Rich Rodriguez Breaks His Silence About Being Fired

Ralph D. Russo is an AP College Football Writer who recently interviewed Rich Rodriguez.  If you would like to read the article for yourself please click on the link.   RR breaks silence

Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press
In the article RR basically hits these points:

1. Michigan was about to 'turn the corner' with 24 starters coming back.

2. It would've been better for himself and his staff to be fired after the Ohio State game.

3.  Upset they didn't get to finish the job.

Click to read more about what was said...

Now one cant help but feel for Coach Rod and his staff. I mean come on, it is no secret they were basically doomed from the beginning.  Leaks and moles within Schembechler Hall caused a whirl spin of negativity and even brought down NCAA sanctions against Michigan football.  I know, I know, we got spanked for stretching a mere few minutes to long.  However, the damage caused by those leaks and moles was just to deep for the former coaching staff to ever overcome. 

I remember at the 2009 Western Michigan game at the Big House an older woman sat in front of myself and co-writer David Danielson.  We were sitting in section 36 at the time.  When the team came out in its first possession all i heard from the nice woman in front of me is, "where is that Threet guy?"  This is not a post to bash this woman for her lack of depth chart knowledge.  The point I am making in this paragraph is these are the fans that totally "bought in" to the FREEP (Detroit Free Press) story of the infamous "Stretch gate." No doubt there are a lot of fanatical Michigan fans.  Just tune your television to a Michigan football game on an autumn Saturday and you will see at least 113,000 of them in Michigan Stadium.  Unfortunately a lot of the "fanatics" are misinformed.  A lot of them derived their knowledge of the football program from mainstream news outlets like FREEP.  When you take misleading news and misinformed fans you get a recipe for disaster.  That recipe was only part of the big disaster pot that eventually led to the termination of Coach Rod and the end of the spread offense at Michigan.  Funny thing is look at how the articles about Michigan football are being written now by that same newspaper. Its quite odd that the negativity surrounding the football program has suddenly been lifted hasn't it?  Just saying.............

One of the points Coach Rod made in his article was the Wolverines were going to be "exponentially" better next season.  He went also stated, "We saw the light at the end of the tunnel," "Heck, we had 24 starters coming back, and the player of the year in the league - he's a sophomore and still learning. Recruiting, we thought it was going really well even with all the drama. That's the frustrating part about it is we didn't get a chance to finish the job."

Coach Rod and I after practice in '09
 Coach Rod has always been a passionate coach.  He loves coaching. If you have ever been to a Michigan practice during the Rich Rod era it was easy to see how much he loved being out there with the players and loved every single moment of practice.  I'm sure if he did not have to take care of all the political B.S. he  would have been a lot happier.  What college football coach wouldn't love to be able to have an assistant stand in front of the media for them?  Had that happened maybe the media fall guy for ole "Stretch gate" would've been blamed on some poor media relations personnel rather than the wrath that came down on Coach Rod from a lot of fans and a certain Detroit based media outlet. Anyway, back to the point.  Passion only takes you so far.  Next years offense had all the tools to be substantially better.  Unfortunately we would've seen the same ole stuff from the defense.  The defense was AT LEAST 2 more years away from being even close to competitive with the top teams in the Big 10.  Coach Rod was right about recruiting.  Recruiting for the "spread Michigan" was definitely going well.  Thankfully Coach Hoke and his staff have been nothing short of phenomenal thus far in their recruiting efforts. Their hard work and strength in recruiting is what has been the difference maker in being able to salvage the 2011 recruiting class.

In the interview Coach Rod went on to say, "Would it have been better for the staff to know a month a head? No question about it. When jobs come open in the college level they come open in December. "And had I been able to get on somewhere, that could have happened, too. I may have been able to get another head coaching job then. But I still had the belief we had things going to the point where we were going to be pretty good. Like I said, the worst was behind us." 

This topic was debated at nauseium during the coaching search.  There are valid points on both sides of the argument.  It is my PERSONAL belief that Coach Rod is right.  He should've been let go after the Ohio State game.  Problem with that is no one except for David Brandon will ever know if the decision was truly made before the debacle that happened down in Jacksonville.  We can all speculate this and speculate that but at the end of the day no one really knows. All we can do is trust David Brandon's word.

Was the worst truly behind them?  Absolutely not!  One can only imagine the amount of vile that would've been directed at this staff from fans, media and especially the leaks and moles inside Schembechler Hall.  Especially after what happened in the Gator Bowl. 

Bottom line is for the sake of the Michigan football program firing Coach Rod was the right thing to do. Not because I don't believe he would have never been able to win big at Michigan. Frankly, I believe he could've won some huge games but the problems surrounding the program was to big of a hill to climb.  The losses mounted too quickly, there weren't that many "signature games" to be able to see significant progress on and frankly losing to Ohio State and Michigan State in three successive years (the Rich Rod years) just added more fuel to the fire. 

Going back to those "misinformed" fans.  At some point in time those fans are going to wonder, "what could've been?"  They are going to wonder that when Coach Rod quietly rebuilds a program and is back in BCS bowl games.  Like him or not he is a winner.  Unfortunately, for Michigan it was just never meant to be for Coach Rod to win in Ann Arbor.  There was just too much toxicity that surrounded the program.  It was getting to the point where I started to doubt if an undefeated season would truly quell the doubters. Problem is, it would not. 

Rightfully so all of us have moved on.  Coach Hoke had a "home-run" press conference when named Head Coach and he has been nothing short of spectacular in the few short weeks he and his staff have been recruiting.  The Michigan nation is excited about the upcoming season and I would not be surprised to see a strong showing at this years spring game. I know we will be there!  Personally, I will be rooting for Coach Rod to succeed at his next stop.  Can you imagine how good he would do at a place like Clemson or even USF?  Every Michigan fan should thank Coach Rod and his staff for all their hard work.  We all should thank them for what good memories we did have for example: Wisky '08, ND '09/'10, Illinois '10 and most importantly for bringing out Brock Mealer at the UConn game.  Good luck Coach Rod and the rest of the former Michigan football staff! 

(For those that do not know here is where some fo the former assistants have gone to: former assistant head coach Calvin Magee, former co-offensive coordinator, and cornerbacks coach Tony Gibson and former tight-ends coach Tony Dews all were hired on at Pitt.   Former U-M quarterbacks coach Rod Smith and offensive line coach Greg Frey where hired on at Indiana.  Those hirings are going to make for some interesting recruiting battles with Indiana being apart of the Big 10 and Pitt being so close to some of Michigan's recruiting grounds.  Coach Rod is taking a year off and will actually be doing signing day coverage for CBS on National Signing Day.)

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