Old friends Rich Rodriguez and Dean Hood gave each other the cold shoulder this week.

Both of them understand why the other did not call. They will be on opposite sidelines on Saturday.

Rodriguez, who has his Jacksonville State team off to a 2-0 start, takes the Gamecocks to Murray State for a non-conference game. Hood is in his third season as the head coach at Murray State.

“He’s a close friend,” Rodriguez said during his weekly press conference earlier this week. “I know a couple of guys on the staff as well. I don’t really like playing good friends. We probably won’t talk at all this week. We’ll talk before the game, and I’m sure we’ll talk after the game.”

Rodriguez became a head coach in 1990 at Glenville State College, a NAIA participant in West Virginia. His first defensive coordinator was Hood. His final season under Rodriguez was in 1993, when Glenville State played in the NAIA national championship game.

“As I told the team, they were shocked, I said, ‘We worked together 30 years ago. Yeah, I’m that old,’” Rodriguez said. “He’s a close friend. He was my defensive coordinator at Glenville State when we got there [and] did not just a good job but a great job.”

Hood was the head coach at Eastern Kentucky from 2008-15, compiling a 55-38 record with a pair of Ohio Valley Conference championships and three FCS playoff appearances. He was an assistant at Charlotte and Kentucky before being hired at Murray State in 2020. He is 11-8 thus far at Murray State.

“He’s won everywhere he’s been,” Rodriguez said. “He’s done a great job at Murray. You can see his culture because the guys play hard, they know what they’re doing.”

Murray State opened the 2022 season with a trip to Texas Tech. The Racers never had a chance in the 63-10 loss to Texas Tech.

The Racers did manage a few chunk plays in the passing game against the Red Raider defense. The lone touchdown came on a 54-yard pass from DJ Williams to Jacob Bell. Williams, a 6-foot-3, 211-pound redshirt sophomore, also had pass completions of 51, 33 and 24 yards.

“They have a very good quarterback,” said Jacksonville State junior defensive lineman Jackson Lutrell. “I didn’t know this, but he was actually there last year, he was just a second-string guy. He’s improved a lot. Their offense showed it can make big plays and Texas Tech is a pretty good team. They made some big plays against Texas Tech. We’ll have to lock down on our jobs and do our assignments.”

It’s possible they won’t have to do it against Williams, who was the 2021 Freshman of the Year in the OVC. Williams hurt his knee late in the first half against Texas Tech and never returned to the game. The extent of the injury was unclear earlier this week. Lucas Maue, a redshirt freshman, was ineffective in his first college action. He was 1-of-7 passing with the lone completion gaining a single yard. He rushed three times for 16 yards.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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