Posted on: February 18, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 4:57 pm
Sometimes there isn't enough room, even on the Internet. Here are four more spring things to follow 25 Spring Things To Watch ...
YouTube sensation Johnny McEntee called this week. We chatted a bit about the fallout from his monster video "Johnny Mack Trick Shot Quarterback".
The Connecticut quarterback is a fourth-year walk-on from Southern California. The reason he came East is because he got only Division III interest in the L.A. area. At least at UConn, he gets to experience a big-time program. When I asked him his status for this season, he confidently stated "backup". McEntee hasn't thrown a pass in three seasons.
He says news outlets from around the world have e-mailed with questions (Japan, Hungary, Italy). As of Friday, the video had been viewed 4.6 million times. It took about 14 hours on one day a couple of weeks ago to get all the tricks accomplished. Did he ever anticipate a lazy Saturday with a camera turning into such a sensation?
"No way," Johnny Mac said. "It's crazy."
As for the future, there has to be a way of monetizing -- big corporate word -- his talents. Maybe a series of Johnny Mac Trick Shot videos? The public is willing to watch them. Would they be willing to pay for them?
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it," he said.
Don't be a former Miami coach: Got to thinking about this when Randy Shannon recently spurned Maryland which was ready to give the former Hurricanes' coach a soft landing spot as defensive coordinator. The Baltimore Sun reported that Shannon turned down the job because he would have lost $1.5 million in buyout money from Miami. It looks like it is more lucrative to sit on the sidelines as an ex-Hurricane coach than to be employed.
It's not exactly a curse but consider the careers of these former Miami coaches since Jimmy Johnson ... None of them improved their career after leaving the Hurricanes. Which is strange. Howard Schnellenberger had been in the NFL. JJ was at Oklahoma State. They actually made their careers in South Florida.
Dennis Erickson, at Miami 1989-94: He went to a BCS bowl with Oregon State and dallied with the Seahawks before spending one year at Idaho. In his last three seasons at Arizona State, Erickson is 15-21.
Butch Davis, 1995-2000: Butch restored Miami to national contention then abruptly left for the NFL where he was largely unsuccessful. Davis has never won more than eight games at North Carolina. His best coaching job may have come in 2010 after suspensions and blossoming agent scandal crippled the program.
Larry Coker, 2001-06: Deserves more credit than he ever gets from vicious Miami fans. Coker kept together the 2001 recruiting class when Davis left, then won a national championship in his first season. Currently, Coker is the coach at Texas-San Antonio which is on track to migrate to Division I-A and join the WAC.
Bet Al Golden didn't think about any of that when he took the job. He's better off thinking about this: The last four Miami coaches are a combined 36-11 in their first seasons.
Nebraska Nowledge: Nebraska fans got their wish -- again. New conference. New offensive coordinator.
It was announced Wednesday that Tim Beck (promoted from running backs coach) has replaced Shawn Watson and will help with the installation of the new zone read option offense. One issue: As of Friday afternoon, no one really knows what happened to Watson. Was he fired? Did he resign? Is he jumping the Snake River Canyon in a rocket? Is he still on staff sweeping the halls? Nebraska isn't saying and no one can seem to find Watson. Bet that he is quietly going about finding his next job.
What Bo Pelini did was spare Watson the public embarrassment of being fired or having to resign. In a convoluted way, that's a classy move by Bo.
As for Beck, the hope is that quarterback Taylor Martinez stays healthy enough -- and, ahem, determined enough -- to run the new offense. Hanging over the situation is the addition of recruit Bubba Starling -- for now. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Starling could compete for the starting job in August, or sign with a Major League team.
You read it here first: On Thursday, TCU and BYU announced their Oct. 28 game at Cowboys Stadium. That was a week after Dodds and Ends had it.
This week's feedback feedbag ...
Dennis, I have been in the medical profession for 14 years. The issue here is DEHYDRATION. These kids were obviously worked to extreme conditions but they were not hydrated properly. I have seen Rhabdo over the years in the hospital and you can't believe the ridiculous situations people put themselves through that leads to this condition. You might want to consider an article regarding the lack of proper hydration and where was Iowa's nutritional staff? Just a thought.
It's hard to believe in this day and age that coaches are still keeping players from getting enough water. That's Junction Boys type of stuff. How in the name of Vince Lombardi does that make them better football players.
