You can call it standing by your coach, or you can use the often thrown around term "all-in." Whatever label you want to place on my loyalty to Coach Rodriguez is fine by me. I've been an apologist, a conspiracy theorist, and at times, a Lloyd hater...all in the name of bringing a system to Ann Arbor that attracted the fastest athletes to run a fast system. A system that I saw beat Michigan every time they faced it from Donavan McNabb to Armanti Edwards. I pined for the spread. An offense that is based on a mobile quarterback, combined with the recruiting power and prowess of the University of Michigan? The result will be unstoppable.
But it was not to be. Instead of developing into a team that would put us on par with those that routinely wreaked havoc on Big Ten squads in bowls and pre-conference schedules, we became some kind of hybrid...too slow to yet outrun, and too small to not be pushed around. And the defense...my god the defense. Why this happened is a matter of serious debate, a debate which fractured the core of the Michigan fanbase. Factions formed. Pro-old regime vs. pro-RichRod. Add in the Freep accusations, the year long NCAA investigation, the #1 jersey snaffu, Demar Dorsey, and my old friend Josh Grobin, and you had to know today was inevitable. That's a whole lot of issues, regardless of how superficial or unsubstantiated they might have been. A perfect storm. That's the sad truth. That's the sad truth before we even begin to talk about the record on the field.
Some say Rich Rodriguez was never given a chance. I disagree. Alumni be damned, he always had the opportunity to win, to just flat out outcoach somebody regardless of the age of his players. He always had the opportunity to show improvement. Show me a special teams or defensive statistic that goes anywhere but south in the last three years. I believe he had that chance right through his last game in the Gator Bowl.
The Rich Rodriguez offense, with some experience and classes of players behind it, would dominate this league. I am certain of it. But that's not how this works. You need to be able to kick-off and receive. You need the ability to kick field goals. You need to force an occasional three-and-out. You need to beat your rivals, especially the ones that are little green and white assholes.
So it's over. And I said it was over three months ago, so my only surprise is that I truly believe Coach could've kept his job had he not gotten embarrassed on New Year's Day.
With regards to how the firing and coaching search has been handled, I really don't see what all the fuss is about. When are you supposed to fire a coach? Mid-season? I believe Brandon wanted to keep Rich Rod, and hoped that Wisco, OSU, or the bowl game would be enough ammo to keep the alumni at bay. That obviously backfired. I also think Brandon wanted Harbaugh to be on campus today, locked down and ready to sign...that also didn't work out. But I just don't understand what the panic is all about. We are now looking for a coach. Our options include....every coach in the NCAA. Brandon basically said we are willing to back a truck of cash up to the home of the next Michigan Man, so ya, there's gonna be some interested people. There's gonna be big names. This could get very exciting.
This coaching search has not been botched. And whether or not the plan and process that Brandon is employing to find the next coach is the right plan and process will not be able to be judged for at least a couple of years.
There's no reason for anyone to get mad. There's no reason for anyone to be upset or feel wronged. I think you'd be hard pressed to find somebody that could classify this as a surprise firing. The effort was there, and the heart was in the right place, but the record, given our history, was just not good enough.
I loved a lot of things that Coach Rodriguez did here. I liked him as a person as well. I liked the way he faced adversity, and the way he wore his emotions on his sleeve. He loved our school. He loved his players. Rich Rodriguez will land on his feet. He will coach again. He will have success again. But in the end, I like Michigan much more than I like Rich Rodriguez. I will not, even for a second, begrudge this decision. I'm already ready for the next guy. I'm ready to be all-in for him. I'm ready for Spring practice. This is a historic moment, and I am confident that the move we make will be a move in the right direction.
Unless we decide to hire Brady F*cking Hoke.