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NCAA Football

Michigan AD’s Fumbled Firing of Rodriguez May Cost Wolverines

Instead of axing Rich Rodriguez at the end of the regular season, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon waited until after January 1 to save $1.5 million on Rodriguez’s contract buyout.

The delay cost Michigan a chance at a couple of great candidates. It may also hamper their efforts in landing Les Miles from LSU, Gary Patterson from TCU or other high-profile prospects.

Brandon should have known he was going to fire Rodriguez after the Ohio State game Nov. 27. That would have given him plenty of time to get a head coach well in advance of the Feb. 2 recruiting finish line.

All competent athletic director’s have a short list of prospective coaching candidates in case their coach unexpectedly moves on. When you fire a coach, it isn’t exactly a surprise.

Florida athletic director, Jeremy Foley, phoned Will Muschamp of Texas the day Urban Meyer retired to start the process of reigning him in as the Gators new coach. Muschamp was considered one of the top defensive coordinators in the country. You think Michigan could have used a defensive coach?

Maryland snatched up Big East Coach of the year, Randy Edsall, who built the Connecticut program from scratch.

The four names mentioned most (besides Jim Harbaugh) in connection with the Wolverine job are:

Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern, but his family is rooted in Chicago and the Chicago Tribune reports that deep-pocketed alumni are ready to sweeten his deal and that Fitzgerald is going nowhere.

TCU coach Gary Patterson’s Rose Bowl success and defensive reputation have made him a favorite. But after building TCU into a power and joining the Big East next year, Patterson and his Texas recruiting roots can be a perennial favorite in their new conference.

Les Miles’ name naturally comes up since he flirted with Michigan three years ago and is an alum. Word is he has a $4 million buyout from LSU. He has a bowl game tonight and his uneasy relationship in Cajun country may make him the man.

Another Michigan alum is Brady Hoke of San Diego State. He may be a hard sell since his record at SDSU is 12-12 over two years.

Complicating the entire situation is national signing day on Feb. 2. Any new coach would have to hit the ground running in a matter of days to salvage what is considered a mediocre Michigan recruiting class that has already started to abandon ship.

As of Thursday five recruits have either de-committed or re-opened the recruiting process. A few other commits are taking additional on-campus visits to cover themselves and good luck with any new recruits.

Just about every year there is a coach who is criticized for taking a new job and leaves his old team before they play a bowl game, they do it to recruit in advance of Feb. 2. Michigan AD Dave Brandon didn’t calculate that into his cost saving move.

Brandon should have had a plan before he fired Rodriguez, he should have fired Rodriguez earlier and he better get a coach before Big Blue puts a bullseye on him.