Of course, none of us know what happened (yet) at Iowa. That's part of the reason I wrote the story. As long as this mystery hangs over the program everything is on the table. Dehydration? Creatine? Transfers? We don't know if the players were mistreated. We don't know if they'll all be back next season. We don't know if everyone on the staff will still have a job in a couple of months.
I do know there are some parents that are upset. They should be.
Hey Dennis, This is a good article because this kind of thing needs to be brought to the fore. However, I don't see any part of the story that says that some players actually want to leave......? I also liked your coverage of the pay-for-play scam that the Rev. (Cecil) Newton and his son were leveraging on the title-hungry SEC. It is really too bad that has all died out - it was a HUGE story ... Keep up the good work.......your opinion IS appreciated.
Thanks for the kind words. Don't know how you found your way in here with all the haters from Iowa.
As to your point, once again, we don't KNOW how many kids want to leave. That's the story. Questions need to be asked. I tried to find out, believe me. That's all I can do. There is no information coming out of Iowa. It's our (media) job to get as much information as we can. The public deserves it. None of us should have to wait three months for the school's own investigation to tell us what happened.
The angle of the story is that a noted compliance source -- AND the NCAA -- saying that -- given history -- there's a chance that several players could leave. People don't seem to realize this is an historic event. I've never heard of 13 Division I-A football players going to the hospital at the same time after a workout at their own school. There is a rule in place, thank goodness, to possibly allow them relief.
I talked to one of my health professional sources this week who said he believes this will "blow over." I asked why. The source said, "They didn't care when 21 players died, why should they care now?" That's sad.
If (Jadeveon) Clowney gives South Carolina as many wins as Da'Quan Bowers gave Clemson, Gamecock fans will be sorely disappointed. All Clemson eyes will be on Clowney for how he compares to Bowers. That may be one reason he didn't go to Clemson.
Carolina On Your Mind:
Are you intimating that the history and tradition of SOUTH CAROLINA swayed the nation's No. 1 recruit. I just checked: In the last five years year, Clemson has been exactly 1 1/2 games better than Carolina (39-27 vs. 37-28). Carolina has won three of the five head-to-head meetings. That, to me, makes it all but even.
Tiebreaker? Carolina's in the SEC where, as I pointed out here, guys like Clowney tend to dominate and subsequently make millions of dollars.
Conspicuously absent from your pre-season Top 25 is Brigham Young.
You could be right, but I rather think BYU is much more of a top 10 team. Spring ball will tell, but when you look at the way BYU came on offensively late in the year, the upgrade to staff over the offseason, the 10 returning starters on offense and six on defense that started the first five games in 2010 ranked below 100 in total defense; then average less than 230 yards per game over the final eight games. That team could be an enormous sleeper.
We'll know a lot when they open at Mississippi and Texas, but do not be surprised if they win both, defeat UTAH and UCF at home to start the season. Honestly Dennis, I doubt they mind being in the shadows, but do not be surprised if they are not a top 10 team by midseason, with only Oregon State and Hawaii on the road standing between them and an undefeated year, a slate much tougher than any Boise State ever had and no MWC anchor to tie them down to that non-AQ league status.
BYU travels well...could be a BCS buster for sure.
Coug for Life:
The basic question is whether BYU will be able to survive as an independent. I'm on record as saying no. Its biggest plus is not talent or the schedule, it is ESPN as a scheduling partner.
BYU needs games. ESPN will get it games. But will BYU be able to win enough of those games to get a BCS bid? In that sense, it now has the same access to the BCS as Army and Navy. (Notre Dame has its own special privileged access to the BCS.) In other words, it's now HARDER for BYU to get to a BCS bowl. The problem in the Mountain West is that BYU was mediocre-to-good at about at the same time TCU and Utah blew up. BYU couldn't KEEP up. What makes you think that an arguably more ambitious schedule as an independent is going to make things better?
From: Dr. Greg
Dennis, what coach (Rich Rodriguez) does not understand is that he thought he was hired to FIX something. He kept saying it would take time to FIX. Michigan was not broke! They competed for Big Ten titles every year. They were in the national title hunt a few times. They went to bowl games 30 straight years!! He never built on that success. He ruined it.
