Monday, November 22, 2010
Three Spankings and You're Out!
Can Rich Rodriguez afford to lose this weekend to keep his job? Yes.
Can Rich Rodriguez afford for his team to get walloped in the biggest rivalry game in sports three times in a row? I doubt it.
I like Rich Rodriguez, but let's be honest: the man has done a poor job coaching arguably the best college football program in the country. I know the cupboard was empty when he came in 2008, I know he's faced an onslaught of freak injuries that continue to cripple his defense, and I know that it takes time to institute a new system such as the spread... but some things are simply inexcusable. Getting thwacked by Jim Tressel's Buckeyes after three years of building your program, no matter how decimated with injuries the Wolverines currently seem, is one of those things.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has been adamant about keeping Rich Rodriguez around Michigan's campus since the day Brandon was hired. According to Brandon, immediate success would not gauge Rich Rod's job security, but rather, "progress" would be key.
Call me crazy, but "progress" has yet to be accomplished by Rich Rod against the Big Ten's elite. Heck, some might say Michigan's regressed. Just last year the Michigan State Spartans and the Iowa Hawkeyes beat the Wolverines by margins of 6 and 2 respectively. And this year? Well, let's just say the combined margin was greater than 25, with both schools beating Michigan AT HOME by double digits.
Where is the progress? It's true that the maize and blue have improved their record every year under Rich Rodriguez, but Michigan has looked silly against Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State, and Wisconsin this year. No progress, it seems, has been made regarding how the Wolverines stack up to the top teams in the Big Ten conference.
The only good news for Rodriguez is that the trump card is still in play for 2010. The one game that matters more than the rest has yet to be played. A win against Ohio State, in my opinion, constitutes progress. Shoot, even a close game (within 10 points) would show that this team is on the rebound. But if history repeats itself and Michigan gets dominated by another Big Ten powerhouse, I'm just not so sure that Dave Brandon, with his self-imposed standards, can justify keeping Rich Rodriguez as the head coach of the University of Michigan football team.
I think three Buckeye-decorated spankings for Rich Rodriguez in three years, regardless of the circumstances, will mean he's out.