Q&A with Rich Rodriguez

Submitted by RedGreene on January 13th, 2010 at 9:56 AM

From the Orlando Sentinel

Rich Rodriguez believes Michigan will be back in a bowl in 2010

I had a pretty decent Q&A with Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez that I wanted to share with you. He believes the Wolverines will make it back into a bowl game in 2010 but is not sure when they will compete for a Big Ten title. He also talks about blocking out the negativity and what it will take to fix the defense.

Q: Has the job been harder than you thought it would be?

A: Oh yeah. It was set up to be a difficult situation because we lost so many guys in that senior class. The hits were doubled. It was just a difficult season for the team.

[excessive c&p deleted]




January 13th, 2010 at 10:01 AM ^

with a little luck they would've made one this past year (now that gets into slippery slope territory but i'll do my best to remain reasonable) it's more a matter of how what type of bowl will he get to


January 13th, 2010 at 11:05 AM ^

Plus with the wounds still fresh from the shit storm he went through after he left W. Virginia -- the buyout, the death threats from crazy fans -- I doubt that he'd want to put himself through that again. Not that Mich fans would be sending death threats, but you get the idea.

Durham Blue

January 13th, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

Tennessee because Michigan is a MUCH better job than Tennessee. OK, Tennessee is a few degrees warmer than Michigan on average. I'll give you that. Michigan has better academics, better facilities, more money, easier road in the B10 than SEC, more tradition. Sure I am biased but I think most unbiased observers would agree with me.


January 13th, 2010 at 11:45 AM ^

I like him going on record that Michigan will be back in a bowl game this year. I agree with Erik in Dayton, RR isn't going anywhere - he knows he has created a foundation (especially on offense). He isn't sugar coating the lingering lack of depth on defense but he didn't throw anyone under the bus ("We got out of balance somehow") and he has a plan in place to fix things. Since Dave Brandon is a guy that is used to being front and center I think he will really help Rodriguez by stepping in and taking some of the heat. He will drive out the voices of dissent.


January 13th, 2010 at 10:21 AM ^

I really liked the interview. It was a sobering assessment of the current state of the program. Acknowledging problems is the first step towards fixing them. Therefore, I like the "we've struggled" line and the part about giving a fair shake to defensive recruits and the need to build depth on defense. That shows you he knows how to win and is not just an offensive guru.

As far as making a bowl, that's a reasonable expectation. Forcier and Robinson aren't going to struggle as much with another year on their belt and offensive improvement is expected. Defensively, simplification in the short term will at least allow the team to beat mediocre opponents. However, failure reach a bowl next year will probably result in dismissal.


January 13th, 2010 at 11:21 AM ^

To begin, you're probably right. If there's no bowl game, he'll almost certainly "step down," but I have a hard time with statements like that. There are too many variables.

What needs to happen is progress. We need to be visibly better on the field. Moreover, we need to be substantially better to the untrained eye, week in and week out. That happened from year 1 to year 2.

Is it possible that we beat MSU and OSU and only win 5 games...unlikely, but possible. If that happens, the season will not "absolutely result" in RR's dismissal. Progress needs to be the benchmark. Also, if we make a bowl game but demonstrate very little progress, RR may be gone. I'm not comfortable measuring progress solely with wins or losses, because they don't necessarily tell us about progress.

Instead, there is a range at which RR will almost surely be gone (0-4), a range at which he could go either way (5-7), and a range at which he is almost certainly coming back (8+). The games themselves, not just the result of them, need to carry more weight, and I think they ultimately will.


January 13th, 2010 at 11:15 AM ^

If you go back and listen to Rich's pressers pre-season and even after the ND game, he never really sounded confident about making a bowl this past season. He said things like we ought to make a bowl, or we'll be disappointed if we don't make a bowl, but the statements (made publicly mind you) did not sound confident. And then there were statements like we'll win some we shouldn't and loose some we shouldn't ...

The point: he knew he was thin and riding a house of cards, and was not confident because of it. Sorry for the cold water, but to say I don't know when on a Big Ten championship, sounds like he thinks his situation is improving, but not significantly (like 6-6 and two Big Ten wins are a real possibility, not a worse case).

After two seasons of not being able to listen and adjust my expectations accordingly, I am going to be paying a lot of attention next August: if he seems confident or not.


January 13th, 2010 at 11:30 AM ^

... but, RR is too smart to go around laying verbal landmines for himself to step on. It is good strategy to not allow people to get carried away or expect too much. I think his statements did sound like a coach who wasn't really sure what he had. But, I think lots of coaches always sound that way on purpose.

