Now that the regular season is finally over, MSM outlets are falling over each other trying to be the first to "break" the "RR fired" story. Many of the media people want him fired so badly that they keep changing the "straw that broke the camel's back" point. And a lot of "Michigan fans" are acting like anything but. A few of the "firing points:"
1. "If the NCAA finds RR guilty of 'failure to provide an atmosphere of compliance,' RR is gone for sure."
Of course, the NCAA accepted Michigan's self-imposed punishment and gave them the extra year that Michigan left room for so that the NCAA could look like they were "doing their job." RR was not personally found guilty of the aforementioned violation.
2. "If the team doesn't show progress, RR will be fired."
The team has showed progress. Michigan has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten, even though they are still young and played a first-year sophomore starter. They won two more games than last year, even though as many as seven freshmen or redshirt freshmen played on defense some games. The secondary, in particular, was too young and inexperienced to play against top-ten ranked teams, let alone start.
3. "If the team isn't headed in the right direction, RR will definitely be fired after this season."
Michigan has won 3, 5, and 7 regular season games in the last three years. The offense is looking like it could turn into one very similar to that of Oregon or Auburn, both of which are indirectly using a lot of RR's playbook. They have played hard until the end of every game, even while getting beaten pretty badly the last two. Players are talking about "the team," and praising their coach for keeping them positive and focused. They are handling both victory and defeat with grace and humility. And something like 19 of 22 starters will be back next year.
There is absolutely no way anyone could say that the team isn't headed in the right direction unless they have already made up their minds that they want RR fired. In other words, this team is definitely headed in the right direction.
4. "If Michigan isn't bowl eligible, RR will be fired."
Obviously, Michigan is indeed bowl eligible.
5. "If Michigan gets blown out by OSU, RR will be fired and Harbaugh will be hired."
Finally, on the fifth try, the OMGFRDKRODNOWPLS people got what they were wishing for. OSU beat Michigan 37-7. This is actually quite similar to the 31-7 score by which FSU beat all-everything coach Urban Meyer three hours later. And Meyer has had five years to build his team.
Anyway, after making the parameter more ridiculous five times, the maggots, leeches, and parasites finally got what they were looking for. So now, they use the loss to OSU as "justification" for an irrational decision that some of them had already made almost three years ago.
As for Harbaugh, he won 4, 5, and 7 games in the years preceding this year, and he took over a team with better personnel. So, this begs a question:
Why are people willing to accept Harbaugh's nearly-identical pattern of growth and hail him as the second coming while simultaneously vilifying RR's pattern, that actually shows even more growth because he lost one more game his first year?
Obviously, the "prodigal son returns home" story would be a great one. And, if he ever does, I will support him fully and be happy for him. But the timing is not right.
Fans are pissed because the team isn't winning. They conveniently forget that the first four losses of the OSU streak were courtesy of Lloyd Carr. They refuse to look at the players Carr left for RR and realize that RR took over a team with personnel more on the level of a MAC team than a Big Ten one. But it still comes down to winning.
So, if the whiners get their way, and Michigan does indeed fire RR and replace him with a pro set guy like Harbaugh, it will mean at least one more year and possibly two more years of losing. Does anyone who is the least bit rational want to risk firing a coach who could get ten or eleven wins out of this team next year for someone who is going to retool again and finish around .500?
The rebuilding job isn't complete yet, but it is close. Michigan will have something like 19 starters with experience next year. The offense is close to becoming one of the best in the history of the Big Ten. The defense is laying the foundation for finally breaking through and being able to stop elite competition.
All that is needed is more time and more experience. Both will happen on their own. Firing RR and changing systems again would be one of the most stupid moves DB could make. Firing RR and replacing him with someone who runs RR's offense wouldn't be a pathetically bad move, but it would be rather pointless.
If DB has as much integrity as a Michigan Man should, RR will at least get to work the length of his contract. It would totally suck for RR if he rebuilt the team, was vilified for the down years during the rebuilding, and then had to watch as someone else won with the program he rebuilt and took credit for his work. It would also suck if RR was fired and came back to win National Championships with another team.
In other words, it would suck if RR was fired before he is given the opportunity to finish what he has started at Michigan. Hopefully, DB ignores the media and the naysayers and realizes what a great coach he has working for him right now.
If he does, and RR wins a National Championship or two at Michigan, his present critics will all be saying "I told you so" and bragging about how they had his back from the start. I could handle that.