Monday, November 23, 2009

Michigan's Rodriguez deserves a third season -- barely


Bill Martin is heading out the door as Michigan's athletic director -- and not at a pretty time. He isn't exactly leaving his post on a high horse, having witnessed the worst season in Michigan football history ... followed by yet another losing season.

But Martin does deserve a widget of credit for saying, as he prepares to peace out, that Rich Rodriguez, the man he hired, deserves a third year, a third chance, as the football coach in Ann Arbor.

Martin, of course, wants things to work out for Rich Rod because, well, he brought him to campus. But as biased as he might be, he is right -- the coach, as poorly as his teams have performed, should get one more season to prove he can lead the Wolverines back to being a national contender ... scratch that, a Big Ten contender ... wait, scratch that -- a bowl team.

Yes, things have gotten that ugly in the Ace Deuce.

They could only get worse, however, if Rodriguez were ousted before next season by whoever succeeds Martin. The last thing the Wolverines need now -- at least for the next year -- is change. They need some kind of continuity, consistency. They need the players to feel comfortable with the program; they need the strong recruiting class of 2010 to stay the strong recruiting class of 2010 and be freshmen in the fall.

They need Rodriguez and his staff back in the fall. For one more try at this thing.

Bottom line is this -- if you hire a proven coach (like Rodriguez), a guy you know can coach at the top level of the game (remember, he was one win away from taking West Virginia to the national-title game), you have to give him three years to prove himself. At least. Period.

Rodriguez has only gotten to use one class of his recruits, his style of player -- as freshmen, of course. He should get the opportunity to use these same players as sophomores along with another group of his recruits.

(I'm almost tempted to say a coach with Rodriguez's pedigree should always get four years, barring huge off-the-field problems, but we'll cross that bridge 360-some days from now if we have to.)

Here's another reason Michigan has to stick with Rodriguez: Who else is out there? Who wants to come to Ann Arbor? Don't tell me an Urban Meyer, or anyone on a similar level, would consider leaving his post to try to clean up this mess. Ain't happening.

For now, Rich Rod is the best man for the job (at least out of well-known, proven candidates; yes, to cover all bases, a dude could come from out of nowhere and suddenly turn things around. This scenario isn't likely, however, and wouldn't play well with the heavy-pocketed boosters).

So as bad as Michigan has been the past two years, let's not rush to rash conclusions. Let's hold off on the fire sales for now. And let's not forget that Michigan's offense this season was the Big Ten's best -- the Wolverines just couldn't stop anybody. The defense was atrocious. Get some talented guys in there, and maybe things could change.

There is hope, as ridiculous as that sounds. And unless the ongoing NCAA investigation blows up and reveals all kinds of indiscretions that warrant Rodriguez's ouster, he should be allowed to stick around for another season (although he probably shouldn't make too many public appearances).

He shouldn't be fired, not yet, for his record as a coach. Not yet, I repeat.

But he sure hasn't made many friends in his new home state. One more season like the last two, and he'll most likely join the millions of other unemployed Michigan citizens.

1 comment:

3rdStoneFromTheSun said...

have to agree with you here

glad you are on my blogroll