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"Covering College Football Coaching from Miami to Honolulu"







Age:  45

School:  Michigan

Alma Mater:  West Virginia, 1984

Conference:  Big Ten

Salary:  $2,500,000

Official Bio:

Years Coaching:  15

Career Record:  104 - 62 - 2  .619

Years at School:  1

Record at Michigan:  0 - 0  .000

2007 Record:  10 - 2   .833

2007 Cost per Win:  $180,000




December 2008 Buyout:  $4,000,000


Year School Record Bowl
1988 Salem 2-8  
1990 Glenville State 1-7-1  
1991 Glenville State 4-5-1  
1992 Glenville State 6-4  
1993 Glenville State 10-3  
1994 Glenville State 8-3  
1995 Glenville State 8-2  
1996 Glenville State 6-4  
2001 West Virginia 3-8  
2002 West Virginia 9-4 Continental Tire
2003 West Virginia 8-5 Gator
2004 West Virginia 8-4 Gator
2005 West Virginia 11-1 Sugar
2006 West Virginia 11-2 Gator
2007 West Virginia 10-2 Fiesta
Career   104-62-2 .619
  Michigan 0-0 .000


Date Opponent Location 2008 CHS Prediction Result
8/30/08 Utah Ann Arbor, MI L  
9/06/08 Miami (Ohio) Ann Arbor, MI W  
9/13/08 at Notre Dame South Bend, IN L  
9/27/08 Wisconsin Ann Arbor, MI L  
10/04/08 Illinois Ann Arbor, MI L  
10/11/08 Toledo Ann Arbor, MI W  
10/18/08 at Penn State State College, PA L  
10/25/08 Michigan State Ann Arbor, MI L  
11/01/08 at Purdue W. Lafayette, IN L  
11/08/08 at Minnesota Minneapolis, MN W  
11/15/08 Northwestern Ann Arbor, MI W  
11/22/08 at Ohio State Columbus, OH L  
   Coaches Hot Seat Prediction   4-8  


Coaches Hot Seat Analysis

With all that has happened since Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia for Michigan last December, it is very hard to remember what we thought of Rodriguez during his "pre-buyout debacle" coaching career.  The very first time we became aware of Rich Rodriguez was when he showed up on Tommy Bowden's staff as the offensive coordinator at Tulane.  The spread offense that Rodriguez ran with great effectiveness at Tulane, and later at Clemson under Bowden, left us with the impression of an up and coming assistant, and it was only natural that West Virginia would turn to WVU alumnus Rodriguez when Don Nehlen retired.  What we did not realize about Rodriguez in his pre-head coaching days was the amount of influence he was having on offenses in college football, and the number of coaches that were starting to utilize his spread techniques/offense in their own football programs.  Sometime in Rodriguez's 2nd or 3rd year at West Virginia, we started paying attention to Rodriguez, including the way he was reshaping the Mountaineer football program, the spread offense that he was running at WVU, and the recruits he was bringing to Morgantown.  Of course, in Rodriguez's 5th year at WVU in 2005, the Mountaineer win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl marked Rodriguez as one top young coaches in the game.  The first time that we heard that something might be going wrong with Rodriguez at West Virginia was in 2006, when there were comments out on the street that Rodriguez might be looking to leave WVU if the right offer came along after the '06 season.  Evidently the right offer did come along, when Alabama offered their job to Rodriguez and Rich's now infamous agent Mike Brown spent two days in Tuscaloosa negotiating a contract for Rodriguez to take the head coaching job at Alabama.  The terms of that contract were somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.75 million a year (about a million less a year than Alabama ended up paying Saban) and the people at Alabama will tell you today that they believed that Rodriguez had accepted the job and that they had a new head coach.  Of course, Don Nehlen and other prominent WVU alumni rallied to keep Rodriguez at West Virginia (Alabama moved onto to Nick Saban), but for some reason the problems that caused Rodriguez to get to the brink of taking the Alabama job never really went away.  Whether it was just the $4 million dollar buyout that West Virginia insisted on (as they should have), or if there were other issues that Rodriguez was not happy about at WVU, clearly Rodriguez was distraught just after the loss in the Pittsburgh game last fall, which led to him and his agent to contact Michigan about their head coach job opening.


