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Posted on Sat, May 29, 2010 : 3:47 p.m.

Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez: No must-win ultimatums, progress is coming

By Dave Birkett


Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez says he hasn't been given a victory total that the Wolverines need to reach this season.

MIDLAND - Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon gave football coach Rich Rodriguez a firm vote of support this week, repeating that nothing the NCAA investigation turned up will cause him to re-evaluate Rodriguez’s job this year.

Still, Rodriguez remains on one of the hottest coaching seats in America. Two seasons into a what’s been a tumultuous tenure at Michigan, Rodriguez is 8-16 and coming off a last-place finish in the Big Ten.

Speaking at the Michigan Associated Press sports editors meeting earlier this week, Rodriguez said he and Brandon have talked several times about the state of the program, but Brandon has not given him an ultimatum for wins.

“Our expectation is to compete for a championship every year, and particularly you start with a Big Ten championship,” Rodriguez said. “And anything short of that is going to be a disappointment.

“I don’t know if I have to have that talk because that’s the way we’re going to be, and I’m sure that’s going to be Dave’s expectation for every coach, not just the old football coach.”

As he has frequently over the last two years, Rodriguez said the massive overhaul he’s undertaken at Michigan is similar to what he went through in his early seasons at West Virginia.

As Mountaineers coach, Rodriguez inherited a 7-5 team coming off a Music City Bowl win from Hall-of-Famer Don Nehlen. He went 3-8 his first year, then reeled off six straight winning seasons (including three 11-win campaigns) before leaving Morgantown.

At Michigan, Rodriguez replaced future Hall-of-Famer Lloyd Carr and followed a 9-4, Capital One Bowl-winning season with 3-9 and 5-7 records the last two years.

“We had a tough first year at West Virginia and then things kind of turned around,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve obviously had a couple tough years here, but I see the same kind of dynamic or circle coming around here as well. Young guys are growing up and we’ll be playing with some 19- and 20-year-olds instead of 17- and 18-year-olds. A little different.”

Michigan still has several gaping holes on defense with three projected first-year starters in the secondary and no heir apparent for Brandon Graham, the nation’s leader in tackles for loss last year. Offensively, the Wolverines have an ongoing battle at quarterback, no clear-cut starter at running back and their best offensive lineman coming off a torn ACL.

So how close are they to turning things around this fall?

“Optimistically, I think we made a few steps last year,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to be closer this year, and we’ll be closer the year after that.

“It’s yet to be seen if we close the gap to win the championship, but that’s our hope and expectation.”

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.



Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 11:30 p.m.

Aw seems some people do not know Coach Carr record try 122 Wins 40 Losses A National Champanship 6 Bowl Wins 1 time and only 1 time did they have a Tie and True we have lost 7 osu games was many time before osu was the loser which soon it will be that way as for who Coach then will just have to wait and see GO BLUE

Kevin James

Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 8:15 p.m.

General studies is a real degree...for real students. When the University axed a ton of programs a few years ago, top students were writing off Michigan due to the lack of certain majors. The General Studies Major was designed for these types of students so they could in effect, recreate one of this sought after disciplines Michigan no longer offered. The General Studies Major was intended for use by students headed to grad school, not the NFL or NBA. It is not there to be used and abused by the athletic department to boost is long embarrassing graduation rate for football players.


Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

gatling64.... Really, you want to take the shot at the Engineer's at MSU? Since I have that degree. Let's see... you are close to engineer's at Ford. Do you think the acronym "Found On Road Dead" is something to be proud of? The pride of UM... I think the point being... General Studies is a pretty vague degree. Engineering is a real degree.

Kevin James

Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

This team is bad and getting worse. The offense is a joke, the defense is worse than a joke and now they are fielding, as predicted, the famed 3-3-5 defense which didn't work in the Big East and will get them run over early and often in the Big Ten. This team could realistically finish with a 1 and 11 record and win-less in the Big Ten. A realistic worse case scenario has them winning two out of conference games, beating Indiana on the road and Illinois at home to finish 4 and 8. I think 3 and 9 is perfectly reasonable with wins over UMass, Bowling Green and Illnois.


Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.

Our expectation is also to win the lottery every week. I think our chances are better to win the lottery than to win a championship. How can they honestly set a goal to win a championship? I mean, that's just ridiculous.

