spoiler alert: i linked this
I've also been a fan of the Rodriguez hiring. I still remember how excited I was when I checked my Blackberry on a train from New York to Washington on a Saturday afternoon and the Rodriguez rumors had hit the web. I also don't blame him -- much -- for last year's 3-9 season.
All that said, I think the turn in events makes it unlikely this hiring will turn out happily in the long term. I believe it will end in one of two ways: Michigan will go 5-7, 6-6 and 7-5 and the fan base will turn on Rodriguez; or Michigan will go 9-3 and Rodriguez will say I can coach just about anywhere so why do I need this crap and decide to start over somewhere else.
One of my responsibilities in my job is to act as an ethics advisor for a government agency. I regularly brief senior executives who join the agency about the ethics rules. For the most part, they are compliance rules -- don't work on things in which you have a financial interest, don't accept expensive lunches or gifts, etc. I also, however, talk about the infamous "Washington Post" test. Essentially there are a lot of things one does that are perfectly legal but have an appearance of not being kosher. If the Post -- or the Times or CNN -- get wind of the issue, the initial story is on page 1. When the story fails to pan out, it winds up on page B19. Everyone sees the first story; no one sees the exoneration.
So how does that impact the current situation. Well we all know the initial story is on page 1. The exoneration may come, but do you think the Freep is going to put it on page 1. Do you think ESPN is even going to run stories saying that nothing came of the allegations.
I'm not sure exactly how it came about but Rodriguez has done things to make himself a target. Perhaps it's jealousy. Perhaps it's that Rodriguez is a little arrogant. Perhaps he failed to kiss a couple of asses early on. But, whatever the issue, there's an issue. Once that happens, you have to be squeaky clean, or the first inkling of an issue will make it to page 1 and that appears to have happened here.
The fact that Rodriguez is doing exactly what 100+ other coaches is doing is irrelevant. No one else cares.
There may be some things that can rescue the situation. Perhaps the most likely is that I'm wrong about Rodriguez taking a hike. Hopefully his skin is a lot thicker than most people's and that that 9-3 season will not only quiet the critics but make him satisfied with his lot in Ann Arbor. Other scenarios are some of his brethren coming to his defense. We're not fans of Jim Tressel or Kirk Ferentz, but if they were to come out and say we've seen the stories and don't think there's a story, that would help immensely. Someone in the MSM could do some investigation of Rosenberg and totally destroy his story. If that were to happen soon, that too could lead to a favorable end to the story. I am, however, not optimistic and that makes me a little depressed at a time when I -- we -- should be looking forward to a season of redemption.