By Brady Stiff
It’s a long fall from the top.
When Lloyd Carr retired, and they hired Rich Rodriguez, there was some uncertainty. There always is when a new coach comes in. Rodriguez plays a different style than Michigan fans are used to. The spread option offense was a foreign entity to Michigan, and it would take awhile to install Rich-Rod’s system and recruit the right players.
Things didn’t start out well when Terrelle Pryor chose Ohio State over Michigan. It’s one thing to lose out on a top recruit, but to lose out to your archrival makes it hurt even worse.
Then came a 3-9 first season. I think Wolverine fans were willing to give Rodriguez a pass with it being his first year and all.
The 2009 season was better, but they were still without a bowl appearance. Things appeared to be looking up, though, because they have a freshman quarterback in Tate Forcier who looks like he’s going to be pretty darn good.
Last August, several players from the 2008 and 2009 teams came forward and said that the Michigan program regularly violated NCAA rules that limit the amount of time teams can spend on the practice field.
Today, the University acknowledged that the NCAA is accusing them of five major rules violations related to the earlier report.
Five major violations. Not good.
One of the most daunting accusations says that Rich Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program”. What that essentially says is, Rodriguez could care less about NCAA rules, and now it’s going to come back and bite him in the ass.
The NCAA is also charging the athletic department with failing to make sure the football program was compliant. What does that say about the Michigan Athletic Department? Does the fact that they have a new Athletic Director coming in mean they sort of knew what was coming? I feel bad for the new guy.
Michigan’s response? They’re blaming it on a miscommunication. How convenient. Look, I have no inside knowledge of the situation, but I’ve seen this kind of thing before. I was at IU when the whole deal with Kelvin Sampson went down, and of course the Hoosiers are still paying the price for something that happened two and a half years ago.
They can spin it however they want to spin it. Fact is, they got caught, and they’re going to have to pay the price. I’m not here to say whether or not Rich Rodriguez should be fired or retained, but I have to think it’s going to be difficult for him to keep his job past the upcoming season. Not saying it can’t be done, but neither the University nor the Wolverine fan base can be happy with what’s transpired here today. According to the AP report on the situation, there’s a clause in Rodriguez’s contract that allows the University to fire him with cause if he commits a major rules violation.
We’ll see what happens to Michigan, but things don’t look good. We won’t know the final answer until later this year. Michigan will meet with the NCAA in August.
If what happened to the Indiana basketball program is any indication of what may be coming, Wolverine fans should close their eyes and plan on paying attention to the new coaching search.