Rich Rodriguez has been out of the crucible at Michigan for nearly a year, and out of the line of fire that followed him out of West Virginia for nearly four. The light have been turned out. The keys have been turned in. The book has been written. But that doesn't mean Rodriguez has to feign objectivity when it comes to the subject of lawsuits filed by his alma mater.
Last time, he was the defendant: After agreeing to take the Michigan job in December 2007 on the heels of the most successful three-year run in West Virginia history, Rodriguez was sued by WVU for every penny of a $4 million buyout he'd agreed to as part of a contract extension the previous summer. In the new book on Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan, "Three and Out," John Bacon reports that Rodriguez and his new employers in Ann Arbor were initially confident they could get the buyout reduced because Rodriguez had signed under conditions — better pay for his assistants, a private jet for recruiting, free game tickets for high school coaches — that hadn't been met. They couldn't, and after months of contentious legal wrangling that painted Rodriguez as a turncoat attempting to shirk his obligation, Michigan agreed to pay $2.5 million toward the tab. Rodriguez picked up the rest himself.
This time, West Virginia is the one that wants out: The university is suing the Big East to get out from under a mandated 27-month "notification period" that will keep the Mountaineers in the conference through the summer of 2014, though they're already making plans to be in the Big 12 by next year. To which Rodriguez responded Tuesday on his regular gig on CBS College Sports, predictably, "I seem to remember, about three-and-a-half years ago, I think there was a coach who wanted out of a contract because the situation had changed. And they said, 'a contract's a contract!' "
Okay, so when it comes to withering retorts, Winston Churchill he is not. Public speaking was never exactly Rodriguez's strong suit. But even if he'd never break out the therm "schadenfreude" behind a microphone, he knows it when he sees it.