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Posted on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:12 p.m.

Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman stands behind Rich Rodriguez

By Dave Birkett

While some fans are growing impatient with Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, university president Mary Sue Coleman told the Wall Street Journal she’ll be patient with the second-year coach.


“I don't think it's fair to coaches to bring them in and say, 'We're going to give you three years,’” Coleman told the paper. "When (former Michigan basketball coach) Tommy Amaker came in, we stuck with him for six years. It just wasn't going to work; it wasn't the right fit. But it wasn't a rushed decision.”

Rodriguez, 8-13 with three games left in his second season, said he stays in contact with Coleman nearly every week and talked “very briefly” with her a couple weeks ago.

“Mary Sue has been very supportive,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody’s been supportive.

"I want everybody to have patience. I don’t have much of it, but I wish everybody would have patience. Building a championship-level Division 1-A football program, there’s a lot of parts to it and there’s a lot of things that have to go together and go right. And it takes a little bit longer sometimes than anybody would want. But the progress is being made. Not as quickly as some people would like, but we’re going to press forward and get it done. And hopefully sonner rather than later."

Michigan (5-4, 1-4) needs one win to become bowl eligible after missing the postseason last year for the first time in 33 years.

The Wolverines host Purdue (3-6, 2-3) on Saturday.

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Sun, Nov 22, 2009 : 1:29 p.m.

I grew up in Ann Arbor, played jr. and high school football for eight years, and marched into U of M stadium with my dearly departed father countless times, long before it was called "The Big House". I am no fair-weather fan, I wear my colors proudly in the middle of PAC 10 territory now, and I have had to listen to people say "my condolences." for two years. I would like to echo the comments about football fundamentals. In fact, I found this page by search "Rich Rodriguez fundamentals". None of the professional sportscasters seem to be talking about it. It is evident that football fundamentals are not being taught, or at least not well. Poor Tate Forcier, loaded with talent, is still carrying the ball one-handed on the run, like a loaf of bread, in the last game of the season. That should have been corrected before the season started. Most of the defense does not wrap around their tackles. These are just two examples. This is stuff that can be taught to any reasonable athlete, even if they never played football before. It's not getting taught at U of M anymorea sign of bad coaching. Fundamentals have nothing to do with learning a new system. They are the basics of football, and you can only build on top of them. Without them you have nothing. There is nothing wrong with loosing as long as you don't beat yourself. No fundamentals leads to beating yourself. The Wolverines beat themselves every time they lost. The other teams shouldn't even get ticks in the win column. Then there's discipline. Players arguing with coaches on the sideline on national television, and the coaches arguing back? What? That should never ever happen. Again, that's bad coaching. I had so much respect for my coaches, it's still hard to believe I saw this with my own eyes. I don't think Rich Rodriguez was the key to West Virginia's success. They finished 9-4 in 2008 without him. They are having a similar year in 2009. Do you think Bo Schembechler football is dead too? You'd better check out your old friend Jim Harbaough at Stanford then. He started as head coach there in 2007. He took one of the worst teams in the PAC 10 and made them contendersrunning a Bo style offense. He even beat USC with it this year. But once again, it's not about winning. It's about playing football you can be proud of. It's about getting beat by the other team, not yourself. As for the comments about "are any of you haters in shape"...please check yourself. As if Rich Rodriguez or half the coaches in football did not have pot bellies. Ha! They are not haters, they are concerned about their once proud team being taken over by a yahoo, who was hired by people that don't really know the game of football. Finally, isn't seeing the Ohio State fans holding a sign saying "We love you Rich Rodriguez!" enough already? They know the difference. They have a great coach.


Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 11:20 p.m.

For the nay sayers who want to see Tate demoted. Tennessee would love to get their hands on Tate for the year after next when Compton leaves. If that happens you will be seeing Tate Forcier in a BCS championship game. Lane Kiffin is looking hard for a new QB. We don't know squat about D. Gardner except he looked good in high school. All you questionable U of M fans, I hope he does transfer to Florida, Tennessee or Alabama, serve you right! Then I could watch him on weekends. If you want to coach, sign up for the job! If you want to be a fan, then be a true fan. RR will get his opportunity says Sue, so get on the bus or turn in your ticket and Please stop whining!I remember everybody (all the experts) saying Payton Manning was too slow to QB in the SEC or play in the NFL) It looks like RR is going to be around for a while so "GO BLUE" Thanks, Dan Dan


Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 12:21 p.m.

