Under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan endured two losing seasons (3-9 and 5-7), followed by a 7-5 regular season record which landed them in the 2011 Gator Bowl versus Mississippi State. Michigan is not used to losing at football, and a blowout loss in the Gator Bowl to a “so-so” MSU team has only heaped the pressure on the school to can their current coach. Some reports have Rodriguez fired as of now. Other reports mention a lengthy Tuesday meeting between him and the Athletic Director, with another meeting slated for today. The latter story mentions that “If Rodriguez is fired, Michigan would owe him $2.5 million to buy out the final three years of his contract.” Rodriguez’ prior divorce with West Virginia cost him $1.5 million and Michigan $2.5 million, and the issue was only resolved under threat of litigation by West Virginia, as Rodriguez attempted to wiggle out of the $4 million obligation. On top of his reported $2.5 million in annual compensation, the $5 million in buyouts taken on by Michigan’s former AD must surely loom large in the current negotiations over Rodriguez’ future departure. Thus is only a hunch, but I suspect the Michigan AD is doing a diligent job, protecting the institution’s interest and insisting on contractual terms which will render unneccessary a lawsuit like the one filed by West Virginia three years ago.
This article in the Detroit Press provides a pretty thorough examination of the coach’s tenure at Michigan, and has an interesting bit of trivia which links the starting QBs in last night’s Sugar Bowl. As is well known, the hiring of Rodriguez and his offensive system led the dropback passer Ryan Mallett to leave Michigan and join Arkansas. Less well known is that Rodriguez’ pending departure from West Virginia was leaked to the public by Mallett’s counterpart in last night’s game, Terrelle Pryor. Rodriguez had apparently begun recruiting Pryor to Michigan before giving notice to his then-current employer.