I think we'll be better this year, and RR knows that. What that translates to in the W-L record depends.

I am most worried about the QB situation. I wish he spoke more glowingly about TF's work ethic, understanding of the offense, commitment to learning and leading. But, I wouldn't want him to lie either. I think he's not sold on TF, and I'd be more comfortable if he was.


January 13th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

I do not understand all of the naysayers who are painting such a dismal picture in regards to the job that he has done here so far. Yes he has lost more games in one season than any other coach but who wouldn't have? There was a glaring lack of talent on both sides of the ball the last two years. Loyd Carr would not have won more than a game or two with the talent that was there in RR's first year. Despite the losses,"the head ball coach" at Michigan has done a very good - great job of recruiting the last 2 years. His offense was almost in the explosive category with a freshman at the helm. The defense was so depleted that he had to use walkons. What part of that had anything to do with the current coach?

Give this guy a chance and he will return UofM to its rightful place; The top of college football. Now if we could only somehow promote Florida and it's 5 Star recruiting class to the NFL :-).


January 13th, 2010 at 10:28 AM ^

The interview comes across to me as someone who is secure in the knowledge of what he has to do, has a plan to achieve that goal and is continuing to review the process to modify the plan as hurdles/challenges arise. I like the interview because it feels like he is sincere without focusing on himself. I don't get the sense he was smiling and laughing (as I normally see him do) througout this line of questioning, but instead is matter-of-fact and realistic. Thanks for the post!!


January 13th, 2010 at 10:59 AM ^

In all of this what happens to Devin Gardner? I understand that because he couldn't enroll early that left his uphill climb to learn the offense to be much more difficult. Therefore, does RR redshirt Gardner this year? Or does he allow him to start learning and maybe use him to fight for the starting spot with Tate? And with Gardner enrolling does that push Robinson from away from ever playing QB -- so does he move to a slot receiver or WR?


January 13th, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^

You let him redshirt and "start learning". As a staff, they need to create spacing between their QBs. By redshirting Gardner, he will be able to play for two years without a QB controversy between he, Tate, and Denard.

It will be much better for the program if they redshirt Gardner. Imagine how good he will be as a fifth year senior. He will own the conference and maybe the all of college football. He will have a complete grasp of the offense, his skills will have matured, and he'll be comfortable reading college defenses. He will be scary good.


January 13th, 2010 at 11:23 AM ^

My bet, Gardner red shirts. (I mean who wants to go thru another first year QB who knows a third of the system?) Denard Robinson will improve, and be a serious change of pace / backup.

I said it in another post, if Denard can get to the point where he can make the reads and fake handoffs like Juice and improve his passing to the point it is a viable threat, then he becomes a serious problem for our opponents. (Heck, even Pryor had some pretty good fakes in the game against us.) I believe he can do both of those things in the off season.


January 13th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

My only fear for Tate as we saw last year is his height difficulties. According to Mgoblue Forcier is listed at 6'1", 188 pounds. I walked past him on campus earlier this week and myself being 5'11" (5'10" but I like to round up), what I saw was Tate is a very short 6'1". What I'm trying to get to is his difficulty seeing downfield while in the pocket trying to look over his approx. 6'4" OL. Thusly, last year he was required to roll out quite a bit and many times was killed by LB's. How does he cope with his average height and slender build?


January 13th, 2010 at 12:57 PM ^

I had the same thought before I saw that kid play. What he has going for him is the famous and elusive "it" factor. He is a winner and he will lead our favorite team to a lot of victories. That being said, he will have to bulk up considerably in the offseason. Once he does that, he will be fine and the team will follow. Go Blue!


January 13th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

Maybe its the off season workouts but I saw Tate walking to CVS on Sunday and he looked much bigger. Using mysled as a reference (5'11, 180), Tate easily had 2 inches on my and quite a bit of added bulk.

Btw it was cold out and he wasn't wearing gloves or winter hat so he must be getting used to the cold for all you worriers. /sarcasm / but seriously


January 13th, 2010 at 11:17 AM ^

is that he'll be able to compete, but that unless he really shows he's got a great handle on the offense, he won't play unless there are injuries. Essentially he can be the #3 qb and still redshirt if he never sees the field.


January 13th, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

Thanks for posting, in spite of how long it was :). I was wondering about the interview because I heard Eric Adelson on WTKA yesterday and wanted to get the rest of the interview. EA's take was that RR is "more humble" now. Hopefully these last two years will help him and all U-M fans to appreciate success instead of just take it for granted.