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How one Rich Rodriguez decision changed Alabama, Michigan and college football

Rich Rodriguez was visiting an Alabama college football spring practice a couple of years ago and chatting on the sideline with one of the Crimson Tide’s big supporters.

Gazing around at Alabama’s grandiose football digs, Rodriguez couldn’t help himself and quipped, “Where’s my statue?”

The Alabama booster looked at him curiously and said, “What do you mean?”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

With a sheepish smile, Rodriguez deadpanned, “I’m partly responsible for those five national championships because if I had said yes, you wouldn’t have had the greatest coach of all time, Nick Saban, winning all those championships.”

All these years later, one of the most fascinating coaching what-ifs in college football history still reverberates from the hills of West Virginia, to Denny Chimes Tower at Alabama, to The Big House at Michigan.8

“At least I can still get a laugh out of it,” said Rodriguez, who had three Power 5 head-coaching stops at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona before spending last season as Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator. Rodriguez was not retained when Lane Kiffin was hired as the Rebels’ head coach and brought in his own staff.

Famously (or perhaps infamously), Rodriguez turned down an offer to become Alabama’s football coach on Dec. 8, 2006, and instead decided to stay at his alma mater West Virginia, reopening the door for Alabama athletic director Mal Moore to make another run at Saban.

And this time — after weeks of persuading and maneuvering — Moore got his man, turning the college football landscape upside down and once again making Alabama the epicenter of the college football world.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Moore, who got to see three of Saban’s five national titles at Alabama before dying in 2013, had his sights set on Saban from the beginning after firing Mike Shula on Nov. 27, 2006. But Saban was just finishing up his second season as the Miami Dolphins’ head coach and initially rejected Alabama’s overtures. Moore also reached out to Steve Spurrier to gauge his interest in the job. Spurrier, who had just completed his second season at South Carolina, remembers encouraging Moore not to give up on Saban.

“Mal called after Saban turned them down,” Spurrier recounted. “He didn’t say he was giving me the job or anything like that, but wanted to talk and see if I was interested.”