Moon Disaster

Submitted by Brian on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 PM

1/1/2010 – Michigan 14, Mississippi State 52 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten

Amongst the many many things posted over the weekend that could have been posted at any time in the last three years was one odd bit of history that's apropos: a letter drafted for Nixon to read in the event that Neal Armstrong and company were to die on the moon because the lander wouldn't leave.

moon-disaster

Men in charge of things make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions even if they result in reading the thing William Safire wrote for you about two men watching at their oxygen gauges count down in an airless wasteland.

Back in the summer of 2008, when we were a happy-go-lucky band of mountain yodelers with flowers in our pockets and caviar dreams, I finished up that year's preview with that picture of Don Canham staring down a thicket of microphones as Bump Elliott searched for a sandwich and Bo exuded his Bo-like confidence. I've referred to it ever since, and here it is again:

bobumpdon_thumb

Lives were not literally at stake above, but even so it's hard to imagine Nixon adopting an expression that more perfectly sums up the feeling of someone who's made a big decision and now has to watch someone else execute. At the end of that post this is what I said:

We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.

The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.

I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.

I don't think it has. A game somewhere around expectations would not have moved the needle enough for slight support for Rich Rodriguez to morph into a call for firing, but I turned the game off before the third quarter was over and when I felt remorse and turned it back on a few minutes later Mississippi State had put up another touchdown. It was not around expectations, except in the ways that it was by not being around expectations in a depressing direction. Before the season I thought 7-5 would do it but now at 7-6 with every loss a blowout and three of the wins last-drive nailbiters, Michigan's progress seems minimal at best. But for the opening week, this is the worst seven-win season imaginable.

If I'm slotting Rich Rodriguez into the picture above he's on the right, and it's time to look for the guy on the left again.

Coaching Bits

On the likelihood of a change. Still nothing definitive but everything that enters the inbox adds to the circumstantial pile of evidence suggesting we're done. If Harbaugh escapes Michigan's clutches Michigan is in a bad spot because of the "process" and how much time it's left them in the event they do not immediately transition to a new coach, but having no serious options other than Rodriguez is probably the only scenario in which we don't see a change.

As to when, Tom says he's hearing there's a team meeting tomorrow at 7 PM that was scheduled before the bowl game. If that's now be a wake we'll hear about it soon after. There are unconfirmed third hand reports about coaches saying goodbye, which could mean anything from the obvious canning of Greg Robinson to a wholesale broom.

Also, while some players have been publicly supportive, a lot of parents have jumped ship and have met with Brandon expressing frustration at goings-on on the defense. Some players may have been "lost" by the bowl debacle as well.

On recent Harbaugh panic. The Big Lead probably doesn't know shit and even if he turns out right he got lucky because he's just randomly saying things people email him without even a cursory check. However, Adam Schefter is serious business and this is foreboding:

Schefter on ESPN: "Now, there is a real feeling around the league (Harbaugh) would prefer be in the NFL."

On the other hand, "a real feeling" is far from definitive and Schefter was just reporting that Harbaugh was leaning towards Michigan with the same strength—coaching change stuff is "fluid," and by fluid people mean "batshit."

On Brady Hoke. "Not an option."

On Plan B. The Plan B name in the event Harbaugh escapes is probably Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald actually makes quite a bit of sense as a young guy with a spotless media profile who runs a spread offense Denard would feel at home in. He hasn't put together a monster team or anything but recovered from a shaky start in the aftermath of Randy Walker's death to go 9-4, 8-5, and 7-6. Not exactly Harbaugh and another guy who'd be leaving his alma mater for greener pastures, but Michigan is not in a great spot right now.

Comments

OregonWolverine

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:10 PM ^

Like Brian, this last game flipped me from "one more year" to "yeah, it's probably time to change". For the first time, I found myself wondering if RichRod is really up to the task. A blocked punt, a batch of dropped passes, numerous substitution and alignment issues on D, a general lack of in-game adjustments. It looked like you would expect from the first game of the year, not the last.

