After the Sting is Gone, WVU and Michigan Will Be Better

Greg JulianContributor IDecember 17, 2007

IconToday was marked by frustration, bitterness, and complete anger towards Rich Rodriguez after his sudden departure from West Virginia to become Michigan's newest head football coach.

Rodriguez replaces Lloyd Carr, who in recent years has not won the favor of many Michigan alumni and fans. However, once reason and reality kick back in in the Mountain State, fans will come to realize that WVU will be better off in the long run with Rodriguez in Ann Arbor.

In his seven year stint at WVU, Coach Rodriguez took the football program to another level, capped off by a #2 ranking during the final week of the 2007 regular season and expectations of playing for a National Championship. He brought a new style of spread offense to the Mountaineers—a mix of west coast (ala Bill Walsh) and a dash of old-school option football, making the role of quarterback one that is more than handing the ball off or throwing downfield.

His recruiting abilities were remarkable, as Rodriguez was able to get kids to go to school in a place that isn't cool in the summers or warm in the winters, and turn them into winners.

Yes, there were heartbreaks—some that fans today were using to blame Coach Rodriguez for the loss to Pitt two weeks ago. But looking over his career at WVU, no one can deny that he helped bring Mountaineers football to a level of national prominence.

Now he's accepted the job at Michigan, which is, in many eyes, the epitome of a college football powerhouse. It would be difficult for any coach to turn down the opportunity to be the head man at a school where winning is expected, and support is second to none.

Michigan fans will see Rodriguez's offense struggle initially, but once its in place, the Wolverines may very well run rampant through the Big Ten Conference. And with a long standing tradition of receivers that have developed quite nicely, Rodriguez's offense becomes that much more potent. This has been the lacking part at WVU, and has made them easier to scheme, though not necesarily easier to defend.

Add a throwing element to the spread triple option, and Michigan suddenly becomes a dangerous team.

WVU finds itself preparing for the Fiesta Bowl with pressing questions, and a future that is highly uncertain. Many candidates have been listed in local papers today, and all of them have the qualifications to lead the Mountaineers to the level they want to get to.

With or without Rodriguez, WVU has moved into the national spotlight, and has consistently had top ranked recruiting classes. With renovations to athletic facilities in Morgantown, and an environment that is rapidly becoming one of the top home fields in the country, whomever succeeds Coach Rodriguez will find themselves able to sell WVU to recruits.

Both schools will come out of this as winners. Bitter feelings may prevail in West Virginia, along with uncertainty in Michigan as to what's next—but in the end, both "Gold and Blue" schools will emerge  better than they were before this weekend.