The loss to Pittsburgh last fall that cost Rodriguez and West Virginia a spot in the national title game is the turning point in this sad story, because there is no doubt in our mind that if West Virginia had beat the Panthers, Rodriguez would still be working in Morgantown right now.  Watching the West Virginia-Pittsburgh game is like watching an old episode of the Twilight Zone, because the WVU team that showed up that night looked like a totally different team than the one that had played the rest of the '07 season.  It is obvious from the kick-off of the game against Pitt that West Virginia was extremely tight, and there is only one person at WVU that could have impacted the team to such a degree that they could barely execute a snap from center, and that man is Rich Rodriguez.  Why would one of the most dominant teams in college football in the '07 season, be so tight against a team in Pitt that arrived in Morgantown with a 4-7 record?  What could have possibly led to the chaos of the Pitt game that as we watch it now, looks to us like some the West Virginia players were actually getting a kick out of watching Rodriguez meltdown on the sideline?  There is always a reason that a team plays in a certain way, and watching Rodriguez in the Pitt game, Rodriguez strikes us as someone that is worried how a loss to Pitt will effect Rich Rodriguez, rather than how it will effect the West Virginia football program.  That observation, along with watching Rodriguez operate in the last couple of years, explains everything that happened between the WVU loss to Pitt and Rodriguez and Michigan agreeing to pay the entire $4 million dollar buyout last week.  It is now very obvious that this entire West Virginia buyout debacle wasn't about principle, or even a disagreement between the two parties.  This entire thing was about Rich Rodriguez, because everything in Rich Rodriguez's life is about Rich Rodriguez.  It is very easy to pick out a narcissist in today's world, by the way they talk about themselves and how they believe that things that happen in the world are all related to whether it either helps or hurts their life.  American Heritage defines a narcissist as:  "A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem."  Is there a better definition of Rodriguez's behavior in the last couple of years at West Virginia that that definition of a narcissist?  Not in our mind, and we have no doubt that if Rodriguez continues this behavior it will be his undoing on the much larger stage that is Michigan football.  If you don't believe that Rich Rodriguez exhibits narcissist behavior, just listen to Rodriguez in a press conference or when he is talking to reporters and notice how many times he says "I" instead of "team," and "me" and "my players" instead of "our team."  Rodriguez talks about himself all of the time and in our opinion we believe that he has shown by his actions in the past 7 months that he really does not care how his behavior has affected his alma mater in West Virginia, or even his new employer in Michigan for that matter. 


One interesting story that we would like to relate is from the Fiesta Bowl from this past January, when Bill Stewart had an opportunity to coach and field a West Virginia team that was not under the influence of Rodriguez.  We had an opportunity to see the West Virginia players up close on the sidelines in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, and they looked and acted like a totally different team from what we experienced and saw when Rodriguez was still the head coach.  Anyone that watched the Fiesta Bowl and saw how well the West Virginia players reacted to Rodriguez's departure and their opponent in Oklahoma, certainly left that game thinking that something was going on within the WVU football program when Rodriguez was the head coach. 


With the buyout debacle behind him, Rich Rodriguez now can start fresh at Michigan and try to move beyond the mess that he has made of his departure from West Virginia.  The only relevant question going forward is:  Will Rich Rodriguez succeed at Michigan?  It is our opinion that if a head football coach can win games and conference titles at West Virginia, he can certainly win at Michigan, and we fully expect to Rodriguez to build a winning football program in Ann Arbor.  Rodriguez will face much tougher competition in the Big Ten than the Big East, because there will be at least a-half-a-dozen Big Ten teams on Michigan's schedule each year that can beat the Wolverines.  The expectations at Michigan are very high, and Rodriguez was not hired to be competitive in the Big Ten, but rather to dominate their main rival in Ohio State, to win conference titles, and National Championships, and those expectations will be how "success" will be measured for Rodriguez at Michigan in the coming years.  It is very hard to predict if Rodriguez will live up to those expectations, especially because his actions since his departure from West Virginia have done tremendous damage to the "Rodriguez" brand, and in the cut-throat world of recruiting, Rodriguez has only hurt himself and Michigan by his behavior.  Getting great recruits and student-athletes to Michigan will determine whether Rodriguez will be able to bring championships to Ann Arbor, and it is impossible to know whether Rodriguez can out-recruit the programs that he will have to compete against in the Big Ten conference going forward.


Rich Rodriguez dug a deep hole for himself with the way he handled his departure from West Virginia, but he has the coaching ability to get himself out of the current mess, and we wish him luck with his new challenge in Ann Arbor.  Michigan is a great football program, they have great fans and alumni, and they deserve a great football team.  We are going to have great fun watching Rodriguez over the next few years to see if he can perform at the highest level of the game.  Good Luck!