But change for the sake of change is not going to cut it (just ask Notre Dame). The next coach will inherit a defense which is at least a year from approaching anything like good, and an offense filled with skill players recruited for, and coached on, the spread scheme. On top of that, there are serious recruiting issues, a critical local press, alumni who span the gamut from restless to raging, and an unsentimental, hard ass AD. It's going to take a strong personality, healthy ego, and a substantial reservoir of credibility to succeed in that environment. Harbaugh qualifies on all counts. Brian brings up Fitzgerald; that's the only other name I've heard that sounds even remotely plausible, but I think even he is quite a stretch in these circumstances.

Bronco648

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

Fitz is intriguing but I have a hard time believing he'd leave his Alma Mater (for another school within the same B1G division).  I have to think DB has a plan in place and those plans are already in motion (which is nothing we don't already know).

macdaddy

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

Please just let it be over. I can't eat, sleep or work. And I'm just a fan. I can't imagine what RR, DB or JH are going through. This definitely needs to not happen again for another 40 years. My younger kid actually thinks Michigan has always been a so-so team because he doesn't know any better. Pray to the deity of your choice that DB can land JH. I totally respect Fitz and I think Hoke and Patterson are pretty good coaches but, man, anything other than JH and there are going to be a LOT of disappointed M fans. Until we start winning of course then it will be double rainbows for everyone.

blueheron

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:17 PM ^

If it's true that Athletic Department factotums are keeping the Brady Hoke idea alive through rumors, etc., I'd love to know who they are.

- - -

It has been a flashback to early childhood for me.  There was a mean (and fat) older kid on my bus that picked on pretty much all the younger kids.  (I wasn't singled out for abuse or anything.)  One warm day he wasn't at his stop on time and the bus, after doing a rolling stop, continued down the road.  The fat kid (who had some impressive wheels) took off after the bus, but the driver didn't see him and many of the kids (especially the little ones) got a great laugh at his expense.

We were nervous, though, because if the bus had stopped he would've been charged up and maybe in a worse mood than usual.  Who knows?

- - -

Anyway, this Hoke nonsense has reminded me of that incident.  I'd like to laugh at the idea that Brandon would panic and hire him, but I'm too nervous to do so.

Crime Reporter

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:17 PM ^

DB needs to land a big name to rally the troops and I think JH has what it takes to bring us back from the edge and generate excitement in luxury boxes sales, recruiting, etc.

At this point, I think RR is gone no matter what. The outrage would be too loud if he were retained, even if wholesale coaching changes were made. It sucks, but sweeping change is coming for better or worse.

ThWard

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:17 PM ^

Told you so attitude from those that were against RR.  Brian's backed RichRod with stats and history- others attacked RichRod with narrative.  I'll side with Brian's process any day of the week.

As John Maynard Keynes said, "when the facts change, I change my mind.  What do you do, sir?"

 

I'm bummed RichRod hasn't worked out.  But I've seen enough to think change would be best.

 

CRex

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:25 PM ^

Neither side was a saint in this.  There was a time when speaking out against RR meant insta neg bombing and mocking.  There were a lot of ugly knife fights started by partisans on both sides.

As for stats, the anti-RR had plenty to deploy from the defensive side of the ball, transfers and special teams.

Personally I'd rather have been wrong about RR.  I'd rather have to swallow my pride and admit he was the right fit for Michigan than watch that Bowl game again.  It's a shitty feeling to have to sit there thinking "This is going to be a clusterfuck" and an even worse feeling when it comes to pass.

M-Wolverine

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

Like "fit".  If he had "fit" here, we'd be winning.  Fit doesn't mean "har har Michigan Man not Southern Guy"...it means something that actually works. This hasn't.

And man, the way people can't admit that in the safety of Brian's lead, that anyone who had any questions about the product on the football field was free game to trash, verbally or by points, and the dumbest positive things got shot up. Hell, there's a whole thread right now for a keep Rich Rod pos-bang circle jerk.

Brian doesn't think it's working anymore. Right here. This post. On his own blog. When does everyone else at least come to the conclusion that even if he's not right, everyone else who has said it, or is saying it, isn't crazy anymore.  You can still think Rich is the answer. Because you may be right. No one can see the future.  But the evidence is getting really tiny, and the excuses are out the window.  And there are very few indicators it's not tilting at windmills anymore anyway. It's like someone saying "FIRE HIM" after the first year. Wasn't going to happen. Why waste your breath?

jmblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:12 PM ^

Glad you survived the neg bombing and mocking.  It must have been terrible.

