An Exercise in Tolerance

Michigan football fans during the month of December:

All is quiet on the Michigan football front these days. Which is exactly how Dave Brandon wants it. Sportswriters are all waiting. Blogs are silent. No one is talking about coaching rumors anymore, because there aren't any. Sure, there's a lot of speculation, myths and hearsay, but nothing worth getting excited over.

Getting lost in all the waiting, is the fact that Michigan has a bowl game to play next week. It's a New Year's Day bowl too. That's exciting. I should be excited. But for some reason, I'm not. I mean I am excited to be able to watch the Wolverines take on an SEC opponent. I'm excited to watch Denard again. I'm excited to watch this offensive line. I'm even excited to see Mississippi State, and how well we match up against them.

But for some reason, I'm not as excited as I should be. Maybe it's because we backed into this bowl game with two losses to two very good teams in Wisconsin and Ohio State. Maybe it's because I have this feeling that we're about to watch a man coach his last game after going through maybe one of the roughest storms ANY Michigan coach has ever had to endure. Maybe in the time since the Ohio State game, I've had a chance to re-evaluate my feelings about Rodriguez and what it means to win at all costs.

I've always been a Rodriguez supporter. I've come out on more than one occasion to try and reason with myself as to why we need to be patient and support the guy. I've cited the empty cupboards that Carr left behind. I've noted that it's been a perfect storm of an age/talent deficit and trying to reinvent an offense from scratch that Rodriguez has had to try and coach through. But even with those reasons, which are not excuses, Rodriguez has been fighting an uphill battle with the fans and the media throughout his entire time at Michigan.

And it's only been getting tougher.

This time between the Ohio State game and the Gator Bowl is a very strange time for Michigan fans. I'm sure its even stranger for the coaches an their players, who probably have just as much information the rest of us do about the fate of Rodriguez.

This whole time I've been convinced that Brandon has known deep down what he was going to do after the bowl game, regardless of the outcome. But as time wears on, I become less and less sure about that. And it's not that Brandon has done anything or said anything for me to feel this way, it's just that when enough time passes, and nothing happens, you start to question everything...even yourself.

I would not be surprised at all if Rodriguez were fired on January 2nd. I would be even less surprised if Jim Harbaugh were hired shortly after. But for some reason, I would be greatly disappointed. It would have nothing to do with hiring Harbaugh, which I feel would be a good hire. But I would be disappointed that Rodriguez didn't get a real fair shake at Michigan.

I don't think that it's the Michigan way to hire a guy that you know it vastly different from anything we've ever known, only to get rid of him 3 years later because there are some growing pains. Rodriguez has shown improvement, albeit incremental improvement, but improvement none the less over the last 3 years. Yes, our defense is bad. Something drastic should be done to address that...and we all know that that is. But our offense is very good...and will only get better as the skill position players get older and more experienced.

I think the biggest thing that Michigan needs in it's football program right now is not a new head coach, but rather stability. It needs to send a message to recruits and the rest of the country that the university stands behind it's coach.

If we fire Rodriguez now, what sort of message does that send to the next coach out there? Don't try to change things here. Don't try to run your system. Do things the Michigan way, or else.

I'm sorry, that's just not right.

I know I'm in the minority of Michigan fans that favors a 4th year for Rodriguez, but I think he's at least owed a chance to be successful at Michigan. I just don't think 3 years is enough. Not for the kind of change that Rodriguez was hired to make.

I've said before that I'll obviously support and stand behind whatever decision Brandon makes. He has way more information than I do, and will make his decisions based on that information. I just hope that if Rodriguez is let go, that those reasons will be disclosed to us.

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