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Posted on Thu, May 27, 2010 : 6 a.m.

It's all about wins and losses for Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez

By Michael Rothstein

Rich Rodriguez received what he’s always wanted Tuesday. For the first time since allegations of NCAA impropriety showed up in August, Rodriguez’s status as Michigan’s football coach isn’t tied to anything off the field. It’s about whether or not his team wins.


Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez is 8-16 with the Wolverines.

Melanie Maxwell |

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, who has publicly supported Rodriguez since before he took over the school’s athletic department in March, made that clear. “Same questions in February,” Brandon said about Rodriguez’s job security Tuesday. “And same answers.” In other words, Rodriguez will coach at Michigan in 2010. Brandon’s words and the language throughout Michigan’s 79-page response to the five NCAA allegations levied against Rodriguez and his football program confirmed that. It started its strong defense of the program and of Rodriguez within the first 500 words of the report, taking a shot at the Aug. 29 story in the Detroit Free Press that triggered the investigation saying the initial media reports were “greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect.” It continued when Michigan publicly disagreed with the fourth allegation stating Rodriguez “failed to foster an atmosphere of compliance.” Brandon made Rodriguez his guy, his football coach. He didn’t hire him. But he’s sticking by him. Michigan could have pinned the NCAA violations on Rodriguez and his program instead of sprinkling seven letters of reprimand throughout the athletic department.

That Michigan stuck by Rodriguez is unsurprising. The large Michigan fan base may be divided on Rodriguez, but the university brass is not, at least publicly. Michigan supported Rodriguez in February when Michigan announced the notice of allegations. It also did when the story first broke in August. And it has backed him with consistency since former athletic director Bill Martin and Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman selected Rodriguez to replace Lloyd Carr in 2007. After all, Michigan paid $2.5 million of Rodriguez’s buyout from West Virginia.

Michigan’s leaders stuck by Rodriguez even though Michigan is 8-16 in two seasons. The Wolverines have won three Big Ten games in that span, have yet to reach a bowl game and have had their most unsuccessful two-year stretch since before Bo Schembechler took over the program. The offense has been inconsistent. The defense has been worse. Michigan’s special teams looked horrific in April’s spring game. Throughout it all, Coleman, Martin and now Brandon remained confident in Rodriguez. It has led to this moment. When Michigan released its report Tuesday it served as a turning point in Rodriguez’s career in Ann Arbor. From here, he can succeed or fail on his terms. On the field.

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein



Fri, May 28, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.

timeatwork...I see it the same way as the outlook for this season. I would even say Illinois is leaning toward L. M does not match up well vs Illinois in the recent past and that does not bode well for this season. Bowling Green is no guarantee either. Bowling Green is ranked far above M in the preseason Sporting News. M is #71. Not 7, not 17, not 31, not 51, but 71.


Fri, May 28, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.

How can they call the special tteams horrific when all they did wa try FGs.There were no punts or kickoffs to return!


Fri, May 28, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

RR is lucky that the program will probably be on probation for at least 2 years. I think that they'll keep him around until probation is up and they can get a new guy in without any pre-exsisting penalties to work against. UM will win 3 to 5 games this year. UConn, Mass, BG, Ind, and Ill are the only possible wins. Uconn is leaning towards a L, @Ind being a tough away game, and haveing a chance vs Ill because its at home. That leaves ND, MSU, Iowa, PSU, Purdont, Wisc, and OSU as losses, no matter where they're played. but even with that performance, we'll see RR in 2011.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 11:11 p.m.

I've read some of your thoughts since my thoughts and I pretty much agree that we're all hurting over the current situation make no mistake my love of this team and the State of Michigan is beyond reproach and I'm devastated by this mess. NoBowl4Blu is on the money as are a lot of you with your anger, hurt feelings and confusion about our great Michigan Wolverines. I've followed them since my first game in 1955 and I've been to several Rose Bowl games since I now live near the Rose Bowl. I even went to the Holiday Bowl when they played and beat Colorado State. If I show attitude to any of you it's becuase at times I feel desperate to see the return of the great, powerhouse teams of years gone by. I stick by RR becuase he's the coach at this time and I feel that it only hurts us to damn him while he's the boss of our team. I remember the thrill I felt before my mother passed away when I took her to the Rose Bowl game, Michigan vs. Washington Huskies, I think 1981 and Michigan won, my mother was thrilled. The thrill of watching guys like Anthoney Carter and Butch Wolfolk just kick butt and the Michigan Band at half time and Bo accepting the trophy at games end. I was as proud as a peacock and my mother just smiled and smiled. We're all disappointed right now and if I could talk to RR right now I would say dude, it's time.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 11 p.m.

Well, you may be technically right, and if the UM administration wants to bury its head in the sand about more than his wins and losses, that's their right. But, I think Rodriguez has brought such a stain to the university and its football program that it is hard to overlook his off-the-field actions. And I really wonder why you writers don't get it--as coach of Michigan football, since at least Bo but probably further back, wins and losses go hand-in-hand with character. It's probably a bigger deal now because of the magnified media glare. And if we just want to deal with wins and losses, Rodriguez does not exactly rate up there on that end. For those who will call me out for being critical and call out the writer and the Free Press as being anti-Michigan, I turn to you and ask if you similarly criticize CNN, Fox, NYT etc for covering the oil spill. I mean, it's not fair that BP should be blamed for blowing up a well. If they did not report it, for all we know, there might not even be oil all over the Gulf. In fact, in a little known article in the heretofore unknown Indiana Times, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Tiller has discovered that Rodriguez caused the spill by trying to hide his snake oil case under the reeds in Louisiana Bayou.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 8:26 p.m.

