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Posted on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

Rich Rodriguez's first Gator Bowl, Will Campbell's status at guard and more Michigan football news

By Pete Bigelow

The game took place nearly 30 years ago. The details are still fresh in Rich Rodriguez’s mind.

“It’s funny how you remember certain things,” he said of his first Gator Bowl in 1982. “It was a night game at the time. It was a little chilly. It was my sophomore year.”

Rodriguez, a backup tight end for West Virginia, didn’t start against Florida State. But he did play on the kickoff team. Right from the start, he knew it wasn’t his night.

“It was really wet, and I probably just fell down or tripped in the biggest puddle of mud, and I was soaked from head to toe. I was just drenched.”

He froze. Standing on the sideline, he thought about changing into a dry uniform at halftime. Florida State dominated from the start, and West Virginia lost, 31-12.

“Even though it was raining and muddy, we still couldn’t stop them,” Rodriguez said. “They were that fast.”

It was the first of Rodriguez’s four Gator Bowl appearances. As coach of the Mountaineers, he lost to Maryland, 41-7, in 2004, lost to Florida State, 30-18, in 2005, and beat Georgia Tech, 38-35, in his final game as coach at West Virginia.

Now he returns to the Gator Bowl as the Michigan football coach as the Wolverines (7-5) face Mississippi State (8-4) on at Jan. 1. (1:30 p.m., ESPN2) David Molk a finalist for Rimington Trophy

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Molk_David_2009J.JPG

David Molk

Michigan center David Molk is one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s best center.

The other finalists are: Stanford’s Chase Beeler, Arizona’s Colin Baxter, Ohio State’s Mike Brewster, TCU’s Jake Kirkpatrick and Auburn’s Ryan Pugh. The winner will be announced Thursday night during the ESPNU awards show.

Molk was named to the Big Ten’s first team by coaches, and the all-Big Ten second team by media members.

He’s the second Michigan player named a finalist for the Rimington award. David Baas shared the award in 2004 with LSU’s Ben Wilkerson.

A simple plan Given that the team has four weeks to prepare for the Gator Bowl, it would be easy to assume the Wolverines would use the extra time to assemble a complex, detailed game plan.

They’ll actually do the opposite.

“You can maybe try to do too much,” Rodriguez said. “I can remember the Sugar Bowl against Georgia, we actually simplified it more than any game all year, because we knew the atmosphere, and we didn’t want our guys to think too much.”

West Virginia defeated Georgia, 38-35, in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.

“I’ll talk with the coaches, and we’ll actually try to do less, try to hone in on what we’re doing well,” he said.

Looking ahead to 2011 Michigan returns 10 of its 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball next year. Left guard Steve Schilling is the unit’s only departure.

Ricky Barnum played for a few snaps against Ohio State and has backed up Schilling all season. Barnum, a redshirt sophomore from Lakeland, Fla., is the early frontrunner to replace him. Elliott Mealer is another potential starter. And do not discount Will Campbell, the defensive tackle-turned-guard who has caught the eyes of his teammates.

“He saw huge improvement over the last few weeks,” Schilling said. “With these 15 (bowl) practices, he could really challenge for that spot too.”

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Sean T.

Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

PU, I realize that it was Will's decision to ask if he could play offense. But I also realize that he knew he wasn't getting playing time based on weight alone and if he is valuable to the coaching staff on defense, then he shouldv'e been playing DT. At the least spelling Mike Martin.


Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

Will Campbell wanted to switch to offense? His idea? But how did that evolve? He was coached up by a knowledgeable defensive staff who know how to use large hole-plugging linemen to stop running back who run with power. Or, he was told to be something he's not and because that's hard to do, he sat on the defensive bench. Finally, because he's a football PLAYER, he took the only road available to him and moved to the O-line. So,, unless he can get a year back for a medical redshirt, the defensive coaching staff was crazy, he'll bounce around for another year before he leaves school. Not exactly how he envisioned his Michigan football career. How can I back up my theory? Let's see if there is a trend here. Roh being played out of position? Ezeh at the wrong spot? How about Gallon back for punts/kickoffs? Placekicker anyone? Former all state punter not used vs OSU? Well, this is just what we know. How guys we don't see every day could possibly make up a decent team if utilized correctly. Some coaches wont use a player in a game situation because they don't want to be proven wrong. It's called being stubborn. Does that some like anyone you know coaching at Michigan?


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

@The OSU, But, going to see the U-M game live in Florida has one distinct advantage. RR has personally selected the tear-wrenching music for our marching band's halftime performance, and he has magnanimously agreed to do the accompanying vocals.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 4:15 p.m.

