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Tim Hyland

Rich Rodriguez: His Own Man, Not a 'Michigan Man'

By May 13, 2008

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OK, I'm just going to go ahead and say this, though it really should be quite obvious by now: Rich Rodriguez is not a "Michigan Man."

Never will be.

Rodriguez may well end up being wildly successful at Michigan (in fact, I suspect he will be, eventually). He may own Ohio State's Jim Tressel like former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr owned Ohio State's John Cooper. He may claim Big Ten titles and national championships. He may even win over the Michigan faithful and become as beloved as Bo Schembechler.

But one thing he'll never be is a Michigan Man -- the kind of guy who was raised on the maize-and-blue, knows and loves the school's traditions, and treats Michigan history with the utmost respect.

Rich Rodriguez is, simply, his own man. And that's been obvious ever since he arrived in Ann Arbor. Rodriguez is going to do things his way, not the Michigan way (see: Justin Boren). Most recently, the Wolverine coach ruffled some feathers when he gave the hallowed Michigan No. 1 jersey -- traditionally reserved for the team's top receiver (think Anthony Carter, David Terrell, etc.) -- to a freshman defensive back.

This didn’t sit too well with another No. 1-wearing alum, Braylon Edwards, who in 2006 actually established a $500,000 scholarship for the jersey, with the understanding (according to Edwards) that the jersey tradition continue and that he have some say in who wears it.

Asked about the situation recently by ESPN Radio host Mike Tirico, Edwards said he thought Rodriguez had “been doing a great job,” but also said he was none too happy about the jersey fiasco. Explained Edwards: "The No. 1 jersey has never been worn by anybody outside of a wide receiver -- it dates back to Anthony Carter, so I'm going to have a talk with (Rodriguez) about that next time I see him.”

He continued: "He's getting that call soon, very soon. We have a jersey scholarship fund for this whole deal. What is he thinking?"

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