Michigan's Rich Rodriguez: Too Many Chances for a Repeat Offender

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 22:  Rich Rodriguez the Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines is pictured during the Big Ten Conference game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This shouldn’t be a new story for anyone who has followed the career of Rich Rodriguez.

This isn’t a cause for surprise, just disappointment.

Whether it’s been controversy about 11-hour weekend practices at Michigan, or recruiting players with questionable character at West Virginia, it’s hasn’t been a smooth coaching career for Rich Rodriguez.

The recent allegations bring to light a story that is all too familiar around the suburbs of Washington D.C., in Montgomery County, MD. 

It’s a story that has been told over and over again for the past three years.

In the spring of 2007, Pat Lazear committed to West Virginia University amid controversy over his armed robbery of a Smoothie King.

According to police documents, Lazear provided the gun for the armed robbery and was the driver of the car from the scene of the crime. 

The story shocked and disappointed the community. We thought he ruined his chances to play big-time Division I football—we thought wrong. 

Lazear played for Whitman High School his first three years and was dominant. He was a suffocating middle linebacker and an able quarterback. 

After the robbery incident, Lazear was forced out of Whitman and transferred to a nearby high school where he was immediately named team captain.

Life continued as normal because Lazear received about 20 offers from Division I schools like Ohio State, Alabama, and Notre Dame. 

Thankfully those schools began passing on someone with a criminal record.

Teams probably began losing interest when they felt that electronic ankle bracelet would slow his 40-yard dash time. 

College coaches always have to strike a balance between ethics and winning. Unfortunately, Rodriguez has fallen on the wrong side of that balance more times than not.

If a kid doesn’t have skills and he’s a bad apple, coaches have no problem getting rid of him.

When a kid has talent, he’s not coming off the field unless he’s dragged off by state troopers. 

This was not Lazear’s first time in legal trouble. Ten months before the armed robbery, he used a stolen credit card to buy a pair of $130 sneakers.

A warning sign should have gone up for repeat offenders.

But it didn’t for Rodriguez, a repeat offender himself.

While the recent allegations at Michigan work their way through the legal process, Rodriguez will find himself in a familiar place—hot water.

But, as long as schools keep giving people like him, and Pat Lazear more chances, what incentive is there to change?

There is no incentive to change, only the incentive to win.

A maxim Rodriguez has followed throughout his coaching career.

Maybe next time he trips and stumbles, Rodriguez will fall on the other side of the line—and make the ethical choice.