Whether Michigan fans like it or not, Rich Rodriguez needs to come back. Support for the “Fire Rich Rod” movement is growing rapidly, but let’s not forget that these are the same fans that were calling for Lloyd Carr’s head after 12 great seasons.
Just like the Wolverines regret reassigning Carr, they will regret firing Rodriguez. Here are a few things to think about.
1. The Spread Needs Time
We were foolish to assume that bringing a spread offense to the Big Ten would work right off the bat, especially when Michigan was stocked with a roster that wasn’t built to play in that type of offense. The spread has serious potential in the Big Ten, evidenced by the way that spread SEC teams have consistently beaten Big Ten teams in bowl games.
2. They’re Getting Better
Obviously the maize and blue are not even close to what they consistently were under Carr, but Rodriguez deserves some credit improving the team’s record each year. The members of Rodriguez’s first recruiting class are only juniors, and as new recruits that fit his system come in each year the team has started to look more and more like what Michigan envisioned when they signed Rodriguez.
3. Denard Robinson
After just his first full year, Robinson already has Heisman Trophy written all over him. He fits Rodriguez’s system perfectly, and though it is far-fetched, there is always the possibility that he might leave the Wolverines if a coaching change comes down (don’t forget Ryan Mallet). With Robinson in place for another two years, and fresh recruits coming in each year to play with him, there is no telling what this offense could evolve into under Rodriguez.
4. Who Else Is There?
You can forget about the Jim Harbaugh pipe dream. It’s hard to believe that he would abandon what he has built at Stanford to start from scratch at his alma mater with a bunch of players that won’t fit his style of play. Past Harbaugh, no other big-name coaches are floating their names out there. Sure they could hire in house, but I would think if the Wolverines are going to hire a new head coach they would want to make a splash. Jim Harbough is that splash, but even if they hooked him, Michigan would have to wait another three years or so before his recruits would have an impact.
I’m not saying that if Rodriguez stays he will without a doubt return Michigan football to what it once was, but you can’t rule out the possibility that he could. Sure, the finished product will look totally different from the rough and tough Michigan teams of old, but I can’t believe that the Wolverine faithful are more concerned with nostalgia than winning.
Michigan needs to make a decision: Do they throw away the next two or three years while they rebuild a team that can play “Michigan football,” or do they give Rodriguez and Robinson a shot to show what they can do? Like Rodriguez said, he didn’t just get dumb over night.