Happy trails predictable playcalling. Happy trails old-fashioned and outdated formations. Happy trails old regime.

Hello new blood. Hello new offensive philosophy. Hello 21st century.

Hello Rich Rodriguez.

Today’s announcement and tomorrow’s press conference officially signify the Michigan football program’s first true shift in football ideology since, well, have you heard of this thing called the automobile?

Athletic director Bill Martin, public enemy No. 1 after the gross mishandling of the Miles situation over the past month, made one the very few moves he could have to save face within Wolverine Nation.

Was Miles the No. 1 candidate? Sure. And he should have been. A coach with Miles’s pedigree and body of work should have been, and was, the top target of Michigan’s first national coaching search in 40 years.

Certain factors – none of which were Miles’s disinterest in the job – prevented that from happening.

But maybe it was a blessing in disguise. Signing Miles would have kept a direct link to the Schembechler era within this program. Even though what Bo did is extremely important in the grand scheme of Michigan football, it should have little-to-no effect in determining how the next chapter in that story’s history should be written.

And while tradition is one of the things that makes Michigan’s program so special, there comes a time when innovation trumps past success.

Martin, Mary Sue Coleman and the rest of the search committee apparently came to the realization that now is the time for that shift.

There’s often a tendency for people to get overly excited about a hire and to make huge overstatements about the new coach.

“Charlie Weis invented the pro-style offense!”

“Mark Dantonio invented the disciplined defense!”

“Ron Zook invented the recruiting violation!”

Well, I’ve got news for you guys: Rich Rodriguez really did invent the spread offense.

Yes, that spread offense, the one-time four-letter word within Fort Schembechler, is going to switch from Michigan’s Achilles heel to its new weapon of choice.

This is the perfect example of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And it’s exactly what needed to be done.

Michigan fans who hung their heads low as the Troy Smiths, Dennis Dixons and Armanti Edwards of the world ran circles around a Michigan defense can now hold those heads high with the incoming Rodriguez regime. The same offensive firepower will likely still be on display at Michigan Stadium, but the celebration will occur on the opposite sideline.

A lot of details are still blurry: What members of Carr’s coaching staff will stay on with Rodriguez? How close will Rodriguez’s offense at Michigan resemble what he ran at West Virginia? How many current Michigan recruits can Rodriguez retain, and how many prospective ones can he lure to Ann Arbor?

Many of those questions will be answered as early as tomorrow.

But after four weeks of dwelling on one big question without any answers, Michigan finally has one – and an emphatic one at that.

– Bell can be reached at scotteb@umich.edu.

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