Except for the bowl streak, you're a little off. Lloyd Carr was roundly criticized at the end because he didn't have Michigan back in national title contention after 1997. That basically happened once (2006) since '97. Michigan's last outright Big Ten title was 2003. (It was co-champ in 2004). Let's not forget that four of those seven consecutive losses to Ohio State are on Lloyd.
I'm not defending Rich Rod because he failed to live up to the Michigan standard but there was some fixing to be done, no doubt.
Posted on: February 5, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 1:23 pm
Observations after being trapped in Dallas this week by an ice storm on one end and a blizzard in the Midwest on the other. After three flight cancellations, two rental cars and a 154-minute delay at DFW, I made it home.
Please tell me you share my joy.
--With the Super Bowl in Big D this week (actually, Big A, Arlington), the NFL needs to take action. Isn't it about time Roger Goodell fines the National Weather Service $25,000 for excessive blows to the region?
--If there is anyone who should be aware of the dangers of frostbite it is a college hockey player, right?
--The latest UGA -- bulldog mascot -- has died at Georgia. New signee Isaiah Crowell should be getting a call soon. Crowell brought a bull pup to his signing press conference to emphasize his love of the Dawgs. I'm thinking the puppy has plenty of eligibility left to become the new UGA.
--In response to one of his columns about college training techniques, the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi got this from a reader: "Since 2000 — 21 college football players dead. I am an ex-Marine, and I have to believe that in the same time frame we had more young people go through boot camp with less fatalities. And I would guess our boots [soldiers] started at a lower level of conditioning. So what is wrong?"
The three biggest stories of the week -- at least in this corner of the world -- were National Signing Day, the firings and suspensions of medical personnel at Iowa and Rich Rodriguez.
Your reactions ...
Dennis, what coach (Rodriguez) does not understand is that he thought he was hired to FIX something. He kept saying it would take time to FIX. Michigan was not broke! They competed for Big Ten titles every year. They were in the national title hunt a few times. They went to bowl games 30 straight years!! He never built on that success. He ruined it.
Man of Michigan:
Rich Rod didn't use the word "fix" until he got on campus and saw the dearth of talent. Maybe he should have done a better job of evaluating talent. I'll give you that.
But "Rodriguez supporters" -- you'll see the math here-- paint a different picture of the state of Michigan football when Rich Rod arrived.
Dennis, nice article about Rich Rodriguez. I am a Michigan fan, and really appreciate hearing Rich's side of the story. I met Coach Rod at his UM football camp and when he posed for pictures with my special needs son, he really impressed me. I would love to write or e-mail him at CBS and express my thanks for his service to UM -- if you would pass along any contact info for Rich, I'd appreciate it. Please keep up the good work in your columns, Go Blue! - Jim C.
You can contact my here in the fan feedback section. I'll e-mail you Rich Rod's contact information.
Dear Dennis, When could you see Howard Schnellenberger retiring?
FAU have a heck of a question:
Haven't thought about that in a while but it is a worthwhile inquiry. Schnellie will be 77 on March 16. In four of his five years at FAU, the Owls have finished in the top three in the Sun Belt Conference. (They tied for the league title in 2007 and won the New Orleans Bowl.)
As long as Howard continues to be energized and remains healthy, I see no reason why he can't keep going. The strategy now seems to be one year a time. Schnellenberger was extended in 2007 through 2010 but a clause in the deal (per this blog) says an additional year was added to the deal because the Owls' new stadium was not finished.
Schnellenberger wants to keep going. He's fine with basically a year-to-year contract. The Sun Belt remains winnable in any given year. Why not?
Not so fast Dennis. Looks like Clemson has caught Jadeveon Clowney's attention. Clemson has put defensive players in the NFL with handsome paychecks as well. SEC is not a lock for this talent.
Climpson's For Clowney:
Agreed. When I wrote this Clowney piece Clemson wasn't as much in the picture as it is now. Dabo Swinney has done a great job of rallying late in recruiting. This is going to buy him some time. If Clowney does come to Clemson it's going to be a monster recruiting class.
You know what happens after monster recruiting classes -- monster expectations.
Being an Auburn fan, at first I thought this Clowney column was going to be downing the SEC. But after I read it, I really enjoyed it and appreciate you Dodd doing us all a favor and actually talking about football. Thanks!
