February 02, 2011
Rich Rodriguez is feeling good today in his first public appearance since being fired from Michigan last month, a one-time studio gig with CBS College Sports that gave the embattled coach a chance to put his rocky tenure in Ann Arbor behind and just focus on … aw, come on!
When you put a guy who was just canned voice-to-voice with the guy who was hired essentially to be the exact opposite of the first guy, everything comes across as a little ... awkward: Tom Lemming's reference to the Wolverines' "finish with a flourish" since Hoke was hired, Rodriguez's fishing for compliments on facilities upgrades during his tenure and Hoke's final insistence that "there are no excuses" with the resources at Michigan's disposal all sound like they should be delivered in front of a studio audience of shocked women shrieking "Oh snap!"*
It's a good thing Rodriguez isn't bitter at all about the way it ended:
NEW YORK (AP)—Rich Rodriguez was convinced the worst was behind him at Michigan, that better days were coming after three tumultuous seasons. Much better. "Exponentially" better, as he put it.
Then he was fired.
"We saw the light at the end of the tunnel," he said Tuesday in a 30-minute interview with The Associated Press. "Heck, we had 24 starters coming back, and the player of the year in the league—he's a sophomore and still learning. Recruiting, we thought it was going really well even with all the drama.
That's the frustrating part about it is we didn’t get a chance to finish the job."
Michigan athletic director David Brandon took the unusual step of waiting until after the bowl game to decide whether to keep Rodriguez. Asked if it was fair for Brandon to wait until January to make the call, Rodriguez said the timing of his dismissal was far from ideal for him, his players and staff. …
"Whatever I say in that regard is probably going to sound self-serving," Rodriguez said. "Would it have been better for the staff to know a month ahead? No question about it. When jobs come open in the college level they come open in December. And had I been able to get on somewhere, that could have happened, too. I may have been able to get another head coaching job then."
Well, at least it doesn't show on camera. Much.
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.