ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For Saturday's rededication of The Big House, Michigan athletic director
Brandon's football team apparently adopted an identical attitude. Beating a respectable out-of-conference opponent is good. Let's pound that team. Let's not just introduce a new starting quarterback. Let's run him 29 times for 197 yards.
The unveiling of the revamped and enlarged Michigan Stadium drew 113,090. Michigan officials believe it is the largest crowd to ever watch a football game. The maize-and-blue faithful arrived apprehensive, unsure if the sky might fall on their old/new palace of a football stadium Saturday. Connecticut wasn't a typical opening-day opponent. The Huskies had come off an eight-win season. They were loaded with veterans. They were considered a co-favorite to win the top-heavy Big East.
A bit of cruel calculus seemed to be at play. It would have been completely understandable had coach
Instead, Michigan's 30-10 win just felt like the beginning.
Rodriguez has hinted since January that this would be sophomore quarterback
All artists have their muses.
After the Wolverines' defense stuffed the Huskies on their first possession, Robinson trotted out for those first few snaps. On Michigan's first drive, Robinson took 14 of them. He led Michigan 96 yards, handing off to fellow Floridian
Robinson snaked through UConn's defense for a 32-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter. Six minutes into the second,
So flummoxed were the Huskies by Robinson that they gave up trying to bring him down behind the line of scrimmage and settled on a more realistic goal -- removing his unlaced shoes at the bottom of the pile. With the win already out of reach, an adidas trophy was the only consolation.
"They were like, 'Take his shoe. Take his shoe.' So they took my shoe," Robinson said. "It was on one of those plays where I ran for a first down."
Two hours later, as darkness fell and a chilly breeze blew, Rodriguez and Robinson embraced on the sidelines. Michigan players leaped into the student section to sing "Hail to the Victors" and to look forward to next week's trip to South Bend for the New Beginning Bowl. Later, Rodriguez promised to relish the win -- if only for a moment.
"I will enjoy the next three hours and 10 minutes and try to get me five hours of sleep tonight," Rodriguez said. "My wife will probably get the chance to sleep a little bit tonight. I'm proud of everybody that's associated with our program and our university. I think we've been through a lot."
Indeed they have. Of course, many of the problems are of Rodriguez's own making. He hired all the support staffers that acted as coaches in violation of NCAA rules. (Michigan's 2008 team photo featured more polo shirts than a PGA Tour event.) He chased off players, leaving the roster thin. He went 3-13 in Big Ten play his first two seasons.
Through it all, though, Rodriguez never let his players despair. "He's had more on him than any other coach in the USA," linebacker
To his credit, Rodriguez isn't delusional like some colleagues who have found themselves on the hot seat. He understands his situation completely, and he isn't afraid to admit it. That's why he only allotted himself 190 minutes to enjoy Saturday's win.
"I know what they want here," he said. "The hope and expectation at the University of Michigan is to win championships. We understand that. Our players understand that."
It is only one win. Remember, this team started 4-0 last season before the wheels came off and the car burst into flames. Fifty-one weeks ago, we built quarterback
We won't learn from our past hyperbole, though. We'll mythologize Robinson this week. He's an electric quarterback who
"We've won one really big game, our home opener," Michigan AD Brandon said. "We've got a lot of games to play. ... Let's see how it goes. But I'll tell you what. I love the start."