Dave Brandon has been asked repeatedly about Rich Rodriguez’s status. He has given the same answer consistently: “I will evaluate the program after the bowl game.”
I cannot recall the last time a college football coach was fired after his bowl game. It has probably happened, but it is very rare. There are only 4-5 weeks between the bowl season and national signing day. That is too little time for a new coach to fill any holes in the class, to re-recruit the existing commits, and to replace any who bail out. Generally, if the coach is going to be fired, it is right after the regular season.
In the meantime, leaving Rodriguez’s status unclear makes it difficult to land any uncommitted recruits who are still considering Michigan, and it increases the likelihood that existing commits might waver. I cannot imagine that Brandon does not know this.
It therefore seems that the time to make a decision about Rodriguez is now. If Brandon wants him back in 2011, go ahead and say so. That, at least, will shore up the recruiting class. Other decisions (e.g., defensive coordinator) can wait. If he does not want Rodriguez back, fire him now, and get a replacement on board for the final two months of the recruiting season.
One scenario floating around the various message boards, is this: Brandon has already decided to fire Rodriguez, but he is waiting to make an announcement until he has a replacement lined up. That scenario also gives him the wiggle room to retain Rodriguez for another year if the coach he wants turns out to be unavailable.
The longer Brandon goes without explicitly saying that Rodriguez will be back, the more gossip there will be about his demise. Brandon must realize how poisonous these rumors are. If he does nothing to dispel them, you have to assume that he is quietly looking elsewhere. There is otherwise no good reason to wait.