Will and Testament. Don Nehlen served under Bo at Michigan before embarking on a successful 21-year stint as West Virginia's head coach. From 1981 to 1984 Nehlen coached one Rich Rodriguez, then a walk-on defensive back. Nehlen on the Rodriguez move:
"I think it's a great, great, great opportunity for him," said Nehlen, who coached at Michigan under Bo Schembechler from 1977-1979. "I think it's tremendous. There are very few Michigans. When you coach at West Virginia you walk on water in West Virginia, but when you coach at Michigan, you walk on water, period. There's a difference. Some people around here don't want to believe that."
Nehlen, no doubt, was a major influence on Rodriguez's decision, and it's clear what he advocated. Bo imparted the above opinion to Nehlen and he's kept that for nearly 30 years; in a fashion the Rodriguez hire is Bo's last gift to the program.
Wither Mallett? "Eeeeek, Mallett" has been a major sour note in the media and on message boards since yesterday's hiring. Typical version of the concern:
What does that mean for the Wolverines' current personnel? It's possible freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett, this year's backup, could start thinking transfer, since this is not the offense he runs. For receivers Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham, both whom I've believed would leave anyway, this might be the sign they need.
Okay, sure, there's a chance Mallett will transfer. But, IMO, the chances of a transfer are lower now than they were under Carr, with whom Mallett had a rocky relationship. (Carr had good reason to have a rocky relationship with Mallett, but still...)
Quote from his father in an AP article:
Freshman Ryan Mallett gained experience this year with the Wolverines, filling in for banged-up Chad Henne, and his father said people shouldn't assume his son is transferring because he might not fit into Rodriguez's offense that features a mobile quarterback.
"I talked to Ryan today and he's going to keep an open mind and is looking forward to hearing what coach Rodriguez's plans are," Jim Mallett told the AP. "So, we'll just have to wait and see."
Rodriguez does prefer for his quarterbacks to run, but he isn't stupid. If Mallett's the best option, and given the makeup of the roster he's almost guaranteed to be, he'll start and the offense will be decidedly light on speed option. There are other things the spread can do than run and Mallett worked in a spread shotgun in high school; the offense will be Rodriguez' but the Shaun King version, not the Pat White one. This blog linked a New York Times article from Rodriguez's first quarterback yesterday:
Folks these days most readily associate Coach Rodriguez' Mountaineer offense with 400-yard rushing outbursts, zone-read running plays and explosive jaunts on the perimeter by guys like White and Steve Slaton. While things have no doubt changed a bit since the early 1990s at Glenville State when we were chucking the ball around to the tune of 50-60 times a week and our leading receiver once hauled in 144 receptions in a single season, the fundamental premise of Coach Rod's scheme remains intact: Spread the defense and take what they give you.
It's a chicken-and-egg argument: Rodriguez has not thrown the ball a lot, but he hasn't had a Ryan Mallett to work with. In the press conference, Rodriguez stated he was bringing the system he's used to great effect, but that system is not just runny runny run run. At Glenville State they were 65-70% run.
Fiesta or Siesta? Conflicting stories out there on whether Rodriguez will coach the bowl game. He reportedly told his players he would not, but this story suggests otherwise:
The Mountaineers play Oklahoma Jan. 2nd in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, AZ. The early word is that Rodriguez wants to coach the bowl game.
That would create an extremely awkward situation, but what are the other options if, indeed, Rodriguez wants to stay until Jan. 2nd?
His letter to Athletic Director Ed Pastilong says resignation takes effect Jan. 3rd, the day after the bowl.
This is likely to be a negotiating ploy as Michigan attempts to whittle down Rodriguez's hefty four million dollar buyout. Beilein had a similar buyout in his contract and ended up paying far less than the contract stipulated after some legal wrangling. "CollegeFootballTalk.com" appears to be a spinoff of the ProFootballTalk whatever and has this to say about the buyout:
A source with knowledge of the situation tells us that Michigan is paying $3 million of a $4 million buyout of Rich Rodriguez's contract at West Virginia.
But then they immediately shoot their credibility into a million tiny pieces by saying this...
Our guess? He'll be there three years, at the most. Either he'll do well enough to jump to a $4 million-plus salary with an SEC school, or he'll do bad enough to get fired. If he was ever going to stay anywhere for the long haul, it would have been at West Virginia.
...so take that with an enormous grain of salt. (Also, Mike Florio: I will bet you ten grand Rodriguez is at Michigan longer than three years.)
Fawn, bitches! The national media gives a rousing thumbs up. Maisel:
Rodriguez made the leap. He brings with him the offense he has developed, a no-huddle spread that has worked everywhere he has tried it, from Glenville State in the NAIA to Tulane to Clemson to West Virginia. It will work at Michigan. He will open up the Wolverines in more ways than one.
How big is Rich Rodriguez to Michigan? In terms of the ramifications for both program and sport, it's college football's most significant hire since Florida landed Urban Meyer.
Allen Wallace of SuperPrep in that Mandel piece:
"Bottom line -- Michigan stepped up to the plate," said SuperPrep recruiting analyst Allen Wallace. "They've gone out and stolen one of the elite coaches in the game. If I were a Michigan fan, I'd be having a party tonight."
Urban Meyer in that Mandel piece:
"Rich is one of the best coaches in football," said Meyer, a friend of Rodriguez, whose own spread-option offense is based in large part on the West Virginia coach's. "Mic
higan's got great athletes and they're national recruiters. If everyone's healthy, they're the most talented team in the country."
Michigan hired a great football coach Sunday. Not a good one, like Greg Schiano. Not a very good one, like Les Miles. A great one.
"My first reaction is that (Rodriguez) is a good hire," said former Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin when reached by telephone in California. "It's sounds like the kind of system that Michigan could do really well in, provided they find the right people to perform. Michigan has had guys who sat back in pocket and could throw the ball a mile."
Audacity. One of this blog's main complaints against Carr was that his fourth down strategy -- which can be summed up in one word: "punt" -- was uncreative and suboptimal. One of the things that was exciting about Miles was his balls-to-the-wall approach in the Florida game, during which a series of fourth down conversions, one of them a fake field goal, turned 9 LSU points into 21 LSU points and defeat into victory. Rodriguez didn't have such an obvious come-to-Romer moment... or did he?
In the 2006 Sugar Bowl, West Virginia faces fourth and six with around two minutes to go. They lead 38-35; Georgia has burned their timeouts. Result:
But the Mountaineers saved their biggest surprise for the end. Georgia was poised to get the ball back when West Virginia dropped back to punt on fourth-and-six at the Bulldogs' 48. Phil Brady hauled in the long snap but took off running, gaining 10 yards on the fake and a game-clinching first down.
Obviously this is not the sort of thing that can become a pattern, but a game-sealing fake punt is most decidedly not in the Carr playbook.
Peanut Butter Jelly.
FYI: Rodriguez just referenced the Lion King in the press conference. Times they are a changin'. Sounds like he's not coaching the bowl game after all.