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The University of Michigan coaching staff, under new hire Rich Rodriguez, is not the only thing in Ann Arbor receiving a makeover this fall. The Big House is also under construction, and the timeline for both will be similar; by 2010, we will know how they turned out. UM has not won the Big-10 since 2004, and that is a major reason why Lloyd Carr is no longer pacing the sidelines for the Wolverines.
In 1997, Carr took Michigan to the top, winning it all with a Rose Bowl victory over Washington State, 21-16, for Michigan's eleventh national title. Then, Carr won the Big-10 four of the next seven years (1998, 2000, 2003, 2004). It seemed as if Carr may be the coach of the maize and blue for decades to come when he hit a stone wall. Carr's Wolverines finished second to Ohio State three times running for the Big-10 title from 2005 to 2007, and just like that, he was gone, crystal football and all. The biggest nail in his coffin had to be the four straight losses (4-7 overall) to end his career to the arch-rival Buckeyes, which just isn't allowed in Ann Arbor...
Fast forward to 2008, and in steps Rich Rodriguez, a young, energetic coach who has had a succesful career at West Virginia, his alma mater, and every other stop along the way. Rodriguez has an impressive coaching resume, but comes with baggage. His departure from Morgantown was not graceful, and the two sides have yet to drop weapons. With dollars flying around for this and that, and lawyers and ESPN everywhere, Rodriguez is most certainly ready to just play some football. He has a freshman quarterback to worry about in freshman Steven Threet, a 6'-5" guy that may have trouble with his new-to-Michigan spread offense. However, he inherits a defense that is full of athletes, so they should hold their own if they score...
I have never been to the Big House, and I don't say that with my chest sticking out. It is a cathedral to the sport and I feel like one day I will make the pilgrimage to that far-away holy place. Seating for 107,000 will turn into seating for 108,000 - no big deal - but the razzle dazzle will be added in the form of 1,900 outdoor club seats, 250 indoor club seats, 49 suites, a new press box, new restrooms, wider stairways, yada, yada, yada....Basically, this historic shrine, built in 1927 for 950 grand, will be the class of the Big-10 in 2010 (Yankee Stadium, are you listening????).
Michigan is no doubt one of the more interesting teams to keep up with this football season. The Wolverines have not been BCSing in a while now, and they are eager to return. But, they have some catching up to do. The re-construction of the Big House will happen. Period. It is a certainty. But the re-construction of the football team is not a guarantee.
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