Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:46 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 3:25 pm

Reports: Rich Rodriguez fired at Michigan

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Following another lackluster season and his team's embarrassing 52-14 loss in the Gator Bowl on Saturday, questions swirled around Rich Rodriguez about whether he'd be back at Michigan next season. Now, it appears those questions have been answered.

According to Fox 2 in Detroit, Rich Rodriguez was fired today after a short meeting with athletic director Dave Brandon this afternoon. Michigan players were reportedly scheduled for a team meeting this evening to learn about Rodriguez's future with the program; such a meeting would probably be unnecessary now, with the news out.

[UPDATE: The Detroit Free Press is also reporting that Brandon will fire Rodriguez.]

Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan, then, will stand as follows: 15-22 overall record, 6-18 Big Ten record, and a litany of off-field problems including Michigan's first major NCAA violations. It's probably not much of a stretch for Brandon to declare those results unfit for Michigan football.

24 hours ago, any replacement talk would have started with Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh (a former Michigan quarterback), but reports came out late last night that Harbaugh was extremely unlikely to leave Stanford for Michigan. Who that leaves as a potential replacement now is, at this point, anybody's guess.

We'll have more on this story as it develops.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 11:29 am

RichRod to meet with AD Tuesday afternoon

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Given all the speculation about Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh leaving the school for another job, possibly for the same position at his alma mater Michigan, you have to wonder if Rich Rodriguez tuned in to any of the Orange Bowl last night.  Maybe he was in his office with an empty box.  Every time Stanford scored, he put something in the box, preparing for the departure many people seem to think is a foregone conclusion at this point.

The only variable in the equation in the eyes of most has been when Rodriguez will be informed his services are no longer needed in Ann Arbor.  Well, that decision could come on Tuesday.  Rodriguez is scheduled to meet with Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon on Tuesday afternoon.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon will meet with embattled coach Rich Rodriguez early this afternoon to discuss his future with the Wolverines football program, according to two people with knowledge of the meetings.
It’s not the only meeting expected today.
Members of the football team will attend a 7 p.m. meeting tonight to learn the fate of their head coach.

Which, in my opinion, means that Rodriguez is going to get fired this afternoon.  I've long felt that were he to be fired, it wouldn't be until after the Orange Bowl since Harbaugh is likely going to be Michigan's top choice.  Even if reports say that Harbaugh's not as interested in the job as many thought he would be.

Should it not be Harbaugh, then the smart money would be on San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: January 4, 2011 10:09 am

Harbaugh 'highly unlikely' to go to Michigan?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen
At this point, it's the worst-case scenario for Michigan and Wolverine athletic director Dave Brandon: let Rich Rodriguez twist in the wind for a month in the hopes of potentially landing Jim Harbaugh, watch Rodriguez's team get buried -- again -- in their bowl game, see recruits (and huge swaths of the fanbase) jump ship as the bulk of the free world assumes RichRod is a fired coach walking, watch Harbaugh destroy Virginia Tech in Stanford's bowl game as an indication of what the Wolverines would ge getting ... and then, finally, after all that, have Harbaugh tell his alma mater he's not interested after all.

But that's exactly the scenario Detroit Free-Press columnist Michael Rosenberg has laid out for the Wolverines, reporting that a source "with direct knowledge of Harbaugh’s thinking" has told him that the Orange Bowl champion is "highly unlikely" to accept an offer to become the new Michigan head man:
Harbaugh plans to decide this week whether he wants to take a job in the NFL. If he stays in college coaching, he has decided he will stay at Stanford, where he has built a potential powerhouse. It would take an extreme change of heart for Harbaugh to end up in Ann Arbor, according to the person, who did not want to be identified because Rich Rodriguez is still U-M’s coach.
If you're Stanford, it's time to do some cartwheels, since the assumption for nearly the entire bowl season has been that if Michigan didn't poach him away, some NFL suitor would. For the Cardinal to still be a serious option for Harbaugh at this late stage would be something of a victory in and of itself.

But if you're Michigan, well, whatever the opposite of a cartwheel is (pantomiming bashing one's own head with a hammer?), it's time to do that. If Rosenberg's source is accurate, the Wolverines are left in an almost untenable position; they either let Rodriguez coach (and recruit, or, more accurately, fail to recruit) another year with the guillotine publicly perched over his head, or they enter into a full-on coaching search with lots of other attractive candidates already spoken for and less than a month to go until Signing Day.

By waiting until after the bowl games, Brandon has essentially put all his eggs into Harbaugh's basket. If Harbaugh returns that basket with a note saying "thanks, but no thanks," Rodriguez's rocky tenure might only be the start of the Wolverines' misery.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 4:43 am

Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh have no comment

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Following the 40-12 beatdown that Stanford put on Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl tonight, there were obviously some questions facing Stanford QB Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh about their futures with the program. Luck is widely projected to be the top pick in the NFL draft if he chooses to declare for the draft (always a risky decision for a sophomore quarterback), while Harbaugh has been rumored to be unlikely to return to Stanford.

