Tuesday Question: Should RichRod Be Fired?
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez
Posted Jan 4, 2011

The situation has gone from strange to the truly bizarre. Because he hasn't been yanked around enough, after several media outlets were reporting that Rich Rodriguez had been fired, now the school is saying it'll meet with the embattled head coach on Wednesday. Soooo, back to the CFN Tuesday Question: Should Rich Rodriguez be fired?

Tuesday Question ... Jan. 4

Should RichRod Be Canned?

By Pete Fiutak

Q: Should Rich Rodriguez Be Fired?

A: Michigan, can you finally and mercifully put an end to Rich Rodriguez's misery? Haven't you kicked the guy around long enough? West Virginia fans might say it's not enough, and most of the problems were brought on by RichRod himself, but he has been carved up from Day One, and at some point it's time to simply move on and start over.

However, before you do this, understand one almost certain truth: you're not getting Jim Harbaugh.

Just get that out of your heads and don't even dream it possible. Either he's staying at Stanford for one more year, with the chance of that being about 2%, or he's going to take the 49ers' or the Broncos' gig. His future is in the pros, even though he has the makeup and the talent to be a far better collegiate head man.

But if you can, by some miracle, get Harbaugh, then it's obviously a done deal. After the way Stanford was so technically sound, and with the way the Wolverines struggled to get the right personnel on the field on key plays in the first half against Mississippi State, there's a night-and-day difference. But unfortunately, you can't really fire Rodriguez just to fire him.

I've been a believer all year long that Michigan is closer than people think to being really, really good. The offense isn't going to get any worse, and it could be unstoppable if the coaching staff can figure out a way this offseason to mix things up at quarterback just enough to keep Denard Robinson healthy. The defense can't be any worse, and it won't be as long as the experience in the secondary starts to translate into production and if Rodriguez can unearth three linebackers who can tackle.

However, the problem might come with the timing. The defense isn't going to be fixed with one recruiting class and it can't be a brick wall overnight with a new defensive coordinator. If Rodriguez is kept around, then he has to rock on the recruiting trail, then the excuse in 2011 will be that all his star players are too young and need more time, then the hope will be that this year's inexperienced secondary turns into a killer, and once again, we'll all be talking about how Michigan might be a heartbeat away from being phenomenal and how it'll take one more year and one more chance.

The foundation was set with the offense, taking a few years to get to this point, and it's going to take at least one year for the defense to be adequate. By that time, Ohio State will be off playing in another BCS game while Michigan will be battling with Iowa and Michigan State to see who'll finish second in the Legends (yeah, I admit I had to look up the teams in the divisions) behind Nebraska.

You're Michigan. Check that; you're freakin' Michigan. You should be able to pick and choose almost anyone you want and you should be able to win right now. However, if you bring in a Harbaugh, or a Brady Hoke, or anyone, the new coach must be given at least a little bit of a pass to restructure the program, and there must be patience for yet another two-year plan that'll really be a three-year road. Meanwhile, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska will keep on rolling.

Michigan, maybe you roll the dice for one more season. The players seem to want Rodriguez around, and maybe, considering Iowa and Michigan State will be rebuilding a bit, and Minnesota and Northwestern are Minnesota and Northwestern, the offense will be good enough to simply outscore everyone in shootouts, and maybe, just maybe, Michigan can pull off the Legends title with an upset of the Huskers.

And then you can lose to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

By Richard Cirminiello 

Q: Should Rich Rodriguez Be Fired?

A: It depends.

If Michigan can get the right man for the job, this is an elementary question. The proverbial slam dunk. Bring, say, Jim Harbaugh or Brady Hoke back to Ann Arbor, and the plug should immediately be pulled on the Rich Rodriguez experiment. It hasn't worked, and after Saturday's debacle against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, the pressure is going to become insurmountable the longer he sticks around. The Wolverines deserve better, and maybe this just wasn't a good marriage.

