So I went over to the Columbus’ 97.1 The Fan website to find the audio of Rich Rodriguez’s call today, and stumbled on this. Jamie Morris, Michigan football legend, WTKA Sunday radio host and most importantly an official within the U-M athletic department spoke to the Columbus host (Bruce Hooley…Chris Spielman was away) about the upcoming Ohio State game, but also answered a few questions about Rodriguez and Jim Harbaugh.
My frustration with Morris on WTKA is that he’s been such a company man towing the company line on WTKA, that it’s prevented him from offering actual opinions. But give this is listen as Morris gets candid.
I don’t know if this is just Jamie measuring his words, but he didn’t exactly serve up a wild endorsement of Rodriguez and admitted that Harbaugh would be welcomed back to U-M if he were the Michigan football coach at some point beyond RR’s tenure. It’s not so much what he said, but that Morris never says anything remotely beyond the company line.
Give this a listen, it gets interesting about 3 minutes in:
- For starters, he referred to Harbaugh as “Jimmy” instead of “traitor”.
- Hooley asked for a general sense of the radio caller support for Rodriguez. Morris: “I think we’re at a 50/50 split now…”
- When asked about whether he’d support anybody as coach (as a Michigan man), and whether he supports this Michigan coach. Morris pauses and says, “I believe in Michigan.” He added, “I’m in favor of him. I believe in Rich Rodriguez and I believe in Michigan. So I’m lining up behind him and I’m going to go with him and I’m going to believe in him and I’m looking for a big Michigan victory.”
- Morris is asked about whether the former players support Rodriguez. Morris: “You know what? The guys respect the position. A lot of guys that I played with, the guys I talk to..they played for Bo Schembechler so they respect that position.”
- Then there was this:
Hooley: “Do you think if Michigan loses the game Saturday, do you see any way Rich is not there next year?”
Morris: “[long pause] You know that’s tough. You know what? I think what people want is Michigan football. They want hard fought plays. They want a team that goes out there and that performs at the highest level and give everything they got, win or lose. And then you just let the chips fall where they may.”
Hooley: “Do you think that’s what they’re getting now?”
Morris: “Well…[pause]…not all the time Bruce. I don’t think so but I’ll tell you what..”
Hooley: “It’s hard to say that when they are 1-6 in the Big Ten I’m sure.”
Morris: “Right. It’s tough. But you know what? Are they getting better? Yes. Do I see them getting better? Yes. But I’m not your typical fan. I’m not the guy that’s going to be watching for the long plays and everything. I’m watching the guys up front; I’m seeing what they’re doing. I know what we have and I know what these guys are capable of doing.”
- Hooley then asks about Harbaugh. He starts by asking Morris if Harbaugh’s comments (about athletics and academics at Michigan) would be “a stumbling block that Jim Harbaugh could not get over to become Michigan’s next head coach?”
Morris: “Jim Harbaugh is the head football coach for Stanford. If we were to go a different direction and Jim Harbaugh becomes the Michigan coach, he’d be a welcome addition. But right now, it’s Rich Rodriguez. It’s Rich Rodriguez right now and that’s who we’re behind. So, if you want to talk about Jim Harbaugh, I think Jim Harbaugh’s doing a wonderful job at Stanford and like you say, he’s beat USC two out of the three years he’s been there, which is great. Makes great for the resume. But until Rich Rodriguez is fired, or he resigns or whatever, I’m not going to talk about Jim Harbaugh being in the Michigan family as the head football coach, but he was a great quarterback here.”
Hooley: “If Rich was fired, would Harbaugh be a popular choice?”
Morris: “Oh, without a doubt. Sure. He’d be dynamic, he’d do the things like you said…Jim’s a go-getter. But like I said, Jim Harbaugh’s worried about making it to the Rose Bowl from the Pac 10 side.”
Interesting comments from J-Mo. The biggest thing that got me, maybe shocked me, was hesitation and in the end, non-response when asked about the possibility of RR not returning. If nothing else, it looks his feud with Harbaugh (Morris in 2007 “He used to have a contact here at the Athletic Department, but obviously he doesn’t anymore.”) is over.