Special thanks to Steve Spencer of The Columbus Dispatch for use of his "Mount Buckmore" artwork.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Weekend Read

The right "man" for the job

Sure, the nearly month long (if you don’t include the three months between the Appy St. and Ohio St. games) search for Michigan’s next head coach has ended, but don’t fret, the bleeding continues. Both CFN and Mitch Albom are less than ecstatic about the hire. Expectations are understandably high and the consensus seems to be that Rodriguez, while a proven leader and exciting coach, is walking into this one blindfolded, pants down.

Say what you will about LLLLLoyd, but he was a “Michigan man,” dammit. And, whatever a “Michigan man” is, they sure seem to like them
up in Ann Arbor even though the two coaches who preceded Carr were Ohio-born. Rodriguez is a Mountaineer, through and through. And, if not for the advent of his spread-option offense and big-time talent in the backfield, Rodriguez would have probably remained a Mountaineer for the rest of his life--and been very successful. So you can empathize with the delayed applause from up north when the coaching search ended with a clandestine buy-out deal in Toledo.

From the start, everyone knew this would end with a young coach leaving a relatively high profile program for what is, for some reason, widely regarded as the premier college coaching job (on par with Notre Dame football and UNC and Duke basketball). Things got more interesting, however, when it wasn’t the young
coach from the high profile program that everyone expected. Before the second Saturday of the season, the media had prepared more than enough excuses/reasons for Miles to leave LSU. His first press conference as the Michigan head coach was practically written for him by ESPN.

But when it (slowly) became clear that Miles wasn’t interested, it seemed the sketch of a “Michigan man” would have to undergo some revisions. Foremost, this new commander of the leaders and the best is certainly getting the best money Bill Martin can give. Martin made an ass of himself when he supposedly low-balled Miles, so one imagines that whatever sum (undisclosed as of yet) he offered Rodriguez couldn’t be ignored. We can also assume that the new UM prototype has fickle allegiances. Afte
r informally accepting the Alabama job last year and “sucker punching” fans, he came back to Morgantown to publicly claim that he was there to stay. Yet when another national power came knocking a year later, the man from a small mining town left a Mountaineer team that was arguably the best he’d ever coached for a key to the Big House.

Though, even after putting like that, it’s hard to say that any man of flesh and blood wouldn’t do the same—but would a “Michigan man?”

All that being said, it’s time to snap back to the reality of the situation and what better way than to get acquainted with the enemy:

Five reasons to hate Rich Rodriguez

1. Mimicking his predecessor, his teams were pre-season favorites to soundly win their conference yet they rarely did and that never seemed to matter when the same predictions were made the following year

2. We were also annually reminded of WVU’s two-headed Heisman juggernaut, Steve Slaton/ Pat White. Yet, after three seasons of hype, Rodriguez and his speedy workhorses are only left with the memories of that one good half in the 2006 Sugar Bowl when their punter won the game. Start the Hart/Henne comparisons anytime you’d like.

3. The spread option. It’s Rich’s bastard child and, in some shape or form, it’s accounted for our last two losses (Illinois ran the read-option but we’re not splitting hairs here). Heacock can’t wrap his mind around it and dual-threat quarterbacks like Terrelle Pyror love it.

4. He had the gall to sign and or negotiate his death sentence in Ohio, of all places. (Note: This could be interpreted as an uncharacteristically intelligent move by Rich if you assume that he was in no hurry to set foot on Michigan soil.)

5. His name lends itself to any number of smarmy nicknames like “R-Rod” or the soon-to-be-popular, “Dick-Rod.”

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