You won't find many folks within the Michigan fan base who have fond memories of former head coach Rich Rodriguez and his time in Ann Arbor.
Hired in 2008, Rodriguez arrived at Michigan with plenty of skepticism surrounding his coaching style and how it would translate into success within the Big Ten conference. The ground-and-pound, smash-mouth philosophy that dominated Michigan Football for well over a century was set to be replaced by the flashy new philosophy of the "spread offense".
In addition to the difference of an on-field philosophy, Rodriguez was also largely viewed as an outsider - a man who had virtually no ties to the University of Michigan. Unlike the coaches before him, Rodriguez wasn't cut from the "Michigan Man" cloth. As a result, he would receive a considerable amount of pushback from folks both inside and outside of the football program.
According to one former Michigan quarterback, that lack of support may have prevented the Michigan Football program from competing at the level that Ohio State is today.
Devin Gardner played football at the University of Michigan from 2009-2013 and was recruited by Rodriguez. During a recent interview with Woodward Sports, Gardner said he believes that the current gap between Michigan and Ohio State wouldn't exist if his former head coach would have been given more time. In fact, he believes that Michigan was on the pathway to something special.
"I think a lot of it had to do with the transition from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rod (Rodriguez). Rich Rod's my guy, I love Rich Rod. He recruited me, he believed in me and I thank him for that...but nobody bought in. You know how Michigan is, right? The fan base...nobody truly bought in to what he was trying to do. And you know what the crazy thing about that is? If everybody had bought in - including the University with the money and getting coordinators, things like that - If everybody had bought in, we would probably be on the verge of what Ohio State is right now."
You can watch the full interview with Devin Gardner below: