Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports Columnists

January 2, 2011

Dennis Chase: Michigan needs a fresh start

Michigan and Michigan State need to put Saturday's bowl disasters in the rear view mirror ASAP.

No need to dwell on the obvious. Both teams were clearly out-matched by their SEC counterparts.

Michigan needs a fresh start. It's been a painstaking three years for the Wolverines under Rich Rodriguez. Why endure a fourth? There have been too many issues on and off the field.

Of course, the biggest problem on the field was the play of the defense. Plain and simple, the Wolverines just couldn't stop the opposition. In fact, once the Big Ten season started, Michigan gave up at least 34 points in all but one game.

AD David Brandon's decision to not address Rodriguez's fate until after the bowl game spoke volumes. If the coach still had a future at Michigan, you would think Brandon would have acknowledged that earlier for the good of the program.

In the meantime, coaches and players were left to wonder, as were recruits.

I expect Brandon to move quickly in replacing Rodriguez. Stanford coach and former U-M quarterback Jim Harbaugh is the popular choice to land in Ann Arbor. He seems like a coach who could recharge the program and fan base. If not Harbaugh, Brady Hoke or Les Miles could be viable options.

Brandon, based on the school's diligent response to the NCAA investigation into the football program, appears to be a guy that does his homework and leaves nothing to chance. I expect he's poised and ready to act, maybe after Stanford's Orange Bowl game Monday night.

As for Michigan State, although Saturday's loss was ugly, the Spartans still finished 11-2 and won a share of the Big Ten. That's something to celebrate.

What the loss to Alabama proved is that Michigan State still has work to do to play with the nation's elite. The Crimson Tide might have the most talent of any team in the country. They just didn't always play like it during the season, especially the second half against Auburn. Alabama owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball Saturday and that allowed the Tide to attack the Spartans at will.

Bottom line, Michigan State needs to get better up front. Coach Mark Dantonio will make at least one staff change — replacing offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who is off to Miami-Ohio — and I would expect he'll hire a proven recruiter to fill that vacancy.

You need talent to win and MSU needs to win more recruiting battles for top-flight players.

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