Rich Rodriguez had plenty of time to work on his "I am not Satan" talking points over the summer, since there was a 75% chance that any question he fielded was about 1) West Virginia, 2) Justin Boren, or 3) the squawking lawsuit kerfuffle. By the time Big Ten Media Days rolled around he had them down to a science: I just changed jobs. Everyone focuses on the one guy who left instead of the 99 who stayed. I can't talk about that because it's a lawsuit.
Meanwhile, various parties in the media incensed that Rodriguez either wasn't West Virginia's coach (WVU honks), was Michigan's coach (ND, MSU, OSU honks), or wasn't Bo Schembechler (Mike Rosenberg and others in the Detroit media) spent the summer decrying Rodriguez's selfish decision to forge ahead with the lawsuit at Michigan's expense.
A typical passage, this from Rosenberg:
This whole thing could have, and should have, been settled long ago. But RichRod was determined to fight West Virginia all the way to the bitter end. Anybody who has even driven past a law school knew he had no case, but that didn't matter to Rodriguez.
Martin should have told Rodriguez that this whole ordeal was embarrassing the university, and that the case was a lost cause. But Martin's legacy is in Rodriguez's hands, so he let his coach do whatever he wanted.
Even at the time this passage was transparent bunk, since the articles about Michigan's decision to settle plainly stated that Michigan had agreed to handle most of the buyout. Now thanks to an article in the Ann Arbor Observer and MVictors, we know the extent of that agreement:
“We’ve seen an email that went from [Rodriguez’s] financial advisor, Mike Wilcox, to athletic director Martin on December fifteenth, 2007, confirming a conversation they’d had earlier that day,” he says. “I believe it was cc’ed to Mary Sue Coleman. It said that the liquidated damages clause with West Virginia was a huge issue, and that the U of M had agreed that they were going to be responsible for I think it was seventy-five percent of the buyout, up to 2.5 million dollars.” The email was sent one day after the Toledo meeting that led to Rodriguez’s hiring.
The rest of the excerpted passage discusses Michigan's extreme reluctance to allow that agreement to find its way into the light, as knowledge of its existence would trash their case. They lost that battle and immediately settled.
- The Michigan AD is on the hook for 75% of the buyout and successfully fought a portion of the exact same clause in John Beilein's contract.
- As soon as Michigan realizes they can't win the case, they settle.
Somehow this adds up to "Rodriguez forced this lawsuit on the athletic department" and is worthy of condemnation because of the negative publicity associated with it.
Anyone who espouses this line of reasoning is either ignorant of the particulars or is so far around the bend on Rich Rodriguez that they should be ignored.
Meanwhile in Morgantown, Rich Rodriguez's problems with the West Virginia athletic department and administration become more understandable by the day:
These people are &#$@ing amateurs.