(Writer’s note: under normal circumstances, I never ask our readers to do anything extra for us. However, in this most sullen occasion, I do politely request that we set the mood by clicking play on the video below and then proceeding through the post as we listen to the beautiful, soaring vocals of Josh Groban. I know Rich would have wanted us to as this song meant so much to him. Thank you)
Rich Rodriguez wanted to be a Michigan man. He wanted to fit in. More than anything, he wanted to take one of college football’s greatest programs and return them to the peak of success.
Rich was ambitious. Enough so that even Brutus (the backstabber, not the Buckeye) himself would have been impressed. Rich strove to succeed at the highest level. If it wasn’t at Alabama, which he turned down the year prior to leaving for Michigan, then it would have been Tennessee, Miami, or any other high-profile position that eventually became available. Simply put, he wanted to be the best.
And he got that chance at Michigan. Sure, the Maize and Blue would have preferred Les Miles or Greg Schiano before giving Rodriguez’s wacky spread option a try, but being someone’s third choice ain’t bad.
From the get go, Rich had a lot to learn about what life was like in Michigan. He learned you can’t give out a #1 jersey to just anyone. He learned that there was, in fact, an actual limit on the number of quality control coaches you could have (go figure). He learned that there was also, apparently, a time limit on how many hours you could hold practice each week.
Yes, Rich was naive then, and if he wasn’t, he did a damn fine job making us believe he was. In fact, it was Rich who originated the “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I/we couldn’t do that” defense far before the Buckeye Five.
Rich was, through and trough, a true pioneer.
But, alas, it hasn’t been enough. Rich has been unable to maintain his promise that he would guide the Wolverines back to the promise land. In three years, he finished with a 15-22 overall record, going 6-18 in the Big Ten and ending with an uninspiring flop against Ohio State. Then, Michigan fell on their face, losing 52-14 to Mississippi State earlier in the Gator Bowl. As rumors circulated that Jim Harbaugh was the leading candidate to eventually replace him, our good friend Rich turned to the power of song to inspire his players, and his boss, to keep the faith.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work at all, and if anything, backfired horrifically. Rich simply tried too hard.
As we move on with the rest of our lives, we will surely reflect back on the time that Rich was with us at Michigan. We’ll think back to the awkward tears and head-shaking scandals.
And then promptly forget it.