90 Minutes With Rich Rodriguez

One thing I swore I would never do again was link to or quote a Detroit Free Press article on this blog. For a while there is was pretty easy, they haven't printed a worthwhile article about Michigan football in a long time. But then Mitch Albom, who usually gets free reign to write about just about whatever he wants, decided he wanted to do a piece on Rich Rodriguez. Of course he didn't just open his laptop and start writing, he called the media relations staff at UM, and got them to agree to let him sit down with Rodriguez for 90 minutes. And of course, anything he wanted to ask was on the table. There were no rules. No one since Rodriguez got to Michigan, has been able to get that level of access to him.

It's all I love about Mitch Albom, and all I can't stand about him in one article. Be that as it may, he asked the right questions, and got the answers he wanted. It's a great read, and worth the click. Read it here.

Just a couple highlights:
M: Talk about your departure from West Virginia and the fallout.
R: Well, I never even got a chance to set the record straight. I just was told hey, take the high road and move on.
M: You were advised to say nothing?
R: Yeah, oh, yeah. Say nothing. Move on. Don't worry about the past. No need to explain yourself. ... But when I look back on it, what did that do for me? (chuckles) You know? I mean, Rita and I have talked about it a lot. I kind of tried to take that high road -- and it didn't do much. I'm thinking I should have said something.
M: Instead people filled in their own blanks?
R: They filled in the blanks ... like, (the stuff about) "He's shredding papers." What are you talking about? I was throwing away game plans from Glenville State College!
Advised by whom? I hope Mitch didn't ask that and not write about for whatever reason. I hope he just didn't ask and moved on. But it seems strange to me that he didn't ask this obvious question.
M: In retrospect, what about Michigan and its tradition did you not understand when you arrived here?
R: You know, it happened so quickly that ... did I do a bunch of research before I got here? No. But I did a little bit. I had never seen the Big House until my first press conference. But I knew about Bo. I knew a lot about Michigan history because of my college coach, Don Nehlen. I knew about "The Victors."
M: So nothing made you shake your head?
R: Well ... probably the overdramatization of things that I don't view as being major. ... For instance, you named game captains instead of permanent captains. A huge reaction with that. A huge reaction on the No. 1 jersey. (Not giving it to a wide receiver.) I didn't know (the tradition). That was poor communication on our part, me included.
There are a lot of Michigan fans, and press (@ the Freep) who still hold a grudge against him because of this.

Is it fair? No. He's a coach first, and his job at WVU was not to learn all there was to learn about Michigan football and tradition. When he was offered the job, he took it because you'd have to be insane not to. I don't know Rich Rodriguez, at all. But I have been in the room with him after both wins, losses and just this last Sunday at media day to hear him answer the media's questions. He might not be the most graceful speaker, but since when has a football coach been that? One thing I do know is, this man wants to win...he wants it more than anyone. I think he honestly feels that he has a chance this year.

The one single question I get asked the most is: How many wins does Rodriguez need to keep his job?

As much as it does come down to wins and losses, it's the kinds of wins and the kinds of losses. Its also when you win and when you lose. Its also the kind of program you are running. Its also the kinds of players that you're recruiting. Dave Brandon said recently that all these things go into how you judge a coach at this level.

And Brandon is smart enough to know that if we ditch Rodriguez after this season...no matter how good or bad it is, we're literally starting from zero if we go with another coach who doesn't run this type of offense. All of the people out there calling for Rodriguez's head need to realize this. Remember when he had 3 defensive coordinators in 3 seasons? Remember how well that worked?

Okay, that's enough for now. Stay tuned for a full preview of the UConn huskies coming up tomorrow.

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