Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez to take college football's winningest program to another level.
When he did, it cost him his job.
Rodriguez was fired Wednesday after going 15-22 in three disappointing seasons, including an 0-6 record combined against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, and staining the proud program with a handful of NCAA violations.
“Michigan is not used to this,” said athletic director Dave Brandon, who met with Rodriguez on Tuesday and again Wednesday before announcing the firing.
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“I believe this is the best decision for the future of Michigan football,” Brandon said. “We have not achieved at the level that I expect.”
Rodriguez, who was successful at West Virginia before arriving in Ann Arbor, was just 6-18 in Big Ten play and 11-11 at home. The school will buy out the final three years of Rodriguez’s contract for $2.5 million, bringing its overall cost in hiring and firing him to $12.5 million.
Brandon said he will immediately begin a search for a replacement amid speculation that candidates might include Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Wolverines quarterback; and former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke, now San Diego State’s head coach.
RODGERS TO RETURN
Oregon State flanker James Rodgers has been granted a medical hardship for the past season, meaning he can return for his senior season in 2011.
Rodgers injured his left knee in October, requiring surgery. A team captain, he was averaging 176.8 all-purpose yards per game.
He is the older brother of OSU running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
Linebacker Travis Lewis will return for his senior season at Oklahoma. Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is leaving early for the NFL. So is Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph. TV ratings for the Sugar Bowl were down. Ohio State’s 31-26 win over Arkansas on ESPN earned an 8.4 overnight rating. Florida’s 51-24 win over Cincinnati drew an 8.7 on Fox a year ago. Longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has interviewed for the Pitt coaching job. Texas hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to replace Will Muschamp, who became Florida head coach.