Friend of Aubie:
I'm glad to write something new(ton) about Auburn. For a large part of the season the words, "NCAA", "Cecil", "payoff", "Mississippi State", "sleaze" and "cheating" were required in any mention of the Tigers. Even up to the point when they won in Arizona. Even up to the point when we wonder how long that national championship will last.
If the kid's dad knew sickle cell ran in the family why didn't he have the young man tested for it?
Seems a responsible parent would do just that and not blame a college for giving his or her child a chance at a better life via a free education. But that would have meant they took responsibility for their son's well being, huh? May also have meant no football with a chance at the NFL and a big payday for the entire family.
The bottom line is no matter how hard society and a bunch of lawyers try, there's no child proofing the world. Life is filled with adventure, danger and mixed results. This was one of those adventures that didn't have a storybook ending.
I wouldn't call the death of a player and "adventure."
The fact is, Bennie Abram's dad only had an idea that sickle cell ran in the family. I'm betting he was no medical expert and had no idea what it meant to his son. Besides. Ole Miss HAD tested Bennie Abram for sickle cell. The family is suing for wrongful death because of the way Abram's treatment was handled.
That's where there is sometimes a disconnect. It's one thing testing a player. It's another telling him and his family. It's another, then, dealing with that player in the proper way during playing and practice seasons.
I believe Alaska was the last state to test for sickle cell at birth (or the remaining state that doesn't). Point is, the hospital may test for it, the test may be positive, the doctors may notify the parents, but what does that mean 18 years later when the kid is in college? The parents may have forgotten. There may not even be symptoms up to that point.
By the way, the Abrams are not suing a school that gave their child a "free education". Bennie Abram was a loyal Rebel who wanted to play so bad for Ole Miss that he walked on.
Posted on: January 21, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2011 10:13 am
I put out an informal Twitter poll request this week: In light of The Longhorn Network announcement, what is the over/under on number of years the Big 12 will last in its current configuration.
Dan Beebe may want to avert his eyes. Fifty persons responded. The average life span from the respondents? 3.4 years
Here's a sampling of some of the replies ...
I'm not into Big 12 bashing. Any league with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri (three 10 win seasons in the last four years) is formidable. It's going to be easier for the league to get two teams to the BCS each season without a championship game.
3.4 years? And some of us thought conference realignment had calmed down for a while. If an informal Twitter poll means anything, the upheaval has just begun.
This week's letters from the edge ...
I hope 2011 is better. 2010 left me feeling cheated by the NCAA, the SEC, the sports media herd, and Preacher Newton. I love the SEC and wanted to cheer for Auburn, but the smell was too great. And you in the media fed the momentum for that Newton thug, making this ripoff a fait accompli. I could not watch the biggest game of the year, and hung my head over the black eye to this greatest of all sports. With the possible nod to TCU, 2010 was the year without a national championship, and you in the media, the last line of defense, allowed it to be so.
What exactly did you want us to do? We reported the news to the best of our ability. We stayed on this Newton story so hard that the NCAA took the unusual step of dealing with player eligibility in the middle of an active investigation. What exactly did we miss?
We are, like you, still skeptical. We, like you, need closure from the 2010 season. We, like you, probably won't get it.
Two words summed up your post -- "real world". There is no real world in college athletics. Notre Dame is private. Texas is public. One has to release balance sheet. The other doesn't. Both are among the richest schools in the country. And that's just a start. There are still 118 other schools with their own stories, desires and bank accounts.
We should have it figured out by now. Athletic departments are like board rooms -- selfish and worried about the bottom line. The "stock" in this case are young adults on scholarships on whose talents the schools' "stock" fluctuates.
According to my research, you represent exactly 50 percent of the fans at Michigan right now. The other half wonder why the heck Dave Brandon couldn't do better.
There is no Louisiana-Lafayette. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette media guide has asked the media to call us UL, Louisiana or Ragin' Cajuns. The use of ULL or Louisiana-Lafayette is unexceptable.
Ragin' Politcally Incorrect:
Serious tip: I have this rule that I've enforced for the 13 years I've been at CBSSports.com. This isn't some court room where you can change your last name when it suits you. You've got to earn it, over decades. Calling Ooo-La-La, Louisiana is arrogant and wrong. The same goes for Central Florida (not UCF) and South Florida (not USF). In other words, you're not a household name just because you say so.