Mary Sue Coleman supporting RR? She has no choice. She and the retiring AD used unethical tactics to get him here in the first place. Any hint of integrity was left in that coffee shop soiree in Ohio. Mary Sue has to live up to her rush to eagerness in going for a coach with no code of ethics, loyalty or, it seems, acknowledgment that his "plan" for Michigan is not working. He's an "after the money' man, and probably hoped that the U of M job, after a couple of successful seasons, would be a springboard to bigger offers down the line. Well, now they all have to live with those machiavellian decisions


Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 6:36 a.m.

Since Elliot left and Bo took over, we have changed several times and we did not have to wait. He was supposed to be very good. Like any business, if you want to change directions you get the personal than go. It is apparent RichRod only knows one way. Too bad, he cost more than any other coach. How much is that per win?


Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 5:04 a.m.

Houston H.C Kevin Sumlin would be nice fit. Google his background


Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 12:12 a.m.

I can't believe RR's behavior/coaching skill is being tolerated by the Victor's Club. What an abomination as a human being.....lying, cheating, ethics, morals....he has to go! I don't care if he fielded an undefeated team, this is not what Michigan football was built on. Michigan is KNOWN for having a 'clean' program, both on the field and off.....unreal. We fired a winning coach for having 'one too many' drinks but we're going to put up with this rube who has banks/lawyers chasing him for millions of dollars???? Parents, send your kids to UM, we'll teach them how they're supposed to act as an adult.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 9:38 p.m.

They should have put a clause in his contract that if he doesn't perform his pay will go down.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 9 p.m.

1998pa, Dantonio has done exactly what he has done at Cincy==the achievement of mediocrity. To say otherwise is too ignore the facts. Macabresunset, UM can still go 7-5 or 8-4. As bad as UM looked saturday, they can still beat an average teams in Purdue, Wisconsin, and a so-so OSU team. Unlikely, but it is doable.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 8:22 p.m.

a2grateful, I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to prove, but what you're essentially saying is that because elite athletes have no time to watch and critique amateur athletics, they know less than I do, as a non-elite athlete, regarding said athletics. Ergo, the lower your times as a runner, the less you know about Michigan football. amaizen, if you need me to explain to you the difference in jobs that dantonio and rodriguez have done, your standards for michigan football are far too low.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 7:54 p.m.

Rich Rod may be too plain spoken for some folks, but sometimes that's refreshing here in Ann Arbor.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 7:44 p.m.

The pre-season magazine I use the most is the Phil Steele annual. Phil claims to have the best record. He said Michigan would be in his top five improved teams list. I think he was projecting a 7-5 or 8-4 record - which is a huge difference from what we're looking at now. More to the point, he said we had the 24th best defensive line and the 17th best secondary. That has not been the case. The athletes are there, but they have not been well coached. He also missed really, really badly on Illinois, for what it's worth.

Jonny Spirit

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 6:52 p.m.

MSU Spartens love Rich Rod. Come on Michigan give him another 10 years. I hope none of you Michigan fans don't do your homework and look at what other new coaches have done in there 1st and 2nd year. (OSU, Cinn, MSU, just to name a few) He's doing a great job, I say keep him. Thanks Mary Sue, keep up the good work. HA! Sparty On!


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 6:50 p.m.

Every football analyst and so called expert in the country predicted UM to be 6-6 or 7-5 at best this year. Some even predicted 5-7. These are people spend a great deal of time on college football and the teams personnel, schedule, etc. So we start out 4-0 and upset ND and all of a sudden we magically have the talent to go 12-0, 11-1, 10-2 or at the worst 9-3. Wake up folks. The same experts predicted MSU to go 10-2 or 9-3 and challenge for the B10 title. At last look, I believe they are 4-5 still have to play PSU and are looking at 6-6. I don't see the Detroit papers throwing Dantonio under the bus. Must be none of the losses to teams MSU should have beaten were on the coaches in EL. Matter of fact the papers and the jerks that call themselves journalist are so busy trying to make sure they publish negative stories on UM everyday that MSU doesn't even make the paper most days. I guess this is their way of trying to undermine the recruiting efforts at UM and help MSU out.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 6:21 p.m.

It's obvious MSC is passing the buck to the next AD who arrives in September 2010 and can make a decision after next season.... 2010 is not gonna get any easier with ND, Penn St., and OSU all on the road... But what if RR loses the next three, goes 5-7 and misses out on a bowl game? Will alumni stand for that?


