Memo to Rich Rodriguez: Mediocrity Is Not Acceptable at Michigan

Keith SheltonAnalyst IOctober 6, 2008

1967. That is the last time a Michigan Wolverines team has started 2-3 or worse. 1967 was two years before Bo Schembechler arrived, and those Wolverines started 1-4. That was before the long streak of bowl games and winning seasons.

Now it might be in jeopardy again.

What happened? Michigan started the season with a loss to Utah, and the fans said "It's OK, it's just their first game with a new coach." The Wolverines played poorly and squeaked by Miami of Ohio, and the fans again gave Rodriguez a reprieve. They turned the ball over six times against Notre Dame, and we were disappointed but said Michigan was showing progress.

Michigan had a historic comeback last week against Wisconsin, but all memories of that are now erased as Juice Williams and Illinois dropped 45 points on Michigan in a 45-20 rout that was the biggest embarrassment for Michigan since Florida State in 1991.

Enough is enough. The honeymoon is now over Rich. We cut you a break at first, but now you're putting Michigan's winning tradition and reputation in jeopardy. Even a first year coach with a young team can't be doing that.

Think about it: 2-3 after five games. Lightly regarded Minnesota is 5-1. Perennial doormat Northwestern is 5-0. Neither team is ranked.

Michigan may just do the unthinkable and go an entire season without being ranked in either poll, something that hasn't happened in nearly half a century.

Looking at this objectively, Michigan has a decent shot at getting back to .500 against Toledo next week. It's not a gimme though. Toledo took then-No. 25 Fresno State to two overtimes. After the Toledo game, there is no easy opponent.

Michigan will need at least three more wins against Big Ten opponents to keep the bowl streak intact, and they will need four wins against the Big Ten to keep the winning record streak intact.

When this season started, we didn't expect immediate greatness, but Michigan fans had bare minimum requirements. You guessed it: Keep the bowl streak and winning record streaks intact at bare minimum.

This isn't West Virginia, where Rodriguez was given a mulligan after a 3-8 first season. Michigan isn't Notre Dame, or Nebraska, or Miami, where greatness only comes in streaks once every couple decades. Michigan has been college football's ONLY model of consistency.

As sure as death and taxes, we have come to expect that Michigan will always play in a bowl game.

I hope Rich Rodriguez realizes that, because if he doesn't get Michigan to at least 6-6 with a bowl game win or 7-5 and a bowl game loss, he should unquestionably be fired. You can say I'm being too harsh, but he knew the standard when he signed on to coach Michigan. Destroying two streaks that have stood for over 40 years gets you a kick out the door.

Hey, I like Rich Rodriguez. I know he understands that a 2-3 record and a 45-20 loss to Illinois are not acceptable. Just watch his press conferences. He's visibly angry and frustrated. He's not used to losing, and he knows and welcomes the pressure that comes with coaching at Michigan.

He has to do whatever it takes to turn this season around. Be inventive, maybe replace some of those true and redshirt freshman starters with more experienced players. Whatever it takes, Rich.

We'll grit our teeth and bear a subpar season by Michigan standards, but we won't stand for a losing record. The fans must demand stability and consistency. We can't accept mediocrity any longer.

May this season end well for both parties—coach and fans alike.