The Rich Rodriguez Era Ends

Submitted by oakapple on January 1st, 2011 at 5:54 PM

The Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan ended today. The only remaining question is precisely which day next week we will learn officially that he has been fired.

What hurt was not merely the fact of the loss, but the way it happened. With five weeks to prepare, Rodgiuez did not roll out any offensive or defensive surprises. Everything Michigan did, Mississippi State was ready for.

Compare this to Lloyd Carr’s last game, in which Chad Henne ran an offense we had never seen before, and the Wolverines shocked the favored Florida Gators. When you’re the underdog, coaching your final (or likely final) game, and have a month to plan, what exactly are you waiting for? If you have any ideas, what do you have to lose by trying them?

I am not the first person to point out that Dave Brandon probably had his mind already made up. Rodriguez’s 37th game, win or lose, was never going to tell us a whole lot that the first 36 didn’t. One would have to be awfully naive, not to believe that the so-called “evaluation” was already 99 percent done. The argument that Rodriguez deserves a fourth season is at least tenable, although I think its adherents are in the minority right now. The argument that this game was going to decide his fate never held water.

But to the extent Brandon needed air cover to defend his decision, this game certainly provided plenty of it. Even with more preparation time than for any opponent except UConn, the game was practically an instant replay of most of the team’s other losses, minus the second-half comebacks that made a few of them look more respectable than they really were.

Michigan’s won–lost record may have improved marginally in each season of Rodriguez’s tenure. But during a given season, Michigan has tended to regress. Even the vaunted offense, clearly the team’s strength, was held scoreless for three out of four quarters by both Ohio State and Mississippi State. In its final eight outings, the offense played a “complete game” only once: the triple-overtime thriller vs. Illinois. The team was not merely beaten, but thrashed, in its final three games.

I was never one of the so-called “haters.” Three years ago, I thought that Rich Rodriguez was a premium hire. He was a winner wherever he went, and I believed he would win in Ann Arbor. I remain perplexed as to why he has not done better. But there is a reasonable body of evidence that when you are taking over a program that is already a national powerhouse, as Michigan was when Lloyd Carr retired, you shouldn’t be turning in three consecutive seasons that are worse than any of the prior twenty-three.

Bye, Rich.



January 1st, 2011 at 6:41 PM ^

Rich looks tired and i am sure that he knows that his time is up. I support him because he is our Head coach but after loosing to O$U three straight years and only putting up 24 points in three games against that can only defend the man so much. I mean, loosing to sparty three straight years is not helping him out either. Dave Brandon did not hire RR but you have to wonder where Bill Martin is. 


If RR does stay, i will support him as all the MICHIGAN Fans should do. I try to defend him but just look at the record and, and.....sigh....


We are MICHIGAN and we have "The Big House"



We have the "Winged Helmet" 



 And we have this...


Go blue....and "Those......



January 1st, 2011 at 7:39 PM ^

...with your comments in the main. However, even the doormats of the SEC have the benefit of some 30 more recruits at their disposal than the premier team of the B11 during the given time period.

Could Rodriguez - or any B11 coach - perform better against out of conference teams with a 30% larger talent pool from which to draw?

(I understand the variables that would impact that scenario, e.g. NCAA violation cloud hanging over the program, questions that RR either abused athletes or didn't promote an atmosphere of compliance, another long and lingering cloud regarding RR's future, etc.)

I think there's merit to the "poor fit" rationale. But how this man, his coaches and his team have maintained their sanity and kept whatever focus they have is beyond my ability to grasp and bespeaks a constitution and character of steel. Every one of them, for riding out one of the roughest storms this program has seen in our memories, is a champion. And I dare say the course of their respective lives will prove it.


January 1st, 2011 at 6:28 PM ^

I went to the game today and you could pretty much tell that the era was over by halftime.  Denard had a great first quarter (two TD and ~50 rushing yards) but it all started to fall apart in the second quarter.