Naturally, reporters were acutely aware of both of these facts, and asked both Luck and Harbaugh about their plans going forward. Both men were forthcoming and candid and everything in the first part of this sentence is a lie.

Harbaugh was clearly pleased with his quarterback's performance under pressure and followed Luck's lead shortly thereafter:

Now, obviously, refusing to comment on tough questions isn't exactly a new development, and while some players -- see: Jordan Todman -- are comfortable with declaring for the draft immediately after their bowl games, it's obviously acceptable if others want to wait before making any announcements. Further, if Harbaugh were really looking to upgrade from his perch at Stanford, it would be horribly tone-deaf of him to make any announcement to that effect immediately after the bowl game while his players are still celebrating.

Still, the lack of comment is, in and of itself, a comment; if it were really Luck's or Harbaugh's intention to return in 2011, what better stage exists on which to make the decision public?

Of course, that assumes either gentleman's mind is already made up, and that could very well not be the case. Supposed "done deals" fall through routinely, and that's not necessarily the fault of those involved or even those making the reports in the first place. We could well be in that position again, especially with Harbaugh (if Luck doesn't declare for the draft, he's insane). So, patience, Cardinal fans; there's more information to come in the days and weeks ahead.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: January 4, 2011 8:35 am

Bowl Grades: Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Stanford holds Virginia Tech to a scoreless second half in their 40-12 win for the Orange Bowl title.


Offense - Stanford put together one of the most complete offensive second halves that Virginia Tech has seen all season after holding a 13-12 halftime lead. They did it the way they've done all season, with a balanced attack of rushing and passing. The final damage totaled an evenly distributed 534 yards of total offense, with quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way with 287 yards passing and four touchdowns. After being frustrated by Virginia Tech's defense in the first half, Luck adjusted at halftime. With the chains off, Luck's presence opened up the run game as well for Stanford, proving once again why they are the best one-loss teams in America The Cardinal fans may have seen their last of Andrew Luck in that jersey, but it was one heck of a farewell show. GRADE: A-

Defense - Virginia Tech has a backfield full of playmakers, and Stanford absolutely shut down the Hokie rushing attack. The Hokies were held to only 66 yards as a team on the ground, and the Cardinal successfully turned the Hokies into a one-dimensional team by the second half. Once they accomplished that, Stanford began turning up the pressure on Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor, normally elusive and cool under pressure, was sacked eight times and forced into throwing a crucial interception in the third quarter that led to a two play, 97 yard scoring drive. If the Hokies had scored on that position, they could have tied the game at 19, but instead the Cardinal defense answered and changed the gameplan entirely for the Virginia Tech offense. GRADE: A

Coaching - When John Harbaugh gave his interview right before halftime, he mentioned that he liked "some" of what Stanford was able to get done in the first half. Andrew Luck mentioned after the game the change was about the little things. This was one of those moments when you determine that someone is one of best coaches in college football. Harbaugh and the Stanford staff repurposed Stanford's scheme at half to match defensive coordinator Bud Foster in the ongoing coaching chess match. As we saw, it worked out well for the Cardinal. Having said that, Harbaugh is so gone. His stock won't get any higher than it is right now, and the way he treated the question all night just left a feeling that he was ignoring the inevitable.  GAME: A


Offense - Tyrod Taylor had one incredible play. Don't let that go unnoticed. But the Virginia Tech rushing attack of Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, and David Wilson combined for only 44 yards, well below the trio's average. The rushing attack usually helps keep the defense honest and allows Taylor to make more plays. The offensive line also struggled late to pick up the blitzes, and the Hokie offense could not find any kind of production in the second half against Stanford. GRADE: D+

Defense - Virginia Tech has been strong defending the run for most of the season, but for the first time since Boise State (the last time they played a Top 5 ranked team) strong defensive play was negated by giving up the home run. Throughout the game, strong stops would be quickly overshadowed by a crucial and/or big yard play by the Stanford offense. The few highlights the Hokies defense did have occurred in the first half, but by the end of 40 points and 534 yards a few highlights won't give you a good grade here. GRADE: D

Coaching - Bud Foster dialed up a new set of blitzes that gave the Stanford offense fits in the first half. Unfortunately, Harbaugh and the rest of the Cardinal staff adjusted at halftime and Virginia Tech had no counter. The speed with which the game got out of hand in the third quarter was surprising considering how resilient this Virginia Tech team has been all season. I assumed that the Hokies would need to play a full 60 minutes of hard-fought football in order to win. One half of perfect football wasn't enough to win against one of the better teams in Stanford's school history. GRADE: C-

FINAL GRADE: I was really excited about this game, and figured that it had the chances to be a quarterback duel for the history books between Luck and Taylor. Instead, I was most impressed with Stanford's defense and Harbaugh's ability to adjust at half. The game quickly turned into a promotional piece for Luck and his head coach. Now we will wait and wade through days filled with sources and tips, all claiming to know the fates of Harbaugh and Luck. My guess? Both gone. No sources, just a hunch. FWIW. GRADE: B-
Posted on: January 3, 2011 11:06 pm

VIDEO: Tyrod Taylor's Sideline Touchdown Throw

Posted by Chip Patterson

At halftime, the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl has been a grueling battle so far, with Stanford leading 13-12.  The Goo Goo Dolls are playing the halftime show, so naturally it is time to share with you some awesomeness from the first half.  

