KEVIN THOMAS HAS A FOLLOW UP ON M-ROD

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FOLLOW UP ON M-ROD

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Let’s call this the follow up on M-Rod. Wow, a lot has happened recently.

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First, the legendary status of Rodriquez in West Virginia has completely been vanquished as Mayor Robert Riggs has ordered the signs proclaiming Grant Town as the “Home of WVU Head Football Coach Rich Rodriquez” be taken down. Riggs said it wasn’t out of anger, but to pre-empt vandalism or theft by outraged Mountaineer fans. To which I say, ah, come on Mayor, let the fans have a little fun. However, I guess this only makes sense as Bo Schembechler nearly took off for Texas A&M, and Duffy Daugherty had a flirtation with the Notre Dame job, and if those two moves would have happened, perhaps there would not be a Schembechler Hall or the Duffy Daugherty Building. Oh well.

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As expected, M-Rod and the UM are trying to ‘weasel’ out of his four million dollar buyout for lack of a better term. As I mentioned in an earlier article, Beilein reduced his buyout from 2.5 million to 1.5 million. Look for Rodriquez and UM to claim WVU did not fulfill the expectations of the contract to meet expectations and acted in “bad faith”.

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Among the things that Rodriquez was asking for was $100,000 for his assistant coaches, a waiver of the $5 ticket charge to games for high school coaches, to allow students to retain their textbooks at the end of semester to sell them back for pocket money, and to hire seven graduate assistants and a new recruiting coordinator so secondary coach Tony Gibson could focus on his duties. It was estimated that these changes would have cost WVU $200,000 or less. If this is true, you have to wonder to wonder what the administration of WVU was thinking. Plus, a wealthy donor who was not allowed to mediate the festering squabble between Rodriquez and the athletic department has threatened not to contribute $12 million dollars to the University. Ouch.

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M-Rod has also fired all nine current assistant coaches of the Wolverines and the effect on recruiting will be interesting. From my past experience, and talking to recruiting experts Bobby Burton and Allen Wallace in the past about similar situations, it probably will not affect the committed class too much, especially if the new coach is perceived as upgrade over the previous regime. Where it may affect them is with recruits that who have not committed yet and/or if these assistant coaches get jobs with other schools and then recruit them for their new school. Recruits do get attached to the assistant coaches that are recruiting them, especially if it is their position coach. Also, there is the possibility that if a recruit does not see himself as a clear fit, like drop back passer John Wienke, (who is now going to Iowa instead of UM), that could affect a recruits decision as well.

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It seems some WVU fans were also put off by the comments Rodriquez made at his first UM press conference, or rather his delivery of those comments that made him sound like a good ‘ole’ country boy. Wrote one WVU fan:

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“By the way, where did Rodriquez get that big ‘ole’ southern accent? I’m from Kingwood and grew up in the same area as Rodriquez. Still have a ton of friends form Clarksburg, Lewis County, Marion County, Fairmont, etc. None of us said all that “ya’ll” and “reckon” garbage he was spewing at the (UM) press conference. No accent like that. Maybe north central WV accent, but none of that ‘good ole boy yeehaw’ stuff. You would have thought he was from the cast of ‘Lil’Abner’.”

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A serious point can be made here, how long will the country boy routine play with the wine and cheese crowd, and especially with the arrogant and influential boosters of Michigan? As long as he wins and wins big, which means surpassing what Lloyd Carr did, he can survive for some time, but if he loses the big games he has a penchant for? Who knows.

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Also, how will he handle the pressure? Tom Dienhart of the Sporting News interviewed Rodriquez after their bowl victory over Georgia in 2006 and received a shocking quote from M-Rod who said, “Coaching at your alma mater isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be.” Hey, you think there is pressure at WVU, wait until you lose to Ohio State for the first time. He is going to cry like he did after the Pitt loss this year? If so, don’t look for any UM fans to start handing him tissue to wipe the tears.

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Anybody else notice that M-Rod also said he could adjust the offense to the talent on hand?

Stating that he passed the ball with Shaun King, but ran the ball with Pat White. Problem is, this years offense was a variation of four plays-the QB draw, the read option, the QB sweep, and the bubble screen. So if you have stationary passers on hand like a Ryan Mallet, that eliminates the QB draw and QB sweep, which takes pressure off the defense and reduces the effectiveness of the offense.

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Plus, how will that 3-3-5 defense hold up against teams that are physical like MSU, Wisconsin, or Ohio State, and/or teams that pass behind the linebackers and in front of the secondary? Sure M-Rod is a good coach, but I am not going to start penciling in National

Championships or even Big Ten Championships until these questions are answered with the biggest question of all being, can M-Rod win big games that really matter? We’ll just have to wait and see. Four Big East Championship against the likes of Cincy, Syracuse, UConn,

Pitt, and even Louisville is not the Big Ten, that’s for sure.

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Go Spartans and Happy Holidays!

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