I just finished reading an article by Jim Litke (national AP writer) in the Chicago Tribune about R. Rodriguez and what it is to be a Michigan Man. (cf. http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-ap-fbc-jim-litke-090209,0,6515622.story
.) There is much I disagree with in the article. I do not believe that Rodriguez' job is in jeopardy. I don't believe that there is a paper trail of non-compliance leading back to Rodriquez. I don't believe that Rodriquez will be labeled as a cheater.
However, there is one section in his article with which I resonate. Litke writes,
Rich Rodriguez was never going to be "a Michigan man."
Not when he was hired, not when he cried after being accused of pushing his players too hard, not even if he wins nearly every game for as long as he lasts in the job.
That's not a slam on Rodriguez. No one in charge of a topflight major college football program anywhere else qualifies as "a Michigan man," either. The last one, Lloyd Carr, resigned at the end of the 2007 season, when he realized he could no longer be both. Trying to uphold a winning tradition while following both the letter and spirit of NCAA laws finally wore him out.
I think Litke is right. Carr, the Michigan Man, the man who read Kipling, who retired to travel and do other things, who is a personal friend of Russell Crowe, who required players to look up a new word in a dictionary, is a vestige of a past I loved, but which is no more.
Rodriguez came in, was brought in, to win. No more, but no less. Was I supportive of this move? Yes. Do I continue to be supportive? Yes. At the end of the day, I want Michigan to win. I want MY school to compete for the MNC. I choose Rodriguez, and 10&11&12 wins every year, over Carr and 7 or 8 or 9 wins every year.
However, the romantic and the elitist in me is saddened at the cost. I loved the idea of Coach Carr who read Newsweek and read books and was conversant in National Politics and listened to NPR and cared about his players, loved them, while still competing. I loved the idea that you could work hard, play hard, win, but still have a life. Those days, I think, are over. It's stupid to moon and pine over a lost past. But a small part of me died when Carr retired. Even Bo&Woody had life beyond the gridiron. Nowadays? I don't know.
I think this is why I was not thrilled by the "General Studies" brouhaha of a year or so ago. GS was one more sign that FB players were barely students, were largely segregated from the regular student body, so they could focus on their job of football, and not be bothered by homework and competition with the typical Michigan student.
In other words, I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want a coach like Carr, a well read Renaissance Man, a literate Michigan Man who is also a winner. Alas, this day has passed. Somehow, I wonder if this is what grieved Rosenberg. The reality is that we have entered a New World, and we can't go back home again. This world represented by Carr, by Bo, by Woody, is the past I mourn losing. I wonder if our team is now interchangable with Florida or Alabama or Florida State or USC. I always thought Michigan was "better." Not in terms of wins & losses, but in terms, somehow, of quality.
If there was a way to have it all, I would. But I don't think there is a way to have to all. So, we have Rodriguez, and hopefully, the boatload of wins that come along.