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December 24, 2007

Monday's With Mike: Money still top priority

So much vitriol surrounds Rich Rodriguez's move from West Virginia to Michigan.

While it is unfortunate the move now involves lawyers because of Rodriguez's $4 million buyout clause at WVU, you can't fault him for leaving. The bottom line: Coaching at Michigan is a better job than coaching at West Virginia. Michigan is one of the best jobs in the country. There's more prestige, more history, more players to choose from – and, oh, yeah, more money.

It's still startling to realize how many folks remain naοve about big-time college athletics. Money drives the car – and it sits shotgun and in the best spot in the back seat, too. Winning is priority No. 2, and Rodriguez obviously feels he can win more – and make more money – at Michigan than WVU.

And it's funny that some people are deriding Rodriguez for leaving less than a year after he signed an extension at WVU. Funny: We guess those same folks don't remember WVU hiring basketball coach Bob Huggins after Huggins spent just one season at Kansas State.

A greatly increased recruiting base is the biggest benefit for Rodriguez. The state of Michigan annually produces more high-quality recruits than the state of West Virginia, but that's not close to being the biggest plus. Michigan is one of a handful of schools that can easily recruit nationally. If there's a touted cornerback in California, a coveted wide receiver in Florida or a big-time quarterback in Texas, the Wolverines can be sure the player will at least listen to a sales pitch.

It's not the same at West Virginia. Yes, Rodriguez and his staff did a great job signing out-of-state players for the Mountaineers. But except in isolated cases (i.e., the signing of TB Noel Devine out of Florida earlier this year), West Virginia isn't getting elite national recruits.

Rodriguez can get elite national recruits at Michigan. That means he'll have more speed than ever to work with – and the spread offense with a ton of speed is an offense well-nigh impossible to shut down. And no other "big-name" school in the Big Ten runs his offense, either, which is another recruiting advantage.

As for the current players "fitting" his offense, Rodriguez has coached long enough to know when to adapt. In the past decade, he worked with QB Shaun King at Tulane, QB Woody Dantzler at Clemson and now Pat White at WVU. King was the best passer of the three, White the best runner and Dantzler the best "combo" guy.

Michigan's projected starting quarterback in 2008 is Ryan Mallett – all 6 feet 6 and 255 pounds of him. Is he a "spread" quarterback? Of course not – at least not in the strictest sense. But he has a big arm and talented receivers to work with, so assuming Mallet stays at Michigan, you can bet Rodriguez will tweak his offense to best fit the player.

Rodriguez is going to be a success at Michigan – and he's going to be rich, too. And instead of ripping the guy, WVU fans need to thank him for rebuilding the Mountaineers' program to a point where WVU again is taken seriously nationally.


Forbes magazine recently unveiled its second annual ranking of the "most valuable teams in college football."

They base the rankings on four "beneficiaries": the university (the value of contributions from football to the institution for academic purposes, including scholarship payments for football players); the athletic department (the net profit generated by the football program ultimately retained by the department); the conference (the distribution of bowl game revenue); and the local communities with a vested interest in the team (incremental spending in the county during home-game weekends)

The top 10: Notre Dame, $101 million; Texas, $92 million; Georgia, $90 million; Michigan, $85 million; Florida, $84 million; LSU, $76 million; Tennessee, $74 million; Auburn, $73 million; Alabama, $72 million; and Ohio State, $71 million.


Let's play "follow the bouncing ball" – or as it's known in the coaching profession, "Try To Keep Up With Brian VanGorder."

VanGorder, a well-respected defensive mind, was hired as South Carolina's defensive coordinator last week. Working for the Gamecocks will be his fifth job in five seasons.

This season, he is the linebacker coach for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. In 2006, he was coach at Division I-AA Georgia Southern. In 2005, he was linebacker coach for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2004, he was the defensive coordinator for Georgia (a job he had held since 2001).


  • Seven teams are appearing in at least their 10th consecutive bowl. Give it up for Florida (17th in a row), Florida State (26th), Georgia (11th), Georgia Tech (11th), Michigan (33rd), Texas (10th) and Virginia Tech (15th).

  • You think Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe isn't feeling the heat after a 6-6 season? Louisville signed eight junior college transfers last week – four on each side of the ball. Kragthorpe also took an indirect shot at former coach Bobby Petrino and his staff. "We needed to add immediate depth to our program because of our lack of numbers," Kragthorpe said.

  • Western Kentucky moved up from Division I-AA and was a provisional I-A member this season. (Yes, we know the NCAA has changed the names of the divisions. But everybody knows the old names, and, besides, the new names are stupid.) That gives I-A 120 members. There soon may be two more, as Texas State (formerly known as Southwest Texas State) and Georgia Southern are at least studying whether to make the move.

    Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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