Charlie weis was a grudute of notre dame and ty took them to a bcs game so not to sure were you get your info. as far as will most sites said he would be better on offense because of pad level. the only three name brought up to replace ty were john gruden who went to high school at south bend st. joe right up the road from nd,urban myer who was an assistant under lou holtz and charlie wies who like i said graduted from nd. they wanted one of their own got him and got the same winning percentage over 5 years ty had in three. like isaid ty took them to a bcs bowl and was never liked down here in south bend.asfar as losing was the only reson they got rid of him thats not true at all.Most notre dame people would acutly point to recruiting......and that was a cop out because he was the one that brought in brady quin..but like you people at that time notre dame fans were willing to make stuff up in order to fire him... and ontop of that what is a michigan man????? someone that went to uofm???no its a hard working blue collor man that works 50, 60 hours a week to put food on his families table.don't twist bo words


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 3:05 p.m.

Winning your Gator Bowl contest is a lot like winning free tax-prep service from H&R Block. Your taxes are prepared for free, but you still need to pay your taxes. Winning the Gator Bowl prize still causes a person to be surrounded by BLUE-blooded elitists and go to a game with RR as a coach. Thank goodness we can all watch the Sugar Bowl on TV.

I love Michigan Football

Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 11:52 a.m.

Buh-Bye, RichRod. Dan Mullen's offense is gonna light up your D like a Christmas tree!


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

Great point Kim - if DB does plan to retain RR, his lament for next year's sorry performance will be how his own AD screwed him over on recruiting trail. Another convenient excuse that makes him the victim. When will this nonsense stop?


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

DB plans on retaining RR and God only knows why. Harbaugh will not be available by 1/3/11. Next years recruiting class is horrible so that offense will have to carry the team again and again with NO running backs. Pathetic.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

Sean, Go back and read the archives. It was Will Cambells idea to switch to offense. He came to the coaches and asked to try to play gaurd.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

I gotta hell of an idea.!!!!!! Leave RR down in Fla. and bring Urban back. You'll have the tractor trailer there and the whole team to load all of his stuff. HA=HA-HA STUPID IDEA Mich. can't get a GOOD Coach I don't care what you say thats funny right there.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

Kevin, the special teams coach is Tony Gibson, who came from WV with RR. TG is also the Ass't Head Coach, so he's going nowhere, unless he leaves the same way he came. Turns out there is/was an experienced PK/P on the roster, Kris Pauloski, a former all state selectee. Who's coaching him during practice or are special teams having tea while the rest of the team does offense? (BTW there's another coach you never see in front of the cameras after a loss.) Special teams is all coaching. You get a mishmash of players from both offense and defense and you, as a coach, have to get them ready to play, with backup. If you want to gauge how well a team is coached, watch special teams' and that's a window on the program. On defense, late in the season, I saw some spark and energy getting to the ball. But not always everybody and not always making tackles. Some of these young men can play they, just instruction and guidence and they're not getting with this coaching staff.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 3:21 a.m.

Denard is already scouted by Miss State. They will watch vids of the losses and see how Denard's running game was stopped. If he is stopped, the offense is stopped. RR should have known this after the MSU game but he did not adjust.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 10:23 p.m.

@Hebner, but let's be honest if RR would have beaten Ohio State this season the odds of his retaining his job would have been much greater. It's the wins and quality of wins that are being considered.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

I used to defend it's hard not to bash him. All in all I wish him and his family well, I just think the integrity issues have spelled his fate, not the wins and loses. He will be let go in a few weeks because the recruiting process has to go ahead with a new coaching staff. Someone compared the dismissal of Ty Willingham to RR! if RR is let go; no comparison except the three years. Ty Willingham was let go by ND for wins and losses only.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 9:22 p.m.

Anyone else have a bad feeling about this game? Miss St is a good team and Mich has not beaten a good team this year. Miss St 49 - Mich 21.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 9:07 p.m.

AZ...what's to say that Mullen won't coach Miss St in the bowl game? He, for sure, won't go coach UF since Meyer is staying through that game.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 7:53 p.m.

Wow, a lot of history with RR and the Gator bowl. Well, it's about as get as it will get, glad we're moving on.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 7:44 p.m.

Horton Blue - What makes you think that RR will be hired as the Florida coach? lol!


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

If Mullen is offerred the Florida job, which it sounds like he will be, then Miss. St. will be without their coach in the Gator Bowl against UM. Could good fortune suddenly be shining down on RR?


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 6:58 p.m.

No one has even mentioned Mealer speeking of RR charecter I personally hope he (Mealer) wins the job. Have a Ohio lineman would be too sweet, That will help you forget about a FAT Hankins and that trader who left the team in 08 (crying lol) I dont want to even say his name.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 6:44 p.m.

