After twice declining to comment on the status of Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, Athletic Director Greg Byrne finally addressed the subject Wednesday.
In his weekly “Wildcat Wednesday” newsletter, Byrne praised the football team’s performance in the season-ending 56-35 victory over Arizona State in the Territorial Cup. Regarding Rodriguez specifically, Byrne said:
“We believe this effort shows promise for the future and we’re fully supportive of Coach Rodriguez, his staff and the young men in our program, not to mention what appears to be a talented group of newcomers that will join the program heading into next season.”
Arizona finished 2016 with a 3-9 record, by far its worst in Rodriguez’s five seasons. The Wildcats had played in a bowl game and finished above .500 in each of the first four. The victory over ASU snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Here is the complete text of Byrne’s comments regarding the football program, delivered via e-mail to UA fans and alumni:
“We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and capped it off by enjoying our football team’s big win in the Territorial Cup game. We were so happy for the young men in the program, particularly the seniors, and the staff that they were able to finish off the season on a high note. As Coach Rodriguez said in his postgame press conference, 'It certainly doesn’t make up for a tough season, but it’s a great night.'
“As you could see on Friday night, our staff and student-athletes never stopped working and produced one of their best efforts against our rivals. We set a school rushing record with 511 yards and posted three 100-yard rushers for just the second time in school history (B. Dawkins, 184 yds; S. Grant, 176 yds; Z. Green, 126 yds). We believe this effort shows promise for the future and we’re fully supportive of Coach Rodriguez, his staff and the young men in our program, not to mention what appears to be a talented group of newcomers that will join the program heading into next season.
“We want to thank all of you that stuck with us during the year. We know it wasn’t easy, but together, we can get back to competing for the Pac-12 South and Pac-12 Championship like we did in 2014. We’re looking forward to the next chapter of Arizona football.”