Note: if you noticed there were no posts until now, yeah, I’m working a day shift for a couple days. Regular overnight posting will resume Wednesday.
Basically, this worked out better for Michigan than anyone had any right to expect after both Les Miles and Greg Schiano said no — because Rich Rodriguez had been looking for some way out of West Virginia, who could dominate the Big East yet never cough up for facilities to a coach’s liking — and it’s not exactly a base for homegrown talent in state, either.
There are obvious questions about how Rodriguez will be able to turn what has been a drop-back-and-pass team into a spread offense (and speculation that Ryan Mallett will be a casualty of that attempt), but I’d wager that Rodriguez is a good enough coach to either lure that top recruit Terrelle Pryor and maybe make use of Mallett in some form if he sticks around. The spread can work in the Big 10 (please see Illinois, and to a lesser extent, Northwestern), but where Michigan really needs a serious improvement is on defense, in order to play against teams who bring creative offensive sets.
The siring away of Rich Rodriguez has brough up a bigger problem than whether he will be a good fit at Michigan, though: it’s that hiring a top-name coach has gotten even more and more cutthroat — WVU’s athletic director wouldn’t even discuss the process, which means Bill Martin certainly didn’t seek permission to talk to Rodriguez; they would not have met in Toledo, Ohio, if he had. ADs are not even giving each other the courtesy to ask permission — and they’re certainly not doing it for NFL owners either, as Jeff Long didn’t really give Arthur Blank much of a heads-up. If the coaching market is going to become as nasty as the recruiting fight, then I’ve gotta say: if you are a commit to a school and the coach leaves of his own volition (is not fired, etc.), you should be able to leave the program and play the next season somewhere else.
Why? We hear so much about “picking the school over the coach” in rationalizing the transfer rules, but really — these guys are coming to school to play football, at least the real blue-chippers, and so much of that depends on the coach and the system. If that coach deserts you, the new guy may not have a place for you. The playing field has to be evened out somewhere.
Photo: AP/Tony Ding