Rich didn’t fit says ex-Michigan AD
Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 5:49 pm
By: By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Bill Martin landed a hot coach who seemed like a good guy, too. He turned out to be a poor fit for college football’s winningest program.
The former athletic director, though, said he agreed with Dave Brandon’s decision to fire Rodriguez three seasons later.
“People can look back and say what they want, but remember where he was when we hired him,” Martin said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after his hand-picked coach was bought out of the final three years of his contract.
But couldn’t Martin have figured out ahead of time that Rodriguez’s style on and off the field wasn’t going to mesh at Michigan?
“I’m not going to go back and second guess the decision,” Martin told the AP. “We’ll never know what would’ve happened if Rich got full support from the Michigan family.”
No, we won’t.
Rodriguez, who didn’t comment the day he was let go, refused to lash out at his many detractors about 30 hours after he was fired with a 15-22 record.
“While I am disappointed to depart Ann Arbor before we were able to reach the level of success we had in our sights, I am confident that the players who remain have the potential to do great things and to return the Wolverines to greatness,” Rodriguez said in a statement released by the school.
Michigan became great again after hiring Bo Schembechler in 1969 and for three-plus decades, the program consistently won Big Ten championships and went to bowl games.
Since Schembechler ar-rived, Jim Brandstatter has had an up-close look at Michigan football.
He was disheartened that Rodriguez was fired Wednesday after three years filled with losing and turmoil in a marriage that might’ve been doomed from the start.
“He had a lot of strikes against him when he walked in the door and that was sad,” Brandstatter said. “The most important thing for me is this: The University of Michigan, its players — current and former ones — alums and fans need to be united behind whatever decision is made.
“A house divided can’t stand.”
Michigan crumbled at the Big House, on the road and in a school-record, 38-point setback in a bowl game under Rodriguez.
Brandon made bringing the Michigan community together a priority a year ago when he chose to take on the task of being a first-time AD and acknowledged it hasn’t happened yet.
Mike Hart isn’t in Ann Arbor anymore, keeping busy as an Indianapolis Colts running back, but he has followed the once-proud program closely since his senior year coincided with Carr’s last season.
“Rich Rod didn’t have a chance because no one agreed with the hire from the top to the bottom of the school and all over town,” Hart said. “I’m going to be 100 percent behind whoever the coach at Michigan is and I hope everybody that loves Michigan is the same way, too, even if they don’t like who Dave Brandon hires.”