If you love M football you need to leave the crying alone thats him he's emotional, sue him for being himself. You wanna fire based on his wins and losses fine. You better have Harbaugh in your back pocket though or we are up the creek again.

I love Michigan Football

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 6:31 p.m.

Michiganiac, I am not sure what point you are trying to make? Charlie Weis had absolutely nothing to do with ND before he was coach there. Jim Harbaugh was a winning QB under Bo, and his did Jack coached with Bo for alot of years. Jimmy knows the tradition here more than anyone out there coaching right now. Will Campbell was recruited mostly for DEFENSE and some had him DEFENSE/with possible Offense. Scout 5*, #6 DT, #35 overall Rivals 5*, #5 DT, #26 overall ESPN 79, #21 OT The grass is hardly ever greener you're right, but at least it would be with a Michigan Man here and not a crybaby.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 6:25 p.m.

Special teams should be the only coaching change to be made IMO the defense was too young and I was actually proud of some and I mean some not all of the play by those kids who have been through 2 coaching changes already. You gotta love Avery and the other safety I cant think of his name the heart they played with fillin holes taking on tailbacks 30 pounds heavier than they are


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

First off most recruiting sites had will cambell a5 star OFFENSIVE tackle, they even noted his pad level in the recruiting.As far as rich rod to me this whole haurbough thing reminds me of ty willingham.Who notre dame regarded as an outsider from day one,and couldn't wait to get rid of him for an ND alum.Out goes ty in steps Charlie weis.Who after 5 years had the same record as ty. some times the grass isn't greener on the otherside.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 6:01 p.m.

Wisconsin had as many seniors on that team as we had freshman and sophmores thats why they buried us


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 5:51 p.m.

J-o-n-n-y, you hit it out of the park! Coaching is the start and end of this discussion. That's why I mention special teams, this time, and what happens to players not able to make it without it. You should have the starters and backups ready to play every game. And I mean all three aspects of the game, not just one part. Wisconsin and Iowa are perfect examples of making recent players Big Ten game players. IF a new coach comes in I expect he will take this team further because he, (and that's whomever is hired), is foremost a football coach. There won't be three years or even two. New coach equals 8-4. You can bank that!

Jonny Spirit

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

Blu-n-tpa and P U MSU The recruiting record have been pretty good for Michigan. It's all about coaching. Lets look at the past 4 year in recruiting: 2008 Michigan ranked 6th best team recruiting that year 2008 Wisconsin ranked 26th 2009 Michigan 14th 2009 Wisconsin 37th 2010 Michigan 12th 2010 Wisconsin 33rd 2011 Michigan 29th 2011 Wisconsin 30th Every year Michigan has had a better recruiting class then Wisconsin. It is all about the coach. You have to develop these 18 year old kids. Wisconsin has found a way, we need to learn from them.

Sean T.

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

PU MSU, Despite being 20 pounds over weight, Will Campbell would've played and made improvements throughout the year. I believe that switching to offense wouldn't make him less of a fat-a$$ by any stretch of the imagination. And if he's on the bench whether offense or defense he's probably not getting any slimmer. The coaching staff would do themselves a favor and switch to a 4-3 defense and watch Will Campbell turn into an All-Conference Defensive Player.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 4:07 p.m.

New82, I suspect Urban Meyer is quitting due to health reasons. If so, I doubt he'd want to coach at U-M right now because it is a real pressure cooker although he is an excellent coach.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 4:05 p.m.

Instant gratifacation=THREE years!? That's 75% of a college athletic's eligibility, not counting any redshirts. Coaching contracts are writen to be broken. Otherwise I could write one on a single sheet of paper, without a lawyer. You don't think a coach won't jump out of his contract to take the UF position, if offered? How did RR get here in the first place? And you want to follow him? Good luck and good riddance. I've waited a long time to see some positive signs that Michigan football was on the rebound. What's your favorite win this year? Mine is UMass. Why? Because my young son and I flew up for the game and very nearly saw Michigan get upset. Yeah, that was impressive. I still haven't heard one supporter of the current coaching staff explain the total breakdown of special teams play this year. They still practice that once in a while, right? No emergency punter? He, heck she, could be just a walk-on so long as they practiced once in a while. Please let the rest of us know when you clean out all you team gear with "Michigan", "Wolverines", or a "block M" on it and I will personally arrange for it to find a deserving home.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 4:02 p.m. apologies, but there were five other names mentioned for the UF job...none of then have the first name of Rich, or the second name of Rodriguez, nor do any of them have the initial JH. Sorry to be the bearer of such sad news.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

Horton...the wire services are reporting that Mullen at Miss St (who was the OC there 2 years ago) will be named the new UF coach soon. Next "situational insight" for us is????