Coaches Hot Seat Bottom Line

We predict that Rich Rodriguez and Michigan will have a 4-8 record in 2008.  Rich Rodriguez in his first game at Michigan could probably not have a tougher non-BCS out-of-conference game to open the season, with the Utah Utes traveling to the Big House for one of the most interesting games of the opening weekend.  Utah played much better and more consistently under Whittingham in 2008, and they will bring a very good football to Ann Arbor, and we see Utah getting the win in Rodriguez's first game, which drops the Michigan record to 0-1.  Week 2 is another tough game for Michigan with MAC conference team Miami (Ohio) traveling to Ann Arbor.  After an opening season loss, we see Michigan playing a little better in this game to get the win over Miami (Ohio), which takes their record to 1-1.  Week 3 is Rodriguez's first step onto the big stage, with a trip to South Bend to play Charlie Weis and the Fighting Irish.  Notre Dame should be a better team in '08 than they were in the '07 season, and we see the Irish getting the win over Michigan, which drops the Wolverine record to 1-2.  The Big Ten schedule gets under way in week 4 with Wisconsin visiting Ann Arbor, and Rodriguez will get an early taste of what the Big Ten is all about with the Badgers bringing their physical style of play to Ann Arbor.  Michigan should be starting to play better by week 4, but we see Wisconsin getting the win in this game.  After four games, Michigan is 1-3.  The Big Ten schedule continues with Ron Zook and the Illini traveling to Ann Arbor in week 5, and this will be two spread offenses going against each other, in what will be an example of what most Big Ten teams will probably look like in the coming years.  In a closer game than expected, we see Illinois getting the win in this game, which drops the Michigan record to 1-4.  Another MAC team in Toledo visits Ann Arbor in week 6 and this will not be a game that Michigan will be able to let up in, and in another close game, we see Michigan getting the win, which raises their record to 2-4.  Rich Rodriguez gets to play his first road game in the Big Ten, and boy is it a beaut with a trip to Happy Valley to play Penn State.  With over 105,000 crazy Penn State fans and a slightly better Nittany Lion team in '08, we see Penn State getting a win in this game.  After seven games, Michigan is 2-5.  Mark Dantonio and Michigan State arrive in Ann Arbor in week 8 and Rodriguez has probably already learned this is not a game he will be able to lose on any kind of regular basis.  The problem for Rodriguez is that Mark Dantonio is not going to be a walkover, and in the coming years Rodriguez might do very well to just split the series with Spartans, and unfortunately that will just not be good enough for the Michigan fans.  Dantonio has brought a lot of stability and has changed the mindset at Michigan State in his short time there, and we believe MSU will beat UM in this game.  After eight games, Michigan is 2-6.  If Michigan is 2-6 after eight games, the trip to West Lafayette to play Joe Tiller and the Boilermakers in week 9 will not be something that Rodriguez will be looking forward to.  After a Purdue commit changed his mind and signed with Michigan earlier this year, Tiller said about Rodriguez, If we had an early signing date, you wouldn’t have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that’s what happened.”  Now that is a hellava line, and we believe Purdue will be ready to play the Wolverines and get the win in this game.  After nine games, Michigan is 2-7.  In week 10 Michigan travels to Minnesota in what will be Tim Brewster's second year, and this should be a very close game between two teams that are looking to find their footing.  We believe Michigan will get the win in this game, which raises their record to 3-7.  In week 11 Northwestern travels to Ann Arbor and this should be another close Big Ten game with Michigan pulling away in the 2nd half to get the win.  After 11 games, Michigan is 4-7.  Michigan ends the season with a trip to Columbus to play the Ohio State Buckeyes, and this will be the first of several battles between Rich Rodriguez and Jim Tressel.  Jim Tressel is 11 years older than Rodriguez, which is not all that much different than the age difference between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler (16 years) and there certainly is an opportunity for 10 or so games between Rodriguez and Tressel in the coming years.  If Rich Rodriguez has the desire to win championships (if he doesn't he is coaching at the wrong place) then he is going to have to find a way to beat Jim Tressel and Ohio State a majority of the time, and Rodriguez is going to find in this first match-up with the Buckeyes just how difficult of a challenge that is going to be.  We see Ohio State getting a couple of touchdowns win in this game, and that sends the Michigan '08 regular season record to 4-8.


Is 4-8 acceptable for Rich Rodriguez in his first year at Michigan?  Of course not, but Rodriguez is bringing an entirely new culture and type of offense to Michigan, and it is going to be a tremendous challenge to get all of the Wolverine players on the same page, and the Big Ten is just too tough of a place these days to not have your team playing at their highest level.  The schedule also works against Rodriguez, with one tough out-of-conference game in Utah, and many very tough Big Ten games at home.  Overall, 4-8 record will be a big letdown for the Michigan fans, but with the amount of change that Rodriguez is bringing to the Wolverine football program every win over 4 wins will be an accomplishment, and a .500 record in year 1 would be a minor miracle.


2008 Coaches Hot Seat Prediction:    4-8


Will Rich Rodriguez be back for the 2009 season?      YES










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