Thomas Ashworth, Sports Editor
On Tuesday afternoon, Jacksonville State athletics hosted a press conference to announce Rich Rodriguez as the next head coach of the Jacksonville State Gamecocks football team.
“What a great day to be at JSU and a great day for Gamecocks athletics,” said JSU President Don Killingsworth. “At JSU, we are committed to excellence in athletics, and we do feel that this hire will continue that foundation of excellence that is expected here at JSU. Moving forward with a winning attitude, our expectations are not changing as we move to Conference USA and FBS football.”
“Our goal is to bring the best student athletes we can to Jacksonville State and to develop them better than anyone in the country,” said newly introduced JSU head football coach Rich Rodriguez.
Rodriguez brings a new level of experience to Jacksonville State. After compiling a 60-26 record with multiple AP top 10 finishes at the University of West Virginia, Rodriguez took the head coaching vacancy at the University of Michigan. After three years coaching the Wolverines, Rodriguez went on to coach at Arizona, compiling a 43-35 record.
Rodriguez spent his last time with a power five school in 2019, serving as offensive coordinator for the Ole Miss Rebels in 2019 under Matt Luke.
In 2021, Rodriguez served as the offensive coordinator for the Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks, who compiled a 4-8 record in the Sun Belt Conference this season after going winless the season before.
“Regarding the staff, I’ve probably had more than a hundred people call or text or whatever, but there’s a lot of people that want to come here,” said Rodriguez. “Some of them are from or have ties to the state of Alabama, and some haven’t, but I’ll be able to put a great staff, an unbelievable staff, together. In fact, hopefully by Christmas, we’ll have most of the staff.”
Killingsworth also noted the qualities he saw in coach Rodriguez, noting the level of coaching and the passion that he brings to JSU.
“He’s been here and he’s done that. He is a tried and true professional at the highest level of collegiate athletics in coaching football. I like his passion and I like his discipline for the team and for student athletes,” said Killingsworth when asked about what he sees in Rodriguez.
“When we began the search for our next coach, we were looking for a coach that had a winning record, knows how to be successful on the field and in the classroom,” said Greg Seitz, Jacksonville State athletics Director. “We were looking for someone with head coaching experience, someone who could recruit top talent and someone who had coached at the highest level. I am excited to stand in front of you today and let you know we have found all of those characteristics and then some in Coach Rich Rodriguez.”
Killingsworth added that the new conference change allowed them to explore more options at the head coach position.
“As we decided to move forward with that conference, we had already understood that there would be a coaching change so that just helped us start that coaching search going forward that had opened up the recruiting for a new coach in a different level,” said Killingsworth. “We had many coaches that would not have looked at us prior that were interested at that point.”
In 2022, the Gamecocks have two games that have been announced, with the rest of the 2022 schedule to be released at a later point. The Gamecocks will travel to Murray, Kentucky to play the Murray State Racers on Sept. 10. A week later, the team will face FBS opponent Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sept. 17.