Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I don't envy Rich Rodriguez
For those who do not know who I am referring to, he is the new head football coach at the University of Michigan. Yes he is taking over a great, storied program, but there are undercurrents afoot that can suck him under if he is not careful.
First, he has to win. Winning 75% of your games at Michigan is not good enough. Period. And you have to beat Ohio State and never lose to someone like Appalachian State again. Don't even schedule a school like that and risk losing.
Second, he is in a position similar to a young (he's 44) pastor who succeeds the retiring hand-picked successor to a larger-than-life pastor in a large church. Bo Schembechler is a minor deity at Michigan, and Lloyd Carr, the retiring coach, was on Bo's staff and is "A Michigan Man" whatever that means. Rodriguez is from West Virginia, has no ties to Michigan, and is not part of the Bo lineage. And he does things differently. He runs an unconventional 3-3-5 defense and a spread offense, neither of which were in Bo's schemes.
I say that to warn the faithful that Rodriguez will change things. He will do many things differently, and endless carping about "the Michigan Way" will not help. If the "Michigan Way" was still working, Rodriguez would still be at West Virginia and Lloyd Carr would have picked one of his assistants to follow him. But, this program has been in a steady decline for a few years, unable to win big games, and embarrassed in the Rose Bowl and the Appalachian State and Oregon games.
I say this to help the faithful who worship at the Maize and Blue temple to realize that the good old days aren't coming back in the way you remember them. This guy is a good coach, who has built a powerhouse at a school not known for its football tradition. Remember Bo, but don't expect a reincarnation of him. Three yards and a cloud of dust has gone the way of the dodo.