All name changes should go through a panel made up of USC, UCLA, ACC and K-State officials.
He did make an honest attempt and spoke to a few key players by cell phone when they landed after the bowl game. He even apologized. I've got no problem with that. Edsall and Maryland kept this whole thing under wraps perhaps better than any of the other coaching searches this season. We didn't know Edsall was at Maryland -- until Edsall was at Maryland. Hurt feelings heal. Randy Edsall's only duty is to his family, his employer and his players. He has done all he could for all of them.
At this time, SEC has had a good run in football and the BCS, no doubt. However, when CBS & ESPN, ABC tells you that the SEC is great, I wonder. You guys are paying a lot of money to the SEC, you really can't say anything bad, and lose viewers. Sorta like patting your 8-year-old on the head telling everyone how great he is.
... or sorta like saying the sky is blue. We were merely stating the obvious, no matter how repetitive it might be. The SEC is fantastic until further notice. Nothing can change that no matter who runs the company.
I really don't get your sniping at the Legends and Leaders division names. Get a life. I think they are fine. Hopefully they will build into a tradition in time. I really don't get why you hate the Big Ten Conference so much. It sure does show.
Thank you, Mr. Delany. Your correspondence is appreciated.
I still wish that Butler had hit on that 3-point, 3-fourths of a court shot at the end of the NCAA Championship Game last year. That would have done more for parity, folklore, and equalizing all sports, big and small, at all levels of college sports. Duke would have deserved it, too!
Little Big Man:
Obviously you haven't been watching Boise State, TCU, Utah and Jacksonville State in football.
How does a national championship game that isn't even on network TV in prime time demonstrate that the whole BCS concept is a good idea? Give me back the days when all the games were on New Year's Day and the winner was crowned shortly thereafter.
Ding, ding, ding! We have found one of the two percent of people who don't have basic cable. What's it like watching Oprah all day?
Let's just make it the SEC vs. Big 12 every year and get over with, right?
TCU beat four teams with at least eight wins this season. Wisconsin beat three. TCU beat five bowl teams. Wisconsin beat four. TCU was one of two undefeated teams left in the country. Wisconsin was not. The Mountain West is considered just as good or better than the ACC and Big East and may have a BCS berth beginning in 2012.
Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 11:13 pm
Congratulations Brady Hoke. Good hire Dave Brandon. But, please, don't try to sell us on this seamless Michigan coaching search. Hoke was not Plan A all along.
We now know that Hoke, Michigan's new coach, was the fourth -- maybe fifth -- choice to replace Rich Rodriguez. Just like Rich Rod himself was about the third choice to replace Lloyd Carr. (Wow, I'm beginning to think Michigan isn't that good a job. That's another argument for another time.)
The truth is that Hoke -- hired last week -- wasn't anywhere near the first choice. You probably know that but now there is tangible proof. Hoke was the Back-Up Plan -- Plan C, D or E. You know how I know? I know who was contacted. You know some of them -- Jim Harbaugh etc. I know who didn't show interest. I know who said no. I know that I'm calling B.S. on Brandon after reading this story.
According to it, Michigan offered $4.25 million per year to Les Miles, more than his LSU salary. Miles reportedly said no. Then, Michigan came back and offered more. Miles said no again. Meanwhile, Brandon, the Michigan AD, still won't admit an offer was made. Who is he trying to kid? Was that meeting with Miles an exchange of phone numbers?
Brandon: "Nice Tiger, Les. Listen, don't want to bother you, Les, but let's keep in touch. Here's my business card"
Les: "His name is Mike and, yes, let's keep in touch."
Brandon shot for the moon and ended up with an Aztec. That's OK. If Hoke was the first choice, Brandon would have announced him the day after Rich Rod was fired. That's what you do with the Plan A guy who said he would crawl to Michigan. In reality, Hoke was the girl with braces in Chem 1 who says yes to the prom after the head cheerleader says no. Not a knockout but at least a date.
I know that, in the end, it was simply a bad time to hire at coach at Michigan. Hoke may win multiple national championships at Michigan. I hope he does. He's a good guy. But he wasn't Michigan's first choice. Not by a long shot.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 2:25 pm
Great day for LSU. No, really, a great day.
