Its a Tuesday morning, the day after Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal easily dispatched Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl. It was D-Day for the University of Michigan. For the last month, this was going to be their day. The plan for most Michigan fans was simple; fire Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez and hire the hottest coach in the game (college or pro), Michigan grad Jim Harbaugh. This plan was seemingly in place for a year. If Rich Rod was a failure in his third season, can him and go get Harbaugh.
Ah, the best laid plans…..
Maize and Blue backers woke up to the thoughts that while their were plenty of mixed signals, they could still get Harbaugh on this day, despite the Monday morning rumors that talks between the two had gone south over the weekend. The Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg was the one leading the charge that those “Harbaugh to Michigan is dead” reports were completely false on Monday.
But Tuesday morning, the sun came up, and the people of Ann Arbor were drinking their coffee when Rosenberg reversed course. The front page of the Free Press website had a link to Rosenberg’s piece, stating “Harbaugh expected to pass on UM job.” Though Harbaugh hadn’t spoken about it and dodged the questions repeatedly the night before, things looked grim for Michigan with their alleged number one choice.
But really, was/is he their number one target?
As the day went on, the worse things got in Ann Arbor. One so-called “insider” after another discounted Michigan’s chances with Harbaugh. A team meeting was scheduled for the afternoon. The first word leaked out from Fox2 in Detroit that Rodriguez had been fired. It was all over ESPN and various news outlets. However, no official statement had been made and Rodriguez was still scheduled to meet with AD Dave Brandon.
That meeting seemed to drag on and on. Speculation out of Ann Arbor was that the conservative school President, Mary Sue Coleman, wanted nothing to do with Harbaugh, and that is the real reason the Football program was left grasping for a new candidate. Could that be why the meeting with Brandon and Rodriguez went so long and was to be continued this morning?
Other rumors swirled that San Diego State head coach and former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke was all but a done deal and he’d be bringing Scott Loeffler and Corwin Brown with him as his offensive and defensive coordinators. That seemed like a solid Plan B if Harbaugh didn’t come; get yourself your own “Tressel,” a relative unknown who is a “Michigan Man” and hope for similar results.
Except Plan B was never executed and Rodriguez is still somehow the head coach today with a chance to save himself. You’ve got a beyond angry fanbase demanding the head of their coach and a quality plan to replace him. However, Brandon seems to be completely clueless and making himself look worse and worse. The Michigan alum that I know are all completely livid at this botch job by Brandon, who’s previous job was as the CEO of Dominos Pizza.
Its pretty cut and dry after the Wolverines were absolutely throttled by a middle of the road SEC team (Mississippi State) 52-14 on New Years Day; fire Rodriguez and start over. Its not like Rodriguez is a charismatic guy who is liked by the fans and the media. He has never been embraced in Ann Arbor and comes off as a bit of a strange bird. Many in the fan base didn’t think Rich Rod deserved to even get to the bowl game, but his buyout was cut in half if he made it to January 1st, so you can understand why they would keep him for one more month.
After the meeting with Rodriguez, associate AD Dave Ablauf put out the following statement: “The definitive voice on this matter is Dave Brandon. And he has not and will not speak publicly until a final decision has been made.”
At 8:30 pm in the East, Rich Rod still had his job, Michigan fans still were completely in the dark about the future, and Ohio State was set to take on Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl with five players who’s suspensions were stayed one extra game by the NCAA so they could play on the big stage.
You just knew what was coming next.
Terrelle Pryor, the QB that Rich Rod couldn’t land at Michigan, played brilliantly, piling up 336 total yards and two TDs, one to fellow suspendee DeVier Posey (43 yarder). Dan “Boom” Herron rushed 24 times for 87 yards and a TD and a game-saving interception by a fourth suspended player, Solomon Thomas, clinched a 31-26 win for the Buckeyes. Perhaps the only silver lining was the interception was thrown by ex-Michigan QB Ryan Mallett, who left the program when Rodriguez was hired.
Man, what a brutal day to be a Michigan fan. I don’t think it could have possibly been any worse. But who knows what today will bring.