Here's what you're missing: those of us who post now used to be RR defenders - because the people who hated him at the outset were banned/negbombed long ago.  We defended him until the evidence that it wasn't going to work out became clear.  If he's lost us, he doesn't have much support left.

rlew

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

I don't think I'm missing anything. You're suggesting you came to this realization that it wasn't going to work out sometime after the nutjobs who said he wasn't a fit from the beginning?  Was that after the 2008 season?  2009?  This year?

I don't really care.  And, I think you've got the idea that I have a certain opinion on when/whether he should be fired.  The truth is, I'm there now, but I was on the fence before the bowl game and after OSU.  I think I've come to that conclusion thoughtfully and don't regret anything.  I just find it funny that people are seriously claiming it was so horrific to have been on one side or the other because of things like mgopoints.

Kilgore Trout

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

I think this will be an interesting media experiment.  I've been following this pretty closely, and I don't think I've seen Fitzgerald's name mentioned anywhere in any sort of seriousness.  The interesting thing will be to now see who out there reads this blog and uses it as potential source material.  I'd be willing to bet Fitzgerald suddenly starts being mentioned a lot in the MSM. 

J. Lichty

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:35 PM ^

because of his chicago-irish roots I guess, but he made clear that he was not leaving NW.

Not sure what we bring to the table that ND didn't. 

Fitzgerald is staying where he is.

readyourguard

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

Does anyone really think Pat Fitzgerald would leave his beloved alma mater for another conference team?

I still think that's taboo in the coaching world.  There's usually a stop in between.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but there can't be too many examples of coaches going DIRECTLY from one conference school to the next.

Besides, Fitz's blood is purple and he'll be buried in a NU coffin.  Next.

lhglrkwg

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

it pains me to see richrod all but out the door. i was certain we were going to laugh at all the nay-sayers one day as richrod finished obliterating tOSU 50-0 for the 2nd straight year. i feel like i am personally invested in richrods success, not just michigans. now all the 14 yr d-bags on mlive will say they were right all along. it hurts

harmon98

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

The Moon Disaster metaphor is apropos if Armstrong (Rodriguez) was sent to the moon with a leaky spacesuit and a half tank of oxygen. 

RR caught just about every bad break there was to catch.  His stubbornness only managed to excacerbate those breaks.

The signal-to-noise ratio on the internets is godawful and will be until we tee it up with WMU 9/13/2011.

To Dave Brandon:  Pull a Mr. Miyagi and slap your pimp hands together, rub them together with alacrity, then apply a heaping portion of healing to the program.  KTHNX

Go Blue!

shorts

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:30 PM ^

I second the questions above:

1) Is Hoke "not an option" because somebody actually said that (hence the quote marks), or is that just an opinion?

2) When you say players have been "lost," are you referring to recruits such as Dee Hart and Anthony Zettel, or are there players who might actually transfer if RichRod is retained?

3) Is there any evidence/support for Fitzgerald, or is that just a hunch? Seems like that must have come from somewhere since there's been no prior reference that any of us are aware of.

UM4ME

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:03 PM ^

While I like Fitzgerald, I would suggest he place a quick phone call to one Rich Rodriguez before entertaining any thoughts about Michigan. He's a Northwestern alum, he has done well there and is well liked there. Sounds a little like Coach Rod, circa 2007. I would venture to guess that in that phone call, Coach Rod might say something like, well, the grass is not always greener. Plus, he's not a Michigan Man so there goes that  ...

 

MileHighWolverine

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

In order of preference:

1) JH - for the obvious shot in the arm for the program and the fact that he is a good coach

2) RR - If no, JH, I think we need to give him 1 more year so that his guys are at least Juniors

3) LM - The Mad Hatter would be a ok with me...good defense, has a run a spread and the over signing issue can be corrected, and I think would be, if he came to UM.

michgoblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

I don't see how RR can be considered option #2, 3, 4 or 100 at this point.  Putting aside the on-the-field performance that Michigan has put forth under his watch, the media circus surrounding his "hot seat" has eclipsed the program.  During the Gator Bowl, there was no talk about individual players, Michigan's winning tradition, NFL prospects or a team on the rise.  All that the coverage focused on is RR's job status.  Part of this is DB's fault, but the fact is that we have had a coach on the hot seat for 3 years.  Our program has taken a huge hit.  We cannot stand a 4th year of this. 