I couldn't help but think that Jim Harbaugh potentially made a lot of money today.  Before the game, he might have been able to command around a $2.5-2.8MM salary.  Now, DB is going to have to open up the wallet and pay top dollar.  I wouldn't be surprised if Harbaugh could get more than $3MM.

DB is sort of backed into a corner at this point.  RR simply can't come back after today's performance.  DB most likely needs to hit a home run (Harbaugh) and he'll have to pay to do that.  If Harbaugh has other plans, then DB will probably turn to Brady Hoke.

Either way, a new era of Michigan football is coming this week.  We'll just have to sit back and see what unfolds.


January 1st, 2011 at 7:13 PM ^

DB will hire Jim Harbaugh or Brady Hoke by Tuesday.  I realize that Hoke is a tremendous drop-off in name recognition after Harbaugh.  However, he has Michigan connections and has been very successful in his limited head coaching career.

RR cannot come back.  DB has somewhat limited time and options.  He'll turn to a "known" commodity.  I'm sure that Harbaugh is Option 1A.  However, I don't think that he's a "done deal" (geography, money, NFL options....).  If you don't think that Hoke is in the mix (or could be successful) then you're just kidding yourself.  


January 1st, 2011 at 7:21 PM ^

If Hoke is really in the mix, then Michigan Football has hit a new low (with the help, obviously, of RichRod).

Thought exercise: Suppose that we still had Lloyd at the wheel and that he'd finished with a string of (say) 8-win seasons.  Not great, but far better than what we've seen recently.

In that scenario, do you think Brady Hoke is even in the conversation?  He's 52 years old (not a spring chicken) and, SDSU aside, has one lightning-in-a-bottle season (the 12-2 one, where he closed awkwardly with two losses) to his credit.  I like the looks of SDSU.  Really, I do.  But, they play in WAC, for @#$%'s sake.  It's not even a BCS conference.  He's only been there two years.  Remember how good Charlie Weis looked after a couple of years?

Steve in PA

January 1st, 2011 at 8:58 PM ^

Which one has a better chance of staying a decade?  I would bet with success Harbaugh bolts for NFL money and with Hoke being early 50's he would be coming to the end in a decade.

With the 3 options thrown about, Michigan still makes another change in a decade or less.


January 1st, 2011 at 7:23 PM ^

Yeah.  The board has been working under the assumption that Harbaugh will come to Michigan no matter what.  Now, what happens if they fire RichRod then Harbaugh decides to take the 49ers job.  Who are we stuck with?  Probably Brady Hoke, or some other no-name.  Whoever it is better hope that they at least have a connection to Michigan, because we've all seen what happens to coaches who aren't "Michigan Men."


January 1st, 2011 at 11:27 PM ^

I believe very few -- posters, at least -- think DB will fire RR without an assurance that someone on his short list has already agreed to accept an offer (through back channels or otherwise). I doubt he wants to start a coaching search on January 2nd. If JH isn't coming, RR probably gets a stay of execution.


January 1st, 2011 at 6:38 PM ^

wait wait so what about all the other bowl games lloyd coached and we did the same old thing.  What about all those beat downs in rose bowls.


January 2nd, 2011 at 12:17 PM ^

There is looking "bad" and looking "RR bad".  It used to be that 14 points was a terrible loss, but that'd be a close game under RR.  Our team has never looked so bad.  This was our worst bowl loss in of many "worst" records owned by RR.  He broke the bowl appearance streak.  He broke the winning record streak.  He let MSU start a new streak.  He broke the beat-the-MAC streak.  He has failed entirely to come anywhere close to the level of team he inherited.  He is not competitive with decent (let alone "top" competition) and will not be missed.  


January 1st, 2011 at 6:54 PM ^

team was a great team, but suffered that year from injuries, never had a game until the last one where the main players weren't injured. They were healthy in the bowl and it showed what might have been. As far as Coach Rod, it will be much easier to let him go after this loss, I was hoping that the D would look better, they are still very young but the team kind of gave up a little today too. Had no answers. Even the offense let the team down. Anyway thats all I got. I am OK if they replace RR with JH or someone better.


