Michigan’s football banquet became incredibly awkward last night without Jim Harbaugh in attendance. Mere feet from AD David Brandon, Rich Rodriguez made an emotional appeal for his job. He broke down in tears, he quoted bible verses, he led everyone in a collective hand-holding and swaying to the Josh Groban song “You Raise Me Up” to stress how much he “wants to be a Michigan man.” At least he didn’t bring up Hurricane Katrina.
Rich Rodriguez’ intentions are heartfelt, but the story is always the same. He’s the persecuted outsider. God is testing him. He is persevering and will eventually come good and his critics will rue the day they doubted him. Enough.
This is not a biblical allegory. This is not a trial of faith. It’s a job, a job that has not been performed. Rich Rodriguez wanted to coach at Michigan. The absolute minimum expectation at Michigan is to win more games than you lose in the Big Ten. Lloyd Carr won six Big Ten games during a calamitous final season in 2007. Rich Rodriguez has won six in three seasons. He is responsible, not an outside force. He led the program into the darkness. He does not appear to be the person to lead it back to the light.
The most damning indictment of the Rich Rodriguez regime is the comments of senior guard Steve Schilling.
“It was a good experience,” Schilling said. “The wins and losses haven’t gone our way, but I believe in coach Rod and his system and what he’s doing here.”
The wins and losses haven’t gone your way? What school did you attend? Fate didn’t prevent you from winning. You didn’t win. Ohio State blew you off the field in your last Big Ten game less than one week ago. You didn’t even compete. That no longer means anything? That was a good experience? Michigan’s team is soft and unaccountable. That’s a reflection of the coach.
Being “a Michigan Man” means one thing, winning. Jim Harbaugh isn’t a Michigan man because he played there or because he runs a pro-style offense. It’s because he wins. He’s obsessed with it. He’s unapologetic about it. He cares far more than any emotionally healthy human being. His attitude filters down to his players, who play with the same intensity. That compulsion is what made Michigan “Michigan” and Ohio State “Ohio State.” North of the border, the compulsion has been lost.
[Photo via Getty]