Three losing seasons, no wins against Ohio State and NCAA violations leading to a three year probation weren’t enough to get Michigan coach Rich Rodriquez fired. However the 38 point loss to Mississippi State on New Year’s day did the trick. RichRod was fired from his job Tuesday.
It was never a good fit. Not only did Rodriquez run the wrong offense, but he walked onto the Michigan campus minus one thing. A Michigan degree. Without that piece of paper RichRod was outside of the mainstream for Michigan alumni. Not a “Michigan man” as Bo Schembechler once stated. Only a Michigan man can coach Michigan and that is where the new search will begin.
When Lloyd Carr was fired 4 years ago, the first choice was LSU coach Les Miles. Miles coached under Schembechler making him a Michigan man, and was coming off winning the National Championship. Miles was at home in Baton Rouge and not interested in leaving for the cold weather in Ann Arbor. Things may have changed now.
Miles has come under fire for several coaching “snafus” over the past 3 years. His inability to manage the clock late in games has left many LSU fans wondering if he is the coach that can lead them back to a national title. This unrest among the home fires might be the nudge Miles needs this time to accept an interview and an offer if the Wolverines want him.
Fitting the Michigan bill is Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh already has the diploma from Michigan and spent 15 years in the NFL. A three year starter at QB for the Wolverines, Harbaugh led Michigan to 3 strait bowl appearances and won the Big Ten player of the Year in 1986, finishing third in the Heisman Trophy race. But it’s Harbaugh’s success turning Stanford into a national power that has Michigan and other college and pro teams salivating.
Harbaugh, by winning Monday night’s Orange Bowl over Virginia Tech, finished with a 12-1 record. Losing only to Pac Ten Champ and Number one ranked Oregon 52-31. In his 4 years at Stanford, Harbaugh has a record of 29-21. But it’s the constant growth of the program and the emergence of Andrew Luck as the premier quarterback in the country that has many wanting to speak with Harbaugh.
Michigan will be fine. A new coach will be hired and the program will flourish. But what about Rich Rodriquez? Will the Michigan experience tarnish what was a great image? The image may be scorched, but RichRod will find other employment. And possibly right down the road. Rodriquez is already a proven winner in the Big East at West Virginia, and as it happens Pittsburgh is looking for a new coach after the Mike Haywood debacle. Rodriquez has established his spread offense is a winner in the Big East, and Pitt needs to settle down their coaching search. This would seem to be a match made in the steel city.
Michigan will knock on the doors of Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh, hoping to knock down one of them to get their new head coach. Rodriquez is out of the fire in Ann Arbor and looking to enter it elsewhere. Pittsburgh could be the right place for him at the right time.