By VIC SPROUSE
CHARLESTON -- First of all, Bray Cary deserves credit for a major coup in landing an hour long interview with Rich Rodriguez as the lawsuit with West Virginia University drags on.
Bray did a great job on the interview, giving Rich room to breathe, but really digging down and trying to get to the bottom of Rich's departure.
While I thought heckling Rich and his kids as they left for the airport was a bit much, there was much of Rich's story that I didn't believe.
But, hearing Rich's interview with Bray and NOW knowing the Keystone Cops who have been running WVU for the last nine months, I came away from the interview believing most of what Rich had to say.
First, one thing I can't take is just how often Rich refers to himself in the third person. That is such a bad habit, someone needs to break him of it, it's tough to listen to him say "Rich Rodriguez" over and over.
Now, I know there will be a backlash from Rich-haters out there, but hear me out.
I tried to put myself in Rich's shoes as I listened to his interview.
Let's say you are working for a company and kicking butt. Let's say you feel you worked your tail off to take that company to heights they have never seen. So, you are going along, feeling great about what you are doing and you get an offer from another company. You go to your boss and ask for a raise and they bend over backwards to give it to you. And, all is well, you stay and turn down the other offer.
Then, a year later, you are doing EVEN BETTER at your job and all of a sudden you get a new boss. Instead of asking for a raise for yourself, you ask for some minor changes that you feel will help the company and are pretty easily implemented and your new boss promises that he will work on it.
Then, you are having a fantastic year and you have a chance to land the biggest customer and kaboom, you don't get it. There is disappointment all around, but you feel like you've done a really good job and that your company is happy with you.
And, you get another offer from an even bigger company. So, you go to your bosses and ask them to implement the changes they had already promised. They say flat out "no." And, you let them know about your offer. And, they say, the choice is yours, stay or go. And, then a few minutes later into the conversation, they tell you again, stay or go. And, again a few minutes later, they make it clear - stay or go, they don't care.
Well, I'm sorry, but I'm probably going to go. My boss just made it clear to me that he doesn't care whether or not I stay. And, you have this great big company offering you more money and promising all the changes you were promised? Well, I'm sorry, but I'd go.
And, so did Rich.
Looking at the RichRod saga now through the prism of knowledge of the utter disaster that is the Garrison administration, it is apparent that they ran Rich off.
I believe Rich is telling the truth when he said the entire relationship changed when Garrison took over. His relationship with Pastilong changed. His relationship with Garrison changed. And, before you know it, Garrison was wanting to show he was the new Sheriff in town and he wasn't going to accept ANY ADDITIONAL demands of Rich Rodriguez.
What a shame.
Now, Rich I guess could have sucked it up and stayed. Looking back now, with Garrison on his way out, Rich probably is wishing he could have stayed. But, looking at it through his eyes, Garrison was new and young and was going to be there for a VERY long time and made it clear that Rich wasn't going to get what Rich thought he needed. He also made it clear that he wasn't all that concerned if Rich was the coach of WVU. Ouch.
Maybe it was a prideful moment that caused Rich to leave, but it was what it was. Maybe he should have just stuck it out and hoped for the best. But, he walked away from the Garrison meeting with an ultimatum, stay or go. And, what's probably worse is that Rich felt that they really didn't care if he remained the head coach or not.
I'm sorry, but we all want to be valued in our jobs. And, if we aren't and there is another company out there bending over backwards to give us more money and show us that we would be valued there, well, it's going to be very tempting to go.
OK, a couple of telling comments in the RichRod interview ...
1. According to Rich, he and Garrison had a discussion well before Garrison had become President about the future of the program. Huh? Why? Well, because Garrison being President was a done deal LONG before the decision was made. This was an inside-deal, an inbred political process that had Garrison chosen President even before Hardesty left. Disgusting.
2. The inbreeding of our political process continues - Steve Farmer ... yes, the same Steve Farmer who told Rich months before Garrison became President that, well, Garrison would become President is not only a Board of Governor's member, but is also the lawyer representing WVU and their lawsuit against Rich. How in the heck does that work?
And, Rich made a great point ... in their deposition of Rich, WVU sent SIX lawyers to Detroit to depose him (when only one can ask questions). Six? All flying to Detroit? All billing at I'm sure no less than $250 per hour? Just how much has Farmer made off of this deal? It's an outrage that an actual BOG member is representing the University and dragging on a lawsuit to insure they get maximum dollars out of it.
3. Dan Page of the State Journal made a great comment and I will take it even further. Dan simply stated that having served in the Underwood administration, he could tell you first hand that being a Governor's Chief of Staff does not quailfy you to be the President of a University. Amen.
I'll take that one step further, it actually MAY BE the worst potential training. As you can see by the Garrison handling of the RichRod debacle and then the entire Heather Bresch fiasco, they handled each as political issues because that's what they know.
And, look, being a university president is "political," but with a small "p." NOT "Political" with a capitol "P." That's the problem here. I also believe Garrison and the administration has purposely smeared Rich. That IS what you do when you deal with issues in a Political manner. And, that's how Garrison has treated this disaster.
A few additional points.
Why are we continuing this lawsuit? Why are we making the lawyers rich? Why are we sending SIX lawyers to Detroit to depose Rodriguez? Why? Because the politicians, including Garrison, have been running the show. And, of course, the decision makers, the BOG have one of their own making big bucks running the case. Unbelievable.
Let's get this thing settled. Let's get it behind us, go in, smack Rich with a $2.5 or $3 million dollar settlement before we end up spending millions and getting the lawyers rich.
While some of Garrison's supporters talk about all the great things he has done, his legacy will be one of complete and total disaster. First, he kicks Rodrigues out the door because he is unwilling to take care of what amounts to next to nothing to show how big and bad he was. Then, they made an emotional decision and instead of conducting a national search for a new Coach, they quickly settled on Bill Stewart in the euphoria of a BCS win. Then, he brought complete and total embarrassment to the University with the Heather Bresch scandal and resigned in disgrace.
Can this administration deliver any more mayhem in its last few dying breaths during the next couple months? I'm not sure if it is possible.