Obviously, the biggest question facing the Michigan football program right now is who will replace Rich Rodriguez as head coach.
Arguably the next most important question is whether the new coach will be able to retain the services of the most dynamic offensive player Ann Arbor has seen in years.
In the aftermath of the embarrassing bowl blowout that sealed Rodriguez’s fate, Denard Robinson was non-committal on whether he would remain at the school if his coach were dismissed. That stance makes sense; the quarterback is perfectly suited to RichRod’s version of the spread offense, and it’s doubtful any new head coach brought in — at least based on the many list of potential candidates — would maximize his talent the way the former coach did.
While Robinson has yet to speak publicly since Rodriguez’s firing Wednesday afternoon, his high school coach has. Telling AnnArbor.com that his former player “has a hard decision to make, one way or the other,” Art Taylor (no relation) sounded decidedly pessimistic about Robinson’s future at Michigan, going so far as to talk in the past tense in one instance.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he would have been a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011,” Taylor said. “That offense he was in was really made for him. It’s not that he couldn’t do a drop-back, but then you are taking a great weapon away — his legs. …
“I think he might wait and see who is going to get in there. but he’s also got to think of his future.”
When told that athletic director David Brandon said in his press conference yesterday that “one of the things that I look for is a coach who can modify their approach and their attack based on the personnel that they have”, Taylor sounded less than enthused for anything other than the exact style of offense Rodriguez ran around Robinson.
“‘Modify’ is a big word,” he said. “If a coach doesn’t run the spread, I don’t know. A coach is going to run what he wants to run. It sounded like a lot of mixed thoughts going out there.”
Here’s the thing, though: Robinson will only be at Michigan for, at most, the next two seasons. Brandon has to make a hire that’s good for the long-term health of the football program, not the short-term happiness of a single, albeit great, player.
If that means losing a talent as dynamic as Robinson because you feel it’s the best fit for the future of your football program, so be it.
The last thing Brandon can afford to be right now is shortsighted.