Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is having such a tough time that even Ohio State people are feeling sorry for him.
OSU head coach Jim Tressel and a couple Buckeye players spoke out this week in defense of Rodriguez, who is facing more heat in Ann Arbor after allegations surfaced that he abused NCAA practice restrictions. The allegations first came to light in a story Saturday night on the Web site of the Detroit Free Press.
The latest controversy comes on the heels of a disastrous 3-9 season a year ago in Rodriguez’s first year as Michigan’s head coach.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, several media outlets reported Wednesday that Rodriguez is the target of a $3.9 million lawsuit regarding a botched real estate deal. Rodriguez invested in a real estate development near the campus of Virginia Tech University along with several others. The group, which included a banned booster at Clemson University, apparently failed to provide the money they promised in the deal.
Although the University of Michigan has hired a firm to investigate the Detroit Free Press claims, it sounds like the allegations are more bark than bite. It is going to be difficult to prove that Michigan’s extra workouts were mandatory and not done on a voluntary basis by the players.
In the end, I don’t see Rodriguez and the Wolverines having to pay much of a price — if any — over the allegations.
More than anything else, though, the latest issues serve as a major distraction for a team sorely needing to turn things around on the football field.
Having to deal with an investigation into his football program has to be the last thing Rodriguez wanted to think about in the last few days leading up to Saturday’s season opener.
Winning is often a cure all. If the Wolverines do enough to get into a bowl game this year, Rodriguez should be able to dodge the land mines he is currently facing. However, if this season resembles the debacle of last year he may not be around much longer.
See PICKS on Page 11
Now on to this week’s football picks:
Sidney at Bellefontaine
The next two weeks will have a huge impact on Bellefontaine’s season.
Bellefontaine faces a tough Sidney team tonight and a very good Marysville squad next week. If the Chiefs can make it through that stretch with at least one win, it would be a big confidence boost going into the Central Buckeye Conference portion of the schedule.
Tonight’s game promises to be a classic Sidney-Bellefontaine battle. Both teams have playmakers on offense and stout defenses. Sidney pulled out an overtime win last year. I see Bellefontaine turning the tables on the Yellow Jackets tonight by winning a close one. Bellefontaine 24, Sidney 21.
WL-Salem at Northwestern
Despite some key losses to graduation, West Liberty-Salem picked up where they left off last year with a rout of Arcanum last week.
It will be more of the same tonight. The Tigers have more talent than the Warriors on both sides of the ball. WL-Salem 34, Northwestern 14.
Indian Lake at Kenton Ridge
The Lakers’ defense pitched a shutout in the season opener against Spencerville. Kenton Ridge will find it just as difficult to move the ball on the Lakers this week. Indian Lake 41, Kenton Ridge 14.
Riverside at Triad
It’s always fun to see former members of the West Central Ohio Conference get back together on the football field.
This game looks about even on paper, but the Pirates are a bit more experienced than the Cardinals. Riverside is also riding a wave of momentum after its big win over Benjamin Logan last week. Riverside 28, Triad 20.
Coldwater at Ben Logan
I heard from several local prep football followers in the preseason that Coldwater would go through a bit of a drop-off this fall.
Although the Cavaliers did lose many of their top players from last year’s squad that lost to Kettering Alter in the regional finals, they showed in last Friday’s win over Kenton that they have reloaded.
Ben Logan has its work cut out for it in this one. Coldwater 35, Ben Logan 14.
Crestline at Ridgemont
Ridgemont was competitive against Vanlue last week. I see the Gophers hanging around tonight as well, but Crestline will have the final say. Crestline 20, Ridgemont 13.
Around the horn
Ohio State sinks Navy, 35-10 ... Youngstown Mooney tops Columbus DeSales in a battle of Ohio powers, 21-14.