Rich Rodriguez's devotion to Michigan offense is nothing unique
So how did someone so in tune with defense become one of college football’s great offensive innovators?
"Early on I think (my defensive experience) really helped because, philosophically, when I decided to become a so-called offensive coach instead of a defensive coach I thought, ‘OK, as a defensive coach or a defensive player, what did I least like to see or like to defend’” Rodriguez said. “So we kind of built our offense based on some of those principles.”
As Michigan head coach, Rodriguez spends most of his time working on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is run “about 100 percent” by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, cornerback Troy Woolfolk said.
“Coach Rodriguez, he comes in and monitors and makes sure everything is OK, but it’s mostly Coach Robinson handling the stuff,” Woolfolk said.
That’s typical of a lot of football programs.
Florida’s Urban Meyer is considered an offensive guru and Alabama's Nick Saban a defensive mastermind, and both coaches leave most of the game-planning on the other side of the ball to their coordinators. In the NFL, Sean Payton (offense), Rex Ryan (defense) and Josh McDaniels (offense) are among many coaches who follow the same setup.
Rodriguez said he hasn’t felt any pressure to get more heavily involved with defense despite Michigan’s shortcomings.
The Wolverines (5-3, 1-3) rank last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (31 ppg allowed) in conference games and have allowed 30 or more points four times this year.
“I probably micromanage too much anyways,” Rodriguez said. “Offensively, I'm obviously heavily involved and on special teams. But on defense I'll watch the film on occasion with them and we'll talk about it because I need to know what's going on because I think that's a head coach's role.
“But I trust our defensive coaches, and they've got a lot of experience, and it's all just a matter of just playing better and getting them in position as coaches to make plays, and then hopefully the guys will do it.”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.