February 28, 2010

Will fallout follow Michigan violations?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

Today's question: Michigan was said to have committed "major" NCAA violations under coach Rich Rodriguez. What do you think the ultimate fallout of the violations will be in regard to Rodriguez?

I think that depends on how Michigan plays next season. Already, Michigan A.D. David Brandon has said he's unclear on the difference between "major" and "minor" violations. So, if Michigan bounces back with a solid season, shows progress and reaches a bowl game, there will be little fallout. But if the Wolverines struggle for a third consecutive seasons, those NCAA issues will resurface as additional reasons to make a coaching change in Ann Arbor.

- OLIN BUCHANAN

It will depend on what type of season Rodriguez delivers this fall. If Michigan posts a third consecutive losing campaign, I think the school will make a coaching change. Making matters easier for the Michigan brass to make a change will be that it can dump Rodriguez with cause (and thus not have to pay him) because he broke NCAA rules. But I think Rodriguez can survive if he delivers a seven- or eight-win season. And with a now-maturing roster, I think that's a good possibility.

- TOM DIENHART

Although we've seen worse violations in recent years, I doubt Michigan will see these developments that way, especially the segment of the Wolverines' fan base and boosters who haven't liked Rodriguez from the start. Even without the "major" violations, Rodriguez probably would enter the 2010 season needing a bowl game to save his job. I don't think the NCAA issue has harmed his job status as much as the late-season collapse this past season. Remember when Michigan started 4-0 and everyone raved about freshman quarterback Tate Forcier? No one really cared about Michigan's practice habits then, and no one will if Michigan plays on New Year's Day again.

- DAVID FOX

Not to be cynical, but the NCAA violations will be a big deal if Michigan struggles on the field this season. In that scenario, Rodriguez gets fired and you can expect schools officials to say something along the lines of, "Michigan was not producing on the field like Michigan should, plus the coaching staff did not follow NCAA rules, and that cannot be tolerated at Michigan." If the Wolverines win at least seven games and go to a bowl, though, everything will be hunky-dory, and you'll hear a lot of fans saying, "Hey, which school doesn't break the 20-hour-a-week rule?"

- MIKE HUGUENIN

Because this represents the first time Michigan's football program has been in such hot water with the NCAA, I don't expect the penalties to be too significant. Michigan wasn't cited for a loss of institutional control. It wouldn't surprise me if Michigan received a restriction on practice time and minor scholarship reductions, but I wouldn't expect any significant scholarship losses or a postseason ban. The biggest effect of the NCAA ruling is that it could hasten the demise of Rodriguez, who already was occupying the hottest seat in college football. Rodriguez now is under even more pressure to turn things around soon. If Michigan bounces back on the field and wins at least eight or nine games, Michigan fans likely will be willing to forgive this coaching staff for the mistakes that led to these allegations. But if the Wolverines have a third consecutive disappointing season, you can count on seeing a new guy heading the program in 2011.

- STEVE MEGARGEE


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