Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez has loud critics again

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ANN ARBOR, MICH. (AP) - Rich Rodriguez insists he has great support from his bosses at Michigan, along with alumni and former players.

Like any coach, he has critics _ and they are a little louder now after a 34-17 loss to Michigan State.

“We lost that game so they’re going to come back out and start doubting everything we’ve done,” defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said Monday.

Just like last year, the Wolverines got off to a great start this season before losing to their in-state rivals.

Unlike last year, the game wasn’t even close.

Michigan gave up twice as many points as they scored Saturday at home _ after losing last year by six points _ for its first three-game skid in the series since 1965-67.

“We lost to Michigan State, what, you wanna take me and hang me off the building now?” Rodriguez asked. “I mean, there might be a few people who want to do that, but it’s the same people that probably wanted to do that after the first five games, too, they just weren’t saying it publicly.”

Michigan put up a school-record nine losses in Rodriguez’s debut season and a 5-7 record after winning the first four games last year. That turned up the heat on Rodriguez heading into his third season, and he’s also a prominent figure in an NCAA investigation into how much practice time his players were putting in.

The embattled coach had seemed to quiet his detractors with a 5-0 start this season, but now they’re predicting his team will collapse again.

Bouncing back won’t be easy for Michigan this week because it hosts No. 15 Iowa on Saturday.

“It’s a great challenge and a great opportunity,” Rodriguez said.

Kind of like coaching at Michigan.

Rodriguez was lured away from West Virginia to replace retiring coach Lloyd Carr after the 2007 season, inheriting the prestige of college football’s winningest program and some holes that have been tough to fill. The Wolverines didn’t have many experienced, NFL-caliber players on campus when Rodriguez took over,

“Some issues we have, I’ve told y’all, aren’t going to get solved overnight,” Rodriguez said. “We just got to minimize them the best we can so we can still win ball games.”

That won’t be easy.

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