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Rodriguez: Mum, With Vinegar

Rich Rodriguez tells gossip-hungry reporters at the Mountaineers' Fiesta Bowl press conference this morning, 'Thanks for the interest, go to hell":

West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez again refused to discuss Michigan's vacant coaching job on Saturday.

At the opening of a previously scheduled news conference about No. 11 West Virginia's trip to the Fiesta Bowl, Rodriguez said he would only talk about the game against No. 3 Oklahoma.

"I'm not going to address the rumors or anything of that nature," Rodriguez said. "If any questions are asked about that, the press conference will be over."
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I hold in my hand an absurd sum of money. From...
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This attitude should make link-to-the-program conscious Wolverine partisans feel at home, as it nostalgically echoes Lloyd Carr's own notorious, often hilarious terseness in front of microphones. Reporters like to think of themselves as bold, irreverent types, but this is not always the case. Hardly ever, really. Information junkies can't afford to have that plug pulled by an alienated source. So presumably, on Rod's order, no further questions were asked "of that nature."

Ergo, we know today what we knew Friday: Rodriguez flew to Toledo on a very perfect aircraft for this sort of thing and met with, at minimum, his agent and "chief financial advisor," and in all rumor and anonymously-sourced likelihood with Michigan bosses "Sailboat" Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman. West Virginians, relieved over his rebuff to Alabama last year, are kinda pissed.

All we need now is a firm report that a deal is done, Wolverine jubilation, an eleventh hour, bank-breaking reversal in the name of home and hearth and alma mater, etc., and finally the curtain can rise on the inevitable Hoke/DeBord era in Ann Arbor. Do not fight your destiny, Michigan.*

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* Unless Rod can convince Terrelle Pryor to move north with him to run circles around Michigan's quarterback statues in the spread option Rodriguez made his own at Tulane, Clemson and WVU years before Pat White came into his life, in which case all bets are off. Or is Antonio Bass' leg feeling better these days?

Update [2007-12-15 16:37:26 by SMQ]: MGoBlog reluctantly reports via trusted West Virginia board insiderz that Rodriguez is going nowhere. Official denials lag but will follow. But then, you already knew that, because I told you when the rumors broke. Some moves don't pass the smell test from the outset.

Update [2007-12-16 13:27:38 by SMQ]: Wow, Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp, tell us what you really think:

Michigan built an athletic reputation on stability and competence, but there's ample evidence from the last 13 months that contradicts those two touchstones. The Wolverines can't beat a Division I-AA football team. They can't establish a prominent basketball program. They still can't beat Ohio State.

And now they can't hire the football coach they want most. The sturdy block M is showing some cracks.

What's more embarrassing? An 8-6 football record in their last 14 games? The Harvard of the West losing to the Harvard of the East in a basketball game starring the coach U-M fired last March?

Being the victim of the greatest upset in college football history? The mental image of an athletic director quietly sailing through the Florida Keys, oblivious to the sensitive coaching search unraveling around him?

Actually, the biggest embarrassment is that there are so many embarrassments from which to choose.

The litany of disappointments during the last 13 months becomes a valuable blessing if it tears down the institutional conceit that has long dictated Michigan athletic policy and long provided comfort to a passionate, smug fan base. If the outlook is replaced with a more practical impression of Michigan's place in the national athletic landscape, the embarrassments might prove virtuous.

And it starts with the new football coach -- whoever he is. If Michigan thinks it's hiring a coach for the next 10-15 years, it's sadly delusional. It just doesn't work that way in college athletics anymore. Coaching the Wolverines remains a very good job, but it is no longer a final destination.
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Not that Sharp is wrong about the need for a little culture shock (I am, after all, the guy who said the program's outlook reminds me of "The Male Animal"), but I will say this for Michigan, however much the scene may have ossified and however poorly it's handled its current search: if the winningest program in history at a huge state-sponsored institution with an Andean mountain range of resources, unsurpassed tradition and six ten-win seasons, five shared or outright Big Ten championships and one national championship in the last decade is not a "destination job," such a position no longer exists anywhere in college football.