Yes, RR caught a lot of bad breaks.  And he made a lot of bad choices.  But at this point, what is in the past is in the past.  We need to plot the best course forward and I do not see how this happens with RR at the helm.

KBLOW

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

What becomes of the fabled pimp hand if Brandon can't land JH or an equally prestigious coach? 

He'll have blown the biggest assignment of his AD-ship...at least in the short term. Of course, if a second tier coach picked by the AD ends up being the next big thing then Brandon will go down in history as a genius. I guess will know in a few years.

joeyb

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

How can Brady Hoke be "not an option",  but Pat Fitzgerald is Plan B? What has Pat Fitzgerald done that even brings him close to being an option other than coaching a middle of the pack Big Ten team? Why don't we throw out Zook as an option too? At least he has shown he can recruit.

I was against Hoke until I looked at his resume a bit closer. He's a defensive-minded coach that runs the spread. SDSU lost 4 games by 5 points or less this year. 3 were on the road. 3 were against teams finishing in the top20. That's in his second year. Pat Fitzgerald just finished his 5th year with the same record as us and 2 more losses than Hoke.

I'm not arguing for either one to be our coach next year, but if we are talking about which of these coaches we'd rather have next year, I don't see how you can pick Fitzgerald over Hoke.

SFBlue

January 3rd, 2011 at 4:35 PM ^

Fitzgerald has coached a BCS conference team, and made N'W solid despite getting just about the worst recruiting classes in the Big Ten, consistently, due in large part to N'W's admission's standards; his teams overachieve.  He also runs the spread, which fits the incumbent offensive system.   (Zook and Fitz provide a contrast: Zook gets better players, but Fitz accomplishes more.)

Section 1

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:50 PM ^

The "FIRE RICHROD!" mob has taken us to the place where we are pining for Pat Fitzgerald or, like, maybe Brady Hoke.  That is if we can't get Harbaugh, because, like, there is that awesome video when Harbaugh was BO'S QB, DUDE!  HE HAD SWAGGER, DUDE!

Just asking -- I wasn't among this group -- but wasn't the considered wisdom that Jim Harbaugh was a very special case, basically the only coach in the Universe who warranted the extraordinary early-termination of Coach Rodriguez?  Wasn't that the view of people who were neither Harbaugh fanboys, nor RR-haters?  Serious people.  Like, say, Brian Cook?  That if it wasn't going to be Harbaugh, that the overwhelming commonsense was to keep Coach Rodriguez, and get All In with Coach Rodriguez.  Not that I am using this thread to insist on that; just saying that like about seven days ago, that's what people like Brian were thinking?  Right?

What an embarassing frenzy this is right now.  The press is LOVING this.

stubob

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

I just worry that, whatever happens, that the next coach will hear the "We Want Harbaugh" drums as loudly and as often as RichRod did. As someone pointed out, that kind of behavior turns us into Notre Dame. Holtz is the only coach since Parseghian to coach more than 5 years. So while I understand the need to get "the right guy" in place, the program needs time to stabilize in order for recruits to feel that the program will be there for them. That's what it takes to establish a dynasty.

I also think that competing against the SEC is a no-win situation. The coach can't compete against them on equal footing, or the media/alumni would berate the handling of the students, but you have to do as much as the NCAA will allow or the media/alumni will berate you for not winning national championships. How many of you would happily go 8-4 forever with The Next Lloyd Carr, and how many would yell and scream that we're not winning the big one?

So even though I still think RichRod is one of the best young coaches out there, the mob has spoken (and likely the wealthy alumni that DB has to listen to), and he's out. C'est la vie.

TrueBlue2003

January 4th, 2011 at 3:21 AM ^

...who wouldn't want him?  Lloyd averaged better than a 9-3 record in his 13 seasons.  Only 3 times did he win less than 9 games (and two of those years were 11 game seasons).   His WORST Big Ten record was 5-3. Just one fewer win than we had in the last THREE YEARS COMBINED.

