But former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner believes that Rich Rod got a bit of a raw deal in Ann Arbor. In a recent interview with Wolverine Digest, Gardner claimed that the transition from Lloyd Carr to Rodriguez was too big a hurdle to overcome.
Gardner feels that “nobody bought in” to what Rodriguez was trying to build. He took it a step further, asserting that if the school had given him the money and resources to implement everything, Michigan might be “what Ohio State is right now.”
“I think a lot of it had to do with the transition from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rod,” Gardner said. “Rich Rod’s my guy, I love Rich Rod. He recruited me, he believed in me and I thank him for that… but nobody bought in. You know how Michigan is, right? The fan base… nobody truly bought in to what he was trying to do. And you know what the crazy thing about that is? If everybody had bought in – including the University with the money and getting coordinators, things like that – if everybody had bought in, we would probably be on the verge of what Ohio State is right now.”
— Brandon Brown (@BSB_Wolverine) July 26, 2021
Prior to joining the Wolverines, Rodriguez had successfully transformed West Virginia from a middling Big East program into a national powerhouse, winning four conference titles in five years.
But Rodriguez turned West Virginia into such a powerhouse using the spread offense. And Michigan wasn’t exactly read to transition from decades of ground-and-pound to what Rodriguez wanted to do.
The end results speak for themselves. He was dismissed on January 3, 2011, and joined the Arizona Wildcats in 2012, enjoying six seasons before his controversial firing in 2019.
It’s fun to imagine if Michigan might have been as good as Ohio State if they had stuck with Rodriguez. But it doesn’t appear that anyone will ever be eager to revisit those three miserable years.