Quite a week-long stretch for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, isn’t it?
Just in case you’re living in a bubble, let’s recap some of Rich Rod’s recent adventures...
Playing three quarterbacks during the opening week—check.
Referring to Michigan’s three-QB system as “neat”—check.
Having former players accuse you of overworking them in the form of more than 20 hours per week, which would be an NCAA violation—check.
Having the school administration investigate the aforementioned allegations—check.
Being sued over a condo project—check.
Finally, through all those press conference tears, not even managing to pick up a TV endorsement from either Puffs Plus or Kleenex.
Chalk that up as one last painful check.
Life truly isn’t fair.
But don’t feel for Rodriguez just yet—because believe me, his week could still get worse, specifically on Saturday, when the Broncos come to Ann Arbor.
That’s right...Michigan is opening at home, but only as a 12-and-a-half-point favorite.
12-and-a-half points? That’s it? Even over a “directional school” such as Western Michigan?
Surely there must be some kind of typo.
Can anyone say “upset special”?
Listen, the Broncos are a good football team. Returning seven starters on offense from last season’s team that went 9-4 (and played in the Texas Bowl), Western Michigan is nothing to shake a stick at.
There’s senior leadership on offense, both in the running and passing game. Senior QB Tim Hiller is ready to lead the team after passing for 3,725 yards and throwing for 36 touchdowns.
While some may argue that Hiller lost his two top receiving weapons in Jamarko Simmons and Schneider Julien, the Broncos still return plenty of talent, including a combined 95 catches between WR Juan Nunez and RB Brandon West.
Think you can stop the pass game, Wolverines? OK, then deal with West (another senior) on the ground, who was a thousand-yard rusher in 2008.
Wait, there’s more!
The offensive line has four players returning with eight-plus starts from last season. That spells experience, and this is most certainly an offense that is going to give Michigan headaches.
Oh, and by the way, did you think I was done?
Over each of the last three seasons, Western Michigan has pulled off at least one upset victory over an FBS school (Virginia in ’06, Iowa in ’07, and Illinois in ’08).
Feeling maize and blue yet?
If the Wolverines are going to get to the Broncos, it will be have to be attacking the defense, which only returns three starters.
But even that won’t be easy, what with the three-QB system still being a question mark, plus experimenting with two freshman QBs playing in their first college game. Combine that with the overall distractions that the program has encountered recently, and you have the potential for a black cloud ready to open up and pour down on the Wolverines.
Don’t tell me none of this is a distraction for the current players, because plain and simple, it is. These kids aren’t Tiger Woods—they can’t just shove this all aside immediately.
So, Rich Rod, it’s been a tough week, a hell week that a fraternity would be proud of.
But hold on tight; the football season hasn’t even started yet—and the Broncos are waiting with Appalachian State memories fresh in their minds.
Stop by and talk college football at FirstandBigTen.com, a site on Chicago Now, run by Bleacher Report and Chicago Tribune, featuring three B/R writers (Kristofer Green, Tim Cary, and yours truly).