Terry Star21

Mon, May 31, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

'Our expectation is to compete for a championship every year...', you gotta love it - this RichRod is the man, so looking forward to the Big Ten Championship this year and the bowl victory. Long live our king, he stayed and we became champions. RichRod - he's our man..........all others, must become a fan.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

Metrick SU All this proves is that to pass an engineering course at MSU you can be a very ordianry.I am close to the engineering at Ford's and almost none are from MSU while a ton are from UM.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.

let me get this straight, 81wolverine. my opinion means nothing because i'm not a michigan fan. yours matters because you ARE a michigan fan. sounds like a wonderfully open-minded way to increase your knowledge.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

It's one thing to point out things that need improvement when necessary, but it's another thing to be a hopeless pessimist like a large number of people commenting on Michigan football. What good does it do to expect and predict a poor season -unless you're not a Michigan fan? Absolutely nothing. If you're not a Michigan fan, at least come out and say so, so the rest of us can discount your opinions (in contrast to reasoned logic or actual facts). Personally, I'm a big Michigan fan and always will be. I trust David Brandon to do what he does best - manage the program. If he and the regents decide that RR needs to go after this season, so be it. But, until then I support Coach Rod and Michigan football. I hope we have a great season, but am not going to consider jumping off a bridge just because we don't. Michigan will still be the Crown Jewel of universities of the Big Ten regardless of our football record this year.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

I am about to be profound... I have seen it over and over again. The team that executes its offense and defense game plan be it smash mouth, spread, or whatever in football wins. It is that simple. This year if RR can get his team to execute his plan... Blue will win big. If not.. well we all know what will happen. This will be an exciting season... and I am going kick back and enjoy it. That is my prediction! Go Blue!

Robbie Webb

Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Murrow, Rich Rod will not be fired. And MSU will lose.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

MetricSu real basic theory. When your team or your kid is down you continually offer them optimistic views you don't break them by bombarding them with pessimism I learned this as a kid playing sports. When your team or kid is winning you can afford to get on their butts with pessimistic rhetoric cause you don't want them to think there so good that they get complacent and don't put forth the effort it takes to win. It's not really much different with coach he's human and needs support same as any of you when your down. I think coach is on his own butt more than any of you could ever be or want to be. This team gave us great entertainment and bragging rights longer than any of us deserved now they need our support and show them you don't quit when times get tough if your ragging coach your ragging the team cause he is a part of this team whether you or I like it. I'm not afraid to back coach just becuase times are tough. I'm more hesitant not to back coach when times are tough.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:32 a.m.

8-4? Really? Carr was 9-3. DR was brought in to win NATION CHAMPIONSHIPS. Where are they? Save your excuses, time to deliver.


Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:35 a.m.

So RR is already trying to look towards 2011? It won't be the number of losses that gets him fired. It's the number of scandals. Given his behavior in the past and the players he recruits, there will be more embarassments. I figure two more scandals and he's gone.

3 And Out

Sun, May 30, 2010 : 2:05 a.m.

azwolv... the mediocre Big East team, U Conn...(according to you) was just a few points from undefeated last year and crushed USC (not that USC but the SEC one) in the bowl game. U Conn is well coached and returns most every starter. They will beat the Rich Rod coached "Michigan" team 35-27 in the Big House re-dedication game and panic will immediately set in. Mark it down. U Conn will be a heck of a tough game to win. ND? With Coach Kelly and a ton of talent at home will beat Rich Rod's "Michigan" team 31-28. Mark that one down too. 0-2...tough way to start out the Rich Rod Redemption campaign.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, May 30, 2010 : 12:43 a.m.

That's just it. I figure the only RichRod supporters left posting on these items are MSU or OSU fans who are enjoying the destruction of a great rival. Brandon can't name the number of wins RichRod needs to save his job because it's likely that number will be impossible to reach long before the OSU game. That will further hurt recruiting. Better to just hope for a surprise, and pull the plug the minute after the OSU game ends if it doesn't happen.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 10:46 p.m.

God Bless Rich Rod, we love him to death. Go Green-Go White!!!!


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

gatling: UM was a bad official's call away from losing to IU, and Charlie Weiss essentially handed the ND game to the Wolverines. Your record is your record. It took a bizarre set of circumstances for MSU to lose to Central last year, but they happened. Fans have to accept the record as is.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 10:04 p.m.

voiceofreason: Please go to the story on Chris Rock. I have the evidence on how the majors of UM football players compare with those at MSU. I doubt you will believe how wrong you actually are. Here are a few numbers just to give you an idea: UM Business/Engineering majors: 6 MSU Business/Engineering majors: 23 UM Kinesiology: 29 UM "Enrolled in College of LS&A": Too many to count. (RR has learned this is a good euphemism for General Studies. So, voice, you have no credibility. I hope your team can at least win a few games.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 9:50 p.m.

