Michigan fires Rodriguez after three subpar seasons

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. | Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez to take college football’s winningest program to another level.

He did just that, and it cost him his job.

Rodriguez was fired Wednesday after going 15-22 in three disappointing seasons, including an 0-6 record combined against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, and staining the proud program with a handful of NCAA violations.

“Michigan is not used to this,” said athletic director Dave Brandon, who met with Rodriguez on Tuesday and again Wednesday before announcing the firing.

“I believe this is the best decision for the future of Michigan football,” Brandon said. “We have not achieved at the level that I expect.”

Rodriguez, who was West Virginia’s highly successful coach before arriving in Ann Arbor, was just 6-18 in Big Ten play and 11-11 at home. The school will buy out the final three years of Rodriguez’s contract for $2.5 million, bringing its overall cost in hiring and firing him to $12.5 million.

Brandon said he will immediately begin a search for a replacement amid speculation that candidates might include Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Wolverines quarterback, and former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke, now San Diego State’s head coach. A SDSU spokesman said Michigan hadn’t asked for permission to talk to Hoke.

Harbaugh has declined to comment about the Michigan job and a Stanford spokesman would not say whether Michigan had asked for permission to speak with him. His brother, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, said he thought “the Michigan thing is done now.”

“I think that’s over. I don’t think he’s interested in doing that,” he said Tuesday on WBAL radio in Baltimore. “That’s hard for him because he loves Michigan.”

Brandon said he has talked with Harbaugh and “will continue to talk” with him because he’s “a Michigan man” he has known for years.

“I personally believe that Jim Harbaugh is headed to the NFL, that’s my opinion,” Brandon said.

Another potential candidate, LSU coach and ex-Michigan assistant Les Miles, said he likes his current job with the Tigers.

“I very much enjoy where I’m at,” Miles said Wednesday during a Cotton Bowl news conference. “I don’t think anybody has any reason to be concerned in any way.”

Brandon said a candidate with head coaching and recruiting experience, especially in the Midwest, would have an edge in the search.

“My timetable is: Go fast, but do it the right way,” Brandon said.

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