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 6:20 p.m.

It's not about being an elite athlete. Those involved in self improvement through athletics, working toward improving personal best, regardless of age, typically have little time to critique the athletic performance of others, especially in amateur athletics.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 6:12 p.m.

Not sure why I have to be an elite college athlete to recognize a poor hiring decision. We all want Michigan to win games here. We just differ on the best current course of action.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 6:05 p.m.

Questions for the haters.... What is your best 5k time in the past five years?. What is your best 10k time in the past five years?. What is your best.5 marathon time in the past five years?. What is your best marathon time in the past five years?. How many months per year do you train?. How many hours per day do you train?. Are you within range of your healthy BMI?. Are haters just couch (grouch) potatoes?


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 5:55 p.m.

Does anyone know if any of the defensive recruits we have verbals from so far are planning on enrolling early? It would be nice to get our defensive players here and involved in spring practice, so we're not trotting out Williams, Leach, Ezeh (if he stays) next year.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 5:41 p.m.

Richard's Big Ten record after 2009 season: OSU 0 - 2 it will be two blowouts PSU 0 - 2 it has been two blowouts MSU 0 - 2 first 0 - 2 since 1966 ILL 0 - 2 it has been two blowouts NW 0 - 1 PUR 1 - 1 if we are lucky to win this Saturday WIS 1 - 1 we were lucky to win once IA 0 - 1 MN 1 - 0 IN 1 - 0 TOTAL 4 - 12 And B10 has been inredibly weak these two years. We need a President that understands the importance of college football.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 5:21 p.m.

Question for the rich loyalists, if rich shouldnt go would you agree that Hopson (lb coach), Frey (o-line coach), Tall (d-line coach), and Dews (db coach) should all be released from duties? I would keep Dews in some recruiting role, but not as a position coach, as its evident that he cant get guys to cover or jam receivers on the line.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.

The change has to be made. It will be painful. But less painful than continuing with Martin's Folly indefinitely. The sooner we pull this Band-Aid off, the better. Some random number and word arrangements: 9-4 Holiday 8-4 Outback 12-0 Rose 10-3 Citrus 10-2 Orange 9-3 Citrus 8-4 Citrus 10-3 Outback 10-3 Rose 9-3 Rose 7-5 Alamo 11-2 Rose 9-4 Outback 3-9 Nothing 5-7 Nothing


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 4:38 p.m.

In yr 2 at Bama, Saban only had 1 class of his own, yet he was able to get stuff out of them (and I dislike Saban dating back to his MSU roots). Part of being a good coach is adapting to what you have, and if RRod did not know that he would not have his own guys when he got here, he should have gotten up on that December day and said "I know we will lose big for 3 years, but just wait until 2011 when we have all my own (small and supposedly quick) guys". Simply put--he is not prepared to coach THIS team at THIS university, based on his results so far.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 4:30 p.m.

It would be a mistake to get rid of Coach Rodriguez now! If we did and hired someone with a more pro style offense, we would have 20-30 kids transfer and we would be in a horrible position for years to come. People expect immediate results, despite what he inherited, the enormous changes, and the incredible amount of youth. They should let him complete at least three years and see how we are looking then. Keep in mind, he has really only had "1" recuriting class that was all his.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 4:27 p.m.

The whining will stop when the winning starts.... Fair-weather "fans" abound.. In three years Coach R will be fine.. Support the kids, support the team, sport better attitudes!. Sidebar curiosity: How many of the haters are fit, competitive athletes?


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 3:46 p.m.

Let's hold the talk about building a championship team. Can we please just beat Toledo, Purdue, or Illinois? That would be a nice start Rich.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 3:34 p.m.

Hey golfing: Very Bama? Let's see. #3 in the country. One of the fiercest defenses in college football. An offense which is serviceable. Beating and playing people on the big stage. Year 1 of Saban's regime, 2 winning seasons in previous 5 mind you (not like Michigan's prior 5 years)--he finished with as many wins than RR has in 2 years (7-6--I am not counting that Del State win). Year 2 of Saban: 12-2. Year 3: So far no losses. Yup, I could see why you would not to be like Bama. Now--let's take Nebraska. Fired a successful if staid coach. Brought in a buffoon with a cool offense, kept him around for way too long, and they still have not dug out. Don't want to be like them, that's for sure.