We are all guessing. Games are played to determine a winner. I see some things for optimism and some things for pessimism. We'll know in December/January. Robbie, realization is after the fact: "becoming fully aware of something as a fact."


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

I have just as much basis to say the past is relevant as anyone else who says it isn't. We won't know who's right until the games are played.

Robbie Webb

Sat, May 29, 2010 : 8:31 p.m.

Jaxon, again you refer to the past. You even said, PAST performances, they mean nothing now.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 8:11 p.m.

The blind optimism is running rampant on this site. I don't know what it's based on. Past performance has been horrible. Nothing we have seen during the past two seasons would give us any reason to have hope for this season. So, I really don't know how someone can make a prediction of 7-5; 8-4 or better and call it a lock. Throw out the Del St win and you have a team that won 3 and 4 in the past two seasons. Not great, not dominant, not a contender for Big Ten title in any way shape or form.

Robbie Webb

Sat, May 29, 2010 : 7:24 p.m.

Nobowl, based on what? They'll win alot of games this year. No doubt. And that's not blind optimism, that's realization.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 6:58 p.m.

You know opposing fans are getting worried when there are more troll comments than regular ones on an article. I like what I'm seeing. The victories will be that much sweeter next year.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 6:18 p.m.

tater's prediction for 2008: 9-3 plus bowl (10-3) tater's prediction for 2009: 9-3 plus bowl tater's prediction for 2010: 9-4 (obviously includes a bowl) tater does just what the people on the business shows do when they predict stocks: keep predicting the market will go up and eventually it will. And hope everyone forgets about your wrong predictions. Actually, I think tater will be closer to correct this year. I think 8-5 is reasonable, maybe even 9-4. I guess we'll have to see about the game at the Big House. (By the way, Google " Conan O'Brien Big House Michigan" for a nice little joke. I wonder if tater noticed the UM softball team didn't make it to the CWS this year, after being ranked #2 going in. When MSU men's basketball didn't win it all this year he and many others called it a choke job. Guess what? It's hard to win a national tournament. Oh, and see UM baseball. UM sports is kind of snakebit right now.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

gatling, The "house cleaning" was accidental as a lot of solid players left the program when RR got here. That said, this team is still built on top-notch recruits (they were recruited by MICHIGAN!!!) that are better than almost every team Michigan will play this year, they are going into their third year in both RR's and Barwis' systems, and we have two veteran QBs coming back. Every team in college football has inexperience, so that excuse no longer flies. We should beat ND (new QB, 1st year coach from 6-6 team), UMass, BG (MAC, new QB), Indiana, Illinois (back-to-back losing seasons, home game, Juice is gone), Purdue (back-to-back losing seasons, 2nd year coach, new QB) no questions asked. Those 6 teams are equally if not more inexperienced in key areas than UM and that should be 6 wins guaranteed. UConn is a mediocre Big East team (8-5 last year) whose claim to fame was beating the same 6-6 ND team we beat. That should be 7 wins. MSU is mediocre at best, and their QB is just as inexperienced as ours, not to mention it's a home game. That should be win 8. With simply mediocre coaching, Michigan will win 8 games. With "king" like coaching, there's no reason not to win them all as no one on this schedule is unbeatable. Let's see if he earns his nickname.

3 And Out

Sat, May 29, 2010 : 4:15 p.m.

Unfortunately no better than 5-7 this season, with wins over the Mac school...the FCS school (lol another one) and 2 BT wins (beats last years 1 BT win yay!). Too soft of a scheme. Poor coaching on fundamentals. Up tempo practices which do not lend themselves to teaching to young players. is Rich Rodriguez trying to set himself to be back the year after and the year after that, lol by trying to say that there is progress. Well the "old ball coach" as he is trying to call himself now... hopefully will be 3 and Out after 10. Its just not working and it is not going to work out.


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

6 wins max


Sat, May 29, 2010 : 3 p.m.

Naturally we all want to see an 8-4 or better season but RR had to clean house and this years team will have 75% redshirt freshman and freshman.We will lose only 5 starters on both sides and there are not any big ten teams that can make that statement.If we go 7-5 that will represent progress but frankly who wants us to lose 5 games.We have the talent to beat any team with the exception of OSU but we blew a couple of games we should have won and it may happen this year,because of a lack of experiance.However the housecleaning is complete and now we can concentrate on winning,but the 2011 team will be a true championship contender