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To Rodriguez Or Not: A Seemingly Difficult Question With An Easy Answer

CFN's Matthew Zemek attempted to lay a great quandary at the feet of all Mountaineer fans earlier today in his Monday Morning QB article (note, I said attempted).  Here is his question to us:

Listen up, Old Gold and Blue backers: Would you rather be winning 11 games with Rich Rodriguez, or maintaining your dignity and winning nine games with Bill Stewart? Integrity and humanity are supposed to matter more than results, at least within certain parameters. Keep that in mind as you continue along the path with Mr. Stewart.

Now, don't get me wrong, I had to think about this for a little bit.  But the answer was actually pretty easy...

It's 11 games with Rich Rodriguez, hands-down.  Here's why.

  1. Rich Rodriguez wasn't "The Product" or "Fraudriguez" until he left  for Michigan.  He was Rich Rodriguez, head coach of West Virginia University.  Our school.  Our coach.  Sure, he had flirted with plenty of other schools, but we still loved in 2007, almost regardless of what he did the winter before with Alabama.  He was still our coach.  What came to light after the Michigan move didn't change how we felt about him until after he had left.  As far as we knew, he wasn't cheating or breaking any major rules.  He was just getting results.  That's fine by me.
  2. The difference between winning 11 games and 9 games is pretty significant.  With 9 games, you're sneaking into a New Year's Day bowl game every few years, but mostly, you're confined to the third tier of bowl games.  You're certainly not going to be playing in many (if any) BCS games.  With 11 games, you're a perennial BCS player and a national championship contender.  You're a player on the national scene.  When you win 9 games, even though its still a decent accomplishment, you're just not on everyone's radar.
  3. I don't think integrity and humanity really matter more than results.  Sure, you have to have some of the aforementioned traits, but you also have to win.  Bill Stewart is winning so far, but in Zemek's example, winning 9 games and being a great guy will always trump 11 games and being an asshole.  I don't agree. It's not like Rodriguez was out killing hobos and street walkers on the weekends.  He may not have been the greatest guy in the world, but when he's your coach, you don't quite see that big picture.  You see him, on the sidelines, winning games for your university.  I have used this example before, but to us at WVU, we see Lane Kiffin as "Lane Kiffin, douchebag."  At Tennessee, they seem him as, "Lane Kiffin, head coach of the Volunteers."  There's a big difference in perception when the jerk is on your sideline.

Now, before anyone takes this in another direction, let me clarify: I don't want Rich Rodriguez back at WVU under any circumstances.  Once he left for Michigan, the metaphorical ship sailed on my perceptions of Rodriguez.  He is forever "The Product" and "Fraudriguez" to me.  But while he was still here, the situation was different.  He was our coach.

So what is your answer to Zemek's question.  Am I right, or just a heartless dick who doesn't care about the importance of "humanity and integrity?"