Hatred for Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez has spread beyond West Virginia.

As Rodriguez began to address the crowd at halftime of yesterday’s basketball game against Ohio State, an “asshole” chant came down from the top rows behind the north basket at Crisler Arena, where about 50 Buckeye fans were sitting. The Michigan faithful began to boo and point toward that section.

“Enjoy your seats up there,” Rodriguez said, motioning toward the upper level.

After being hired in 2001, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel made a similar speech to Buckeye fans at a basketball game against Michigan.

“I can assure you that you’ll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor,” said Tressel, whose team beat the Wolverines that year.

Rodriguez told the crowd he wouldn’t be making any guarantees but said fans would be proud of his team’s hard work.

Seemingly disappointed, the crowd started a “Beat the Buckeyes” chant. Rodriguez looked uncomfortable, but said, “Amen.” When the chant got louder, he said “All right, guys. I hear you.”

Rodriguez introduced the members of his family and staff. Running backs Fred Jackson, the only returning Michigan coach, drew the biggest applause.

After his speech, Rodriguez high-fived members of the Maize Rage before talking to reporters in the Crisler Arena tunnel.

When asked about the Ohio State fans at the game, Rodriguez quipped.


He was asked to clarify.

“Exactly, that’s my reaction,” Rodriguez said. “I guess we had to let ’em in.”

Then, a young Michigan fan who found his way into the group of reporters around Rodriguez asked whether Michigan would beat Ohio State this year.

“I’m not going to make any predictions because I don’t know that our team-” Rodriguez replied, stopping suddenly when former Michigan quarterback Rick Leach walked by the impromptu press conference and interrupted with his own prediction.

“I will,” he said. “We are going to kick their ass.”

As the press conference ended, the child asked one last question.

“One more question Coach – can I have your autograph?” the young reporter asked.

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