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Rich Rodriguez’s success at Arizona doesn’t erase failure at Michigan

California v Arizona
Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez celebrates with receiver Austin Hill after the Wildcats’ 49-45 victory over California on Sept. 20.
(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Rich Rodriguez is the man of the hour after his unranked and unbeaten Arizona team defeated No. 2 Oregon, 31-24, on Thursday night.

Brady Hoke definitely is not the man of the hour, facing heavy scrutiny for letting Michigan quarterback Shane Morris stay on the field for two plays with a concussion.

Oh, and Hoke’s Wolverines -- formerly coached by Rodriguez -- are 2-3, riding a two-game losing streak into Saturday’s game against Rutgers.

All of the above should (and do) have Arizona fans ecstatic and Michigan fans pretty bummed.

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But, seriously, enough with trying to connect the two. Samples from Twitter, where “Rich Rod” [warning: some crude content] was trending early Friday morning: “Maybe UofM should’ve kept Rich Rod,” “@umichfootball Miss Rich Rod yet?” “I’m sure Rich Rod’s win over Oregon is sitting well in Ann Arbor today....” and so on.

Here’s a little refresher. Rodriguez coached at Michigan from 2008 to 2010, during which time the Wolverines were 6-18 in the Big Ten and 15-22 overall. Sure, his final season there was his best with the team, but going 3-5 in conference and 7-6 overall didn’t exactly have folks in Ann Arbor doing backflips.

Rodriguez did finally get the Wolverines back to a New Year’s Day bowl game that final season, but I’m guessing most Michigan fans actually want to forget that 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. The university announced Rodriguez’s firing days later.

Hoke took over the Wolverines the following season, leading them to an 11-2 record that included a 23-20 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. But the team’s record has gotten progressively worse since then -- 8-5 in 2012, 7-6 in 2013 and now this year’s disappointing start.

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Meanwhile, Rodriguez went 8-5 in his first two seasons with Arizona and is off to a terrific start this year. But none of that means his years in Michigan weren’t a disappointment or that he ever would have been able to turn that program around.

It just means that right now Arizona fans are ecstatic and Michigan fans are pretty bummed. End of story.

Twitter: @chewkiii


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