However, if Michigan AD Dave Brandon can't land one of the top, oh, two or three candidates on his short list, why bother? He might as well roll the dice for one more year with Rodriguez, sans the entire defensive staff, rather than perpetuate a mistake with another one. Rich Rod certainly doesn't look like the solution, but the key will be his successor. Brandon has to get this one right, or else the Wolverines fall into a deeper abyss. Plus, if it's not an absolutely ideal hire, and possibly a Michigan man, the fans are not going to tolerate the messy transition that comes with an entirely new staff and dramatically different systems.

On a slightly different note, as irrational as this may sound today, Rodriguez can still coach and probably will with success someday on a different campus. What he accomplished in Morgantown was not by accident. It was by careful design and coaching. He's capable of recuperating his reputation, even if it requires a return to a much smaller spotlight and venue.

By Matt Zemek

Q: Should Rich Rodriguez Be Fired?

This is not a debate. Jim Harbaugh should be the next coach of the University of Michigan. Case closed. Harbaugh is an excellent coach, for one thing. Second, he's a Michigan man. Third, he inspires a great deal of confidence in everyone he relates to (well, within an athletic program; not among the ranks of television reporters). Fourth, in addition to being an elite coach on the raw merits, Harbaugh's pro-style offense – defined by an insistence on relentlessly rugged old-school physicality – is right in tune with the Michigan modus operandi and the Big Ten way of life on the gridiron. There's nothing about Harbaugh that isn't a perfect fit for Michigan. Les Miles would have been a wild and risky adventure; this is the man the Wolverines always should have wanted. He's now available, and he'd be nuts to want to work under the highly dysfunctional York family with the San Francisco 49ers.

Really? What more needs to be said? What more needs to happen? Who else needs convincing? Michigan should make Jim Harbaugh a wealthy and happy man at his alma mater, where he'll reach many more Rose Bowls than just the 1987 game he made as UM's on-field quarterback. Moreover, unlike that contest against Arizona State, Michigan will win Rose Bowls when Harbaugh takes the reins in Ann Arbor.

So yes, of course Rich Rodriguez should be fired. By the time this article goes to press, it will be disappointing if the ax hasn't already fallen. Rodriguez can then go to Clemson and find a place that's a much better fit for him. (Maybe Connecticut, though, now becomes a more attractive option, too… we'll see.)

By Barrett Sallee

Q: Should Rich Rodriguez Be Fired?

Should it be "three and out" for Rich Rodriguez? Absolutely. Between losing seasons, NCAA investigations and Josh Groban songs, the Rich Rod error (er…era) in Ann Arbor has run its course, and it's time for Michigan to move on.

When Lloyd Carr left Michigan following the 2007 season, the Wolverines were fresh off an Outback Bowl win over the defending National Champion Florida Gators, which capped off a nine-win season for the maize and blue. It took Rodriguez two years and one game to get to nine wins. Even while instituting the spread, Michigan isn't supposed to rebuild, it's supposed to reload.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said that he planned to wait until after the bowl game is complete to evaluate the football program. Ignoring the lunacy of that time frame, his rules should have already dictated Rich Rod's fate. A 52-14 drubbing at the hands of Mississippi State and contributing to one of the darkest days in Big Ten history should be enough to close the book on Rodriguez – especially of Jim Harbaugh is available.
By Russ Mitchell

Q: Should Rich Rodriguez Be Fired?

No. When you hired him, you knew it was going to be a quantum shift - from smash mouth to spread offense. That kind of radical change takes time. Perhaps even a year longer than expected.

Yes, now that the offense is percolating the defense needs some of RichRod's attention. And yes, the bowl game was ugly - but it's an exhibition. And against a team that might have been Top 10 if not stuck in the SEC West.

Before the Wolverines got banged up and the lack of depth became more apparent, it was clear there are few teams in the Big 10 really built to handle Rodriguez's unique brand of the Spread. This has the makings of a huge advantage. With a little more depth/time, some improvement on defense, and just a bit more confidence from the AD building (read: less stress), Michigan could be on the cusp of a breakthrough.

We're not suggesting he's the Magician of Ann Arbor, but go pull up John Wooden's career record at UCLA for a lesson in patience. And unlike that wizard, Rodriguez has already proven himself at our sport's highest level.

Just please, Rich - no more singing.