Michigan mentor’s status unknown
Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 5:11 pm
By: By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Rich Rodriguez admits he usually doesn’t sleep well, tossing and turning between nap-like stretches.
He could be forgiven for having one of his more restless nights.
The embattled Michigan coach met Tuesday with athletic director Dave Brandon and the two were expected to meet again this morning to discuss the coach’s future with college football’s winningest program.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Brandon had not decided as of Tuesday night whether to fire Rodriguez, who is 15-22 after three seasons at Michigan. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the evaluation were supposed to remain confidential.
Michigan defensive back James Rogers said a Tuesday night team meeting, something Rodriguez usually does the night before classes resume each semester, was postponed until Wednesday afternoon. School officials declined comment about Rodriguez’s job status.
“The definitive voice on this matter is Dave Brandon,” associate athletic director Dave Ablauf said in a statement. “And he has not and will not speak publicly until a final decision has been made.”
If Rodriguez is fired, Michigan would owe him $2.5 million to buy out the final three years of his contract.
Questions about Rodriguez’s job security have followed him almost since his first day in Ann Arbor after he left West Virginia in a messy divorce from his alma mater. The scrutiny has only increased as he has struggled to help the Wolverines reach the elite status they had for decades under Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr.
Rodriguez is 0-6 against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State and 1-11 against ranked teams.
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Michigan quarterback, has been mentioned as a replacement if Rodriguez is fired, and so has San Diego State coach and former Wolverines assistant Brady Hoke. Harbaugh shook his head no Tuesday night when asked if he had considered his options after returning to Stanford a day after beating Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
While Harbaugh turned around the Cardinal, the Wolverines have slumped under Rodriguez.
Michigan lost a school-record nine games in his debut season, then struggled to a 5-7 finish the next year.
The Wolverines won their first five games in 2010, then lost six of the last eight to finish a second straight season poorly behind one of the nation’s worst defenses and a pair of kickers who missed 10 of 14 field goals. The 7-6 season was also marred by NCAA violations tied to practices and workouts that led to three years of probation and more unwanted scrutiny for Rodriguez.
Nine starters on both sides of the ball are eligible to return next season. Quarterback Denard Robinson, the Big Ten offensive player of the year, has spoke highly of Rodriguez and wouldn’t commit to returning if he is fired.
“That’s my coach,” Robinson said after Michigan was thumped 52-14 by Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl over the weekend. “That’s who recruited me.”
The decision rests with Brandon, who played for Schembechler and was lured back to campus from his lucrative job as chairman and CEO of Domino’s Pizza a year ago Wednesday.