Rich Rodriguez Must Win At Least Seven Games To Keep His Job

Mitch MeyleContributor IOctober 17, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Michigan Wolverines waits with his team before entering the field for a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 28-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

“Due to the NCAA ruling that Rich Rodriguez failed to create an atmosphere of compliance, we will be removing him from his role as the head coach of the University of Michigan football team.”

Those words, or some variation of them, will be said by David Brandon if Rodriguez fails to win at least seven games and the NCAA declares (it’s anticipated in November sometime) that Michigan’s appeal has been declined. 

If Rodriguez wins at least seven games, regardless of the NCAA ruling, I believe he will be given one additional season to return Michigan to Big Ten contention. 

If he loses more than five games, but the NCAA agrees with Michigan’s appeal, I think the odds that he gets another year are about 50/50. 

Strikes against Rodriguez.

He has fielded a defensive unit this year which, as shocking as it might be, could be worse than last year’s unit. 

You remember last year’s unit, right?  The so bad it was historic unit…easy to block that one out of your memory. 

Some people will gripe that this is the coordinator’s fault, but Rodriguez hired the coordinator and like Donald Trump says (paraphrasing) on the Apprentice, “As the project manager, you gave him the job and ultimately you’re responsible for how he does with it.”  

We all know the two words that typically follow: YOU’RE FIRED!  In my opinion, this won’t get Rodriguez fired from Michigan, but it is strike one.

Anyone who saw the last two games knows what I’m going to say here:  stupid mistakes have cost Michigan too many games.  To err may be human, but don’t look to the Michigan faithful for that divine forgiveness (thanks Pope). 

We aren’t used to mistakes on Saturday and we’re not about to start forgiving for them.  This is, after all, Michigan.

When the aberration is a touch-back kickoff or a made field goal from the Michigan kicker, you’ve got problems.  When a missed assignment or a failed tackle are commonplace, those problems just got worse. 

How about you hire a special teams coach and teach these kids how to tackle, Rodriguez?  Strike two!    

Finally, the NCAA investigation and findings (however ridiculous and exaggerated, most of the overages come from stretching) are very un-Michigan like.  They also trigger that clause in Rodriguez’s contract which says Michigan can fire him with cause and avoid paying a buyout. 

I’m not sure if there is a time-frame with the NCAA findings where Michigan must fire Rodriguez with cause to avoid the buyout, but I know that they won’t wait to find out if the results aren’t being shown on the field. 

And about those results… see the last few paragraphs.  Strike three and you’re out!

Now I don’t think Rodriguez is necessarily “out,” but to put it in baseball language, “he’s hovering at the Mendoza line and he’s going to need some home-runs to show that he’s worth keeping.” 

I think he can get two,  maybe three wins with Michigan’s remaining schedule.  Those wins, if he can get them, should be enough to buy him another year. 

Regardless, Michigan can’t keep playing like they have been.  Stupid mistakes are correctable and they can honestly mean the difference between singing The Victors in the locker room or hearing Rodriguez go on a tirade after the game. 

And if Rodriguez is here next year (which I think he will be), he’s going to need to summon his inner Tom Landry and find a way to get Michigan’s defense back to the hard hitting 10 points per game unit that we all miss. 

I still believe in Coach Rod, but it’s getting more and more difficult to disagree with the dissenters.