to play football, not to play trumpet
This post was inspired by Brian's mailbag analysis of Rod and Les Miles. In the end, this was just too long to post as a reply.
I can completely appreciate the nuts and bolts, on-the-field assessment of Rodriguez vis a vis Miles, but an important point is being missed.
Les is a Michigan man, legitimately. Had he have been signed, he's your coach for the next 15 years. His staff becomes an institution that draws recruits nationally in much the same way Paterno and Bowden do, year in and year out. He knows how to beat OSU. After Les retired from coaching, in A2, he'd have an office in the Hartwig Building like both Bo and Lloyd.
Rod, on the other hand, left his alma mater and his home state. His hometown acknowledged him on their welcome sign. At WVU he was king, his team competed in a BCS conference, and he earned a salary at or near the pinnacle for college coaches. If he left WVU and the situation he had there, how does that bode for us? Three valid scenarios are likely:
1. Rod is wildly successful. Think 9-3 next year, 11-1 the year after and we return to top ten rankings. Undergrads rejoice in face paint, suckers like me spring for tickets to the Rose Bowl collapse, and life in general is very good. An NFL team approaches Rod, and he delivers a shy smile as he's announced as Al Davis' next messiah. We flounder trying to find a coach who can manage a team built entirely around the spread offense. Case study: Bobby Petrino.
2. Rod is pretty successful. Think 8-4 next year, 9-3 the year after that and while we're in the rankings, there's a national expectation that we'll drop at least one big game a year and an outlier to a non-conference opponent (Welcome back to Ann Arbor, Oregon!). Life is still pretty good, and not unlike Lloyd's last few years. Rod holds U of M's feet to the fire to renegotiate his contract and Mary Sue and Martin cry poverty from a state bordering on economic depression. Rod gets a small salary premium from a big time program, a great endorsement deal, and he delivers a shy smile as he's announced as Florida's next messiah (Urban Meyer just took the deal with the Raiders from Scenario 1). We contemplate chugging arsenic trying to find a coach who can manage a team built entirely around the spread offense. Case study: a blast from the past for MSU fans, Nick Saban...and Rich Rodriguez.
3. Rod sucks. I mean he's truly awful and we struggle in 4-8 obscurity for two years. Undergrads are sober and read Kierkegaard in the stands during games, endowments are pulled and Indiana looks down on us in the Big 11 standings. The traditions pulled from the team by Rod now seem tiresome and he repeatedly reiterates his commitment to work hard for the team. Rod's canned six games into the season and Lloyd returns to finish the slate to a .500 finish, potentially finishing his swan song by beating OSU (although highly unlikely). Rod avoids eye contact with the cameras as he's introduced as Miami's (either one) offensive coordinator. We sincerely consider committing seppuku trying to find a coach who can manage a team built entirely around the spread offense. Case study: Bill Callahan.
The third scenario is, admittedly, extremely unlikely. But if Rod can bolt on dub-vay, he can and will plunge the knife deep on us. Scenarios 1 and 2 are highly likely. My brother, who lives in Morgantown, is still extremely bitter and probably won't speak to me after he gets the "all your coaches are belong to us" t-shirt for Christmas. It's ok to spend for talent, but you overpay for integrity and loyalty.
Three years in the history of Michigan Football is not an era, it's a hiccup. Standby for tabloid headlines two years from now...and a rough transition with Rod's successor.