When Lloyd Carr retired, we wanted change in Ann Arbor. We wanted a system that would win us championships again. We hired the pioneer of the spread offense. We hired Rich Rodriguez.
His first year didn't go too well. People already wanted his head. Others argued to give him time. Say whatever you want about the "bare cupboard" that Carr left, it would be tough for ANY coach with the sudden absence of Chad Henne, Mario Manningham, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Adrian Arrington, Ryan Mallet, Shawn Crable, Mike Massey, Tim Jamison, Chris Graham, Jamar Adams, Brandon Engleman, Justin Boren, and K.C. Lapota. Still, there was hope for a bright future.
His second year, Tate was initially seen as the savior of Michigan football, even a Heisman hopeful at one point. At the end of the Western Michigan game, the student section was heard chanting "Rich Rodriguez!" over and over again. It turned into a losing season and another loss to the buckeyes.
Then the arrival of Denard Robinson came to free us from Oblivion. They were making room in the trophey cabinets for his Heisman. Then MSU happened, Iowa happened, *shudder* Penn State happened, Wisconsin happened, osu happened again, and the MSUntmsu debacle happened. As a result, Rodriguez will probably be gone.
Now, if we had brought in a pro-style coach, Mallet probably wouldn't have left, but regardless, that doesn't necessarily solve the defensive woes. Maybe Warren comes back, probably not. In my opinion, any coach that came in at the time Rodriguez did would have had a terrible tenure.
Now this is the part where I feel bad for the guy. There's, what, 20 starters returning? With a [finally] relatively easy schedule involving Minny and Northy. Let's say Rodriguez is gone and Harbaugh comes in. Chances are, Harbaugh will have success. Maybe a shaky start, as is natural with coaching changes. But if Harbaugh even has a 6-6 starting season with all the young talent Rodriguez recruited, he will be seen as a hero compared to Rodriguez. Again, this would have been done with all the talent that Rodriguez had recruited. Look at how much young talent there is right now on defense (and offense for that matter). Any coach coming in now will have some decent level of success. Right now, the cupboard is not so bare.
The short Rodriguez era will be seen as a failed experiment. People will look back and say that Rodriguez put a black stain on the Michigan football program. But I see most of his misfortunes as bad luck, not as his fault. The "empty cupboad," angry-michigan-secondary-hating-god, the NCAA violations and the misunderstanding of 20 minutes of stretching, etc. I really don't blame Rodriguez in whole for these events. But the general fan who looks back will see him as a terrible coach, simply because he came in at quite possibly the worst possible time to com in as a new coach. Truth is, he put his heart and soul into this program, and people see him as a bad man. Harbaugh might come in, take all the young talent he has, and be viewed as the savior. That's not really fair, but that's how it is. I feel bad for the guy, because he's really a nice guy. I'll still have a slight gut feeling to root for him wherever he goes.