Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez Coaches Last Game for Wolverines01.01.11
I’ve argued in favor of keeping Michigan football head coach Rich Rodriguez around for another year, but nothing I can say will help him now. He’s just coached his last game for the Wolverines.
You can’t get embarrassed on a national stage, losing by 38 points to a solid-not-great Mississippi State squad, after three years of record-breaking futility for the winningest program in college football history and expect to keep your job. And since Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has stayed mum on whether or not he’d be keeping RichRod around for another season, it seems highly unlikely that, based on this performance, he’d be swayed in his favor.
The one thing going for RichRod all year has been the potent offense – namely: Denard Robinson. Unfortunately, one player doesn’t make up for 10-plus ineffective (Mike Martin has been solid when healthy) guys on defense who would have trouble stopping a pee-wee team if given the challenge. That and special teams killed our season.
Although, us RichRod apologists can’t even point at the offense to save his job anymore, either. The last two games have shown an out-of-sync offense that only put up a combined 21 points while their opponents racked up an unbelievable 89 ticks on the scoreboard. Granted, they’ve had unrealistic expectations since they’ve known they needed to score a touchdown on every single position to even have a chance in every game given the pathetic display by the defense. Still: it’s not going to cut it.
But those things can be remedied. Even those who can’t stand RichRod and haven’t from the start know that those are fixable issues. If we had gotten one kicker (should be easier than UM has made it seem), senior cornerbacks Troy Woolfolk doesn’t get injured in the beginning of the season and Donovan Warren doesn’t leave early for the NFL, and we’ve got a vastly different scenario.
That’s not the issue.
The issue is that there’s no confidence in Rodriguez and his program anymore. People have been calling for his head for nearly all of the barely 36 months that he’s been coach. Hallowed former Michigan players like Desmond Howard aren’t even all-in on the coach. Judging on just Rodriguez’s own body language over the weeks, I don’t even know how much confidence he even has anymore in himself and the program.
While I’ve been in favor of giving Rodriguez one more year to build on the success that he’s made every consecutive year in rebuilding the Michigan program virtually from the ground up, I have to concede that another year won’t matter. Not that he doesn’t have the talent to coach a winning program; he’s proven he can do that at West Virginia University. But in the current environment, after all of the negativity surrounding the Wolverines over the past three years, with the insanely minute scrutiny that Rodriguez and his coaches and players would have on them (even more so than an average Michigan squad), it would take a miracle to sooth the naysayers.
Even then, I’m not sure that would be enough.
And so, the Rodriguez era ends with a 7-6 record in a calamitous loss to an SEC team that the Wolverines made look like national title contenders. I suppose it’s for the best: now there’s not even a decision to be made on Rodriguez’s fate for Brandon. It’s been made for him.
Which leaves the next decision up to him: who will be Michigan’s next head coach? If you listen to the sports pundits across the board, it will most likely be either Stanford head coach San Diego State University head coach – both Michigan men who have had run strong programs at non-traditional schools. And that just might be the missing component that Rich Rodriguez would never be able to fix.or
Let’s see if it’s enough to bring Michigan back into national contention. As a huge Wolverines fan, I can only hope so.
Image courtesy of One Raised Eyebrow’s Flickr Photostream.