For the first time since being admitted into the union, West Virginia has every reason to laugh at Michigan, thanks to native-son-turned-prodigal Rich Rodriguez. As Bob Hertzel of the TIMES WEST VIRGINIAN points out, “It’s like they say about the weather. Don’t like it? Wait a minute; it will change. Don’t have anything to write about? Wait a minute; Rodriguez will come up with something.” The latest story budget comedy bullion stems from Michigan’s No. 1 jersey controversy.
Traditionally — and by that, we mean the last 30 years or so — Michigan football has given the No. 1 jersey to a non-freshman standout wide receiver. Braylon Edwards, Anthony Carter, David Terrell, and Derrick Alexander, to name a few, adorned the coveted No. 1 during their upperclassmen seasons with the Wolverines. And this year, Rich Rod is handing Numero Uno to a freshman … defensive back.
Oh, they don’t know who it’s going to be yet, either. Hertzel is right. This is a delicious story, and my favorite college football team didn’t even lose to Pitt in their final regular seaeson game.
While there are no standout wide receivers at Michigan this year thanks to the departure of Mario Manningham — come to think of it, I don’t think anybody knows a single player on Michigan’s roster — that doesn’t mean the No. 1 jersey needs to go to someone. Nobody’s worn it since Edwards a few years ago, and now that he’s with the Cleveland Browns, he’s set up a scholarship for whoever wears the No. 1, assuming he’d have some clout in who gets to wear it. If nobody’s worthy, it’s basically “Dale Earnhardted,” out of respect for its meaning.
Now if Coach Rodriguez wants to spin the “tradition” thing right back at the U-M faithful, he needs to say, “Well, I can think of another tradition of the past few years. Losing to Ohio State and losing in bowl games. But I guess if you want to keep with tradition, then by all means, let’s maintain the status quo.” Still, you’d think that Rodriguez would try and keep some things consistent, given that he already broke tradition by letting a UM player transfer to OSU under his watch.
Actually, on second thought? Just give No. 1 to the kicker. This might be a fun UM season — especially for West Virginians — for all the wrong reasons.