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Rich Rod’s Third Year Will Be Do or Die

The season is done for the Michigan Wolverines.

At 5-7, they will not go to a bowl game for the second straight season. Under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolves have made steady, if not substantial, progress. But after a 4-0 start, the Wolverines were winless in Big 10 play, including losses in each of the last five games.

Three of the losses in that span were by more than 20 points. Wolverine Nation shouldn’t be too up in arms, however. Michigan was playing all season with less scholarships than they are allotted. That’s primarily because Rodriguez is being careful about selecting which recruits he wants for his spread offense and system.

So after two years and zero bowls, people are wondering if he is the right hire. The Wolverines are the winningest program in major college football history. Former coach Lloyd Carr wasn’t doing a bad job – he could constantly win 9 or 10 games. But he wasn’t competing for championships.

Basketball is different. Kentucky went from an NIT team last season to an immediate national championship contender because of new coach John Calipari and his star-studded recruiting class. Basketball only uses five players at once; in football, there are 85 scholarships allowed at the Division I-A level. It takes time to bring in the necessary pieces to not only compete with Ohio State and Penn State for Big 10 titles, but for any plans to compete on the national level.

Year Three of the Rodriguez experiment will be a good point to gauge the progress as Michigan tries to emerge on the national map once again.

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