Rich Rodriguez isn’t done yet

(Melanie Maxwell/

Rich Rodriguez remains Michigan’s coach another day. Why?

Larry Lage reports it’s because no decision has been made. Michael Rosenberg still maintains the decision has been made to fire Rodriguez, but he doesn’t provide a reason for delaying the announcement. 

Obviously, Lage and Rosenberg can’t both be right. If Rodriguez is retained, Lage will probably have been right (I doubt the decision has already been made to keep Rodriguez). If Rodriguez is fired, we won’t know.

Maybe because I’m not firmly in the Rich-Rod-should-be-fired group like everybody else, and maybe because I think Rosenberg recently got burned using a seemingly reliable anonymous source (more on that later), I’m partial toward Lage’s report.

Here’s my guess best guess at the situation.

Before the Gator Bowl I think the scenario was:

  • Jim Harbaugh was Plan A
  • Rodriguez was Plan B
  • Rodriguez had a slight chance of becoming Plan A with an impressive bowl victory

Now, I think the scenario is:

  • Jim Harbaugh is plan A*
  • Brandon is determining whether Rodriguez or someone else is Plan B
  • Once Brandon has determined his Plan B, that will be Harbaugh’s deadline to commit to Michigan

*I don’t doubt that someone who would be in the know told Rosenberg that Harbaugh had ruled out Michigan. In fact, my gut feeling says it was Harbaugh himself.

But that doesn’t mean Harbaugh has ruled out Michigan. The quote came shortly after the Cardinal’s Orange Bowl victory. I’m sure Harbaugh felt emotionally tied to Stanford at that time.

When that feeling subsides, I think Michigan will re-enter the picture. That doesn’t mean Harbaugh will come to Ann Arbor, but I don’t believe he’s eliminated the Wolverines until he eliminates them out in a stable state of mind.

I find it difficult to believe Brandon envisioned such a debilitating Gator Bowl result. I certainly didn’t. So, that threw a wrench in keeping Rodriguez if Harbaugh turned down Michigan.

I think Rodriguez would have remained Plan B with a more-typical loss, but 52-14 is something else all together. I think Brandon has used his time since the bowl to evaluate Rodriguez and other Plan B options – probably beginning with Brady Hoke and expanding further.

Brandon might have been ready to fire Rodriguez today, but the fact that he hasn’t suggests their meeting went well enough to prolong the decision. That doesn’t mean Rodriguez will be Plan B, but I think whatever he said today gives him a chance.

Of course, that becomes irrelevant if Harbaugh chooses Michigan. Brandon must know he can’t wait forever for Harbaugh, although Brandon appears to continuously head in that direction.

My guess is Brandon will decide on his Plan B tomorrow, Thursday at the latest, and ask Harbaugh for a final decision at that time.


4 Responses

  1. Re: Rosenberg’s source for the original JH story. Although it would be technically true and I’m not sure how else you would word it, wouldn’t it be odd to call Harbaugh himself a “a person with direct knowledge of Harbaugh’s thinking,” as it’s sourced in the story? (Sidenote: If it is Harbaugh, it strikes me as being a problem with anonymous sourcing in general. That merits its own discussion.) However, I guess if Harbaugh told person X to tell Rosenberg, the end-result is the exact same.

  2. DB had over a month to prepare for this decision — the most important one he’ll make as UM AD. Nobody expected 52-14, but to not have a firm plan in place for every possible scenario (I.e. blowout win, close win, close loss, blowout loss, Harbaugh coming, Harbaugh not coming) is negligent on his part.

  3. Jack, I have a lot of the same troubles you do about when and how to use anonymous sources. But in this case, how do you get the information without quoting someone with a stake in the situation? But it’s still Rosenberg job to acknowledge the influences on Harbaugh, whether he directly or someone else, gave Rosenberg the quote.

    And I’m fine with that wording. Like you said, no real other way to do it.

  4. Enk, at least he appears to be handling a timeline better than Bill Martin, who, after begging Llloyd Carr to coach 2007, seemed caught off guard when Carr retired.

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