It would be foolish to suggest Rich Rodriguez is a bad football coach. There is too much evidence to the contrary.
His three poor-to-lackluster seasons at Michigan were fueled by bad timing and bad karma.
Brady Hoke has experienced little of either.
While RichRod spent far too much time bobbing, weaving, and ducking for cover at every drama, Hoke was embraced from Day One and has pretty much been able to coach, recruit, eat, and sleep peacefully.
A little luck hasn’t hurt. He has coached two of the Wolverines’ greatest come-from-behind, last-second wins.
A victory over Notre Dame early last season set the tone for a remarkable 11-2 campaign and a BCS bowl victory.
If UM should find its way to the Big Ten championship game and another major bowl appearance, the impetus will have been Saturday’s remarkable win over Northwestern.
What connects the two is receiver Roy Roundtree.
He caught a pretty well-defended, game-winning pass with 0:02 on the clock against Notre Dame in 2011 as the Wolverines, who at one point faced a 17-point deficit, moved 80 yards in 28 seconds.
On Saturday, UM was down three points and in possession at its own 38-yard line with 18 seconds to play. Devin Gardner heaved one deep and it was a jump ball between Roundtree and Northwestern cornerback Daniel Jones. One or both tipped the ball, Roundtree maintained his position and poise, reached behind, pulled it in off his shoulder, fell to the ground and held on for a 53-yard gain.
Brendan Gibbons turned the play into a tying 26-yard field goal and the Wolverines won in overtime.
Ranking it on his hit parade, Roundtree said the catch was “probably No. 1, but Notre Dame last year was good.”
They were both magical moments, unexpected, somewhat unbelievable.
“It kind of fell into Roy’s hands,” said Hoke. Like manna from above.
Under Hoke, the Wolverines have been lucky and good. It’s a tough combination to beat and it has re-stamped Michigan football as relevant.
■ A little of this, a little of that, on college football:
Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M paves the way for Kansas State to play in the BCS championship game. If the Wildcats take care of business, including a rugged season-ending date with Texas, they could possibly slam the door on another unbeaten, Notre Dame. Had you suggested such a thing a couple decades ago, pre-Bill Snyder, when Manhattan, Kan., was the armpit of college football, millions would have laughed at you …
Oregon is the new No. 1 AP poll team and perhaps the Ducks will nix the old adage that defense wins championships. They are all offense all the time. Cal managed to limit the Pac 12’s top rushing team, so quarterback Marcus Mariota merely threw for 377 yards and a school-record six touchdowns …
Things can change, of course, but right now it looks like no SEC team will be in the title game. ’Bama and Georgia are hanging around, but a lot would have to happen …
Quote of the weekend: “No one is going to ask me anymore if we deserve to be here.” — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, referencing his school’s first season after jumping from the Big 12 to the SEC …
Kent State is No. 25 in this week’s AP poll, marking the first time the Flashes (9-1) have been ranked in 39 seasons ...
It is less than 15 miles from Kent to Akron, which apparently is the difference between ranked and rank. UMass collected its first FBS win Saturday, picking off four passes and blocking a punt against Terry Bowden’s 1-10 Zips …
If I was picking a MAC team for the poll it would have been Northern Illinois, also 9-1. Kent State had a signature win over then-unbeaten Rutgers on the road while NIU lacks such a victory on its resume …
Saturday’s Kent State at Bowling Green game may be the best MAC match-up of the season. The Flashes have a powerful rushing game and a high-scoring offense. BG ranks No. 1 among league teams in scoring defense (15.1 points), rushing defense (103.7 yards), passing defense, (181.7) and, of course, total defense (285.4 yards). It should be worth the price of admission.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.