Five minutes into the second quarter, Tyrod Taylor needed just a little bit more time in order to find David Wilson in the end zone for the Hokies' first touchdown of the game.  Just make a man miss, do a quick spin move, tip toe the sideline, and deliver the perfect pass along the sideline.  Simple stuff, right?

(H/T: @bubbaprog)

Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 12:36 pm

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Discover Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Basics: Virginia Tech and Stanford meet in the Discover Orange Bowl on Monday night in Miami at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Why To Watch: Many fans have complained about the level of play in the games thus far in the bowl season. If you enjoyed the thrill of the Rose Bowl, you can expect a similar battle in Sun Life Stadium on Monday. After losing to Oregon in Autzen Stadium, the Cardinal took matters into their own hands to prove themselves as the best one-loss team in the nation. Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck led Stanford as they won the last seven games of their schedule by an average margin of 22.0 points.

Virginia Tech has been on quite the tear themselves, having won 11 straight after starting the season 0-2. The Hokies fell to Boise State and James Madison in a five day span that caused many to write the Hokies off in 2010. When Virginia Tech picked themselves up, they stormed into conference play with a "refuse to lose" attitude that carried them all the way to their fourth ACC Championship since joining the conference in 2004. Whether it was coming back from a 17 point halftime deficit at N.C. State or knocking off Georgia Tech with a fourth quarter kickoff return TD, the Hokies have displayed a resiliency in each game that is representative of their season.

As far as personnel goes, the game could end up being a duel between two of college football's hottest quarterbacks. Luck, likely the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, has been phenomenal all season and will look to finish strong what will likely be his last season at Stanford. Virginia Tech has been led by ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, who has overcome multiple injuries throughout his career to thrive in his final season in Blacksburg. Taylor entered with expectations of the next Michael Vick, but it has not been until 2010 when those comparisons have really felt accurate. Both quarterbacks are as dangerous with their legs as they are with their arms, and it should make for a thrilling back and forth between the two teams.

Keys to victory for Stanford: Establish the running game early, and use it to dictate the pace of the game. So much focus is put on Luck's ability to spread the ball out to several receivers, running back Stepfan Taylor is often overlooked as one of the most consistent aspects to the Cardinal offense. Averaging just over 85 yards per game, and ranking second in the Pac-10 with 15 touchdowns, Stanford can utilize Taylor to control the game - particularly if the Hokies are forced to focus heavily on defending the pass. Getting penetration into the Virginia Tech backfield will be crucial for Stanford as well, forcing Tyrod Taylor to make decisions on the run out of the pocket. Taylor is at his best when he has protection to hang in the pocket and then take off up the middle, Stanford should focus on forcing him to the sidelines where he has less room to make people miss in the open field.

Keys to victory for Virginia Tech: The Hokies have to play a complete game against Stanford. The Cardinal are so talented on both sides of the ball, not to mention well-coached and tough as nails. There will be no opportunities to take a play off and certainly no second chances for Virginia Tech. This is a winnable game for the Hokies, but they must be as close to mistake-free as possible. Stanford didn't blow out all of their opponents this year, but they did a great job of wearing down their opponents. It would be incredibly unoriginal for me to reference "Beamer Ball," but if the Hokies can get a big play out of their special teams unit it could be the deciding factor in a gritty matchup that could come down to the final minutes.

The Orange Bowl is like: One of the "other" Summer Blockbusters. You know those summers when Hollywood trots out a series of big budget movies? Well the Orange Bowl is like the Memorial Day release. It's not going to get the July 4th treatment or anything like that, but it certainly will set the tone for the rest of the summer season. The Orange Bowl has the potential to be one of those memorable games, so getcha popcorn ready.
Posted on: January 1, 2011 7:22 pm

Two VT players suspended for missing curfew

Posted by Chip Patterson

As Virginia Tech prepares for the greatest test of their 11 game win streak against Stanford in the Orange Bowl, the last thing that head coach Frank Beamer wants to do is doubt his team's focus.  ESPN.com's Heather Dinich reported Saturday that two Virginia Tech players have been suspended for the first quarter of Monday's Orange Bowl for missing their 1 a.m. curfew on New Years Eve.  Running back David Wilson and safety Antone Exum will miss the first quarter of the Orange Bowl as punishment for missing curfew.

“We’re going to keep them out of the first quarter of the ball game, take some of their travel money, and that will be the end of that,” Beamer said regarding the suspensions. “The good thing is they were in their hotel, the bad thing is they were out of their room. They knew they needed to be in there.”

Wilson is a crucial part of the return game, and also the next in line behind Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.  With Williams a game-time decision due to a re-aggravated hamstring, the suspension could result in a heavy load early for Evans.  Wilson is expected to be replaced in the return game by talented defensive back Rashad Carmichael.  Exum is listed second on the Virginia Tech two-deep depth chart, and has played in all 13 games this season.  

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com