Rich Rodriguez’s tumultuous tenure as Michigan’s head coach is over, according to several reports from local news outlets.
But, in a statement distributed this evening, the Athletic Department said a decision has yet to be made on Rodriguez’s future.
“Everything that is being reported is media speculation at this point,” the statement said. “The definitive voice on this matter is Dave Brandon and he has not and will not speak publicly until a final decision has been made.”
Rodriguez and Brandon will meet again on Wednesday to discuss the coach’s future, according to a report from The Associated Press.
A person familiar with the situation told the AP that Brandon has yet to make the decision of whether or not he will fire Rodriguez.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP because the details of the evaluation were supposed to remain confidential.
The Daily has yet to confirm the reports that Rodriguez was fired. Several officials contacted by the Daily throughout the day have declined to comment.
If Rodriguez is fired, it’s currently unclear who would replace him. The bulk of rumors have centered on former Michigan quarterback and current Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, but reports today suggested that Harbaugh isn’t likely to take the job.
Questions surrounding Rodriguez’s fitness to coach at Michigan started swirling before the ink was dry on his contract. Would his high-powered spread offense overwhelm the Big Ten? Or would the rough-and-tumble strength of teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa suffocate his system?
It was an experiment that some would say fizzled almost from the start.
In three years in Ann Arbor, Rodriguez amassed a 15-22 record overall and a 6-18 record in the Big Ten. He didn’t win a game against Penn State, Michigan State or Ohio State.
Rodriguez also oversaw the program when it was found to have committed violations of NCAA rules and regulations concerning practice time and off-season workouts. It was the first NCAA rules infractions in the program’s history.
Whether Brandon would retain Rodriguez had been a hotly debated topic all season for anyone with even a passing interest in Michigan football. The team’s 37-7 throttling at the hands of Ohio State in late November only heightened speculation that the coach would soon be fired.
But Brandon remained resolute in following the timeline he says he uses for evaluating each coach at Michigan: permit the coach to finish the season and then an assessment of his or her performance will follow.
Hence, any decision on Rodriguez’s future would have to wait until after the team’s New Year’s Day bowl game against Mississippi State, which the Wolverines lost 52-14. It was the worst bowl loss in the school’s history.
The wait until the bowl game prompted fans and critics to wonder whether a month of uncertainty at the top of the program would hinder the team’s prospects in recruiting and finding a new head coach should the current one be let go.
After the game, Brandon maintained that he would meet with Rodriguez early this week and would then make his decision.
The Detroit News reported earlier today that Rodriguez and Brandon were set to meet at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.