Michigan coach Lloyd Carr watches his Wolverines loosen up for practice getting ready for the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1.
ORLANDO, Fla. - Will he stay or will he go?
Michigan freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett answered that question yesterday, saying he would like to remain a Wolverine next season.
Mallett's status for next year had been in doubt since the hiring of West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez as the new head coach at the University of Michigan last week.
Rodriguez made it clear at his introductory news conference Dec. 17 he is bringing with him his no-huddle spread offense that in the past with the Mountaineers has been primarily a run-based scheme.
Mallett, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 252 pounds, does not fit the archetype of a mobile spread option quarterback, and for his entire career, he has been a stand-up pocket passer.
After brushing off the media in the past, Mallett stopped to address the changes going on back in Ann Arbor while with his teammates, along with players from Florida, Boston College and Michigan State, at the Day For Kids event at the Orange County Convention Center yesterday.
"That don't matter," Mallett said. "That don't matter because we're down here at the bowl game having fun right now. We're trying to beat up on these Gators right here."
Asked if he wants to be in a Michigan uniform next season, Mallett replied, "I can say I want to be. I can say that, yeah."
The comments were the first from Mallett since his father, Jim, told the Associated Press the night before Rodriguez was formally introduced at Michigan that his son was taking a "wait-and-see" approach to Rodriguez's hiring and what the new coaching staff's plan for him would be.
Mallett has since been rumored to be considering a transfer, possibly back closer to his hometown of Texarkana, Ark.
Arkansas, under new coach Bobby Petrino with his pedigree of developing quarterbacks in a traditional pro-style system, could be a likely destination if Mallett decides to abandon ship after Michigan's New Year's Day match-up with No. 9 Florida in the Capital One Bowl.
Retiring Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said yesterday he has had conversations with Mallett and his family since Rodriguez's hiring, and ultimately is leaving the decision up to the 19-year-old.
"It's a career decision for him," Carr said. "I will support whatever he does. Sometimes a guy gets caught in a coaching change, and that really changes things significantly.
"What I advised Ryan to do when coach Rodriguez was named [the head coach] was to sit down and talk to him, and don't listen to all the things that are out there. Have a conversation with him, and then you'll know exactly what your feelings are."
Mallett said he has spoken with Rodriguez, albeit only briefly since the new coach has made an effort to remain in the shadows during the Wolverines' bowl preparations.
So while Mallett says he is committed to being a Wolverine next season, his decision could still change.
"This time of year, a lot of guys look at where they are, what their situation is, how happy they are, and make decisions on whether or not they want to transfer," Carr said.
"It's really the best time of the year, or at least that sort of stuff occurs this time of year more often. Normally, what I encourage all of them to do is stay through the spring and see how spring practice goes because the transfer rules are that you have to sit out a year anyway."
Transferring, Carr said, often comes down to the personality of the person you are dealing with.
"Some people handle change and don't concern themselves with it," Carr said. "They just keep going. Others worry and have anxiety."
It remains to be seen which of the two best describes Mallett.
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