It doesn't happen all that often -- usually college football players are fully behind their coach come bowl-less hell or high water -- but occasionally when a head coach comes under fire, the lukewarm response from the players (or even more rarely, outright hostility, as in the case of Mike Leach at Texas Tech) gives away the fact that even they aren't really sold on the coach being retained.
Given their comments this week , it's safe to say the situation at Michigan with the beleagured Rich Rodriguez is not one of those times. Junior wideout Darryl Stonum:
"I love my coach ... I committed to Coach (Lloyd) Carr and Coach Rod came in. Coach Rod treats us like his own kids. Like Denard (Robinson) said in his MVP speech, we're all brothers and we're all family. I'd be pretty devastated if anything happened."That's one thing. But maybe the best indication of how badly the Wolverines want A.D Dave Brandon to keep Rodriguez at the helm is Ryan Van Bergen' s defense of his coach's now infamous Josh Groban -soundtracked appeal at the team banquet. Van Bergen:
Bear in mind that even Groban himself thought RichRod's banquet presentation went too far in the direction of corny. If his players are willing to not only look past but even embrace that kind of decision, give Rodriguez credit: they really will follow him anywhere. That won't do as much for him as beating Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl or, say, not losing quarterback commitments to Wake Forest, but it's something.
The pressure he's subjected to, especially over the course of his three years here, I think he's been handling it with as strong a front as you could possibly have. I think it was really appreciated by some of the seniors. That was directed toward them. The guys who stuck around -- there's not too many of them -- they were his closest supporters."
As for some public ridicule, Van Bergen said: "He wasn't doing that for them."