Yes, I live in Connecticut. But my heart belongs to the University of Michigan's football program. It all started with a trip to the Big House in Ann Arbor when I was in junior high school. I've been a fan of the Wolverines for decades, even though I never attended Michigan. My blood runs maize and blue, and I've been bleeding sorrow for the past few years. The Wolverines have been playing football as though they are an endangered species.
So I greet the news that head coach Rich Rodriguez has been fired with a certain terrified fascination. We haven't beaten Ohio State in years, a fact that chokes me with rage and makes it almost impossible for me to have a civil conversation with a good friend whose wife had the misfortune to be born in Columbus, Ohio. After the 52-14 pasting the team took on New Year's day at the hands of Mississippi State, I was looking for a scalp.
I would have settled for the mere firing of the defensive coordinator. The Wolverines' offense was revived this year, thanks to Denard Robinson, a sophmore quarterback with Heisman Trophy potential. But the defense was arguably the worst fielded in a century of play. The team gave up 40-plus points in consecutive games for the first time in team history during 2010. Opponents made third down conversions look simple. On a few occasions this year, my wife and I did the unthinkable: We turned the game off in despair and in disgust.
We flirted some with loyalty to the University of Connecticut. We live here, after all. And Randy Edsall seemed to be working a miracle just up the road. But watching the UConn-Michigan game this year made it clear that our hearts belong to the Wolverines.
Here's a thought that I urge readers to bring to the attention of the folks at UConn. Why not offer Rich Rodriguez the head coaching position? Edsall has, after all, quit the team in a cowardly fashion: He did not even have the grace to inform the team members himself that he was leaving a prorgram he built from the ground up. The team learned of his departure as their flight was landing in Connecticut, after their return home from a valiant effort against Oklahoma University in their first BCS bowl game. Edsall wasn't even on the plane. He was flying to the University of Maryland.
Rich Rodriguez is a good enough coach. He did not gel at Michigan. He's looking for work and UConn is now rudderless. Give him a shot, Connecticut. Imagine the hype at next year's opening game in East Hartford. That's when Michigan travels to Connecticut. Let Rodriguez try to exact revenge against his former employer in a blood match.
Sure, I appreciate the fact that Rodriguez is a gamble. His grits and grumble style that was so successful at West Virginia may not play in the North. But he is driven. The Huskies are going to need some inspiration to find their way in the wake of Edsall’s cowardly desertion. If the University of Connecticut wants to make a permanent transition to the top ranks of college football it needs to find a coach who is hungry. I suspect Rodriguez feels like he has plenty to prove this morning. Bring him here, folks; give me a call if he needs help house hunting or getting acclimated to the Land of Steady Habits
But what to do at Michigan? The university appears to have fired Rodriguez without a fallback plan in place on the very cusp of the busiest part of the recruiting season. A talented offense is now left rudderless and is, without doubt, dispirited and concerned about where the team is headed. After three losing years, I fear more talk of transition, more excuses for failure.
I used to take winning for granted in Ann Arbor. Now it looks like it will take a miracle to get this program back up and winning. Go Blue!, I hope.
Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.