Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The writing may not be on the wall yet for Rich Rodriguez, but by this point, the guy on the ladder with the black paintbrush in his hands may as well get to work whether Dave Brandon has told him to or not.
An utterly miserable weekend for the Wolverine head coach wrapped up yesterday with the news that the jewel of Rodriguez's 2011 recruiting class, running back Demetrius Hart, had decided to back out of his commitment to Michigan. (Though Hart maybe hasn't made it officially official yet, it's hardly any kind of a secret at this stage.) Multiple credible reports state that Hart will be pledging to Alabama instead at this week's U.S. Army All-American game.
Keep in mind that Hart isn't just the highest-ranked prospect in this year's Wolverine; he's a top-100 recruit to mutliple recruiting services (though Maxpreps' Tom Lemming is less enthused , and ranks Hart as just the No. 11 running back, behind another Michigan commit, Justice Hayes), a consensus four-star recruit, and the potential answer at a position where the Wolverines received adequate-at-best production this season. In other words, he might also have been the best, most important recruit of Rodriguez's entire tenure ... and now he's gone. (Dee-committed, we might say.)
But it wouldn't be accurate to say Hart's departure is the final nail in the coffin. More likely, it's the latest, maybe clearest sign we've gotten that that nail has already been driven in. Yesterday we saw a coach who led his team onto the field for a bowl game the night before leave for another program the very next day; if we see the same tonight and tomorrow with Jim Harbaugh, though, it won't come as nearly as much of a shock as it did with Randy Edsall.