This might not be a popular view, but I'm officially backing Rich Rodriguez to keep his job in through the 2011 season, and here's why:
- Whilst it may not seem like it, Michigan is improving overall, 3 wins, 5 wins, 7 wins....so its rational to expect 9 in 2011, which is pretty good.
- The offense will be one of the best in the nation next year, and they're already pretty good. Yesterday Michigan just didn't finish drives, turnovers/penalties/dropped passes cost them badly, there will be less of this in 2011 which virtually all the starters back. Michigan only loses Perry Dorrestein, Steven Schilling and Martell Webb. Good players, but replaceable without a significant drop off in production.
- Assuming Mike Martin stays (which he should), then Jonas Mouton will be the only good defensive player leaving. Mouton has made some good plays this year, but he's made just as many bad ones too. Mike Jones will be back from injury to compete for that spot. Obi Ezeh also departs from the LB core, so depth will be poor, but production could improve if Kenny Demens continues to emerge.
- The secondary is young and hungry overall, but the two veterans will be back next year. Troy Woolfolk and J.T Floyd will both be back from injury and ready to step in. Woolfolk could switch back to deep safety actually, with so many young corners. Vinopal, Avery, Christian and Talbott will all be a year old, and a year wiser. Michigan will also have good depth at Strong Safety, with Kovacs, MRob, T Gordon and C Gordon competing for those two starting roles.
- Getting to a bowl game this year isn't just giving the players and fans one more game, its also giving them a load more practice sessions. Given time to prepare, the defense should be alright in the bowl game, unless they are against another quality offense like Wisconsin or OSU (doubtful). I expect them to win the bowl game.
- You'd also hope that he'd find a kicker by next season too, which has been a MAJOR problem this year. It cost them a lot of points against OSU for sure.
Note: If your reading this, and you attend or plan to attend the University of Michigan, and you think you can kick a ball through some posts from around 30-45 yards away, I urge you to contact the football team asap.
- From a recruiting standpoint, firing RR would certainly not help the current class. It's not as if a load of players are just going to turn around and say, "oh yeah Michigan will be great again now, I'll go there". Michigan would lose a few commitments for sure, maybe someone like Dee Hart, who wants to play in RR's offense.
- Also if he was fired, would there be even more players transferring...again? Some players on the roster might not fit in with the new system or agree with the new coach etc and might leave. Denard certainly wouldn't last long in a pro style offense, i.e Tyrelle Pryor year one and two.
- So in conclusion, the offense will be a lot sharper, better decisions etc from Denard, hopefully less dropped passes too. Which will result in more points, especially against the Big Ten teams. The defense will also be vastly improved, with experience returning in the secondary, and not many good players departing. An average Big Ten defense is possible! And to be honest, that's probably all they need to compete for the Big Ten title. Hagerup will be fine at punter, so if they find a Kicker, special teams could be average/good too.
This isn't how RR imagined his time at Michigan would go, but let's face it, he's been unlucky. Please don't comment on this saying he's a bad coach, because that's not true. In my opinion he's an offensive genius who thought he'd have better talent available on defense when he got there. Don't blame this season all on the 3-3-5 either, frankly Michigan would have been awful on defense with any system. Has he made some mistakes, yes definitely, and some bad ones at that. But he's also done a lot of good things at Michigan that go unnoticed. I hope Dave Brandon can see that there has been progress, at least in wins, and that he decides to give RR one more year.
I'm still all in, go blue!