Questions To Be Answered

By Adam Caparell - December 16, 2007


Rich Rodriguez finally received an offer he could not refuse and the West Virgnia coach is off to become Lloyd Carr's replacement at Michigan. But can the man who built the Mountaineers into the Big East's best team the past several seasons translate his success with the spread offense to Ann Arbor? That's just one of the many questions Rodriguez's hiring posses.

For starters, how quickly will Rodriguez utilize the spread? The way the roster is currently configured, Michigan is not prepared to just start running Rodriguez's preferred offense. Michigan does not have the team speed that Rodriguez is used to and with drop back QB Ryan Mallett and RBs Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown the Wolverines are tailored to run a pro-style attack. It's going to take a few recruiting classes to turn the Wolverines into the latest Big Ten team to spurn tradition and utilize the spread. But if Ohio State can do it, why can't Michigan?

So what are the repercussions of the hiring on current players and potential recruits of both sides? West Virginia already saw a player decommit Sunday with the news of Rodriguez's departure and do we next see Mountaineers, like Steve Slaton, bolt Morgantown? Will Michigan's incoming class think twice about playing for a man who figures to drastically change the offense in the next few seasons? Does Mallett stick around if he thinks he's going to be replaced in a year or two? Does the nation's No. 1 recruit, Terelle Pryor, seriously turn his attention to Michigan after giving West Virginia a lot of thought? We know that not much changed on the Wolverines front when Carr announced he was stepping down, but what about now? There are a lot dominoes that could fall.

And speaking of dominoes, what will become of both Michigan's and West Virginia's many assistants. Who, if any, will Rodriguez bring over with him? Which Wolverines stick around town? One thing to keep in mind is that the Michigan coaches are all signed through 2008, a move Carr made sure was taken care of before this season began. Does Ron English stay put as the Wolverines defensive coordinator? Does Mike DeBord stick around as offensive coordinator? Chances are English has a better chance of staying than does DeBord.

And how will Rodriguez be accepted in Ann Arbor? The native West Virginian will be making his home in the Midwest, but should be welcomed considering his charisma and likeability are much greater than that of Carr's. Carr was a good coach who won a national title for the Wolverines, but could easily rub some people the wrong way with his cantankerous personality. The Michigan media surely will look forward to dealing with Rodriguez who has plenty to say, usually with a smile and a few laughs. He actually seems to somewhat enjoy press conferences and media days. Call him the anti-Carr in that regard.

But any way you look at it, it's a pretty good hire for the Wolverines who were spurned by Les Miles and Greg Schiano the previous two weeks. Michigan can finally put to rest their nation wide search for a head coach and begin in earnest their task of suring recruiting. Losing Rodriguez, who said he wanted to finish his career as West Virginia's coach, is a huge blow to the Mountaineers and that presents yet another question. Where does West Virginia turn to fill its newly opened position at head coach?

One thing's for sure, the Mountaineers hope it doesn't take the nearly four weeks it took Michigan to find its man.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 08:05 PM on December 16, 2007
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