January 1st, 2011 at 7:11 PM ^

what about lloyd's record vs OSU in his last few years (tressel era). Not better than RR. The "Michigan Man" argument never held any weight with me. Bo played for Miami (OH), and was an assistant coach at fing ohio state before coming to Michigan. How is Bo more of a Michigan man than RR? Granted Bo had a much better record at Michigan, but that was never the point of the "Michigan Man" arguement. RR didn't ever get a fair shake from many fans, and certainly not from the media. That however is where my defense of RR ends. There are a lot of negative things that have happened since RR came to Michgan, and I can certainly see the arguement to replace him. I also can see the arguement to keep him for one more year (as long as we get a new Defensive staff). The thing is, I'm so drained from the whole thing, that I just don't care anymore what decision DB makes. If it's to keep RR, at least we'll see if he can do better in his 4th year, if he can, great, Michigan wins and we're all happy. If the team can't win after next year, no one would argue for another year. If however DB decides to bring in another coach, be it JH or whoever else, I will support his decision, the new coach, and the Team. I really just want the team to win. Regardless of what that takes (as long as we're not cheating, or being classless). IMO too many fans have let their hatered of RR blind them, and turn them into fans that no team needs. If you ever rooted against Michigan because you thought it would hasten the change of coaching staff, well, you should just join the taliban. With that, happy new year, and Go Blue!


January 1st, 2011 at 7:33 PM ^

of failingto get the coach he wants.  DB has done one of two things, either he has Harbaugh in his back pocket and is just waiting foir the proper time to announce it; or he has worked himself into a corner and will have to pull a used car salesman trick to get the fanbase to buy what he is selling.

Harbaugh makes sense in many ways.  Anyone else does not. 

RR has no proof that his system(s) will work consistently against top comptetition in this conference.  You can argue personnel all you want, but he bulldozed what was here to put in his system with players ill-fit for it and it went so poorly in the first year that it turned off many who tried to have an open mind.  Then the loss of talent put him in a bind that he was unable to recover from.  Other coaches have changed systems with less uproar and more success in a shorter time frame(see GT, MissSt and even Brian Kelly).

Brady Hoke has no cache and has no significant records to support his hire.  If DB chooses Hoke or keeps RR, that says one thing; Harbaugh said no.  DB cannot possibly sell RR to this fanbase any longer, especially after he let him dangle in the wind for five weeks and the team got shellacked by a middlish SEC team.

Like Martin, this coaching hire/retention will define his legacy as AD.  Martin will burn in the hellfires of Michigan history for what he did to the football and basketball programs.


January 1st, 2011 at 7:49 PM ^

I agree with the general sentiment of the post here, but I'm not sold that Harbaugh makes sense.  I've got 2 concerns - the first is that there will be another mass exodus and we'll go back to 3 or 4 wins next year (although it seems that will probably be acceptable to a good portion of the fan base, since he's a "Michigan Man").  My second concern is that if he's hired, he'll stick around for 3 years then get itchy feet and want to coach in the NFL, leaving us in the same position we are now.


January 1st, 2011 at 8:04 PM ^

I've got to take issue with that last part of your post. i don't think Beilein deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Rodriguez right now. JB was a good hire. He is an excellent recruiter relative to the circumstances and facilities(of which UM has among the worst in the conference).  While RR has done an OK job recruiting given his own wounds on the program, many of his wounds are self-inflicted.  You can see JB's recruiting consistently improving each year at Michigan ,a charge you can't necessarily make with RR. Also he's actually accomplished something  AT MICHIGAN with his Tourney year, despite last year being a disappointment. 


January 1st, 2011 at 7:41 PM ^

This doesn't make me laugh.

It contains no information.

It doesn't make me think as there isn't a single thought that hasn't been said forty times already.

I get your anger, but others feel differently, so it doesn't add to the community.