Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Michigan Better Off Saving Rich Rodriguez? I Say Yes


The surroundings in Ann Arbor are somber. This season alone, reality has exposed a peculiar scenario inside a prestigious program.

Considering mystique has dwindled in the last two seasons under head coach Rich Rodriguez, skeptics instantly doubt that his coaching methods isn’t befitting within a superior school.

Mired in utter disarray, the primary option is pleading for Rodriguez to be fired for underachieving in his second season. But folks in Michigan fail to realize, the embattled coach hasn’t really been giving an opportunity in two seasons. Sometimes, it takes more than two seasons, turning a depleted and unsuccessful program into a legitimate contender.

Besides RichRods’ failures of turning the Michigan Wolverines into Michigan Men as the late Bo Schembechler presented for decades, Rodriguez is responsible for staining the program's image in most perspectives.

The pride of Michigan was corrupted when Rodriguez allegedly violated NCAA rules as well as losing 16 games in two seasons. If the allegations are true, the administration would be embarrassed to accompany an embattled Rodriguez. As we know, athletic director Bill Martin abandoned the Lloyd Carr reign, rekindling a weakened tradition before a well-known practice reduced ideal.

But losing twice against Ohio State is awful on Rodriguez’s resume. Put it this way, it’s similar to having two strikes for committing a heinous crime. In this case, though, RichRod is identified as the scapegoat of Michigan’s problematic downfalls, when it remains unknown if struggling to guide the Wolverines to a BCS game is really his fault.

It’s premature to blame Rodriguez of breakdowns. In history, it’s difficult doubting a man known for redeeming himself of fluctuant seasons. Putting Rodriguez under fire could be a regrettable mistake. He’s responsible for strengthening a disregarded Big East Conference during a highly praised coaching tenure at West Virginia, where he elevated an uninspiring program.

His popularity ascended and expanded coaching opportunities in the future, in which he was evaluated as a potential candidate for schools interested in his coaching abilities. Despite the losing percentage and failing to secure top quarterback prospect Terrelle Pryor, Rodriguez is a brilliant recruiter and assembled effective tools for building a dynamic class.

By any means, his shrewd standards haven’t met the criteria of Michigan’s athletics. One reason is, he allowed archrivals Ohio State to snatch their next top-notch quarterback. Secondly, the allegations humiliated a much-respected program. And thirdly, he’s not winning enough games to qualify for BCS games.

Some folks in Michigan still aren’t stomaching the outbidding failures of not grabbing Pryor. Instead, the Wolverines were mocked and beguiled by the Buckeyes interest in Pryor. Losing out on the bid emotionally hurt Michigan fans and damaged Rodriguez’s credibility. As it stands, he’s being doubted for all the blunders he has committed of late as we are blinded of what has transpired in his previous coaching job.

Even if Michigan wasn’t as competent, firing Rodriguez isn’t the solution. It’s understandable the Wolverines were formerly a primary school in the nation, but patience is the key if angling for success. Giving Rodriguez another season to turn around two seasons of dismal only seems rational.

Of course, influencing a displeased fan base to plead for Rodriguez’s return is impossible. As tradition carries on, Michigan fans are never too delighted after a demoralizing 21-10 loss to the Buckeyes. But even worst is the fact he became the first coach to lose two games to Ohio State. Since the season has come to a close, fans waved farewell to RichRod on Saturday and hoisted anti-Rodriguez banners. Those are indications of an unstable job status with all the chaos staining the winningest program in college football.

Seeing Michigan’s mystique dwindle is unforeseen, particularly when they’re guided by one of the acclaimed coaches in the nation. More shockingly, he was accused for over practicing and working players, which is prohibited in NCAA rules. Knowingly, Rodriguez has to have a winning season to clear his name of accusations. It’s a remedy for saving his job, if Martin withholds his dismissal.

But if not, Richie Rich isn’t liable according to his $2.5 million contract over six seasons as the buyout decreases by $500,000 each season. Unless the program starts winning a significant amount of games and reaches a national title or a BCS bowl game, he’s guaranteed a bonus. But earning big cash is unlikely, if he continues to suffocate and doesn’t repeat similar deeds as at West Virginia.

In the midst of disasters, tradition has diminished under RichRod. But he has been giving another shot to redeem flaws, when Martin acknowledged he’ll endorse Rodriguez. For now, he’ll remain Michigan’s head coach entering next season. Without hesitating, Martin utterly informed the media of their coaches’ job status.

“Rich Rodriguez is our coach”, he said. “I and the administration fully support him, and you’ll see him in the future.”

That’s a wise choice, bringing back a coach whose pattern has been to struggle in the first few seasons, but gradually inspire a program. Martin is aware of his ability to turn a downcast program into an elite competitor. And if so, instead of criticizing, we’ll praise RichRod for the turnaround.

Although he’s 8-16 in two seasons as Michigan head coach, the Wolverines seemed as if they were the pesky Michigan Men. They won their first four games of the season, but collapsed late and finished with a 5-7 record. Last year, setting a historic milestone wasn’t momentous, but somewhat disturbing to their trademark. An unusual sequence of a 3-9 losing season was the first in school history since 1962-63 season.

So, it’s understandable on why he’s taking a beaten in Michigan. But giving up on RichRod, Michigan might not strive for a long time and would need to adapt to a new coaching system. The players have adjusted to Rodriguez’s schemes, confident next season is bound to offer positive developments. If nobody else believes in RichRod, I believe he has a large influence on the future.

As the time progress, let’s not give up on RichRod. Like they utter “Go Blue”, I’ll utter Go RichRod.