Michigan great Desmond Howard compares failed Rich Rodriguez era to Cherry Coke
LIVONIA -- The Michigan football team's postseason banquet had a redemptive feel to it after the Wolverines' 10-2 season and return to prominence this year.
The flip side of redemption, though, is that redeeming was needed, and reminders of the failed Rich Rodriguez era were unavoidable Monday night at the team's annual bust, which was hosted by Laurel Manor in Livonia.
It started with the keynote address by Michigan great Desmond Howard, who heavily criticized the fired coach.
AnnArbor.com file photo
"It’s a brand," Howard said. "It’s like Coke. So, some people in the board room at Coke made some crazy decisions in the past to make Cherry Coke. But then the consumers didn’t like it too much. So, they had to go back and bring in some brilliant mind to get this thing back on track."
Howard was probably referring to the failed New Coke, but his point was made.
"That’s like Domino’s Pizza saying we’re going to put out pineapple pizza, and then they realize the consumer isn’t buying that," Howard continued. "So, what Michigan did is we brought in some brilliant mind, (athletic director) Dave Brandon, and he got this thing back on track."
Rodriguez went 15-22 in his three seasons in Ann Arbor, the worst winning percentage of any Michigan coach in history. He also was a bust failure, slipping up at each of his three banquets, including comparing his 3-9 team in 2008 to Hurricane Katrina and the now infamous singing of Josh Groban's "You Lift Me Up" at last year's event.He was fired after being routed by Mississippi State in last season's Gator Bowl. Brandon then hired Hoke, a move Howard called one of the best in the country.
"And then he hired Greg Mattison," Howard added, noting the defense's improvement this year under its new coordinator. "Thank God for defense. Greg Mattison, thank God for defense."
Michigan's defense is allowing 17.2 points per game this year, down from the 35.2 it yielded last year.
Howard was the night's emcee and signed autographs before the event. He was joined in attendance by several former teammates, including his old quarterback, Elvis Grbac.