Right around the time that college football spring practices begin I usually stop and take a look quick look at the college football coaches who are "on the hot seat", as they say, for the upcoming football season. Tom Dienhart at Rivals.com posted a nice story summary on this subject earlier today.
I found it interesting. And somewhat weird.
Hey look! Les Miles of LSU AND Rich Rodriguez of Michigan both find themselves on a "hot seat" of some description entering the 2010 season!
Well, of course, Rodriguez's "hot seat" isn't just hot.
It's more like an exploding throne at the moment. Like one of those chemistry experiment TV shows, where they'd dip a chair in large container of water and then measure the total displacement. Except in this case Rodriguez is sitting in that chair. And the chair is a toilet.....made of Cesium.
But Les Miles? Is he really on the hot seat? I mean, this is the same dude that a large contingent of Michigan fans wanted as the new Wolverines head coach when Carr stepped down after the 2007 season. They badly wanted Miles because he had just led LSU to it's second national title in just 4 years, and especially since his LSU Tigers blasted Jim Tressel's Ohio State into oblivion in the 2008 national title game.
Miles also played for Bo, so he's made of bona fide "Michigan Man" material. Miles also coached alongside Bo for several years during the early apex of the Wolverines football program - the glorious 1970s.
LSU Head Coach Les Miles: "I'll just put on my white hat like this, hide back here behind you guys, and they'll all just think I'm another referee."
I didn't even realize that Les Miles' LSU Tigers were just 8-8 thus far in the SEC. Surprising? Yes. But come on. Miles tenure at LSU by any standard has been only a few degrees off of glorious: 11-2, 11-2, 12-2, 8-5, 9-4. Lloyd Carr did far worse than this at Michigan and people barely raised an eyebrow. So we remember Miles' unforgivable time management error during horrific defeats against Ole Miss last fall, one that was inexplicably repeated again against Penn State in the Capital One Bowl. OK. So Miles is not Nick Saban. So freaking what! Saban went 8-4, 10-3, 8-5, 13-1 and 9-3 while at LSU. Les Miles isn't exactly Bill Arnsparger, David Archer or Gerry DiNardo either. I'm not saying LSU fans shouldn't be disappointed with 8-5 and 9-4 seasons. I'm just saying that with all of the Charlie Weis, Rich Rodriguez, and Lane Kiffin business going on these days in college football, LSU could do a hell of a lot worse than Les Miles at the helm.
So back to Rich Rodriguez. No one in their right mind can dispute Rich Rodriguez's current circumstances this fall. It's one thing to emphatically state that you not only know the NCAA practice rules and that you follow those rules, but it's quite another when a university and NCAA investigation eventually uncovers that you a.) either don't know the rules or b.) really didn't follow the rules. It makes you look incompetent and dumb. That's a hot seat of one's own making. It was avoidable.
So what's in store for Rodriguez in 2010? Let's take a quick inventory. With two sophomoric quarterbacks, no proven punter or placekicker, no proven running backs with any demonstrated durability, an inconsistent offensive line to say the least, and essentially a ghost of a defensive unit all returning for the 2010 football season. Let's just say Rich Rodriguez has enough to worry about without a demanding new boss, NCAA allegations of impropriety, and the entire state of Michigan press corps standing outside Schembechler Hall dressed up like the Grim Reaper.
Rodriguez's third Michigan football team has to show considerable improvement in virtually every facet of the game this fall, not just one or two areas. Then there's the 2010 schedule to consider. I'll post more about this aspect later, but unless Michigan's defensive unit rises from the ashes in 2010 like a brilliant Phoenix that nobody could possibly have ever imagined, then Michigan's 2010 season could be equal to or worse than last year, even with Iowa, MSU and Wisconsin games at home. It is not difficult at this stage to envision a 0-2 start for Michigan next fall. I do believe that six or seven wins is possible for Michigan in 2010. But is it likely? So far Rodriguez has done an excellent job of making himself look dumb. It would be a welcome change if he could just make his critics look dumb for once.
If Rich Rodriguez is fired at year end, the Dienhart article points to the possibility that Les Miles and several others might be not only interested, but available to talk about Michigan. This possibility might make one section of Michigan fans very happy. But the idea that the real issues facing the University of Michigan football program can all be solved overnight with the hiring of yet another new football coach - with the full staff change that would automatically coincide with it - is, I believe, a delusional one.
When I read the Dienhart article one more time I thought about something else. If Rodriguez gets fired by Michigan at season's end, and Bob Toledo is thrown out at Tulane, well, we'll see what happens.