Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wrong Size In Ann Arbor

Forget what your hear about the overworked players at the University of Michigan. It doesn't take some sort of ground breaking report to discover that a college football coach has arranged fecund ways to circumvent the NCAA rules about how much they can work athletes.

I guarantee you this happens all over the place in the form of "voluntary" workouts where if you don't volunteer, you don't play.

What should be of concern to Michigan boosters is that people seem to be lining up to throw head coach Rich Rodriguez under the bus. If you've ever seen the movie Airplane, there's a scene where one of the female passengers begins to panic. A stewardess shakes her and tells her to get a grip. Another stewardess shakes the passenger and then slaps her. Then a doctor begins shaking the passenger and slaps her two or three times.....it just keeps getting more violent every time someone attempts to calm the panicked woman down. Finally, the camera pans away and you see a line of people waiting with boxing gloves, lead pipes, brass knuckles, a gun, etc. This is how it's beginning to look in Ann Arbor.

Sometimes a major college program hires a coach and it's an instant fit. Sometimes it really isn't.

Texas hired Mack Brown and he instantly fit right in. Arizona hired John Macovich and he pissed everyone off.

North Carolina and Roy Williams couldn't have been a better pair. Kentucky and Billy Gillespie could have been worse.

Several years ago, Ohio State was desperate to beat Michigan. The Wolverines had ruined Ohio State football seasons for too many times in recent memory. The Buckeyes hired a boring man in a sweater vest named Jim Tressel. While being introduced at an Ohio State basketball game, Tressel told the Buckeye crowd that in 300 days or so "in Ann Arbor, we'll make you proud."

The crowd roared and everyone know Tressel got it. He was there to beat Michigan. The next season, the Buckeyes did just that. It was perfect.

A year ago, it was Michigan's turn to hire a coach to take down the rival. Ohio State had been beating the Wolverines senseless for several years now and Michigan fans were fed up with old coach Lloyd Carr and his inability to take out his rival (despite the fact that Carr won a national title in 1997.) So Carr was fired and the Wolverines brought in Rodriguez who had just turned the West Virginia football program into a powerhouse. It would be perfect.

Nope. It was ugly from the start. Rodriguez had a messy divorce from West Virginia and Michigan had to pay a handsome sum to allow Rodriguez to leave. Then came news that Rodriguez had shredded several important papers before he left. Did he know the papers would imply wrong doing or did he just want to screw over the next West Virginia coach? Either way it was a red flag.

Fast forward to today. Rodriguez led Michigan football to it's first losing record since the 1960's last year. No intelligent Michigan fan expected the Wolverines to contend for a title since Rodriguez had to install a completely new system that didn't fit the players he had. Fans expected struggles. Fans didn't expect a 3-9 disaster. That doesn't happen at Michigan.

We are now in year two and the program seems to be coming apart at the seams. Players are transferring, there are grumblings within the program, and now the NCAA is going to investigate whether Rodriguez has broken rules while working out his team.

Sometimes the glass slipper fits. Sometimes it breaks and cuts your foot.

1 comment:

  1. Here's the thing: Tressel knew how important the Ohio State Michigan rivalry is from jump. Rich Rodriguez ignored it. Never mentioned the rivalry or how important that one game is. And from my sources at "that school up north" (RIP Woody) Rodriguez wouldn't let his players participate in many traditions leading up to that week. Traditions that have been around since the beginning of Michigan v. Ohio State games, traditions that rally the campus around Michigan football no matter how poor they play. Rodriguez thinks he's above those. That's why Michigan fans and players HATE Rich Rodriguez.