RichRod admits 'mutual interest' with S.Carolina

Posted at 7:31 PM, Dec 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-06 21:31:39-05

As one might imagine, Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez was more interested in talking about his team's upcoming bowl game than about his recent trip to Columbia, South Carolina.

But after reports surfaced that Rodriguez had interviewed for the head coaching position with the South Carolina Gamecocks -- a position Rodriguez ultimately turned down -- the fourth-year UA coach knew the topic was unavoidable.

"There was mutual interest and curiosity (with South Carolina)," Rodriguez admitted Sunday in Tucson after the Wildcats accepted a bid to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

But Rodriguez said that interest "wasn't enough to make a move" on his part or on South Carolina's end. Instead, South Carolina hired Will Muschamp, the program's long-rumored replacement for the now-retired Steve Spurrier, on Sunday.

Coming off a 2014 campaign in which they won 10 games and a Pac-12 South championship, the Wildcats went a disappointing 6-6 in the 2015 regular season, including a 3-6 mark in the Pac-12. 

After RichRod announced via Twitter that he would stay at UA, FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman reported Rodriguez's decision was based on the idea that he had unfinished business in Tucson.

On Sunday, Rodriguez, who has a 32-20 record at Arizona, confirmed that mentality.

"There’s nothing I’ve seen and evaluated since the last game that we can’t fix. But we’ve got some work to do," he said.

Injuries have played a key role in Arizona's struggles this season. All-American linebacker Scooby Wright III missed nearly the entire season with multiple injuries, while starting quarterback Anu Solomon and tailback Nick Wilson also missed significant playing time.

But Rodriguez said he's looking forward to ending a tough 2015 campaign on a high note with what would be his third bowl victory in four seasons at Arizona -- and he likes his team's chances to build upon the solid foundation he's created in Tucson since he arrived after the 2011 season.

"Let's just say I'm excited to be at Arizona. I think the future's very bright," he said. "I’ve been very appreciative of our fans and our support, certainly. We’re going to continue to try to build the best program in America.

"Again, I’ve got a great situation here, and I’ve got a great group of kids, tremendous fans and support, so we’ll take it from there and hopefully keep building."