JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Jacksonville State University held a press conference Tuesday to introduce Rich Rodriguez as its new head football coach.
In the midst of a flurry of head coaching changes nationwide Monday, the school announced they had selected Rodriguez as the 28th coach of the Gamecocks. Prior to the announcement, early reports had tied the former Louisiana-Monroe offensive coordinator to the position.
JSU will make the jump to becoming an FBS team as part of Conference-USA in 2023 after competing as an FCS team since 1995.
Rodriguez takes over after John Grass announced he’d be stepping down from the position after eight seasons. He finished with a 72-26 career record and led the Gamecocks to the surprise win of the year after the team defeated Florida State in Tallahassee on a last-second Hail Mary.
Rodriguez has held several coaching positions, even leading some of the country’s biggest schools. He had the most success at West Virginia where he led the Mountaineers to four Big East titles and won the 2005 Sugar Bowl over Georgia and the 2007 Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma.
Following the 2007 season, Rodriguez left WVU and was even interviewed to take over the job at the University of Alabama before accepting the head coaching position at the University of Michigan. The Tide eventually hired Nick Saban.
At Michigan, Rodriguez failed to repeat the success he had at WVU and was fired after just three seasons while dealing with NCAA violations. He would then work for CBS Sports as an analyst until 2011 when he was named the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats.
He turned a losing program into a 10-game winner and a Fiesta Bowl berth in 2014. He continued with the program until 2018 when a former administrative assistant filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Rodriguez, claiming he sexually harassed her. Following an internal investigation, the school fired him. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
Rodriguez would then make a stop at Ole Miss, where he served as former coach Matt Luke’s offensive coordinator. Following the 2019 season, Luke was fired and new head coach Lane Kiffin did not retain Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has a 163-119-2 career record.
You can watch the press conference in the video player above.