Michigan's Rodriguez gets emotional after 5th loss
Since then, his season has gone up in smoke.
Michigan has lost five of six and dropped to 5-5 with two ugly third-quarter meltdowns leading to losses against Illinois and Purdue.
The Boilermakers rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to beat the Wolverines 38-36 Saturday to keep its bowl hopes alive while hurting Michigan's chances.
After trying to explain why Michigan lost its fifth straight Big Ten game at his postgame news conference, Rodriguez walked briskly past his wife, signed some autographs for some young fans and heard athletic director Bill Martin try to cheer him up.
"You're doing all you can," Martin told Rodriguez.
Rodriguez bowed his head and looked like he was fighting back tears as he posed for another picture.
Then he and Martin disappeared into the Crisler Arena boiler room for more privacy.
At Michigan, though, nothing happens privately.
College football's winningest program got off to a strong start after losing a school-record nine games record in Rodriguez's debut season with the Wolverines.
Michigan is now making news on and off the field it doesn't want.
The Wolverines haven't won a Big Ten game since Sept. 26 when Tate Forcier threw a late touchdown pass to beat Indiana two weeks after doing the same to rival Notre Dame in the closing seconds.
The Wolverines' last victory at all was Oct. 17 against Delaware State, a lackluster team from the second tier of college football.
Fans who complained about Lloyd Carr having a lot of good seasons and only some great ones, such as 1997 when Michigan won the national championship, are longing for the days when at least eight victories and a New Year's Day game was almost a given.
Rodriguez, who has said he wants people to have patience, was asked what he would say to angry fans.
"I feel their frustration. We have it as well," Rodriguez said. "It's a process we're going through.
"But we're not going to give up. We've got a couple big games."
Big is an understatement.
If Michigan can't upset Wisconsin this week on the road or Ohio State at home, the Wolverines will miss a bowl for the second straight year after going 33 years in a row.
Either way, they'll spend December bracing for possible bad news from the NCAA.
The school and NCAA are investigating to find out if the Wolverines violated rules regarding practice hours and offseason workouts.
Purdue, meanwhile, is enjoying a feel-good turnaround.
The Boilermakers won only one of their first six games, then bounced back with three wins - against Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan - in a four-game stretch.
"We're rebuilding, not reloading," Purdue coach Danny Hope said. "But I can honestly tell you, this team in 2009 never quits. They could have folded their tents when we were 1-5, but they didn't - even when other people were folding up around us."