Jim Harbaugh, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Why is Michigan in no hurry to name a coach for the 2011 season?
There are several reasons. Athletic director Dave Brandon, who will make the call on Rodriguez's future, won't make a decision until after the Wolverines' Jan. 1 Gator Bowl matchup against Mississippi State. The New Year is significant for another reason: After Jan. 1, the buyout of Rodriguez's contract decreases from $4 million to $2.5 million.
But money likely has nothing to do with the decision. In fact, terms of Rodriguez's contract call for him to have 30 days written notice of the termination, according to M Victors.
The root of the decision reaches all the way to California, where Stanford's Harbaugh and San Diego State's Hoke have used the uncertainty surrounding Rodriguez to negotiate bigger and better deals from their current employers.
Which doesn't guarantee that Harbaugh, a former Wolverine quarterback, and Hoke, a former Michigan assistant, would pass on an opportunity to return to Ann Arbor.
Michigan's search for Lloyd Carr's successor after the 2007 season turned into an embarrassment when Les Miles, who was candidate No. 1, turned down the job after agreeing to a new deal with Louisiana State. Miles was a Michigan man, having played and coached at the school, and Bill Martin, who was the Wolverine athletic director, had no backup plan.
That led to the hiring of Rich Rod, an outsider who had no connection to the university.
Brandon is not going to repeat that mistake. He'll fire Rodriguez only if he has assurances that either Harbaugh or Hoke will take the job.