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Local Sports News / College Football

Saturday, 8 January, 2011 2:37 AM

Fans want Jim Harbaugh to coach Michigan football, however he is headed to San Francisco

Rich Rodriguez fired on Jan. 5, 2011 after three losing seasons


University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon at a Detroit Economic Club meeting on Aug. 25, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo



ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon fired Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez on Wednesday. A national search is now underway for his replacement. Several possible candidates are being rumored: SDSU's Brady Hoke, Arizona's Mike Stoops, LSU's Les Miles and TCU's Gary Patterson, among many others. U-M students and fans agree the best choice would be Harbaugh, but it may not happen because almost everyone says he will be headed to the NFL.

"I have completed a systematic and thorough review of our football program and believe that a change in leadership is necessary," Brandon said. "We have not achieved at the level that I expect. Rich is a good person and coach. It's unfortunate that it didn't work out at Michigan, but I'm sure that Rich and his staff will find opportunities at other institutions. I wish Rich and his family all the best in the future."

Rich Rodriguez was born in Chicago. He played for West Virginia as a defensive back from 1981-84. Then, he went on to coach West Virginia, Salem, Glenville State, Tulane, Clemson, West Virginia. Finally, he took over for Lloyd Carr as the coach for the University of Michigan. Rodriguez had the lowest winning percentage (.405) of any coach in the university's history of football. He had a 2-7 (win-loss) record against Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State in his three years as coach in Ann Arbor.

"I think it was a good decision, I think it was a mistake ever since they hired him," said Brad Smith, a U-M student from California. "I don't think he was ever the right guy. I think his scheme, all that type of stuff, works in a smaller conference where you don't go up against 400-pound men every week. I was never a big fan of him. It's not like he is a bad coach or anything, I just don't think he works here. I think it was way too late. If they were going to fire him, they should have announced it before the bowl game. We had nothing to prove."

Smith added: "If we did it a long time ago, we'd maybe have a better shot at Harbaugh. Dave Brandon kind of put all of his eggs in one basket. If you're going to expect the result in a bowl game to affect your decision, you know you already have the wrong person. I think we should be willing to cough up a lot of extra money, but I don't think it's going to happen. If I had my choice beyond Harbaugh, to hire a Michigan Man is not my hugest concern. Les Miles is an obvious candidate. If I had my way, I think I would go off the beaten path."

Jim Harbaugh was a possible candidate for the job, but not anymore. He was born in Toledo, Ohio. Harbaugh attended Palo Alto High School in California and then Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. He played for four years at the University of Michigan. Then, he was drafted by the NFL in 1987. Harbaugh played for several NFL teams including the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and the San Diego Chargers. Then, he became the head coach for the University of San Diego and most recently Stanford University. Yesterday, he agreed to a 5-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.

"I don't think it should have happened," said Nicolas Reece, a freshman student at U-M. "I thought one more year, he could have made it that much better of a season. We placed him as an offensive coach and he should've stayed and done his job, got a new defensive coordinator. I think that he had a solid year. I think he should have been one more year at least. I wish Stanford's coach would come, Harbaugh. I don't know who's going to come in, which is one of the main reasons why RichRod should have stayed. We don't have a replacement ready."

Reece added: "There's no one really better than RichRod right now. We pride our self on our football team. It's important to have a good football team and be up in the rankings. I think it's a big blow to the university. I attended all of the home games."

So the search continues...

Brady Hoke was born in Dayton, Ohio. He played for Ball State University as a linebacker from 1977-80. Then, he went on to coach Yorktown High School, Grand Valley State, Toledo, Oregon State, Michigan, Ball State and most recently, San Diego State University.

Mike Stoops was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He played as a defensive back for Iowa, the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Gladiators. Then, he went on to become an assistant coach at Iowa, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Stoops became the head coach of Arizona in 2004.

Les Miles was born in Elyria, Ohio. He played as an offensive linesman for Michigan from 1974-75. Then, he went on to coach for Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Dallas Cowboys and most recently, LSU.

Gary Patterson was born in Larned, Kansas. He played as a safety and linebacker for Dodge City C.C. and Kansas State. Then, he went on to coach for Kansas State, Tennessee Tech, UC Davis, Cal Lutheran, Pittsburgh State, Sonoma State, Oregon Lightning Bolts, Utah State, Navy, New Mexico and most recently, TCU.

"Rich Rodriguez looked like he didn't have things together out there," said Tchaka Kelsaw, an Ann Arbor resident. "I mean I've seen bickering amongst the players, and the coaching staff. We can't have this. This isn't Michigan football. We're used to being AP top 25 every year. It couldn't happen at a better time if you ask me about it. I think the list of the candidates for the job, my No. 1 pick is, god bless that he would come here, is Harbaugh. I think if he would come to Michigan, it would juice up their offense, I think their defense would be a lot crisper."

Kelsaw added: "You see what he did with Stanford. It just goes to show you that a Michigan Man is somebody who's a winning tradition here. We won the national championship in 1989. You're looking at a national championship dynasty in 1997, where they went undefeated. This is a blessing to get Rich Rodriguez out of here. It feels like Christmas time with that guy out of here. I just think that things should have worked out. But they didn't work out. His offense was mastery, just too many turnovers. He had enough time to build it into a dynasty."

Another factor is the concept of a Michigan Man, an individual who attended the University of Michigan and/or played football for the university. Hoke and Miles certainly fit the bill as a Michigan Man. Some say it is important to hire a Michigan Man, while others believe it's not a big deal at all.

"I'm sad to see him go, I wish him the best of course," said Justin Delay, a U-M graduate student. "I think it was always a gamble to bring him here. I don't think that gamble paid off. I'm sure he'll do fine in a different conference or in a different position. It seems like there's never a good time to do this. I think three years is a little early. In terms of our reputation and the school's interest, it was definitely time to make a change. I'd love to see JIm Harbaugh, obviously, he's a Michigan guy and successful. It doesn't sound like he's coming."

Delay added: "I think Hoke out of San Diego State seems like he would be good. He's had some success, a little bit unproven at this level. I think we're pretty full of ourselves. We seem to think that's going to be the cure all [a Michigan Man]. I think it would be helpful to understand the tradition a little bit more. In terms of on the field success, I don't think it makes any difference personally. I was hoping to see us return to glory while I was here at school. I think we're probably going to take another step back before we move forward."

One thing is for sure for whomever gets the job. There will be a lot of pressure resting on their shoulders to turn this football team around after three losing seasons. It is expected that Brandon will make a decision sooner rather than later.

Related Story: U-M Athletic Director David Brandon discusses the future of Michigan football


Photo by Jonathon Knight, Rolco Sports Network

Denard Robinson only managed 86 yards against MSU under Rodriguez in 2010.



The Wolverines play football at Michigan Stadium, otherwise known as "The Big House."



Brandon chats with color commentator Jim Brandstatter at the D.E.C. meeting.




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