18 December 2007
3 Weeks ago, West Virginia a 29 point favorite lost to a lowly Pittsburgh team thus costing them a birth in the national championship game. It was a shocking development thast has only been amplified as a domino affect has taken place all over the college football landscape. Years from now this upset may be looked upon as a huge turning point for multiple programs all over the country. Although some of this is pure speculation lets take a brief look at the implications of this game.
Pittsburgh had a signature win to sell to big time recruits and rallied in the coming weeks to ink some of the nation's best players who took notice of the upset win while choosing to ignore the 5-7 record. Sine the game Pitt has secured verbals from highly touted players such as QB Zach Stoudt, OL Robb Houser, RB/CB Cameron Saddler , with rumors of Saddler's teammate DE/LB Shayne Hale close behind. These verbals have really given the program some momentum and will likely elevate the program in a mediocre Big East over the years to come.
It is my belief that Les Miles has tentatively accepted to leave LSU to fill the Michigan head coaching vacancy. Although he denied this rumor before the WV loss, I think he was just buying some time so he could announce it on his own terms down the road hoping to avoid a John L Smith Louisville incident. However Miles count not anticipate the WV loss nor the subsequent vaulting of his Tigers to the national championship game. It was unfathomable that the Tigers could make such a dramatic leap up the rankings and it threw Miles for a curveball.
You can't leave a head coaching position in the weeks leading up to a national championship game and Miles and Michigan knew it. Miles laid low and signed an extension with LSU hoping Michigan would get the message. Michigan didn't and finally they made one final run at Miles when the spoke 2 weeks later. Probably a "so your leaving us at the alter?" conversation. Miles is now entrenched at LSU having to have turned down his dream job at his alma mateur.
This one is even more of a stretch so take this one with a grain of salt. LSU defensive coordinator, Bo Pelini, was either going to take the potential LSU coaching vacancy or the empty Nebraska position. With Miles believed to be a done deal to Michigan, Pelini was confident he would be named the new LSU head coach (the job he preferred over Nebraska). With the WV loss locking Miles into LSU, Pelini accepted the Nebraska job in the days after. Although its possible he would have taken the job anyways, I think Pelini was willing to wait it out for a shot at the LSU job and was confident the Nebraska offer would stay on the table for the duration.
With their top choice for the job out of play, Michigan recommenced their coaching search which settled on Rodriguez today. Obviously if WV wins against Pitt, there is no way Rodriguez can walk away from WV (his alma matuer) in the weeks leading up to the championship game. With the Michigan job now open thanks largely in part to his 'nightmare' and potentially realizing that he might not get as good of shot at a championship game in Morgantown, Rodriguez succumbed to Michigan's sales pitch and took the job.
Michigan now will run a spread offense which has many thinking that QB incumbent Ryan Mallett will transfer to Arkansas or elsewhere as he is the polar opposite of a typical spread offense QB. Essentially its possible the WV loss switched head coach of Michigan from Miles to Rodriguez and may have changed their next quarterback as well. However the news inst all bad on the quarterback front as now number 1 player in the country, QB Terrelle Pryor is now looking at Michigan instead of West Virginia due to Rodriguez's spread system.
Below is some good analysis from a Michigan fan friend of mine, Aaron, who did not approve the hiring of Rodriguez.
"1. his teams always tank in big games
2. his schemes put up big points but don't produce nfl stars at qb which will eventualy hurt recruiting in my opinion
3. this is the guy that recruited and covered for both pacman jones and chris henry, nuff said
4. he flirted for two years with leaving his alma mater, you think he'd hesitate to leave if he got a better offer? $2.4 mill isn't t hat much"
The loss of Rodriguez is going to hurt. I am hearing that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is likely the next coach which I would think would be a pretty shrewd hire. Regardless, Rodriguez built the program from the ground up and put West Virginia on the map. More than likely your going to see a significant drop off from a program that was just settling in as a perennial power. Only time will tell if this will be a Nebraska/Miami fall from grace or just a small drop off.
On the recruiting front West Virginia was "in" on the recruitment of several high profile recruits including Pryor (think Vince Young) . Pryor has already dropped WV from consideration and many believe Rodriguez's departure will cost them top ranked guard Josh Jenkins as well.
Great article on Pryor, DJ Woods, and Jenkins implications.