Rich Rodriguez Fired: Michigan Football Reportedly Shows Rich Rod the Door

Jayson LoveCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2011

Rodriguez fired as Michigan head coach
Rodriguez fired as Michigan head coachRick Dole/Getty Images

At Michigan, it's all about beating Ohio State and going to Rose Bowls.  Those are two things that haven't happened at Michigan in a long time.

Those facts befell a solid coach in Lloyd Carr and now they end the short stint of former West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez.

In 2007, Rodriguez and his breakthrough spread passing attack was the talk of college football, and would help to reshape the college football world. 

It's style enabled teams with undersized lines, to quickly pass and run the ball so that linemen didn't have to sustain blocks like a pro-style set.

It was different than the option because it involved more short passes and screens.  WVU rolled over opponents and was the clear-cut class of the Big East.  He made stars out of Pat White and Steve Slaton, and had the nation's sixth rated team.

They played the Fiesta Bowl that season, defeating Oklahoma shortly after Rodriguez announced he was leaving for U Mich.

At the time, Michigan considered Greg Schiano of upstart Rutgers, but seemed to have their guy to take them to the next level when  they nabbed Rodriguez from WVU.

That WVU team beat Oklahoma in that Fiesta Bowl and changed national perception of WVU and the Big East from a solid team and a bad BCS conference, to a national power and a conference to be respected. 

Rodriguez burned bridges at WVU with a lawsuit over a buyout clause of $4 million.

That all seemed secondary with Rodriguez at the helm at Michigan. 

The 2008 season was a time of transition for Michigan.  Ryan Mallett, a pro-style QB, didn't fit in Rodriguez's system and left the program for Arkansas.

Steven Threet played quarterback, but wasn't long for the program with the recruitment of Tate Forcier and the electric Denard Robinson.

With Robinson at the helm part-time in 2009 and full-time in 2010, the Rodriguez spread seemed to be in full force. 

The issue for Rodriguez was defense.  WVU's defense was always a struggle area, and an area other teams could attack, but it was never as disastrously bad as it was during this 2010 season.

For the most part, Michigan tried to outscore its opponents and did it enough times to win seven games and qualify for the Gator Bowl on New Year's day.

In the bowl game, Michigan was embarrassed by Mississippi State, who put up 52 points in the blowout. 

That seemed to be the last straw for the Rodriguez era. 

At WVU, a Gator Bowl is a pretty successful season, but the expectations are much higher for the Wolverines. 

The 2010 Michigan defense ranked an abysmal 112th in the nation, giving up an average 445 yards per game.

This season, Rodriguez was forced to start a bevvy of walk-ons such as Jordan Kovacz at safety, and freshman who were constantly out of position and struggled in tackling, particularly in the open field.

Greg Robinson coordinated this defense in 2009 and 2010, and could not scheme his way out of the inexperience and lack of talent he had on the defensive side of the ball.

Former OSU Buckeye Chris Spielman blasted the U of M defense, saying, "It's not for lack of trying. They have a scheme, but they can't execute the scheme, I'm not a big fan of the scheme because there are a lot of bubbles, areas to run. They're not gap sound. They make a lot of mental errors. I think some of it is youth, but some of it's got to be talent, right?"

Today, Fox 2 News out of Detroit is reporting the embattled coach is now out as head coach of the Wolverines as the university doesn't want to wait for the defense to fix itself.

The increased expectations were simply too much for Rodriguez to survive.

For Rodriguez in 2007, the grass was greener, or at-least "bluer" at Michigan, and his only concern was collecting money he believed he was owed.  He was one of the chief engineers of a spread offense that would forever change college football. 

Now, he must work his way back to coaching prominence.

One possible landing spot for Rodriguez would be Pitt; the other side of the backyard brawl.