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Where Could Rich Rodriguez End Up?

There is a lot of speculation that Rich Rodriguez is on the extreme hot seat in Ann Arbor. The thought is that he’ll be fired if Michigan doesn’t see some significant improvement in the win-loss column in 2010. Where that line in the sand is drawn is up for speculation. Some think RichRod can get by with 7 wins as long as he gets some wins against Michigan’s biggest rivals. Others think Rodriguez has to win 9-10 games in order to keep his job.

The problem here is that Rodriguez didn’t have the responsibility of only putting a winning team on the field while at Michigan. He had the responsibility of completely overhauling the system and the culture of the Wolverines. Simply stated, I think Rodriguez needs more than just 3 years. I think he gets Michigan bowl eligible and headed in the right direction in 2010, but whether or not that’s enough is up for speculation. Michigan has the right guy, but they might not have the requisite patience it’ll take before Rodriguez takes Michigan to even further heights than he took West Virginia before departing for The Big House.

The big question surrounding Rodriguez thus far has always centered around whether or not he can keep his job at Michigan. However, a better question might be which school is going to benefit from getting an exceptional coach because Michigan got their panties in a wad? Rodriguez’s success at West Virginia wasn’t a fluke. He’s going to field teams that are capable of contending for national championships somewhere. If it’s not going to be in Ann Arbor, it’s going to be somewhere.

But where?

Here is a potential list of possible candidates:

GEORGIA: A pretty sizable long shot, but this is Mark Richt’s 10th year in Athens and there have at least been rumblings about the possibility of making a change. The expectations at Georgia might not be as high as they are at Michigan (although that could be a debatable argument) and the overhauling of the pure athletes that Rodriguez’s requires wouldn’t be such a long process given the recruiting grounds Georgia inhabits.

TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M is a sleeping giant when it comes to football. It’s a storied program that hasn’t been relevant since 1998? That was the year R.C. Slocum won a Big XII Championship but regressed after that. Dennis Franchione’s best season was a 9-4 mark in 2006 while Mike Sherman’s best mark is last year’s 6-7 record which saw the Aggies get hammered 44-20 by Georgia in the Independence Bowl. There is a lot of expectation on Texas A&M in 2010 with 16 returning starters including QB Jerrod Johnson, but A&M’s schedule includes a road game against Texas while also drawing Nebraska, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Missouri & Arkansas. Another 6-7 record won’t cut it.

COLORADO: Dan Hawkins has been on the hot seat forever and it’s not like his life is going to get easier this season. They play at California, Missouri, Oklahoma & Nebraska meaning UC probably has 4 guaranteed losses before starting the season. They also play Georgia, Colorado St., Texas Tech, Iowa St., Kansas St. & Baylor. The Buffs are leaving the Big XII for the Pac 10 and the administration might want a new start at HC to go along with entering into a new conference. Rodriguez would be an incredible hire here especially have what Colorado has gone through with Gary Barnett & Dan Hawkins.

MARYLAND: The seat is hot for Ralph Friedgen in College Park, but I’m not sure taking over Maryland would be high profile enough for Rodriguez. After coaching at both West Virginia & Michigan, heading to the ACC and Maryland could be a tough sell. Still, Friedgen proved you can win at Maryland. He led the Terps to a 31-8 record in his first three seasons. The problem for Friedgen is that he’s never been able to replicate that kind of success since.

ARIZONA STATE: This is a very intriguing prospect for me. I’m a big Arizona St. football fan and there is something about the college football landscape when the Sun Devils are playing extremely well. When Dennis Erickson took over for Dirk Koetter he led ASU to a 10-3 record in 2007, but his 9-15 record the last two seasons aren’t so pretty. Arizona St. will probably be one of the lesser teams in the Pac 10 meaning Erickson will probably endure his 3rd losing season in Tempe and his 3rd out of 4 total seasons. Erickson has a solid resume, but he’s 63-years old so there could be a change ahead.

ILLINOIS: Tough call here because Rodriguez would essentially be leaving a Big 10 school to go to another. It’s not out of the question, but Ron Zook just hired new coordinators so firing the Zooker after allowing him that kind of latitude seems a bit odd. I think it’s obvious that Rodriguez would be a serious upgrade over Zook, but I’m not sure Rodriguez would take the job even if offered. Plus I sort of like the Zooker. I was pretty jealous when Illinois landed him and I still think he’s a helluva recruiter.

To a certain degree I wonder if this isn’t a case of the “Grass Isn’t Always Greener” simply because Rodriguez had elevated West Virginia to top-10 status and he is a WVU alum. I know Michigan is a top tier job. A destination job that rarely comes around and made especially rarer with Michigan’s penchant for hiring coaches with ties to the university itself. For all intents and purposes this was a job that might never have opened for a guy like Rodriguez so I don’t blame him for taking it when he had the opportunity. I wonder if he’d make the same decision again if given the opportunity?

To be honest, I think Rodriguez gets it done this season. I think he stays at Michigan and the Big 10 comes to rue the day that Rodriguez brought his coaching acumen to the conference. Rodriguez has already shown the ability to recruit and if he starts winning games, then even more 5-star recruits are going to head to Michigan. If that happens then opportunities will be limitless for Rodriguez and the Wolverines.

I think it works for him, but if it doesn’t it won’t be the last we hear from Coach Rod. Another school will show a bit more patience and be rewarded handsomely for it.

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July 30, 2010 - Posted by | Coaching, Michigan, Rich Rodriguez

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