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In search of a title

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Oklahoma’s opponent in the Fiesta Bowl lost its coach over the weekend.

Why did Rich Rodriguez bolt from West Virginia?

Watch my latest video commentary or read here:

It’s hard to blame Rich Rodriguez for leaving West Virginia for Michigan.

No doubt you heard the news over the weekend that Oklahoma’s opponent for the Fiesta Bowl is without a coach and Les Miles is official off the hook. Rodriguez has decided to become the next coach of the Wolverines.

In doing so, he leaves a program that lately has been better than the one he’s going to. The Mountaineers played in a BCS bowl two years ago and are back for another this year. The Wolverines have slipped a bit from such lofty pedestals.

Rodriguez is also leaving his alma mater. When he gathered his players over the weekend to tell them he was leaving, the emotions overflowed.

But at the end of the day, Rodriguez had to go.


The reason: even though there are more and more programs that can derail a contender’s national title hopes, there are still few programs that can actually win a championship.

These past few months, parity fueled one of the wackiest, wildest college football seasons ever. And yet, look who’s playing for the title.

LSU and Ohio State.

Could there be two more traditional, more storied powerhouses?

Granted, the likes of Kansas and Illinois and West Virginia are playing in BCS bowls, too, but they aren’t playing for the title.

More than ever before, there are teams who can compete with the big boys. I’d guess there are 40 or 50 teams in college football that you could line up against LSU or Ohio State and think they’d have a pretty good shot at winning. The talent would be comparable. Ditto for the coaching and the facilities.

But competing with a team like LSU or Ohio State is entirely different than becoming a team like them. Look at the title game match-ups over the past few years. Ohio State-Florida. Texas-USC. Oklahoma-USC. OU-LSU. Ohio State-Miami.

Despite increasing parity, very few programs are still in a position to actually play for a title year in a year out. That number is sure to grow, but it isn’t there yet.

Rich Rodriguez knows as much. That’s why he left West Virginia for Michigan. That’s why he left a place he loves for a place he can play for a title.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›