At this point, Michigan fans have had a couple weeks to know about where the football program would finish this season, and people have been finalizing their opinions on Coach Rodriguez's job security for some time now.
I think it's fair to say the majority of the fanbase as a whole wants Coach Rod canned - the NCAA violations, the spread, the Big Ten record, losing streaks to conference powers and rivals, the complete and utter lack of defense. It's a wholly reasonable opinion, as Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan has been an utter embarrassment, and it's hard to keep coming up with excuses for the coach. Emotionally, Michigan fans feel like enough is enough, and are ready to forgive Jim Harbaugh's comments about Michigan's standards to hire the architect of the turnaround in Palo Alto.
There's another sizable contingent who says Rodriguez deserves another year. Three years is a short amount of time in the scheme of things, and he's still getting his recruits in place and up to speed in his schemes. Rodriguez has been the victim of an absurd amount of transfers, injuries, and admissions snafus, and inherited a certifiably awful 2007 recruiting class from Lloyd Carr. He's demonstrated progress - an explosive offense behind the nation's most electrifying player and seven wins and a bowl in his third season. Giving Rodriguez another year to get Michigan back to contending for the Big Ten championship would help avoid what could be a rash of transfers and would provide some much needed continuity that's important for player development and recruiting.
Dave Brandon does not have an enviable position as he heads home tonight, cell phone surely buzzing off the hook with alumni, former players, and friends offer their opinions on the fate of the coaching spot at the nation's winningest program. Whatever his decision, a couple things are clear:
- Anyone less than Jim Harbaugh will be a disappointment. The Stanford coach and "Michigan Man" (ed. some of us haven't forgiven his previous treachery) has expressed a desire to coach at his alma mater in the past, and he absolutely is the #1 choice of Michigan fans everywhere. Hiring anyone else would have fans scratching their heads and wringing their hands.
- Whoever coaches at Michigan next year should have a minimum expectation of 9 wins. Michigan will return 19 starters, will have one of the nation's most explosive offenses returning almost entirely intact, and will have improved depth and experience on defense. Michigan will have the talent to win 9 games next year, and anything less will be a major disappointment, no matter who the coach is.
- Michigan fans will continue to support their team wholeheartedly. Fans support the team far more than the coach, and nobody will care who coaches the team as long as the team is succeeding.
Bill: Fire Rodriguez. The time has come to make the change, and we owe Rodriguez nothing. Bring on Jim Harbaugh.
Andrew: Rodriguez should get one more year, for most of the reasons listed above. However, I won't be heartbroken if RichRod is out at Michigan. I like Rodriguez more than most people, and want badly for him to succeed, but I want much more for Michigan to succeed, and if Harbaugh gives Michigan that chance then so be it. I think it would be premature to fire Rodriguez, but I can certainly understand the decision if it happens.
AD Dave Brandon will surely have to do some damage control if he plans on keeping Rodriguez, and you should expect the former CEO to crank up the PR very soon if Rodriguez is the guy. If he decides to fire Rodriguez, expect the decision to come sooner than later, and expect Harbaugh to be the pick. We'll know a lot more on Monday.
Bonus rumor: Update - We're going to go ahead and repost the rumor. It's precisely that, a rumor, and it should by no means be interpreted as anything more. If the powers that be have an issue with this, please email me at email@example.com.
Following the fiasco in Columbus, a couple WCBN personalities were informed by a source that Rich Rodriguez would be replaced by Jim Harbaugh, and that Rodriguez would be headed to Miami to take over the head coaching job there. We were initially highly skeptical, but with the firing of Randy Shannon a few hours after we received this tip, have reason to be a bit more confident that this will happen. Some of us are much more skeptical than others, and the Shannon firing wasn't exactly a major surprise, but there's enough here in our minds to leave it up on the blog. It's all very interesting. We'll see how it plays out.
Update II - WCBN has learned through a source within the University of Miami administration that the U and Rich Rodriguez have been in contact. What this means, however, is unknown. Everybody contacts everybody with these coaching searches, and it could be nothing more than Miami reaching out to RichRod only to be rebuffed. However, we believe there has been contact, which is interesting enough to pass along.
Whoever the coach - forever and always, Go Blue.