Arizona Wildcats fans breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday morning.
After 36 hours of rumors and reports that Rich Rodriguez was Louisville’s top target for its head coaching position, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne put their minds at ease — for now.
“Coach Rodriguez is doing a great job w/our FB program. We talk regularly & feel good about him being our long term HC,” Byrne wrote on Twitter.
While that’s not a full-on guarantee that Rodriguez isn’t going anywhere, it seems unlikely that the coach is leaving Tucson in the immediate future. The tweet could also indicate that a contract extension and/or raise is coming Rodriguez’s way.
Reached Monday for further comment, Byrne referred the Star to his tweet.
A day before the athletic director took to social media, footballscoop.com reported that Rodriguez was at the top of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich’s short list for the opening and was going to begin working on a Rodriguez interview right away. A radio personality in Lexington, Ky., tweeted the same thing late Saturday night.
But on Monday morning, before Byrne’s tweet, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader columnist John Clay tweeted that he didn’t believe Rodriguez was a candidate for the opening. The USA Today’s Paul Myerberg also broke down the pros and cons of Louisville’s opening and mentioned nine possible candidates for the job. Rodriguez wasn’t one of them.
After Byrne’s tweet, footballscoop.com also reported Rodriguez was no longer a candidate.
The UA coach has four years left on his current contract and made $2.15 million last season.
With Rodriguez presumably staying in Tucson, the attention will now turn to whether running back Ka’Deem Carey will stay for another season or make himself eligible for May’s NFL draft.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft. The Canyon del Oro High School graduate could make an announcement on his future this week.
Phillips nets honor
UA receiver Nate Phillips was named a first-team freshman All-American on Monday by the Football Writers Association of America.
Phillips, one of just two Pac-12 players to make the offensive team, had 51 catches for 696 yards and seven touchdowns this season for the Wildcats. He started 10 of the team’s 13 games.
The freshman from Chandler finished his season in style. Against Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Phillips set a new AdvoCare/Independence Bowl record with 193 yards. That mark was also the most by a freshman in Arizona school history and was the 11th most in single-game history.
Phillips’ 193-yard day also marked the first 100-yard game by a UA receiver this season.
The Chandler Basha grad was rated as a three-star recruit by the Scout.com recruiting service and ranked as the 189th best receiver in the country. His only other offers outside of Arizona came from Air Force, North Dakota and NAU.
Tagaloa in; Wilkerson out
Offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloa received his release from coach Sonny Dykes and Cal and will transfer to Arizona.
Tagaloa will have to sit out the 2014 season and will be eligible for the 2015 season. Had Dykes not granted Tagaloa’s release, he would have had to sit out two seasons since he was transferring within the Pac-12.
The 6-foot-8-inch, 330-pound tackle started seven games for Cal this season as a sophomore, before being moved to a reserve guard spot. He played for current UA offensive line coach Jim Michalczik during his freshman season at Cal.
One former Cal player that won’t be suiting up for the Wildcats is linebacker David Wilkerson. Wilkerson transferred to Arizona before the season as an invited walk-on and was going to be eligible for the 2014 season.
Instead, Wilkerson has left the team and is no longer listed on the team’s online roster.