During a discussion with the Rotary Club of Flint, Mich. on Friday, University president Mary Sue Coleman verbalized the obvious — bringing Rich Rodriguez to Michigan was a mistake.
In three seasons as the head coach of the Michigan football team, Rodriguez’s program was marred with a series of NCAA violations and a dismal 15-22 record.
But when Coleman and then-Athletic Director Bill Martin conducted a national search to replace Lloyd Carr in late 2007, they were intrigued by Rodriguez, then at West Virginia. He was gaining rapid popularity as the pioneer of the spread offense.
“He was a hot, young coach with a different approach,” Coleman said in Flint, according to MLive.com.
Rodriguez’s offense was a big factor in Michigan’s decision to hire him, Coleman said, since Carr’s pro-style, old-fashioned offense had been widely criticized as his tenure came to a close.
“We thought, ‘OK, well let’s go hire the guy who invented the spread offense,’ ” Coleman said.
So they did. And three years later he was out the door.
He was replaced by Brady Hoke, who was an assistant coach at Michigan under Carr. In 2011, Hoke’s first season as head coach, he took the Wolverines to a 10-2 regular-season record and a Sugar Bowl victory.
“(Hoke) has more of the kind of Midwestern ethos,” Coleman said.
After working as a college football analyst for CBS Sports during the 2011 season, Rodriguez accepted the head coaching position at Arizona, where he will begin his first season this fall. According to MLive.com, Coleman said she was “very happy” to hear of Rodriguez’s new job and she wishes him luck.
Rodriguez himself admitted a year ago that leaving West Virginia for Michigan was a mistake.
“I think it’s easy to go back now and say, ‘Gee, made a mistake,’ ” Rodriguez told CBSSports.com last April. “And you can say that now because of hindsight.
“But at the time, some of the things I was looking to do and the opportunity that was there, you kind of make the move.”
In seven years at West Virginia, Rodriguez compiled a 60-26 record and made two BCS bowl appearances. But in three seasons at Michigan, Rodriguez never beat rivals Michigan State and Ohio State and compiled a 6-18 Big Ten record.
“Hindsight is always easier to look back and say, ‘It was a mistake,’ ” Rodriguez said. “Because we did have a good thing going at West Virginia, and we really enjoyed it. As you look back at it, wasn’t the best move. Easy to say now.”
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article included a quote from former Michigan center David Molk that was deleted as it was deemed as misleading.