But Rodriguez was doomed for failure from the very beginning because, first of all, his hiring wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms from all those associated with the Michigan program. In other words, he wasn't a Michigan man and wasn't viewed as a potential Michigan man. I guess we can say, he began the at-bat with no balls and two strikes. Pun intended.
Personally, I call it karma because Rodriguez had a good thing going at his Alma mater West Virginia before he abandoned the Mountaineers to take a much higher profile gig at Michigan. A so-called "dream job".
Rodriguez' career at West Virginia was booming to say the least. In seven seasons with the Mountaineers, Rodriguez was 60-26 and had lead his team to six consecutive winning seasons, 6 consecutive bowl games which included two BCS bowl games. The Mountaineers won the 2005 Sugar Bowl and the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
The 2007 Fiesta Bowl win was NOT under his watch. This was when Rodriguez abandoned the Mountaineers for the "land of gold". He took the Michigan job just a couple of weeks before the big game leaving the Mountaineers scrambling to find a replacement. Lifelong West Virginian Bill Stewart was named interim head coach for the game and the Mountaineers responded by pounding the Oklahoma Sooners, 48-28, making Stewart the hero and Rodriguez the goat.
But what Rodriguez did is nothing new. Many coaches before and after him have left successful gigs for the quote, unquote dream jobs. Here are a few examples:
1. Dennis Franchione - Franchione left TCU after three very successful seasons in 2000 and took his "dream job" with Alabama. Like Rodriguez, he left the team right before their bowl game leaving the team scrambling to find a new head coach. Oh and by the way, Gary Peterson took over the head coaching duties for that bowl game in 2000 and the rest is history. Franchione was forced to leave Alabama after two seasons because the NCAA came down hard on the program with all kinds of sanctions and Franchione didn't want to deal with all the red tape. After a stint with Texas A&M, Franchione is now head coach of the Texas State Bobcats, which is not exactly a power program to say the least. On the other hand, Peterson has turned TCU into one of the elite programs of today which was showcased with their perfect 13-0 season and HUGE Rose Bowl win. Good for you, Gary Peterson!
2. Steve Spurrier - This one is a bummer. Spurrier was building a legacy of epic proportions at his Alma mater, the University of Florida before leaving it all behind. Under his watch the Gators became one of the elite programs in college football which has lasted to this day. In his 12 seasons with the Gators, Spurrier had an eye-popping, 122-27-1 record, and were the 1996 National Champions. Spurrier was on his way to a Joe Paterno/Bobby Bowden-type legacy and he threw it all away to take his "dream job" in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. And we all know how that turned out-- Spurrier stunk it up in two seasons with the Redskins going 12-20 and mighty Florida has won 2 more national championships since his departure. Today Spurrier is having decent success at South Carolina but I'm sure the immortal-like legacy he abandoned when he left Florida still haunts him today.
3. Brian Kelly - Kelly pulled the same stunt as Rodriguez and Franchione on the Cincinnati Bearcats last season. After leading them to a perfect 12-0 season and a Sugar Bowl berth, Kelly jumped ship right before the bowl game and took his "dream job" with Notre Dame. In his 4 seasons at Cincinnati, Kelly was an impressive 34-6 and had taken the Bearcats to a BCS bowl game for two consecutive years. To be fair to Kelly, however, the jury is still out on how his career at Notre Dame will end up. In his first season, the Fighting Irish were a decent 8-5 and they did win the Sun Bowl against their old nemesis, the Miami Hurricanes. So Kelly still has a shot at NOT regretting his decision.
Anyway, as we can see, coaches dumping potential legacies for "dream jobs" is nothing new. I just don't like how some of them do it though. Why do they abandon their players and programs right before a big bowl game? Can't they just wait until the end of the season and then leave to wherever the hell they want?
Quite frankly, I've never understood this practice. I guess maybe that's why, more often than not, karma comes back and bites these coaches in the you know what. No doubt!