When the NCAA charged that the
University of Michigan football program has violated rules since 2008,
Rich Rodriquez (Rich Rod) took one more body blow in his fight to keep
his job as U of Ms head coach.
No Wolverines football program had ever been charged with violations
in its long history. The charges can be boiled down to the following:
CHEATING. Rich Rod is in big trouble.
Even the university agrees that U of M football probably exceeded the
number of coaches and practice time allowed in the last two years, a
violation of NCAA rules. The infractions dont seem as serious as
those committed by other colleges in the past, such as doctoring
transcripts of athletes or even paying recruits to enroll. But
cheating is still cheating, usually the result of a desperate coaching
staff looking for an edge. As we listen to some die-hard U of M
football fans excuse Rich Rod for being unaware of the violations at
the time, how does that square with current and former Michigan
football players understanding the same infractions and reporting
Since Rodriquez took the job in January 2008, his formerly rising
reputation as a young coach destined for greatness has been sullied to
the point that many former supporters at U of M would like him
terminated - now. There are even web sites totally devoted to the
firing of Rich Rod.
Why, when he has been so successful in the past and has only been on
the job two years? Even NCAA sanctions could be weathered by most U of
M fans if Rodriquezs teams had not lost more games in each of his
seasons than Michigan teams have in over 40 years. Rich Rods squads
won only three and fives games in 2008 and 2009, respectively not
coming close to qualifying for a bowl game in either season. U of M
had played in bowls for 33 consecutive years (by my calculation) until
the beginning of the Rodriquez era.
Rich Rod might be a nice guy and a decent coach, but you have to
wonder if he is in over his head. When he took the job in Ann Arbor,
he seemed to toss U of Ms rich football tradition aside abruptly
requiring that everything be done the Rich Rod way.
In Rodriquezs defense, it is not his fault that the coaching
fraternity in Ann Arbor has mostly been incestuous until now. Before
Rich Rod, Michigan football coaches were usually promoted from within
there have only been a handful of head coaches since 1900. It is not
surprising that jarring changes would come from hiring a coach from
West Virginia with a new-fangled passing attack that requires the sky
to rain footballs as opposed to the power-running game of Wolverine
teams from the last two centuries.
Yet, the drum-beat to fire Rodriquez continues to pulsate, U of M
football players transfer to other colleges by the droves and even
previous coach and die-hard Wolverine Lloyd Carr seems hard-pressed to
make any public comments in support of Rich Rod.
Of course, U of M fans will instantly forget any taint of scandal if
the team begins to consistently win games. And it could happen
Rodriquez has two good high school recruiting years in a row to draw
upon and a more experienced team to put on the football field this
If not, and Rich Rod doesnt at least lead the Wolverines to a bowl
game this year, he will be down for the count and run out of Ann Arbor