Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An inconvenient ... contrast

It doesn't take a lot to get a Michigan fan all up in your grill these days. Four words will do it, followed by four more that serve as a summation for the first four.

The first four: RichRod. Arizona, 5-0, 10th.

Followed by: Should have kept him.

And then stand back.

Stand back, because Michigan fans do not want to hear any of your noise about the (still) hated Rich Rodriguez, because they still maintain running him out of Ann Arbor after just three years was the right thing to do. They have a myriad of reasons for this, but essentially they boil down to four main points:

1. He was  sleazy.

2. He wasn't a Michigan Man, i.e., he didn't genuflect deeply enough to the eternal verities, like the fact that the Michigan-Ohio State game is the most important football game in human history.

3. He wasn't doing it the Michigan Way, i.e., robust power running game complemented by a traditional pro-style passing attack.

4.  He was sleazy.

Never mind the fact that, while Michigan was indeed awful his first year (3-9), the program was at least moving in the right direction, getting to 7-6 and a Gator Bowl berth in Rodriguez' third year.
But by then, Michigan had run out of its limited store of patience -- whereupon Rodriguez took his spread offense to Arizona, where he's gone 21-10 so far and the Wildcats are 5-0 and ranked 10th so far this year.

Oh, yeah: They're also averaging 39.8 points and 574 yards per game, led by quarterback Anu Solomon, who's thrown for 1,741 yards and 14 touchdowns in five games.

Michigan, meanwhile, lost three games before October for the first time in the 135-year history of the program. They're 2-4 and 0-2 in the Big Ten. Their only wins have come against an FCS school (Appalachian State) and a MAC school (Miami) -- and the program, under Rodriguez' successor, Brady Hoke, has regressed every year: From 11-2 and the Sugar Bowl his first year to 8-5 to 7-6 to 2-4.

But at least, under Hoke, they're doing it the Michigan Way.

And Rodriguez?

When last heard from, he was wondering aloud, though not unkindly, what was going on up there in Ann Arbor.

In that, he and Wolverine Nation have finally found common ground.


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