Three years ago, both Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia University seemed to be on top of the world. Rodriguez escaped the scrutiny of West Virginia's athletic department for the big money and national attention of Michigan. West Virginia did not get a coveted national title shot, but did demolish perennial power Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Now both have hit a crossroads. West Virginia chose to try and regain its position as an elite program by hiring Dana Holgerson. It has certainly slipped, but not nearly so much as Rodriguez.
Is this a case of bad things happening to bad people? Not really. Bill Stewart was a nice guy, but could not maintain West Virginia's stature in the college football world. His landing spot is a little softer, though.
Rodriguez's problem was always stubbornness. It was always his way or no way. This is not always a bad thing. It's good to have a vision and stick to it, but you have to know when to adapt. You have to know when the game changed. Rodriguez was always good at forcing an issue, but not at adapting when people began to figure him out.
His reactions to adversity were as predictable as his playcalling became. Rodriguez would trot his family out, cry, and ask for understanding. It was a stark contrast to the tough guy persona he usually took to practice.
Michigan will now look for a new coach. ESPN denies that Michigan is a national program any longer. That's debatable. However, Rodriguez is no longer a hot national commodity. His spread looks like a Model T compared to Holgerson's Oklahoma State Mustang. Pitt refused to consider him. UConn could look at him because they are more desperate for a "name." However, that would be like the former leading man doing a B movie.
Rodriguez is not necessarily down and out forever. He could claw his way back by being successful at a mid major, changing his system to meet the transformations taking place in college football, and being a little more diplomatic from time to time.
Is there a lesson here? Gracious behavior and adaptability will go far.