Twenty questions with UA football coach Rich Rodriguez:
Who was your favorite athlete as a kid?
A: Larry Bird. I love Larry Bird.
What jersey number would you wear if coaches had to wear a uniform?
A: I wore No. 88 in high school because I was a receiver, a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and Lynn Swann was No. 88.
What movie would you watch again?
A: My favorite all-time movie is “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” probably tied with “Gladiator.” On the lighter side, “Dumb and Dumber,” a real cinematic classic, was enjoyable. My family teases me that I never go to a movie. Well, about 15 years ago I went to see “The Crying Game” and it was the biggest waste of three hours in my life. I didn’t go back to the movies for 10 years in protest.
What was your favorite concert?
A: My daughter and I went to see Florida Georgia Line at Casino del Sol a year ago and we loved it. Before that, I don’t think I went to a concert since I saw Pat Benatar in 1984 in West Virginia. I just haven’t had time. If I had a choice, I’d see the Eagles. Love ’em.
How many hours of sleep is a good night’s sleep?
A: I used to say I could function on five hours a night, but now I’d like to get seven. Most of the time, though, I go with five. I just toss and turn, thinking about things. I feel like a hypocrite because I tell my coaches they need seven or eight hours every night.
Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier?
A: I’m fascinated by the documentaries of Ali. He was asked how he worked out. How many pushups? How many sit-ups? He’d say, “I never count; I go until it hurts and then I go a little bit more.” So I got T-shirts for the team that say “Go til it hurts and go a little more.”
What was your most difficult subject in school?
A: I was lucky; I was a 4.0 student. I made one B in high school, a B in biology, and I’m still ticked about it. I thought I should’ve had an A.
Were you recruited by Mike Krzyzewski to play basketball at Army?
A: I was recruited for basketball by some mid-majors. Davidson and Marshall. I had an appointment to West Point to play football, and I wanted to go. I had the grades. But in the end, I wanted to play at the biggest school I could, and that was West Virginia.
What’s the last book you read?
A: I read “Unbroken,” which is the story of Louie Zamperini as a World War II prisoner of war. It was fascinating. I usually don’t have time to read books, but (assistant coach) Bill Kirelawich gave it to me and I read it in a week and a half. When the movie comes out, I’ll see it.
Where would you bat in a baseball lineup?
A: I wasn’t a power guy; I was a fast guy, a runner. So I usually hit second, sometimes leadoff. I must’ve lost some of my baseball skills later because as I got older I started batting sixth and seventh.
What coaching clinic would you pay to attend?
A: In the old days, we’d go on these Nike cruises with Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden. I’d sit around and listen to them holding court, telling stories. It was priceless.
What’s your favorite place to visit?
A: You can’t not like Vegas, but I really like Naples, Florida. It’s a small city, on the Gulf Coast, a perfect beach town, quiet and clean, very laid back and relaxed. We lived there during my year working for CBS.
What was your top achievement as a football player?
A: I got my first start at West Virginia against Penn State (1984). We hadn’t beaten them for 29 years. We won 17-14 and I intercepted a pass. It was a big moment in Morgantown, West Virginia. The custom to celebrate a big victory was to burn old couches and sofas and have a big bonfire. A lot of couches burned that night.
Where did you learn to swim?
A: There was a big ol’ pond in Grant Town, West Virginia, and that’s where I began to swim. I was 7. I learned to keep my eyes closed and not to go near the bottom of the pond. There was bad stuff in there.
What sports team do you most dislike?
A: I didn’t particularly like the Oakland Raiders, but that was because they could beat the Steelers.
Had you not gone into coaching, what career path would you have followed?
A: Some kind of sports law; I was going to go to law school. Or maybe I would’ve gone into the sports media, gone over to the dark side.
Does losing a game change you?
A: When I was offensive coordinator at Clemson, I’d jog with (head coach) Tommy Bowden. We had a lot of laughs together. When we won, we’d jog in the middle of campus. When we lost, we’d go on a trail through the woods so no one would see us. They take it pretty seriously there.
Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy?
A: Right now Rory, but Tiger was the best and I still think he might be again one day. He was so fun to watch. You knew he’d do something remarkable.
Can you enjoy yourself in public?
A: I like to see people, and I’ve found Tucson to be a friendly college town. Of course, we haven’t had any big bumps in the road yet, other than not beating ASU. At West Virginia, it felt like I was always “on.” It’s such a small state, and I’m from there. If I had to do it over again, I’d probably take more time to breathe, lay back and enjoy what I was doing.
If you could have dinner with any three coaches, living or dead, who would you choose?
A: Vince Lombardi, for sure. Bobby Bowden, because I think so much of him. His son, Tommy, is such a good friend and coach. It would be a spirited dinner.