It is about the W-L's, 8-16 isent good but the mans been here for 2 years thats it, some people act like hes been around for 5 years and sucks thats just not the case.He had to retool the whole team on top of all the pressure the man cant catch a break since he came here.Dont forget he was the toast of the town and the hot coach befor he left WV. You cant judge someones team in 2 years with barley 2 recruiting classes, fireing him after 3 seasons is dumb. Theres gonna be people that hate RR and UM no matter what. We are not ND we dont fire are coach every 3 years thats worked out well for them.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 8:09 p.m.

I'm with Sunset on the prospects for this year. 4 wins would be the most I would expect of this team. Defense is like a sieve; QB is a turnover machine; special teams are not so special. The level I would expect for this coach to keep his job - it's got to be 7. Can't be 6.

wolverine in suckeye state

Thu, May 27, 2010 : 8:05 p.m.

rothstein, how many of those games lost in the big ten were close enough to win, how many of those games were played with freshman quaterbacks/ and players learning a new system? Oh lets not forget the outstanding performace of the offense durring the spring game. Are you afraid to write unbiased with a little bit of class like Dr. David Birkett,.... probably not i guess thats why you'll always be number 2 under Dr. Birkett

Macabre Sunset

Thu, May 27, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

The eight games below.500 is the worst two-year stretch, as is the ten games below.500 in Big Ten play. The question is whether it will exceed 1934-36 for the worst three-year stretch. How many wins do you think it will take for Martin's Folly to keep his job? I'm guessing he goes 4-8 this year (I hope he doesn't, but I don't see how he can do better), which will, of course, mean the end of his reign of terrible. But let's say he exceeds my expectations. Is 6-6 and a bowl enough? Does he have to win 8? Does he have to beat Ohio State?

Robbie Webb

Thu, May 27, 2010 : 1:02 p.m.

He'll make the conference better.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Over/under 6


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Of course its down to W&Ls. With the talent this team now has, many coaches could take it to a winning season.Just with the players in the spring scrimmage,Michigan displayed plenty of talent on offense and defense. The run game was stopped.The Qbs passed over them for some good gains but the "D" lines played well.JT Floyd and Teric Jones looked like Big ten CBs.The Gordons looked like real players.Also there is a lot of talent in last years recruiting class. However talent does not win unless it is well coached.The descision making must be first rate.RR got a pass his first two years but now its time to show us what he has upstairs.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

its not wins an loss, its play the best you can yes misstakes are made so what, im happy just to see that if you lose becaues some one did not do what rod said that is what sucks if rod was wrong on a play well that happens to its football, go blue you'll be geat this year i know it,


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 10:49 a.m.

in rod we trust


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOO BLUE!!!!! as soon as the wins start piling up people will be back in droves... so many fair weather fans...but their are still die hard fans like myself... excited for the season to start...

Robbie Webb

Thu, May 27, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

Nobowl, few people think that because they don't understand.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

Interesting my previous comment was removed. I suspect I know why. Facts about RR he loses 2 for every 1 he wins. Also the Sporting News just came out with their top 100 for 2010. Alabama is 1 OSU is 2 Wisc 8 Iowa 13 Notre Dame 29 PSU 32 Purdue 39 MSU 50 Duke 70 and Michigan 71. So if it's all about wins and loses for RR, only a few think this "king" is capable of enough to keep his job.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

Geez NoBowl4Blue remind me not to hire you as my wing man I like optimism when times are difficult for instance, if Michigan plays in the Pizza Bowl does that mean we get all the Pizza we can eat if so I say hell yes let's play in the Pizza Bowl. I do ask one favor of you son, please quit boring us with the same old rhetoric write some new material. I do have to say though I do like pepperoni so some of what you write is worth reading but next time add some bell peppers and onions oh and don't forget the mushrooms. There you have it you can show optimism without boring us to death with the same old rhetoric. Look, I'll make it simple for you all, if Mich. doesn't start winning in the next couple of years RR could lose his job I say could becuase we know the powers that be don't like to be told what to do in their decision making and they could make decisions against what the complainers want based on the fact of showing who's boss in fact I believe Brandon did just that if you read this whole article. If in the future any of us are expecting a powerhouse like Oklahoma or Alabama well they don't exactly wash out to clean either. I'm just curious did any of you boys and girls really believe that Mich. has never violated any policy governing college football. I truly believed in Santa and the tooth fairy when I was 2 but at some point I had to face reality and I think that point is now for some of you, I figured most of this stuff out when I was pretty young to the world. I think some of you are just figuring out that this country like Mich. is not perfect but if you jump ship where are you going to go, Alabama, Oklahoma or even Florida State. I stay with the ship and try to improve things and that's not necessarily done by just eliminating people that made mistakes sometimes correcting things is your best bet. Now in the case of RR the other problem is winning which might be the larger of the 2 problems. We will only find out if the win loss situation is the real problem If RR starts winning this year. At this point RR doesn't have the luxury of say a Pete Carrol. Pete was facing some of the same difficulties as RR but Pete had a solid win record so he gets a blank check. Sorry boys and girls but I've been to Viet Nam and I know some truths just like I know some truths about college football programs. You could clean up college football but then you have to do it across board and not with a hand full of programs or it won't work. The fact is people look the other way when programs fudge as long as their winning. RR is not winning so Mich ain't looking the other way.


Thu, May 27, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

Hmm...lets see he is losing 2 games for every one he wins. He's lost 2 straight to MSU and OSU. Oh I forgot the cupboard was bare and guys like Mallet, Boren and company couldn't have possibly help. He's the king all right and like another leader I know has brainwashed his followers thinking things will change. While OSU, Wisc and Iowa will most likely play in BCS Bowls this year Michigan will be lucky to make to the Pizza Pizza Bowl. If it's all about wins and loses maybe after this year someone with a little pizza experience will wake up and smell the pepperoni.