And his last two years he averaged ten wins and missed out on the Nat'l championship by three points on the road so it's not like he was losing anything, as is the conventional wisdom around here.

This isn't exactly directed at the poster I responded to, just the fan base as a whole.

Can we all take this as a lesson in expectations?  It's tough to win as consistently as Lloyd did, especially to win honestly.  I would hope people will now appreciate if we win big ten titles every other year and seriously make a run at the nat'l championship once or twice a decade.  By far the best coaches in the last decade were Meyer, Stoops, Tressel, Saban and Carrol.  Only two of those guys have managed to win more titles than Lloyd and one does it through shady means. All of them have geographic recruiting advantages over Michigan (save maybe for Stoops).  There are a whole lot of teams out there competing, it's tough to be #1 every year.  Please give me another Lloyd.

Sobinator

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

I remember when Rodriguez was hired.  I was so happy that we would be blowing out the teams we were supposed to be blowing out.  We were going to become Oregon in the Big Ten.  Point a minute, spread and shread, it was gonna be awesome. Domination again.

Three years later and we are in no man's land.

I am mostly saddened by where we are today.

Lot's of blame to go around. Ultimately Mr.Rodriguez is responsible, but I really don't think he ever had a chance.  Too many things went against him.  I really hope he succeeds wherever he lands.

Next week, we start anew. Hopefully this time, we get the square peg for the square hole, and in three years we are talking about B1G championships instead of this crap.

Princetonwolverine

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

Let's suppose DB keeps RR. If next season is like this one then not only RR's but DB's job security will be at risk. I can only fathom the chorus of anger from alums etc.

This is an easy decision for DB. The numbers do not lie. DB has to be concerned about his own legacy and job security.

Failure in 2011-12 would be blamed squarely on DB.

Wolverine In Exile

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

While I don't want Hoke, a lot of people (Brian included) have just deemed Hoke a non-starter. I think joeyb has the right read here.. stack up the resumes side by side with no names and Hoke vs. Fitz is a toss-up. The one thing i'd give Fitz credit in is that after Walker's death, that program was teetering on the edge of returning to an abyss and he has stablized it into one of the B1G's consistent programs, NW's caveats applying.

I think Hoke is wrongly getting nabbed as a "legacy Carr next DeBord err look at him he's fat and dumpy". He has shown himself to be a capable Div I head coach, at least at the mid major level. He's fielded capable offenses, including spread varieties with a mobile QB (Nathan Davis @ Ball St) If Hoke had his resume today 4 years ago, he'd be considered probably a decent fall back option in that he'd likely be able to continue the Bo/Mo/Carr tenure.. maybe not to national championship levels, but consistent B1G title contender, yeah, I think a reasonable man would say that. At Ball St, Hoke had basically one Michigan hold over with him, Stan Parrish. Scanning through Hoke's coaching list at San Diego St, there's no old boy Michigan network (or much Ball St holdovers), showing me he knows how to put together a staff, not just relying on the same group of guys.

Problem is we're at the point where we couldn't take a chance, we need a "sure fire" thing, and right now the closest thing to that at least in terms of psychologically bandaging the fan base and placating the media, is the guy that guaranteed (and fullfilled the prophecy) a win against Ohio St his senior year. It's questionable whether Brady Hoke would be able to handle the media scrutiny, whereas with harbaugh we have a long history of him being able to handle the media (including when he was the high profile QB of multiple Super Bowl contending NFL teams). That's not X & O coaching, but that's perception management and that counts for something in thsi situation.

40 years ago, a brash AD took a chance on a mid-major coach who came from a demonstrated, winning coaching tree at a traditional powerhouse school, who understood Michigan's history and how it can be a benefit, and who built a brief but successful resume on his own. Am I saying Hoke is the next Schembechler? No way. Am I a Hoke supporter? No, but if you ask me objectively who fits that Camham / Bo / RR photo the best in terms of parallels at the time, it's probably Hoke in Bo's seat, not Harbaugh.

zlionsfan

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:44 PM ^

Hoke put up mediocre numbers at Ball State with the exception of one season: they rode a weak schedule into the MAC title game, which they lost, and then after Hoke's departure the Cardinals were wiped out by an average Tulsa team. In two seasons in a tougher non-AQ conference, he's done OK so far, but nothing special yet: losing to the tough teams on your schedule isn't exactly something you can put on your resume.

