ORLANDO, Fla. — He sat home this holiday season staring at reality day after day, that empty, nauseous feeling a final and fitting punch to the gut.
“I made myself miserable on purpose,” said Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.
There were 68 teams that accomplished something Michigan didn’t this past season. If that doesn’t make the loud and proud in Maize and Blue utterly sick, what will?
So Rodriguez sat in front of his television and watched every one of those teams in every one of those bowl games. Most of the 68 don’t have near the resources, history and tradition of Michigan—yet somehow found a way to win a measly six of 12 games and play in the postseason.
Frankly, Rodriguez should’ve been miserable his team was part of the 52 Division I bowl-less before he turned on the television.
“I don’t want all the negativity,” Rodriguez said last week at the American Football Coaches Association convention. “I don’t want to be around it.”
How could he not? Two years into his renovation of the Michigan program—there are some who maintain it never needed a facelift—the negativity is closing in on Rodriguez. His teams have won eight games and have endured consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the 1962 and 1963 seasons.
In the 129 years before he arrived, Michigan had never been on NCAA probation. Now the sport’s governing body is wrapping up an investigation that Rodriguez and his staff allegedly exceeded the number of hours for mandatory workouts.
He played his first season in Ann Arbor with quarterbacks ill-suited for his successful spread option offense. A year later, he played with two freshmen and has had zero consistency at the most important position on the field.
When his team lined up to play rival Notre Dame last September, he had fewer than 75 scholarship players. At one point, he looked out on the field and saw a walk-on playing safety. A student body walk-on.