Chances are you don't recognize the gentleman above, but that's Ken Kendrick, an executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He's also a 1965 graduate of West Virginia and a big booster of Mountaineer athletics.
After John Pruett of the Huntsville Times wrote a piece last Friday that was critical of West Virginia boosters who were in a tizzy over Rich Rodriguez's departure to Michigan, the columnist got a call from Kendrick.
"I grew up in that state,'' Kendrick said. "My heart is still in those mountains, even though I live 2,000 miles away.''
Kendrick told Pruett that Rodriguez was "signed, sealed and delivered" to be Alabama's coach last year and in the middle of the night he received a call from a university official asking if he would intercede.
"They said we know you know how to negotiate,'' Kendrick said, "and we know that you know Rich and we know you support the program. Can you help? I said, 'Well, I'll try.' ''
Kendrick spoke with Rodriguez and asked what it would take to keep the coach in Morgantown. "He wanted more money for his assistants, some improvements in facilities, an improved locker room, and some modest things — like waiving an old policy so that high school coaches could attend games free, and hiring another graduate assistant.''
Kendrick said he was "among a group of individuals who were willing to fund the whole thing,'' that "it wouldn't have cost the university a penny,'' and that "none of it would've come from taxpayers' money.''
Rodriguez agreed to stay, but in the subsequent months, Kendrick said West Virginia officials began to "stonewall" on promises made to Rodriguez. When Michigan called, Rodriguez was fed up.
"Rich Rodriguez is not the traitor he has been made out to be by some people in West Virginia,'' Kendrick said. "In his heart, I know he wanted to stay. But this time, he felt he had no choice but to leave.''
Then Kendrick let it fly: "We have a poorly run athletic department and an incompetent AD and assistant AD. This is a $50 million business — and it is a business — and they don't have a strategic plan. They still run the place like it was a business the size of a dry-cleaning store.''
Kendrick said it's not his place to say who should be the next coach, but he's clearly worried what is ahead for the Mountaineers.
"I do believe our next coach will have at least momentary successes, based on what Rich has left behind,'' he said. "But I'm worried that our moment in time has passed. I'm afraid our chances of returning to mediocrity are pretty damn high.''