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Rich Rodriguez Hot Seat: Michigan Faces Uncertain Future After Gator Bowl Loss

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines rushes against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
Rick Dole/Getty Images
Sam TastadCorrespondent IIIJanuary 2, 2011

Well, I don't even know what to say after that game. It was tough watching the Wolverines lose like that. That is definitely not Michigan football. We're used to Michigan being competitive, and being in every game up until the buzzer sounds. I was at a loss of words after that game.

The offense has a lot of talent and is successful, but the defense just cannot seem to get it done. They cannot seem to hold teams so the offense can build leads and stay competitive in the game.

Denard Robinson had a great season. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year. He came out strong against Mississippi State, but after Michigan opened up a 14-10 lead in the second quarter, the Bulldogs defense started making stops, and Robinson could not get them right back into the game.  Mississippi State kept scoring, and before you knew it, the game was out of control.

A look back at the Gator Bowl, the Wolverines started as they always do, but can never seem to finish it up with a victory. They built a lead to start the game, but then the defense fell apart. Denard Robinson looked sharp after that first drive. He was 3-for-3 on the opening drive and threw a touchdown to a wide-open Roy Roundtree to take an early lead.

They came back later and Robinson led them to another scoring drive early in first quarter and threw a great pass to Martavious Odoms, who had a great catch for a touchdown. After that, Mississippi State started making stops, and by halftime it was 31-14 Bulldogs.

Michigan was held scoreless for the second quarter and second half. In the second half, Mississippi State piled on 22 more points to win 52-14 over the Wolverines. It was the worst loss for a Michigan team in a bowl game.

So what is next for the Wolverines? Do they fire Rich Rodriguez or keep him? Well let's break down the reasons to keep him or fire him.

First, why should he should stay? Well, he already has recruits committed for next year, and a good class coming in. Also, his offense is working, and it does win games. It showed that at West Virginia and now in his third year, he has the right players for that system and it is working. Plus, next year, those players will be better and have more experience in the Big Ten.

Denard Robinson is big factor of that, and he had a great season. It's hard to imagine how good Robinson could be next year with more experience under his belt. However, defensively, he is just not getting it done.  If he stays, he should fire Greg Robinson and hire a better defensive coordinator.

Second, why should he be fired?

Well it's simple. What happened yesterday isn't Michigan football, and if you don't produce wins at Michigan on a consistent basis, your job will probably in jeopardy. He has had three years to instill his system at Michigan, and it started working better this year, but are we going to see more progress next year both offensively and defensively?

Offensively, I believe yes, it could happen. However, defensively, I don't know. The players will be better, but I think it takes a new defensive coordinator anyway to get this team better.

Second, they have not been competitive against their rivals or top-25 teams. Case in point: Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Mississippi State. Their rivals thrive when Michigan is competitive, and the players like it a lot better.

Third, Michigan isn't Michigan anymore. Traditions aren't the same, the honesty of the program isn't the same (as in when Rodriguez had allegations surrounding the school) and they're not winning bowl games or being competitive.

Well, what should they do?

I think, sadly, it's time for Rodriguez to go. I think the fans want a new coach, and the program needs a new coach to lead them back to the glory days of Michigan football, when Bo was coach.  Look what happened after Nebraska fired Bill Callahan. The Cornhuskers hired Bo Pelini to get back to their glory days, and look where they are today. Nebraska has made the last two Big 12 Championships, and have been very competitive.

I think the right man for the job would be Jim Harbaugh of Stanford. He is a Michigan alum and knows Michigan football. He would be the ideal fit. I think UM should fire Rodriguez soon, like Monday, then talk to Harbaugh after Stanford's Orange Bowl game tomorrow night. The Wolverines cannot wait long.

Another good fit would be Brady Hoke of San Diego State.

Also, whoever is head coach next season needs to find a good defensive coordinator. Back in the day, Michigan was known for its defense, just ask Charles Woodson.

Well let's hope Michigan football can be restored soon, can start winning big games and be competitive for Big Ten titles.

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