Rich Rodriguez doesn’t need any more headaches after coming off the worst season of his five years as the University of Arizona head football coach.
The departure of Donte’ Williams might be enough to bring on a migraine.
Rumors of Williams’ pending departure to join Mike Riley’s staff at Nebraska have now been confirmed. The university has officially announced the hire of Williams to be the Cornhuskers’ cornerbacks coach, the same position he held with the Wildcats.
With a 3-9 overall record, Arizona missed any chance of a bowl appearance this season by a wide mile. But it looks like Williams found a way to get to a bowl game. He joined the Nebraska staff immediately after announcing he was leaving Arizona so that he’s available to help the Huskers prepare for Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.
The 34-year-old Williams, who was hired at Arizona on January 17, is generally considered one of the rising stars among the young coaches in the college game. But his real value to Rodriguez centered more on his recruiting abilities. Last year, Sports Illustrated included him in its list of the top 10 recruiters in the country and most analysts see him as one of the best recruiters of West Coast talent.
It’s that success on the recruiting trail that helped Arizona secure a top-15 recruiting class before he left. However, that distinction was earned when Arizona included Greg Johnson in the mix.
Johnson, a four-star running back and wide receiver who also plays cornerback, was rated by the 247Sports composite as the No. 1 athlete prospect in the country. Despite his commitment to the Arizona program, Nebraska had not given up on recruiting Johnson after he re-opened himself to recruiters as Arizona’s disastrous season unfolded.
He announced he was de-committing from Arizona when word got out that Williams had been hired by Nebraska. Guess where he’s going next.
One of Williams’ primary areas of responsibility in recruiting was Los Angeles, where he found Johnson at Hawkins High School. Williams was working on a handful of the area’s remaining top talent, but that road to the desert may now be taking a detour to corn field country.
Williams didn’t leave the Arizona program because he liked the weather better in Nebraska. Mike Riley showed him the money.
It’s safe to say an offer to double his Arizona salary was a motivating factor. Williams, who was making about $215,000 a year in Tucson will step into a $400,000 job in Lincoln. And to encourage him to stay beyond the one year he gave Rodriguez, Nebraska will reportedly increase his salary to $425,000 the next year.
That financial advantage that an elite program like Nebraska enjoys is difficult to compete against.
Now Rich Rod has to move quickly to find a new top recruiter. The next NCAA-mandated dead period begins in five days.
Pass the Tylenol, please.