Should former West Virginia University football Coach Rich Rodriguez be inducted into the university’s sports hall of fame?
Most people who responded to the MetroNews West Virginia Poll still don’t know.
Rodriguez compiled a 60-26 record as football coach at WVU from 2001 to 2007. He had the Mountaineers in national championship discussions but left under a shroud of conflict.
WVU’s sports hall of fame, established in 1991, now includes dozens of athletes and administrators who have contributed to athletics.
The latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll surveyed 400 registered voters August 20-25 and asked whether Rodriguez should be honored with a sports hall of fame induction. Another question asked about the possible induction of Doc Holliday, Marshall University’s former football coach, into that college’s sports hall of fame.
On Rodriguez, 41 percent of respondents said they are not sure.
Thirty-seven percent favored his induction. And the rest opposed his induction.
A longtime close observer of Mountaineer sports, broadcaster Tony Caridi, said Rodriguez deserves the honor. But he acknowledged that is unlikely to happen right away.
“Very interesting question. As a member of the hall of fame committee I think Rich does deserve to be part of the group,” Caridi said.
“His accomplishments during his tenure at WVU are among the most successful in school history. His departure will always remain the ‘scab’ on his nomination. It’s true that time does heal all wounds. Rich will be inducted one day but more time likely needs to pass. As for the fans, as the poll shows 78 percent either aren’t sure or are in favor — when it happens his selection likely won’t lead to much outcry.”
West Virginia was in national championship contention in 2007 before a 13-9 loss to rival Pitt. Rodriguez announced Dec. 16 that he would accept the head coaching job at Michigan, further angering frustrated fans.
Greg Hunter, publisher of Blue & Gold News and longtime co-host of MetroNews Statewide Sportsline, agreed that more time will have to pass until Rodriguez is honored in a WVU sports hall of fame.
He drew a comparison with famed coach Bobby Bowden, who led WVU’s football team to a 42-26 record from 1970 to 1975. Bowden was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, but it took until 2015 for him to be inducted into the WVU sports hall of fame.
“Rich is probably in a similar situation as Bobby Bowden when it comes to gaining entrance into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, but it took Bowden 40 years before he was eventually voted in,” Hunter said.
“Bowden left West Virginia after the 1975 season and wasn’t enshrined into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame until 2015. So, while Rich, who departed WVU in 2007, may be inducted someday, my assumption is it won’t happen anytime soon.”
Another question posed to poll respondents was whether former Marshall University football Coach John “Doc” Holliday should be inducted into that college’s sports hall of fame.
Holliday led Marshall to an 85-54 record from 2010 through 2020. He was named Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2020, but his contract was not renewed.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said Holliday should be in the university’s sports hall of fame.
Forty percent said they are not sure. The rest were opposed.