Head football coaches in college are notoriously fickle mercenaries, putting even the nomadic Bill Parcells to shame, witness Bobbie Petrino jumping ship from Atlanta midseason, and the messy divorce between Nick "No way am I going to Alabama...not!" Saban and the Miami Dolphins. LSU coach Les Miles fooled everybody by staying at LSU even when his alam mater Michigan came a-calling, while Rich Rodriguez jumped ship from WVU to Michigan and WVU sued him for the $4 million buyout clause that he extracted from them a year earlier. (UM will pay 2.5, RR 1.5) Good for them.
Every coach buys into the "kiss up / spit down" mentality more than most, as Rich Rodriguez himself does in this snippet related by ESPN analyst Pat Forde in this column:
The coach: new Michigan boss Rich Rodriguez (8). The headset moment: West Virginia against Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. No assistants chimed in but punter Phil Brady's run sealed West Virginia's win over Georgia.
What happened: Rodriguez called an incredibly gutsy fake punt on fourth-and-6 near midfield in the fourth quarter while clinging to a three-point lead. He called it from field level and asked for confirmation that the Bulldogs' formation was susceptible to the fake.
"I said on the headphones, 'Do we got it? Hello? Hello? Anybody there?'" Rodriguez recalled.
Nobody in the press box wanted to stick his neck out and sign off on such a risky play. But the Mountaineers ran it anyway and it worked. They never gave the ball back to Georgia and won 38-35.
Cue up a week later, and Pat Forde has something further to say (my bold):
Last week, The Dash told a few memorable headset conversations related by coaches. One of them turned out to be apocryphal.
Rich Rodriguez's reminiscence about hearing nothing from his assistants on the headsets when he called the memorably bold fake punt for West Virginia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl was a joke. The reality of the situation was relayed to The Dash last week by Tulsa assistant coach Herb Hand (31), who was an assistant with the Mountaineers then.
According to Hand, who was in the booth during that game, he reminded Rodriguez to look for the fake punt call. Bill Stewart (now the coach at WVU) chimed in that it had been open earlier in the game.
So when West Virginia faced its fateful fourth-and-6 near midfield against Georgia, clinging to a three-point lead, the West Virginia cognoscenti convened via headset. Butch Jones, now the coach at Central Michigan, told Rodriguez the play would work. Hand concurred, then asked offensive coordinator Calvin Magee to sign off on it as well. Rodriguez made the final call.
The result was a fake by committee that resulted in a first down that secured the victory.
Wow, that was a hilarious joke! One time, I told people that I alone started Barrelhouse, that this was my world, and Dave, Joe, Mike, Matt, Dan, Kylos, et. al. just lived in it. Boy did they all find it funny! Esp. when I pocketed all that grant money and went to the Bahamas and blew it all on hookers and, yes, blow.
Given that Rodriguez's rep has taken huge hits from leaving WVU and claiming not to owe the buyout clause, then having to pay it--to losing against Utah in his first game for Michigan, AND at home...you'd think the knives would come out from all quarters. But I guess Pat Forde just can't help but kiss ass.