I’m not a fan of Rich Rodriguez and I've been giving him a hard time almost from the start. So these answers are biased, although I know I’m right.
Q: Will Rich Rodriguez Be Fired?
A: Yes…if it was up to me. But alas, it’s completely in the hands of Athletic Director Dave Brandon. Brandon is sticking to his guns that he will fully evaluate the program after the completion of the season (which means after some insignificant bowl game—possibly the Insight Bowl in Tempe). FWIW, Brandon did say on Monday that “had we performed better during the season, it wouldn’t be an issue.” No Duh.
Q: What Will Dave Brandon Do?
A: I believe Rodriguez is gone. Brandon’s calculated actions put him in perfect position to terminate Rodriguez while simultaneously putting together a deal with a new coach.
It’s what you might expect from a former Fortune 500 company CEO. In fact, if Brandon was AD a few years earlier, there’s no way Rodriguez is even hired. Brandon clearly sees Rich Rod’s fatal flaws (so would Helen Keller). He doesn’t win and he doesn’t adhere to the Michigan tradition that fans and alumni cherish. Furthermore, he wasn’t hired by Brandon. Three nails in the coffin.
Q: When Will This Go Down?
A: Brandon is adamant he will wait to make a decision until after the bowl game. Mgoblog agrees. Michigan saves $1.5MM if Rodriguez is terminated after January 1st. I’d like to see UM eat it and move on this week. Let the new coach hit the ground running and give him time to hire his staff, hit the recruiting trail and get familiar with his current personel (something Rich Rod didn’t seem to feel was all that necessary). One positive of waiting is that it hopefully allows Brandon to quietly secure a deal with whoever our next coach will be.
Q: But Shouldn’t Rodriguez be Given One More Year? That Mighty Offense Sure Looks Spready.
A: I don’t see any point in prolonging the inevitable. Even with an effective offensive scheme, the team has the worst defense in the Big Ten and inexcusably incompetent special teams.
True, the team returns 19 of 22 starters next year, but I don’t see any way Rodriguez will ever win 10 or 11 games consistently…let alone make the fans/boosters/alumni proud.
Q: Hmm, How Bad is This Dick Rod Guy?
A: His performance has been atrocious. In three seasons, his record is 15-21. No other Michigan coach has had a winning percentage less than 54%. He is winless in six games against arch-rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. He has six Big Ten victories and three of them are against woefully inept Indiana. He’s never beaten a Big Ten team with a winning record. In his first season in 2008, Michigan had the worst record in it’s history (3-9). After participating in 33 straight bowl games, the longest such streak in college football up to that point, Michigan didn’t qualify for a bowl in his first two seasons.
To be fair, Rodriguez has improved the team’s performance by two wins each year. If he continues that pattern, Michigan will be 13-0 in three short years. But if you want to play with math, you can also argue that Rodriguez will never ever beat Ohio State if this pattern of getting demolished every season continues.
Q: Is He Evil?
A: Nah. Rodriguez is doing his best and coaching the way that he knows how. He’s trying to implement his system and build a program that he’s had success with in the past, most notably at West Virginia. He’s been under intense pressure and scrutiny from the Michigan community, which hasn’t made things any easier.
Plain and simple, Rodriguez is not a good fit for the head football coach position at the University of Michigan. His losing record alone proves that point, but there is much more. Rodriguez likes to recruits players (e.g. Demar Dorsey) that are at odds with Michigan admissions standards. He is not as cognizant and respectful of NCAA regulations, no matter how esoteric they might be, which has led to NCAA infractions and probation. His offensive scheme is gimmicky and radically different than the traditional Michigan pro-style football. His defense…what defense?
Q: So How in The Name of Ypsilanti Did Michigan Get Into This Predicament?
A: Bill Martin should never have hired him. He just wasn’t the right guy to be the head coach for the University of Michigan. Bad fit. Martin botched the Les Miles hiring and panicked after he was rebuked by a few other coaching candidates. Rodriguez was out there, coming off some impressive success at West Virginia, and was able to convince Martin he was the right guy. Martin represented an academic institution. Everybody knows that big-time BCS college football is a business.
Q: If We Hire a New Coach, Won’t it be Another Few Years of Rebuilding?
A: Baloney. Michigan is winning between six and eight games no matter who the coach is next year. They have legit talent at the skilled offensive positions. Denard Robinson was just named Offensive POY in the Big Ten. A competent head coach needs one year to put his system in place and should be at peak performance by his third year. There are still talented players on the roster and we shouldn’t miss a beat on the recruiting trail. Michigan has had a top 15 recruiting each year in the past decade.
SIDE NOTE: After a decade of utter futility, St. John’s new coach, Steve Lavin, was able to sign six blue chip recruits for the class of 2011 and has the third best recruiting class in the entire nation. It can turn around that quickly. Go Johnnies.
Q: So Who Will be The Next Head Coach at Michigan?
A: Everybody’s favorite choice is Jim Harbaugh who is a former star QB at Michigan in the 1980's and has been successful in coaching stints at San Diego and now Stanford. The only potential obstacle is if Harbaugh is interested in an NFL head coaching position. He previously interviewed for the Jets' opening in 2009 and his brother is the coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
Q: Is Jim Harbaugh insane?
A: He’s not any crazier than any other big time college football coach and is certainly a few ratchets below Les Miles on the crazy totem. He’s strong-willed and speaks his mind. Harbaugh constantly went after Pete Carroll when he was at USC but backed it up with some shocking upsets. Harbaugh was also critical of Michigan academic standards for football players when he stated (spring of 2007) that Michigan players are “adulated when they’re playing. But when they get out, the people who adulated them won’t hire them.” Probably true, although Mike Hart took exception to it.
Q: If Harbaugh Falls Through, Who Else is Out There?
A: There are other candidates besides Harbaugh. Les Miles is still around at LSU although he’s proven himself to be somewhat of a loony toon. Pure speculation also includes Chris Peterson (Boise State), Steve Mariucci and even Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden as potential candidates.
Michigan has the revenues, facilities, budget and tradition to offer a huge financial package and the prestige to go along with it. It’s Brandon’s job to sell this as the top coaching position in all of football. Desmond Howard believes in him to make the right move and at this point so do I.
Q: Can’t We Pull a Cam Newton and Pay Some Kid to Come Kick for Us?
A: I wish. I would donate my Piggy bank to a kicker fund. Michigan’s four field goals were the worst in all of Division I college football. Not sure how or why Rodriguez forgot about this position.
Q: When Will Michigan be Good Again?
A: Not soon enough. It will be even longer if we keep Rich Rod around for another season.
Q: What’s the Deal With the Michigan Basketball Team?