Give the Rich Rodriguez Era Time to Take Shape

Ryan Senior Writer IOctober 17, 2008

After reading an article by one of the more prestigious writers in the college football section, I felt compelled to write this.

People seem to be misinformed or just ignorant about what's going on with the program. People are proclaiming this to be the end of Michigan as a powerhouse, that things will never be better, and that Rich Rodriguez is getting his just desserts.

You all are way off base.

While there's no denying the terrible 2-4 start and the probability that this team will end up 2-10, missing its first bowl game in 33 years, things aren't that bad. I know, it sounds insane, but just read what I have to say before I get the nasty comments.

First of all, you people need to stop harping about the fallout with West Virginia. It's simple what went down, but everyone buys into the "Rich Rodriguez is an evil snake oil salesman" garbage. While negotiating to come to Michigan, Rodriguez had a clause added stating that Michigan would pay $2.5 million of the $4 million buyout.

Now, why would a guy who already has most of the bill paid for try to fight his old school, dragging his new school's name in the mud? He didn't. It's painfully obvious what the case was here.

Earlier in 2007, Michigan had hired West Virginia's basketball coach, John Beilein.  Beilein had a $2.5 million buyout clause in his contract.  But after reaching a settlement, Michigan managed to knock $1 million off that.

So with Rodriguez, Michigan tried to do the same thing. When it realized that the buyout was $4 million and not budging, they dropped the case and paid the $2.5 million. It's really that simple.

Another thing that seems to be brought up a lot is the system Rodriguez runs. It's obvious the spread, or this incarnation, isn't working. The common question is, "Why not run a more pro-style offense?"

Why on earth would you hire a guy who knows a great deal about one offense and then ask him to run another he knows little to nothing about? Rodriguez has even stated this. Instead of forcing an offense he doesn't know, why not install his offense, deal with the growing pains, and have a young group who knows the offense next year?

A key example here is the situation at Auburn. They hired spread guru Tony Franklin to come in and run their offense. What they did wrong was allowing him to only partially install it and kept their pro-style sets "just in case," which wasn't exactly Franklin's forte. The results have been miserable, and Franklin is without a job.

Where's the upside to this again?

The failing offense has of course been a major factor in the 2-4 start so far.  But what's not talked about is the fact that Michigan's fumblitis isn't something Rodriguez can handle.

A majority of them have either been muffed kick returns, Threet fumbling for no apparent reason, or Threet throwing eight feet behind running backs on screens. There is only so much you can do.

Along with the 2-4 start have come questions about whether Rodriguez should already be on the hot seat.

Let me answer that one: NO.

The guy has six games under his belt with an offensive line that couldn't handle any offense, let alone a brand new one.  He's got a quarterback who isn't very mobile and can't hit the broad side of a barn if you asked him to, along with a backup who is mobile, but whose every pass longer than 10 yards is a terrible, horrible nightmare. Not to mention injuries have been gutting the team since the start.

He could finish 2-10 and retain my confidence—and he should have the confidence of every Michigan fan for several reasons. His track record is a good starter. He built a mediocre program into a national power with mostly three-star or less recruits. At Michigan, he doesn't have to settle for seventh or eighth choices.

His recruiting is another reason. Michigan has had a rough year, yet he still has 18 commits and one of the top 10 classes to date. He's filling in the pieces he needs to run his team, and he's recruiting from places Lloyd didn't dare to.

In short, he's getting the guys he needs, so that snake oil must be good. Or the wizard hat is powerful. Whichever.

The most important thing, as witnessed in the offseason, is he only wants guys who are going to play their asses off. Which is where Justin Boren comes in.

All of what I'm about to say is about as strong as Boren's claim that family values were diminishing at Michigan.

Boren made those claims, bad-mouthing the program on his way out the door. However, the real reason for his departure is that Rodriguez came in and basically said everyone, including guys slated to start, would have to earn their place on the team. This didn't sit well with Boren, so he walked.

Funny—when standout defensive tackle Terrance Taylor was given this choice, he got in the best shape of his life and has been a force.

Besides, shouldn't it say more when 99 players stayed rather than just the one who left?

I understand that you are all not fans of Michigan or Rodriguez, but the unfounded bashing is to a ridiculous point.

He's done what he can with round pegs and square blocks.  He's set himself up well for the future and has shown a willingness to make adjustments and move away from something that isn't working.

Continuing to bash him for the WVU situation is a joke as well.  Think a bit before proclaiming him to be a greedy, evil coach who left for greener pastures. There's more to everything than meets the eye.

For now, as a Michigan fan, I'm just trying to endure this hellacious season, because I know the future is promising and things will be better.


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