Is Rich Rodriguez Mining to the Bottom?

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst INovember 21, 2008

I do not wonder what Rich Rodriguez has planned long term for the Michigan Wolverines. His blueprint was/is still running and throwing in Morgantown. He plans on running a high-tempo, spread offense that he hopes will revolutionize Big Ten football in the same way “Tiller’s basket on grass” once did.

But I do wonder about his approach to this particular season, specifically the peripheral, off-field issues. Simply put: from a public relations perspective, he has been a disaster. You do not have to be an elephant to remember all the poor media moments that Rich has endured since December 16, 2007.

It started with his inability to get his resignation date correct and went south from there. Next, Rodriguez was sued almost instantly upon his resignation, had defections to the NFL and an SEC team, an offensive lineman transferred to Michigan’s bitter rival for the first time, there was a little flap with ex-Wolverine Braylon Edwards, and now he told most of his fan base to “get a life.” Oh yeah, and his team is horrible.

Say what you want about Dick Rod, but you do not get hired by Michigan for being a complete idiot (unless you are Gary Moeller), which makes this cascade of negative publicity all the more curious when you think about it.

Is it just bad luck, deliberate manipulation of the system, or a combination of both? I am not saying that he orchestrated the above-mentioned incidents, but he certainly never did much to mitigate their impact. Occasionally, he seemed to stoke the fire.

Even the most optimistic Michigan fan believed this was going to be a challenging year. But, is Rodriguez riding that sentiment for all it's worth? Is he tearing down more than the football traditions in his first year? Is he purposefully ignoring Michigan protocol so, in a strange way, he can point to his later success as signs that he is turning the entire program around? Is his PR ineptitude actually awkward media savvy? In short, is he breaking down the entire program in order to place his mark on every single aspect? Is he trying to be the anti-Michigan Man?

Is this really necessary? Is it going to work? Or, am I making something out of nothing?