Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rich Rodriguez--Soap Opera Star

The current situation involving West Virginia University football and Rich Rodriguez needs to be addressed in this blog. In the interest of full disclosure I am graduate of WVU and a season ticket holder (be it cheap endzone seats). Note the grammar issues in this blog are the responsibility of the author and not the schools that I attended.

There are too may aspects to this story for a unified theme therefore:

1. Divorces are rarely polite affairs. Change despite what people say is rarely welcome. One of the few things that stuck in my head after 25 years for Management 101 is that people resist change and the departure of Rich Rodriguez is a big change for the fans for both schools. In retrospect, Rich Rodriguez's departure should not be much of a surprise after the flirtation and eyes (ego) of Rodriguez was clearly 12months ago with Alabama.

The other thing that happens in a breakup is that the two parties do their best to blame the other especially when there is a $4 million buy out clause. The lawyers get involved and the battle via proxy beginslike third party interviews and leaks to the press. This behavior is amusing when it is a couple of celebrates you care little about but when your dirty laundry gets aired (truth is optional) the feelings are a combination of being embarrassed and defensiveness. There is a direct relationship between the amount, in this case money, at stake and the willingness of the parties to throw dirt. The current set of issues being put forth by Rich Rodriguez's camp seem like nothing more than excuses/positioning not to pay the buy. If you want out of a relationship be willing to pay the price.

2. This situation and the other recent moves by college head coaches confirms what has been previous said in this blog, "So not only does the coach have to win on Saturday, manage the team, recruit the players but the head coach is the top fund raiser." Not only is the coach the manager of a multimillion dollar operation but is also the face of the team. The college salaries still trail those of the NFL but are far ahead of state governors. Try this exercise: Name all the head coaches and then name the governors of the same states. Embarrassed? So was I. Head coaches are paid fair value as they promise to provide the services and value the university administration is seeking.

3. Why not put a head coach on a one year contract? Under the current system if they do well and are looking to jump your give them a raise via a contract extension but if they do poorly you're stuck with them. By comparison cellphone contracts seem fair and reasonable as while they will be sticking it too you the terms are fixed for two years.

4. From--"Hey, that thing is COLD!"
In that light the pay will never be enough. Further, once you arrive at the top of the college football coaching ladder there's really nowhere to go but down (see Frank Solich and Steve Spurrier). There are those that thrive despite (or because of) in the limelight and pressure. The problem is that UM is searching for a football coach and not a Wall Street shark.

If Rich Rodriguez was the person looking for the next challenge then he will find it a Michigan. Given the culture shock of transforming the Wolverines to the spread the next 20 months (now to the beginning of the 2009) could try both Rich and the UM faithful. What are the expectations for the 2008 season? 2009? When will playing for the MNC be required?

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Blogger Fred Zimmerman said...

Refreshing to see a WVU grad with a relatively sane perspective on the departure of OurRod (as we call him here in Ann Arbor).

The one thing that really jumped out at me from your column is the idea that the head football coach has to be the chief fundraiser. Not at Michigan! That's the difference between the flagship programs and a WVU. The athletic dept and the development office do the fundraising.

The head coach just has to pick a charity and show up for it (and, to Lloyd Carr's credit, he has been a leader in the fundraising for the new Mott's Children's Hospital).

3:17 PM  

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