Whether you Tigers like it or not, Les Miles is most likely a lifer now in Baton Rouge. LSU released a statement Tuesday saying that Miles is staying at the school after speaking to Michigan officials about its opening.
You don't think Miles is locked in? The man just turned down his alma mater -- for the second time. I'm thinking Michigan isn't going to come around a third time. Miles knows that it's over. He told you on Tuesday, that he's OK with it.
This is it for The Hatter. You're stuck with him, LSU, and you should be delighted. Where is he going to leave for now? The best college jobs are in the SEC and he's already got one of those. The league is to the sport what Beyonce is to music. Girl's got it going on. Crazy Les looked smarter than hell on Tuesday.
Miles, the ultimate Michigan Man, is a Tiger Man until he retires or LSU fires him. If it does, the school will owe him millions in buyout money that will be a testament to his excellence. He will have earned every cent. Until Nick Saban came along, LSU was kind of slopping around, certainly not an SEC threat. Miles carried on the excellence winning, yes, with Saban's players but also his own. Next year's team, seven years removed from Saban, should start the season in the top five.
No matter what you think of his methods, the man wins. Big. 61-17 in six seasons. That kind of excellence trumps everything. Or should. Les gets tired of being bashed by spoiled LSU fans but obviously he knows the long-term at LSU is better than it is at Michigan. LSU should compete for the SEC title every year as long as he is there, and compete for the national championship every few years. That's a damn fine football standard he helped set.
Miles obviously realized how big a rebuilding job would await at his alma mater. Whoever gets the Michigan job -- it looks like San Diego State's Brady Hoke now that Michigan has whiffed on Miles -- is going to have a lot of work to do. There is a dearth of talent on defense. The offense is a rip-up-the-carpet type project especially for a coach like Hoke who doesn't run the spread.
And each day Ohio State gets further and further ahead.
No, it was not a good time to take the Michigan job. In the end, Miles knew that. The man might be quirky and weird at times, but he isn't dumb. He's got the job of his life. Get used to it LSU. Your guy isn't leaving, perhaps ever. He just told you Tuesday that LSU has replaced Michigan as his dream job.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 11:55 pm
Gary Patterson had not been contacted by Michigan for its opening as of Wednesday night according to a source close to the TCU coach.
Patterson, fresh off a 13-0 season and Rose Bowl win, is thought to be a candidate for the job left open after the firing of Rich Rodriguez by AD Dave Brandon. Brandon said earlier Wednesday he expects to move quickly to fill the vacancy but arguably the hottest coach in the country had not gotten a call 12 hours after Rodriguez had been let go.
Is it too early to speculate? Not with recruiting hanging in the balance. Brandon also said Wednesday that this weekend's recruiting visits would be shuffled as the coaching search takes priority. Patterson has not publicly expressed interest but it is assumed he would listen to Michigan if it called.
The debate rages whether Brandon should hire a so-called "Michigan Man" or the best coach available. Patterson, 50, fits the latter category. In 10 seasons, Patterson has won 98 games at TCU and is seen as the main reason why the school was invited to join the Big East beginning in 2012.
San Diego State's Brady Hoke and LSU's Les Miles -- two coaches with Michigan ties -- seem to be the leading candidates. If Brandon prefers to go off the reservation he could pursue Patterson, a defensive mastermind who has assembled the nation's No. 1 defense each of the last three seasons. Brandon said BCS conference experience would not be a required seemingly opening the door for Hoke and Patterson.
Brandon said earlier Wednesday that he has a "dynamic list" of candidates.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 7:24 pm
The number you dialed is not a working number.
That was the message on Rich Rodriguez's cell phone Tuesday afternoon. Kind of says it all, doesn't it? In the end, nothing worked at Michigan, not even the man's cellie.
The Rich Rod era at Michigan reportedly has ended with everyone at fault and no one at fault. (Michigan released a statement saying Rodriguez' firing is "media speculation" and that AD Dave Brandon has yet to make a "final decision." A regularly-scheduled team meeting was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday, but had nothing to do with the coach's job situation according to a spokesman)
Michigan fans cheered the whole way. Rodriguez brought the next-generation offense that was going to allow Michigan to compete for national championships. That's exactly what had happened at West Virginia, but for some reason the magic didn't translate to Michigan. It was square peg/round hole from the getgo. At his core, Rodriguez is a West Virginia guy. Michigan is ...well, it's hard to define but Michigan is different -- or at least perceives itself that way.
