After a hot start that had Michigan at 5-0 and ranked No. 18 in the nation, the Wolverines have dropped consecutive decisions to Michigan State and Iowa. Rich Rodriguez’s team is now out of the top 25 and prepping to face a 4-3 Penn State team at home this weekend.
Throw in the fact that the Wolverines are coming off of a bye week and should be relatively healthy, and this has all the makings of a bounce-back game for RichRod’s crew. So does that mean it’s a must-win game as well?
Like everything about Rodriguez’s tenure in Ann Arbor, the answer is complicated. A win over the Nittany Lions would make the Wolverines bowl-eligible and all but guarantee a trip to the postseason. But since when has just going to a bowl excited anyone in Michigan’s fanbase?
The issue for RichRod and co. is that the Penn State game might be the easiest one left on the schedule. They face a rapidly improving Illinois team at home, and travel to Purdue before getting Wisconsin at the Big House and Ohio State in Columbus. While Purdue is awful this season and should be an automatic win, you never know, since Rodriguez is 0-2 against the Boilers.
Most experts feel that after two dismal seasons (3-9 and 5-7) as Michigan’s coach and NCAA investigations into the way he runs his program, Rodriguez would need to pull off at least a nine-win season to keep his job. Frankly, we agree. Right now he’s 13-18 in his tenure in Ann Arbor, and just 4-15 in the Big Ten. Plus, earlier this year, Michigan admitted the football program had committed four major rules violations.
His seat is currently hot. If Michigan drops Saturday’s game against Penn State, it will be scorching, no matter what happens the rest of the way. If the Wolverines win and end up besting Illinois and Purdue, Rodriguez might buy himself another season. But again, there’s no guarantee of that.
Michigan would have coaches lining up around the block to take its football coaching job. The University doesn’t need the headache that has been the Rich Rodriguez Era. If the guy were winning big time, they’d have something to think about, but to this point the entire length of his tenure has been a black eye for the school.
Rodriguez better pull off one hell of a finish if he wants to stay at Michigan beyond this season.