRodriguez also figures into Alabama lore as being the most recent head football coach hired by current Crimson Tide athletics director Greg Byrne.
Byrne hired Rodriguez at Arizona in 2012. He accepted the Alabama job in January of 2017. Rodriguez would coach his final season at Arizona later that fall.
Before moving to Arizona Byrne hired successful football coach Dan Mullen and baseball coach John Cohen as the Mississippi State AD.
Series historyAfter Ole Miss posted back-to-back wins against Alabama in 2014 and 2015 the Crimson Tide has won the last three.
The Rebels were competitive in a 48-43 loss to Alabama in Oxford in 2016.
The last two seasons Alabama has outscored Ole Miss 128-10. The Crimson Tide won 66-3 in Tuscaloosa in 2017 and 62-7 in Oxford last year.
The Rebels’ 2014 win has been vacated by the NCAA.
Rebels rise in rushing DAfter holding its opponent to less than 100 rushing yards for a third-straight week – a first for Ole Miss since 2008 – the Rebels are fourth in the SEC and No. 25 nationally in rushing defense at 94.8 yards per game allowed.
Alabama is seventh in the SEC and No. 29 nationally at 98.8 yards per game allowed.
The Tide is sixth in the SEC and No. 57 in rushing offense at 178.8 yards per game. Ole Miss is seventh in the league and No. 58 at 178.5.