That's why it's hard to blame this whole thing on Rodriguez. The same guy who recruited and coached Denard Robinson to the brink of a Heisman invite to New York couldn't find a suitable defense. His worth as a valued coach will proven by his next job. It will be a quality one whether it's in 2011 or 2012. Pittsburgh or Connecticut would be wise to snatch up a proven head coach on the rebound. Rodriguez's career isn't over, it's just altered.
You can blame Brandon. He dragged this out much longer than it needed to be to the point that the firing itself seems to be lingering on. Meanwhile, recruiting has suffered. There is no assurance that Jim Harbaugh is coming. In fact the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that it is "highly unlikely". In other words, Brandon could have canned Rodriguez a month ago and been way ahead. Michigan would either have a coach or be able to tell recruits they were going to get a quality coach.
Now it might come down to whether Brandon can sell San Diego State's Brady Hoke to the masses. The short answer is no. A quick Twitter survey by colleague Stewart Mandel at SI.com was interesting. He asked Michigan fans which of three outcomes they'd like to see, if Harbaugh wasn't available -- keep Rich Rod, hire Brady Hoke or hire Les Miles.
Keeping Rich Rod won.
I don't think Miles comes because it's too much of a rebuilding job. LSU is going to likely start in the top five next season and could be favored to win the SEC West. And there's the little matter of Miles buyout which stood at $14 million before the season. Whoever comes in is going to have to rip up the foundation and start over. Hoke would welcome it. Miles? I say not so much.
The search seems to be trending toward getting another Michigan Man after Rodriguez The Outsider, didn't get it done. But if Harbaugh is out of the picture why limit yourself? Call Gary Patterson. Call Chris Petersen. Call Bob Stoops. Who knows, one of them might have a secret hankering to coach Michigan. What Brandon can't do is trot Hoke up to the podium and tell us, "He was our No. 1 choice all along." No matter what you think of Hoke, that won't fly. Michigan will have settled.
As for blame, it's everywhere. This is like a no-fault divorce. Something went wrong. It's now up to Brandon to get it right. If he can.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 7:23 pm
What if Jim Harbaugh stays at Stanford?
Before answering, ask yourself this: What if Andrew Luck stays at Stanford?
The pair's decisions continue to be intertwined on some level after Monday's conclusive win by Stanford in the Orange Bowl. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Harbaugh is "highly unlikely" to take the Michigan job.
"I would love to have a degree from Stanford," said Luck, an architectural design major. "Not the whole point but a big part of going to a university like Stanford is to graduate and get a degree. And have the opportunity to go into the business word at some point with a Stanford degree. It's a big deal."
Former Stanford great John Elway was on the sidelines Monday night rooting for his college team but obviously wanting a shot at both Harbaugh and Luck. Elway is set to become the Broncos vice president of football operations.
Luck seems as ready as any player could be for the draft. He is projected to be the No. 1 player taken. But the lure of completing his degree, playing again for Harbaugh and spending time with his sister Mary Ellen, a freshman at Stanford, might be too much. He is not worried about dropping in the 2012 draft if he stays.
"I don’t want to sound cocky or pretentious, but no I think you have to have trust in the decision you're going to make," Luck said. "If I was going back to school I think I'd be confident that I could still perform at a high level."
As for playing for Harbaugh:
"He's very unique that he actually is a position coach as well as the head coach. He's very hands on. He's in the meeting, every meeting, as a quarterback ... As a team all the credit goes to him for where we are right now."
If Harbaugh stays/goes to the NFL what does Michigan do? It probably keeps Rich Rod in hopes of maybe snagging Urban Meyer or Harbaugh after the 2011 season. While that affects recruiting, there are no slam-dunk candidates. San Diego State's Brady Hoke doesn't seem sexy enough. There's no indication that Les Miles wants out of LSU. While Miles feels unappreciated at times, LSU could start 2011 ranked in the top five and the favorite to win the SEC West. Michigan would be a rebuild.