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Dick Rod and Michigan: Any Way This Ends Well?

I don't think so. Rodriguez got off on the wrong foot with a coaching change that went about as well as the average Jerry Springer episode.

Shortly thereafter he had players jumping ship left and right. Then he went 8-16 over the course of his first two seasons with a few more smatterings of controversy thrown in there. Today brought us the latest installment in which Michigan announced self imposed sanctions due to violations that happened on his watch. When Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon has to make comments like the one below things are not good.

"I don't think this is a black eye," he said. "This is a bruise."

It seems like every time you turn around there is some new sort of controversy around Rodriguez and the Michigan program. It has been a strained and seemingly unnatural marriage for both parties from the beginning. Rodriguez never embraced or became a part of the Michigan culture. Instead he seems to be operating in opposition to it and living on the defensive. This most recent incident appears to be no exception. Note the comments from his personal Defense Attorney as reported by the Detroit Free Press.

"Coach Rodriguez is surprised and disappointed that violations occurred in his program. He has strived throughout his career to follow the rules. Rodriguez recognizes that as a head coach, he has a heightened responsibility to monitor his program and promote an atmosphere of compliance. Rodriguez embraces that responsibility. He regrets that he did not adequately monitor certain aspects of his program in this case. Rodriguez has learned from his mistakes and will be a better coach and compliance leader going forward."

"However, ensuring compliance with complex NCAA bylaws is not a one-man job. It requires a diligent commitment from everyone with responsibility for compliance oversight. It also requires clear and open lines of communication. In this case, there was not adequate compliance oversight nor open communication concerning important compliance matters."

"Every activity that resulted in a violation in this case was done openly, transparently and under the watch of not only Rodriguez, but also other Michigan coaches and administrators. Violations went undetected because several Michigan staff members, including Rodriguez, were not paying close enough attention. In short, there was a collective failure that resulted in the violations in this case. That is not to deflect blame away from Rodriguez, it is simply stating a fact and putting Rodriguez’s culpability in the proper context."

Those comments are very telling. Are you the Head Coach or not? My general rule is that if you always seem to be shrouded in controversy chances are that the culprit is you not a never ending series of unfortunate circumstances.

I just don't see this working out in any way that results in Michigan fans ever referring to Rodriguez as a "Michigan Man." You know Dave Wannstedt is really to blame for all of this. Had he not knocked off Rodriguez and WVU in the 2007 Backyard Brawl Rodriguez would have likely played for a title and perhaps wised up to the fact that he could stay at WVU for eternity. He was all set up to be their 30 year guy. Oh well.

Rodriguez will enter 2010 with his job on the line, a quarterback controversy, several other roster uncertainties and a fan base that is rapidly running out of patience. Those are not the ingredients that great seasons are typically made of.

I can't help but think that by the end of the season Rodriguez might be aimlessly driving around Ann Arbor with an 8 X 10 glossy of Pat White in his lap, and a half empty bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 while executing an emotional singalong to Cinderella's Don't Know What You've Got...Til It's Gone.