History Shows Rich Rodriguez Will Be Successful at Michigan

Jason BarczyCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2008

There's an old adage that many people forget which some University of Michigan football fans should remember right about now. History repeats itself.

And with Michigan's history, that little saying should give a lot of fans hope, not only for this year, but for the years to come.

The Wolverines have had a long and storied history that many of you may know and it has resulted in the winningest program in college football history. The reason for this is simple, dedication to excellence and a willingness to change.

What has happened over the course of this offseason has happened before (although probably not the lawsuits) and the results have always been positive.

In the beginning there was Fielding H. Yost. What a coach, probably the best ever. Yost won 56 consecutive games, six national championships and 10 conference championships.

His accomplishments set the blueprint for all future Michigan teams and is the reason we hold the program in such high esteem today. I'd love to go into greater detail about Yost but it could turn into a series of books resembling volumes of an encyclopedia.

After Yost retired, he became athletic director and the slew of coaches that followed were Yost disciples who either played for him or coached under him.

Of course they could never live up to what Yost had accomplished, although one, Harry Kipke, did win two national championships.

It took nearly 20 years for Michigan to realize that an outsider was needed to come in and change things up.

In 1938 Herbert "Fritz" Crisler came in to revolutionize the program. And that he did. Crisler brought with him a innovative offensive system and Michigan won it's first conference title in 10 years in 1943.

But more importantly, Crisler's greatest contribution was the winged helmet that we hold dear today. That helmet is now the most recognized helmet in all of football, both collegiate and professional.

Crisler's winning percentage is second only to Yost (minimum 50 games coached).

But when Crisler retired in 1947 after winning his lone national championship the program had once again become stagnant. The following coaches were once again followers of Crisler's and had either played or coached under him.

Bennie G. Oosterbaan did win a national championship but it was on the coattails of Crisler in 1948. Oosterbaan and Chalmers "Bump" Elliot were a combined 114-75 in 20 years of Michigan football. Decent, but not great.

Too often in those years Michigan was getting beat up by the likes of OSU. Even those silly Sparty's had a lot of success against "big brother." MSU won five national championships in the '50's. Ohio State University won four national championships in the Oosterbaan/Elliot reign.

So what did Michigan do this time?  Bo. If you don't know who I mean with that one word, go be a Sparty or a worse yet, a Purdue fan.  Glenn "Bo" Schembechler would be on the college football Mount Rushmore of coaching.

A true outsider if there ever was one. He was from Ohio for crying out loud. Had coached under Woody Hayes. Went to tiny Miami (Ohio) University. The Detroit News had a headline the read "Bo Who?"

And yet he will be remembered forever as the man who transformed college football in the Big 10, the Midwest and in Ann Arbor.

He is the all-time winningest coach in Michigan history with 194 wins. His Big 10 conference winning percentage is an outstanding .856. Although he never won a national championship, his teams were always in contention for one.

Once he retired the same old pattern emerged where Michigan hired coaches that were of the previous' coaches ilk. Now don't get me wrong, I love Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr, they're combined record is 166-53 which is better than the Oosterbaan/Elliot era.

Moeller I felt got the shaft and would have been great. And, while Carr won a national championship in 1997, I always credited Moeller and Charles Woodson with that, his tenure has been marred by having tons of talent and not living up to expectations.

This decade, the program had become stagnant again. The Wolverines always lost a game early in the season that they should've won thus taking themselves out of the national championship race.

The play calling was stale and predictable, everyone knew when Michigan was going to run the ball or throw it deep. I would sit there with my buddies and call the plays before they happened. "Hey, wide receiver screen, a 15-yard-out pattern, off-tackle left, draw play." It was mind-numbing. And let's not forget to mention the 1-6 record against the sweater vest which I will never refer to by a name other than sweater vest.

So what's the history lesson here? The Michigan brings in great coaches every 20 years after their last great coach. Rich Rodriguez is going to be the next great coach in Michigan history along with Yost, Crisler and Schembechler.

He's an innovator and he will take the Wolverines to the next level. The similarities to his first offseason and Bo's is remarkable. For those that have read any literature about Schembechler's first season at Michigan will know what I mean.

The strength and conditioning, the grueling practices, even the swearing all bear a resemblance to Bo's first season.

Rich Rod could not have come along sooner. His spread offense is going to be scary good at Michigan as he will now have unlimited resources to do what he needs to run it better than ever. The rest of the Big 10 should be shaking in their boots for what is going to happen to them.

And Ohio State—well just remember in 1969 you were heavy favorites for going to the national championship game and win again. This year, again you're heavy favorites and even hold a four game winning streak over our heads.

Well, all I can do is hope history repeats itself in the form of 1969 only with a change in location in Columbus.


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