Life in Ann Arbor is about to change, and whether it's going to be immediately for the better is yet to be seen.
But one thing is guaranteed: Rich Rodriguez's job is truly on the line this time around against Michigan State. This year's MSU game is a must-win in the minds of Wolverine fans.
The great news for Michigan fans is that, in either scenario, win or lose, they should end up happy.
If Rodriguez and the Wolverines are able to win on Saturday, they will be undefeated through six games, will have beaten both of the rivals they've faced this year, will have guaranteed themselves a bowl berth, and most likely will end up winning at least two more games this season (Illinois and Purdue) to win a total of at least 8 games this year, far exceeding expectations.
In this scenario, Rodriguez will almost certainly keep his job, no questions asked. And it would be hard to argue that the future of Michigan football is bright (#2 offense in the country, Heisman Trophy front runner, young defense that is getting a lot of experience this year).
Alternatively, if Michigan loses to Michigan State on Saturday, Rodriguez will have lost to his in-state rival for a third consecutive year, and following a close game against Indiana last week, will have set a course eerily similar to last season, in which Michigan was only able to win one Big Ten game and went on a downhill slide following a their OT loss to Michigan State. The critics will surely come out of their hiding spots and the negativity will once again surround the U of M football program.
That's the bad part of this second scenario, but here's the good part: the search for Rodriguez's replacement will begin almost immediately following a loss to Michigan State. And it begins and ends with a man by the name of Jim Harbaugh.
Saying Harbaugh has exceeded expectations at Stanford would be a huge understatement, and a large contingent of Michigan faithful are foaming at the mouth for a coach they could call a "Michigan Man". Seeing as how Harbaugh is a former Michigan QB, and actually babysat Bo Schembechler's kids when he was growing up down the street, I think his resume will satisfy that requirement.
Either way, Michigan fans should be pleased with the outcome of the game this weekend, as the program is about to take a step forward, one way or another.