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Published: Thursday, 9/23/2010

ESPN's Cowherd visits UM, says Rodriguez's job is safe

ESPN radio and TV host Colin Cowherd visited Michigan's campus during a Big Ten tour. ESPN radio and TV host Colin Cowherd visited Michigan's campus during a Big Ten tour.

ANN ARBOR — Colin Cowherd has job security, and if we are to agree with the polarizing talk show host's forecast for the University of Michigan football program, then Wolverine coach Rich Rodriguez should be safely employed for the foreseeable future too.

Cowherd was on Michigan's campus Wednesday to host his two ESPN shows during the second to last leg of his tour of four Big Ten universities. On a temporary stage before a smattering of fans — of both UM and his shows — Cowherd did three hours of radio from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. before returning at 4 p.m. for SportsNation, a TV show he co-hosts with Michelle Beadle.

The shows were performed at Ingalls Mall, which isn't a shopping destination, but a grassy area on campus.

“You know what job security is? Hosting a radio show by myself,” Cowherd told The Blade while eating lunch between shows. “When I go into contract [negotiations] I know you have to hire two of me, two 401(k)s, two life insurances, two salaries, two egos. With me you just get one idiot.”

Cowherd, 46, says he loves visiting Ann Arbor because the city is “so culturally and socially cool” and because it is within 20 minutes of an airport. He also is a believer in Rodriguez and that the coach is guiding the program in a positive direction.

“I do and I did last year, and I was the only person at ESPN that did,” Cowherd said. “Now defensively, they just don't have enough guys than can make plays in space. They have some size where they don't want it and some speed where they need size. But the key is, offensively they are absolutely viable.”

Rodriguez was cheered by Michigan students as he arrived to the set at 12:30 p.m. for an interview with Cowherd. The two spoke about, among other topics, outsiders piling on the program's troubles the past few years, the rivalry with Ohio State, and the development of quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier.

The No. 20 Wolverines, fresh off an ugly performance against Massachusetts, will host Bowling Green on Saturday in their final nonconference game.

Cowherd said UM's football program is somewhat disadvantaged because of the university's stringent admission standards, adding that unlike other major programs, the Wolverines generally cannot accept junior college transfers. Cowherd said UM can compensate with its pitch of a quality education and a beautiful city.

“It's not a football factory,” Cowherd said. “It's a great school that wins a lot of games.”

Cowherd and his staff were expected to fly to State College, Pa., Wednesday night for Thursday's shows at Penn State. They were at Wisconsin on Monday and Iowa on Tuesday.

“It's a little bit like a rock tour because we've had bad weather — got knocked off the air today on radio, yesterday on TV,” Cowherd said. “When you travel and you get out of the studio, it's not perfect.”

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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