Wednesday, January 5, 2011

RichRod Fired. Michigan Faces another Uphill Battle

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It's hard to be proud as either a Michigan or Michigan State football fan in 2011. Both teams got blown out in their respective bowl games on New Year's day and the soap opera that has been the RichRod firing can't make Michigan fans happy even if they wanted to see RichRod go.

After leaving the RichRod, assistant coaches, and players in limbo since the regular season loss to Ohio State, the situation managed to get even more confusing as reports start coming out yesterday that RichRod had been fired only to have those reports go unconfirmed and refuted by the University Tuesday night before UofM Athletic Director Dave Brandon officially fired Rodriguez this morning.

It was an embarrassing, yet appropriate, ending to the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan which began with an unconfirmed report on ESPN about a coaching hire (you're welcome, Kirk Herbstreit) and controversy over RichRod's departure from West Virginia that all contributed to a lack of alumni support for Rodriguez from the start.

Indeed, many of those same Michigan alums are happy to see RichRod go, but I can't imagine that see can be happy with how Athletic Director Dave Brandon handled the process. When the New York Times takes the time to write about how your program is an absolute mess, it's a good sign things could have been handled better.

Now Michigan is in the difficult position where it's top choice, Stanford head coach and former UofM QB Jim Harbaugh is likely to pass on the job to go to the NFL (or even stay at Stanford) without a clear backup option to rally alumni, boosters, and recruits.

It's easy to understand the firing of Rodriguez who finishes his three years at Michigan with a 15-22 overall record, ended Michigan's 30+ year bowl game and winning season streaks, caused the programs' first NCAA sanctions, and never beat Michigan State or Ohio State.
Nonetheless, having waited so long to let Rodriguez go, especially if they don't end up with Harbaugh, has a very difficult uphill climb. Now, Brandon will have to undergo a very quick hiring process to find a replacement who has to hire a total new staff, rally the current players around him and limit transfers (e.g. Denard Robinson), salvage a recruiting class, and get alumni and boosters behind him. The degree of difficulty increases with a resurgent and stable Michigan State program coming off a Big Ten championship and the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten and schedule next year.

It'll be a tough situation for the new head coach, but the rich history of Michigan should still attract quality candidates, but it remains how important it is to have a "Michigan Man" (e.g. Les Miles or Brady Hoke) or whether he will pursue and lure another big time candidate (e.g. Jon Gruden, Gary Patterson). Either way Michigan is now in the middle of another rebuilding project that looks like it'll take another 3-4 years to build back to the 10-11 win seasons Michigan fans expect of the program.

Please chime in and let us know your thoughts on the Michigan coaching situation. Are you happy or upset with the RichRod firing? Who should be the next Michigan head coach? How long before Michigan wins another Big Ten title?


  1. First of all, we cannot say whether or not the process was a mess until its completion. Just because one or many media outlets are saying it is doesn’t lend any credibility to their statements. Media perception of the program is absolutely not important. There is something to be said about recruiting, but I think that too much weight is being placed on a single recruiting class. If we undersign this year and miss out on a few All Americans it will not be the end of the world as we will, by no means, be doomed to mediocrity. Due to the success of Dave Brandon at keeping things quiet and leaking essentially no information, people who want to know get all upset and blame the process. I say get over yourself and understand that you don’t know the vast majority of information and therefore you cannot make any legitimate judgment. If it was a mess, there is no way for us to know it now. We may even have to wait a few years to determine that.

    Some players will stay and undoubtedly some will leave. However, I see less attrition than when Rodriguez was hired due to the fact that there no longer is a sense of entitlement therefore you won’t have those players leaving. If we lose Denard, we still have a good QB in Tate if he stays and one of the top QB recruits in the country last year in Devin Gardner.

    Transitioning from a pro-style offense that lost virtually its entire offense to graduation/pros is much more difficult than going from spread to pro. Denard can throw and he doesn’t need a read option to scramble (which I wanted him to do more of anyway). Our team is not full of a bunch of bums who are terrible players. Nothing about our team can be said with any certainty until the first snap in the 2011 season.

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  3. ****correction**** we will not, by any means, be doomed to mediocrity