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

If Brandon keeps RR, which i don't think he will, the best case scenario is that UM goes 5-7 next year and Urban Myer has a change of heart and wants to come back to coaching. When he was at Utah he had a opt out clause to take the Michigan job. RR is fired and we get the second best option other than Harbaugh. Hopefully it would not come to this because RR should be replaced for Harbaugh in about 24 days.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 3:42 p.m.

horton - "politically driven"???? Nope. Way too much drama there. What a true fan you are - switching loyalty now when U-M is at the bottom is for the faint hearted I guess. The rest of us will see this thing through. You are dismissed.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

Horton Welcome to the real world. you dont do your job theres a good chance you'll lose it. And i'm sure no one in michigan will mind if you switch your loyalty. the fact that you even bring up is hilarious. Rich rod can have all the recruits he wants. you still need someone to coach them

I love Michigan Football

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

I find this all funny. All of these Rich Rodriguez fans have him being fired and nothing has ever been mentioned from DB to confirm it. I guess they all know in the back of their minds he should be shown the door. I thought Rich getting hired for the Miami job was a good fit, now hearing that Urban is retiring. Bon Voyage!


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

Here is a situation for you. Urban Meyer steps down from the Florida position so they are in the hunt for a new coach. U of M fires RR (stupid) to hire the savior and almighty Jim Harbaugh (also stupid). Florida is looking for someone who can bring in big names and incredible athletes to run a spread style offense. They hire RR, Dee Hart already said he wants to play for RR so he commits with Florida, Dee Rob who seems like a very loyal and genuine person also goes to Florida (his home). And we watch politically driven Michigan rebuild for another three years while Florida wins a couple national championships with the best athletes in college football. I cant wait, Ive been a U of M fan my whole life but I never realized that generally U of M fans are a bunch of cry babies with little to no patients, who seek instant gratification. And the only excuse I have heard on the radio is quote "The guy just doesn't fit Michigan football". Well it appears to me that no body fits Michigan football anymore, even Lloyd didnt fit Michigan football. It almost makes me want to switch my loyalty because of how ridiculous this has become. Shoot we don't even have the integrity to uphold a contract anymore, or for that matter let a decent human being know if he has a job or not. Pathetic!


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Other players from that West Virginia team that Rich Rod played on said he cried after that Gator Bowl game. As far as Campbell is concerned I would think the defense needs him more so what was with the switch? OSU has a freshman Michigan native that plays a lot for them (Hankins)that could stand to lose a few but he filled running lanes and made tackles.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

ec, Cambell came into fall practice 20 lbs overweight. He was MIA for summer workouts. He is an incredible talent but has no work ethic. He is the reason he has not made an impact on this team.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 2 p.m.

tulsatom - Right on with Will Campbell. One of the few (if not the only?) 5 star recruit that Rodriguez brought in and now he is switching positions? Campbell was an absolute beast on the defensive side of the ball when he came in but for some reason this coaching staff couldn't correct the issues he had. Last I heard it was something about 'pad level' and leverage. Can these things be taught? You bet they can. Yet another example of the coaching staff not knowing what to do with a player that is bigger than 5'6" and 175 lbs. I sure do hope that Dee hart comes back into the fold (insert sarcastic tone here). With the high injury rate on our smallish offensive side, you can never have enough 170 lb running backs.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

Don't feel bad for Richy Rich he is laughing all the way to the bank. Just the rest of the football world is laughing at the state of HIS program.

J. Dean

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 12:52 p.m.

I hate to say this because I feel bad for Rich Rod and the kids, but this won't be a win for him.

I love Michigan Football

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

simplifying things = dreadful zone. Michigan doesn't have anyone that can play man to man, that is why offenses pick us apart so easy.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

As far as simplifying things, I've been in favor of that (especially on the defensive side of the ball) all year. Instead of that dreadful zone that the players have struggled with all years and results in players covering pieces of turf instead of the opponent, a more agressive man-to-man defense in the defensive backfield sounds like a way to help the players play more to their strengths and potential than the zone.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

Will Campbell at guard is an interesting development. I hope it works out for him and the team. The only thing I find a little odd is the timing of the switch from defense to offense comes at a time when U-M could really use some defensive help and he was a 5-star defensive recruit (or at least I think he was) when he came out of high school. Go figure.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

We have no options on D. RR is dumbing it down because he knows the guys won't be able to handle too many different assignments. This is why we are such a crappy second half team. The opponent figures us out, and we don't have the talent/experience to make adjustments.