Rich Rod joined Jim Mora and Todd Graham in the Pac-12 South as coaches looking for jobs. Rich Rod was terminated after, according to our friends at AZ Desert Swarm, “The decision was based on several factors, including ‘the direction and climate of the football program,’ according to a UA email co-signed by Heeke and UA president Robert C. Robbins.” I figured Graham and Rich Rod’s were going to gone at some point, if not fired, hired away. Both Graham and Rodriguez have flirted with other schools the past couple of years, so it was just a matter of time. Oregon and Oregon State have also replaced their head coaches, so that makes 5 of the 12 schools to replace, or in the case of Arizona, look to replace their head coach this off season. It’s also worth noting that Mike Leach was floated to have interest in the Tennessee job, for some reason, and I’d wager that Clay Helton and Mike MacIntyre are both on the hot seat.
What does this mean for Utah, specifically with all the change in the division? It’s hard to say, especially since we don’t know what Arizona is going to do with their position, but Utah is sitting pretty right now. Stability at the top is very important, especially when the schools around you are in turmoil. UCLA has rebounded very well with the hiring of Chip Kelly, but it will probably take a year or so to get things how he likes it there. The Herm Edwards hire at ASU is... well... interesting and I think ASU takes a step back. Arizona does have some talent, even though I’m not as sold on Khalil Tate as everyone else is. I mean, when you eliminate his running, which is what teams did the last half of the season, the team’s success slid dramatically. I’m not sure if Arizona can attract big name coaches to Tucson for football, but we’ll see.
I think with the talent Utah is returning, and with the programs around them going through some major changes, Utah should be one of the favorites in the division, not just next year but likely the year after too. Sure, USC will reload with a bunch of five star guys, but if the Clay Helton thing starts to snowball, it could be problematic. When you combine talent, which Utah has, and stability in the coaching staff, things could really start to build. With the addition of Gary Andersen, and with another year in Troy Taylor’s system, I think the sky is the limit for this program, and should really take advantage of the other teams in the division going through a transition.
What are your thoughts on the Rich Rod news, and what you think this does for the Utes?