Michigan, support your coach. I’m sick of all the misguided conclusions toward Rodriguez’s failings and the erroneous ideology of the “Michigan Man.” To all of the people who attacked Rodriguez from the start: You actively helped to destroy Michigan football.
Nearly everyone is eager to point out the statistics: losing records to rivals, extremely low defense rankings, missed bowl games, etc. Those aren’t pleasing statistics. The things considered most involved in obtaining those statistics are what people are blaming Rodriguez for: neglecting defense and special teams, not recruiting well enough or the right players and not winning games, among others. These problems fall partially on the fan base itself.
From the very beginning, the Michigan fan base was torn in half because of the new system — not having a “Michigan Man” coach and losing tradition. College football changes, and it’s up to the coaches, players and the fan base to adapt. Michigan used to run the wishbone offense before going to a pro set. Offenses change, but it’s still the same game. The Michigan Man ideology has to be changed. The man who coined it, Bo Schembechler, only had affiliation toward Michigan as the “enemy,” Ohio State. A Michigan Man (or Woman) is someone who represents the University at the highest level, not just someone who attended the University.
I won’t stop you from arguing that NCAA violations do not represent the University at highest level. I admit it; I’m not a fan of Rodriguez. I thought that he didn’t mold the Michigan talent to its potential and that he didn’t adjust his system to the players’ strengths. Support, however, for a coach is so incredibly crucial; it affects recruiting, mindset and the morale of both the coaches and the 18 to 22 year olds on the field — thus the entire structure of the team.
In a Sports Illustrated College Football Preview article, an overwhelming majority of Big Ten players — 55 percent — said they would want to play at Michigan the least because of the coaching situation. The biggest problem I think Michigan football had was attrition (players leaving) and depth. To plug these holes, college football teams need to recruit strongly, but no one wants to come to the University when half the fan base hates the coach, and they may not play for the same coach during their tenure. I’m not saying it could have worked out. I’m saying that I support Michigan’s coach even if I have my reasons against him because I support Michigan football. Those of you who didn’t, not only did you not support Michigan football, but you also crippled its foundation. It’s important to have your own ideas, and you should hold onto them, but support your team.
Chad Paulinski is an Engineering senior.