Rodriguez's job at Michigan seems safe -- for now
By Larry Lage
Ann Arbor -- It seems unlikely Michigan will fire Rich Rodriguez after two awful seasons with an NCAA investigation looming, a search for a new athletic director under way and luxury boxes to fill at the Big House.
One of the school's richest graduates, though, said Rodriguez better win more football games in 2010.
"If he has a bad year next year, he'll have a lot more pressure," Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told The Associated Press, standing near midfield before the Wolverines lost to Ohio State on Saturday to finish 5-7. "I don't think he has anything to worry about right now in my mind."
One person can end the speculation about Rodriguez's future and she has declined to do it.
An e-mail asking school president Mary Sue Coleman if Rodriguez will be Michigan's coach next season was sent Sunday, and the response didn't quite answer the question.
"The president remains supportive of the coach," associated vice president Kallie Bila Michels responded.
Coleman has turned down interview requests since strongly supporting Rodriguez in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, making a comparison to the patience former basketball coach Tommy Amaker was afforded before being fired.
"I don't think it's fair to coaches to bring them in and say, `We're going to give you three years,'" Coleman told The Journal early this month. "When Tommy Amaker came in, we stuck with him for six years. It just wasn't going to work; it wasn't the right fit. But it wasn't a rushed decision."
Rodriguez has bristled at the notion that he doesn't fit in at Michigan after turning West Virginia into a Big East power.
He has suggested more time is needed to recruit student-athletes who can succeed on and off the field in Ann Arbor.
"There's not a magic formula to winning championships," he said Saturday after losing to the Buckeyes. "I have been humbled, but I do have a pretty good idea of what it takes to win in this league and every other league. ... because we're Michigan and have a great brand name doesn't exclude us from having that same formula."
Rodriguez has had 12 straight weekly news conferences on Mondays to look ahead to the next game.
For the first time since August, Rodriguez didn't have a matchup to preview.
Michigan hasn't said when he'll hold a news conference to wrap up a season that started 4-0 and ended 5-7, but it might not happen this week.
Until then, others will do plenty of guessing about his status with college football's winningest program.
It won't be Ross' call to retain or fire Rodriguez, but he has given enough money to the school that he clearly has clout. The billionaire real estate developer donated $100 million to the school in 2004 and it renamed the business school in his honor.
Ross also gave $5 million toward the Michigan Stadium expansion project that he expects Rodriguez to see finished next season.
"People take shots at him for whatever reason," Ross said. "Some people like to beat people when they're down. I think he's a great man and he's been a winner wherever he's been.
"It's just that a lot of people don't like change. I think it will all work out."