June 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

Angelique S. Chengelis

U-M's Rich Rodriguez needs good year to save job, but how good?

Rich Rodriguez is 8-16 in his first two season with the Wolverines. (John T. Greilick/The Detroit News)

So former Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards called this a "make or break year" for U-M football coach Rich Rodriguez.

OK. Moving on ...

Not trying to be flip here, but Edwards' was hardly an out-on-a-limb opinion.

  • Fact: Rodriguez has an 8-16 record through two seasons.

  • Fact: The NCAA has investigated his program and Michigan has self-imposed penalties.

  • Fact: Things need to turn around quickly for the football program.

    "He's past the hot seat, and he has to make it work," Edwards, who is in town this weekend for charity fundraisers associated with the Braylon Edwards Foundation, told The Detroit News on Thursday at Comerica Park, where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Nationals-Tigers game.

    Indeed, Rodriguez's seat is hot.

    This is not a news flash. This is not breaking news.

    But how hot?

    Only Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon might have a real bead on that temperature right now. (Then again, maybe he doesn't).

    Edwards, of course, isn't the first former player to comment about Rodriguez's seat heat or the status of the program and what it needs to be and where it needs to go. And, truthfully, now it's all getting fairly repetitive and redundant.

    Speaking as one of the "alumni guys," Edwards said he wants someone who can make this work. They have been "patient," Edwards said of his fellow former players.

    "If it doesn't go right this year, we'll have to find a guy that can make it work with that winged helmet," he said.

    Fair enough, and not suggesting Edwards is wrong, but one thing that is always missing from the commentary is, what does "has to make it work" mean?

    What, in fact, does Rodriguez need to do to "make it work" and coach a fourth season at U-M? (Amazing that we're talking about a fourth season when the third still is a couple months away).

    A .500 record? Seven wins? Eight wins? Big Ten title contention? A bowl? Not just a bowl, but a bowl?

    Anybody? Is there a consensus?

    And while we're at it, define "go right."

    What's good enough?

    Some are more patient than others, and maybe "go right" means a 6-6 record and a bowl game. That's not exactly a lofty goal, but after bowless seasons of 3-9 and 5-7, that clearly would be improvement. Maybe going "right" means beating Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State en route to a possible Big Ten championship and a BCS bowl berth.

    Bottom line: Enough verbalizing in generalities. Yes, we all know Rodriguez is under pressure and this season could decide his future at Michigan. But what are the parameters that will ultimately decide that future? Beats me.

    So, until someone can paint a picture for me with a specific outline of what Rodriguez needs to do to "make it work," here's a few more generalities to add to the list.

  • Fact: Rodriguez's Michigan team must be competitive through the fourth quarter of every game this fall.

  • Fact: A victory over Michigan State would be beneficial to Rodriguez's cause.

  • Fact: The season must play out before a determination is made, and then we'll see if Rodriguez made "it work" and had the season "go right."


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