Rich Rodriguez more confident than ever that Michigan football is on the right track
AnnArbor.com file photo
On Monday, he said he’s more certain than at any point in his three seasons in Ann Arbor that the Michigan football team is close to becoming one of the nation’s premier programs.
He’s just not putting a timetable on when fans will see that in the rankings.
“I don’t want to give you an exact time frame because then you’ll hold me to it,” he said, drawing a few laughs amid a conversation on a touchy subject -- his job security. “I’ll tell you, it’s sooner rather than later.”
Beset by distractions and problems on and off the field since the day he took the job, Rodriguez acknowledged the time frame in which he anticipated success has been delayed.
Until he gets the team there, he’s confident that he’s got the right approach, right assistant coaches and right recruits on the way. Patience, he said, would be helpful. Not that he expects it.
“I didn’t get this job at Michigan by getting a lottery ticket that said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the coach at Michigan,’” he said. “We didn’t get stupid overnight and all that when we lost a few games.”
The Wolverines missed the postseason for the first time in 33 years during his first season, missed it again last year during a 5-7 season.
This year, they’ve qualified for a bowl for the first time under Rodriguez, and head into Saturday’s regular-season finale at Ohio State (noon, ABC) with a 7-4 record.
Barring a win Saturday - the Wolverines start the week as 18-point underdogs - the team will have improved two games each year of his tenure.
“We’ll be where we want to be, and I can see that at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Is that fast enough?
Even as Rodriguez’s trademark spread offense has risen to the top of the Big Ten, the defense has sunk to the bottom. Michigan has run three different defensive systems - all unsuccessfully - in the same span.
On Saturday, those struggles reached a dubious crescendo. The team set all-time school records for most points (369) and most yards (4,897) allowed in a season - and counting.
If fans are concerned, Rodriguez said his worrying has been “tenfold,” but that the trouble spots have changed from year to year. “It’s not been the same thing all the time,” he said. “It’s been a multitude of things. But there’s no question they need to get fixed.”