Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez talks expansion, injuries
Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez will be in Chicago on Monday for the annual spring Big Ten Conference meetings, and like everyone else he’s anxious to learn where the conference stands in expansion.
“That would probably be the hottest topic for us coaches,” Rodriguez said Sunday at the Champions for Children’s Hearts golf outing. “I don’t think we’re going to have a lot of say in that. I think it’s probably just going to get us informed, see where we’re at.”
The Big Ten is considering adding one, three or five teams, but it’s unlikely anything will be decided this week.
Rodriguez said he’s kept tabs on the almost daily rumors of who will or won’t join the conference. Rutgers, Notre Dame, Missouri and Nebraska were reportedly offered spots in the league last week, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse have been speculated upon heavily as potential new additions.
“I think it’s interesting,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s all pretty exciting because from a league standpoint we’re dealing from a position of strength. We’re in a great situation right now, and it looks like it’ll be even better.”
By adding additional teams - likely two years away at the earliest - the Big Ten can split into two divisions and host a conference championship football game.
Rodriguez said that would allow the Big Ten to play into December and stay in the national conscience longer.
“I think it’s pretty exciting to have a championship game, if that’s what direction we go,” Rodriguez said. “But if we don’t go and we stay where we’re at, I’m pretty happy there, too.”
Big Ten basketball coaches are scheduled to meet Monday, with football coaches and athletic directors gathering Tuesday-Wednesday.
Along with expansion, scheduling, officiating and other legislative issues are expected to be on the agenda.
Injury update Rodriguez said Michigan escaped spring practice with only one serious injury, backup defensive lineman Will Heininger’s torn ACL.
Heininger had surgery at the end of spring practice and is ahead of his rehab, Rodriguez said.
“We’re hoping to have him back by midseason,” Rodriguez said.
Center David Molk, coming off a torn ACL, should be cleared for team activities by the start of fall camp.
“I don’t know where he’s at running wise or anything like that, but I saw him the other day, he walked by the office, and he looks great,” Rodriguez said. “I think he was anxious to do more in the spring but obviously for precautionary reasons we held him out but I think he’ll be 100 percent certainly for August stuff.”
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.