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While Rodriguez watched the Wildcats prepare to take on Louisiana-Lafayette, Regina Byrne led Rita on a house-hunting expedition. Rita loved the floor-to-ceiling windows of a 6,000-square-foot house with a view of Finger Rock, but the layout didn't work. The house did not have a space large enough to host recruits and their parents on an official-visit weekend. Rita understands the recruiting game. "To get a Denard Robinson, you have to impress him," Rita says, referring to the star quarterback her husband signed at Michigan. "You want them to think you think big."
While his chicken sat untouched at the head of a long table in a private room at a local steak house, Rodriguez stood in a corner talking on his cellphone to a prospective assistant coach. He had taken several such breaks, either to speak to recruits or to potential assistants.
Rodriguez plans to hire several coaches quickly. After leaving the restaurant, he ended his first day by staying up until midnight chatting with recruits and coaches.
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More than 30,000 feet over Florida's panhandle, Rodriguez leaned back in his seat on a private jet and smiled. The son of a West Virginia coal miner, his first time on a plane had come when he was a freshman walk-on with the Mountaineers. "Now look," Rodriguez said. "My kids are on a private jet twice in three days."
Until Michigan, Rodriguez had succeeded everywhere he'd coached. He burns to prove that his last job was an anomaly.
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