Blue Marker

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 3:30 p.m.

What choice does MSC have? They spent millions to get this guy and RR still has two years left. They have no choice but to smile and say everything is OK. I'm trying to stand behind RR and his staff but it's tough after a game like that. We'll see how they finish the last 3. Would anyone be surprised if they lost all 3 and missed a bowl again? As for the state of the program, it's been going down hill for a while now. Let's look at November, 2006 right before the #1 OSU vs. #2 UM. Except a Capitol One Bowl win everything since that moment has pretty much sucked. Remember in the 90's when Nebraska and Florida State were national programs? Now they're not and may never be again. Is Michigan headed down that same path?


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 3:17 p.m.

When RR was hired I thought it was a steal. He has had success everywhere he has been. I am getting a little nervous now. Correct me if I am wrong but didn't Brian Kelly take over a cincy program of Dantonio's that primarily ran a pro-style offense. He put in the spread offense there with relative ease and has not had anything less than a 9 win season. How much time does it really take to turn things around? If we are going to give RR a cheance let's stop all of the circus side show media reporting and let him perform.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 3:12 p.m.

Thank God we have a President that is not a bandwagon hopper. Fact is, those who count Victors Club and administration are not concerned at this point nor should they be. To ditch a coach after two years would make us look like Alabama or Nebraska where coach dumping made it very very expensive to attract coaches


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:55 p.m.

"But the progress is being made. Not as quickly as some people would like, but were going to press forward and get it done. And hopefully sonner rather than later." Okay... Now could someone explain to me where exactly that "progress" is being made? Becuase it's certainly not on the field. Now I'm not looking for leaps and bounds here. Lets just start with basic fundamentals like... Running, blocking, tackling, catching. Oh, and not fumbling three times a game would be nice. Am I asking for too much? Fundamentals, they're the foundation of success, and are desperately needed before 5-7 becomes a reality. Coaching anyone?

Thick Candy Shell

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:54 p.m.

And we also have walk ons playing first string. We have little to no senior leadership.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:52 p.m.

Did anybody else think of Patsy Kline when they read the title of the article?


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:49 p.m.

thick matter the defensive scheme, our defense can't tackle! thats basic fundamentals of football, not rocket science.

Thick Candy Shell

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:42 p.m.

At least she understands that it takes time to go from 3 yards and a cloud of dust to modern college football. AND nobody say the spread won't work in the Big Ten. It works in the SEC and they have the last 3 National Champions. Oh, and by the way, they are praised for their defense, the spread still works. Robinson will get our defense up to par (two Super Bowl wins)it will just take time. Realize, 4 defensive schemes in 5 years.


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:32 p.m.

Mary Sue you just used the example of why not to give a coach 4-6 years of subpar performance. Imagine where our bball program could be if we'd have gotten belein sooner. The difference between belein and richrod is that in the 2nd year there was visual progress. Mary Sue can you please just take the NCAA job and get out of town asap?


Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:30 p.m.

what this statement proves is that she does not understand how football is central to the university. She states that she gave Amaker 6 years, but Amaker was brought in as coach from a much different place--probation, few players, a winning tradition sometimes but not like football and not in years. M basketball still has not won the B10 championship since 1985-86. Additionally, basketball does not sell out with only 13000 plus seats, and the alumni base does not care as much about bball (sorry). Rod was brought in as coach to a widely successful program, one in which the team just had the #1 draft pick, #1 running back and passer in its history; having won 5 B10 championships in 10 years (I think), and challenging for the B10 title every year of LC's era (dating back to Bo's era). Football's success drives fundraising, popularity of the school, a high profile nationally (side by side with academic excellence), and connects the alumni like nothing else. What does President Coleman not understand? If she gives Rodriguez 6 years to turn things around, SHE should be fired first. But perhaps she's happy that Iowa is winning more than M. Perhaps she's a plant!

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 2:30 p.m.

While I initially liked the Amaker hire a lot more than I liked the RichRod hire, it's fairly easy to say, in hindsight, that firing Amaker after two years would have helped the program. Reading Schilling's comments and Graham's comments today, I feel RichRod is bringing in a culture of losing. I realize they're just being honest. What they say seems, to me, that they expect to win unless the other team comes in and takes it away from them. Instead, they should be constantly looking, on every play, for what it takes to make that play a success. Let the fans worry about momentum, or victories, or bowl eligibility.