Fitzgerald's not winning that many more games, but he has a higher winning percentage, and he's doing so in an AQ conference at a school with serious academic standards. Plus they beat Wisconsin last year ... at least he has one decent win.

I'm not trying to suggest that Fitzgerald's clearly a better candidate (I feel he is, but don't feel there's concrete evidence to support that), just that I don't think Hoke is an equal candidate based on his resume.

Huntington Wolverine

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:52 PM ^

Even if DB has his man in JH or whomever, doesn't Michigan have to at least appear to have some semblance of a search including minority candidates?  How can he accomplish that in this narrow window before NSD?

That's one thing that leads me to think RR stays at least one more year.

Wolverine In Exile

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

and Michigan is probably one of the few schools that could get away without considering a minority candidate considering:

1) we had multiple minority HC's in basketball the past few years

2) Rodriguez is a minority by definition, and our DC before him was black, so unless you monochromatically read "minority candidate" as a black guy only...

3) Michigan has a well earned rep as being a positive place for minorities of all types, so there's no artificial requirement to show you're "inclusive" as the lexicon goes these days in this (potential) football search.

I'm sure there'd be some grumble grumble from the Drew Sharp's and Terry Foster's of the world, but they complain about everything. 

gobluesasquatch

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

As I read these comments, I'm amazed at how much Michigan football has become a legend and no longer a leader.

College football is radically different than when Bo walked the sidelines and had a handshake agreement with Don Canham. I wonder if Don would be happy to see what has become of college football since he definitely helped to create the marketing/entertainment beast it has become.  Heck, it isn't even the same as when Moeller dialed up a pass to Howard on 4th and 1. 

Rodriguez needs to go because I don't see how you can keep him. Forget about the arguments for or against improvement, at this point, he has no support, and is dead man walking. What recruits will come to Michigan right now except those intoxicated by the block M and the wings on the helmets? We're acting like an SEC school - it's never good enough and if a fan doesn't get the coach they want, before they even do one thing, they're written off - good luck ever getting the fans on your side. Tommy Tubberville took Auburn to a 13-0 season, and they still wanted him out at Auburn. This is the nature of the beast, and some of us (like me) don't want to accept it.

Gone is the stability of the program from Bo to Gary to Lloyd. Heck, can you imagine a fired coach ever being at a press conference like Bump. No, we can no longer imagine that a coach will be a coach for life at Michigan. After about seven years, no matter what he's done, we'll become impatient. Win a national title, you better win another or else. Win Big 10 titles but lose the Rose Bowl, not good enough. Win Big 10 titles and Rose Bowls but  never be in contention for a national title ... not good enough. 

We might hire a defensive minded coach, and then when the offense disappoints, or we don't score over 30 a game, some of the fan base will whine and when we replace the next coach, we'll cry for offense because that's the way the game is headed. (So will be the excuse). There will never be an identifying mark of our school, or any other major program again. This is the new world of college football. 

So why Fitzgerald? Why not stay at NU. Because even though their fan base is apathetic, is it really a job to win at long term? When will those few who care do him like Friedgen, Wannstedt, Mason, Pasqualoni and others who took schools (some their own, others not) to levels of success not experienced in some time and when they slumped a bit - they were broomed. Their is NO loyalty in college football because it's a business. If Rodriguez had eventually struggled for a year or to at WV, they'd have looked to hang him as well. That's why Fitzgerald would consider leaving. No one is safe in college football today. No one. So if you get a chance to coach at one of the legendary schools, you take it (and the paycheck, the 110000 fans each home game, and yes, even dealing with the freep). 

Rodriguez will leave and land somewhere else. He'll win. He'll win often. He'll get to and win BCS bowl games. Another major program will hire him (remember he was thisclose accepting the job at Alabama). I hope they will treat him better than we have. 

It's a whole new era, and I'm not sure I'm excited about it.