ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rich Rodriguez is indeed out as Michigan's football coach.
Michigan athletic director David Brandon made it official on Wednesday, a day after rampant speculation about Rodriguez's status. Brandon and Rodriguez met on Tuesday and reports had indicated that the coach had been fired. The school gave no official word and the two spoke again on Wednesday, when the decision was made.
The move comes just four days after the Wolverines suffered their worst bowl loss in school history, a 52-14 defeat at the hands of Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
Brandon gave details about the process during a press conference Wednesday, saying he and Rodriguez discussed all parts of the program for 3 1/2 hours on Tuesday. Brandon then said he wanted to take the evening to reflect on the meeting and revealed that he came to a decision on Tuesday night, telling Rodriguez of his dismissal on Wednesday morning.
"I believe this is the best decision for the future of Michigan football," Brandon said at Wednesday's press conference. "Rich Rodriguez is a good man and none of us is pleased with the results we have achieved over the last three seasons, but I don't believe this was a result of a lack of effort."
Rodriguez compiled a 15-22 mark during his brief tenure in Ann Arbor, including 6-18 in the Big Ten with an 0-6 combined record against arch-rivals Michigan State and Ohio State.
Michigan lost a school-record nine games during Rodriguez's first year at the helm in 2008. That was followed by a 5-7 record in '09.
The Wolverines seemed to be back on track this past season after starting the year 5-0. A setback to Michigan State on October 9 sparked a three-game losing streak and the team stumbled to a 7-6 finish.
Rodriguez took over at Michigan after a successful seven-year run at West Virginia, where he posted a record of 60-26 from 2001-07. He left Morgantown for Ann Arbor after a messy divorce that included a lawsuit filed by West Virginia for breach of contract.
His bumpy stay at Michigan included NCAA sanctions that resulted in three years of probation stemming from violations of rules regarding practice and training time. Before the 2009 season began, reports from the Detroit Free Press surfaced indicating the football team exceeded permissible time limits on off-season workouts and in-season practices and training sessions, leading to an NCAA investigation.
Brandon, a 1974 Michigan graduate who played football under Bo Schembechler, was named to the AD's post exactly a year ago. He said he will move quickly to find a new coach, but said he will take the time to make the right decision.
"My timetable is go fast, but do it the right way. This is job No. 1," Brandon stated about the search process. "It's very important to move as quickly as I can. My job is to get the right coach. Anybody who says this is a positive, is lying. It's a negative. The faster we bring a new leader in the better."
Potential replacements have been rumored to be former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh, although reports earlier this week indicated his desire to stay at Stanford if he remains a collegiate coach, as well as former Michigan assistants Les Miles and Brady Hoke.
"There's a lot of Jim Harbaugh noise out there and I'm not deaf to hearing it," Brandon remarked. "I personally believe Jim Harbaugh is headed to the NFL, but that's my opinion.
"The connection points Jim Harbaugh has [to the university] are plentiful. Obviously, Jim's a great coach, has had a great season. I have a great relationship with Jim."
Miles, the current LSU head coach, was prominently mentioned as a possible replacement for Lloyd Carr three years ago during the Tigers' run to the national championship.
Prior to the SEC Championship Game in 2007, Miles vehemently denied his interest in the Michigan vacancy and subsequently agreed to a two-year contract extension with LSU through the 2012 season. He reportedly still has a buyout clause to leave for Michigan.
Miles has ties to Michigan, as he graduated from the school in 1976 with a degree in economics. Miles played for the Wolverines under Schembechler in 1974-75, and coached on six Big Ten championship teams and 10 bowl teams at Michigan in two separate stints (1980-81, 1987-94).
Hoke, meanwhile, has been the head coach at San Diego State for the past two seasons and just agreed to a contract extension through the 2015 campaign. He was the head coach at Ball State from 2003-08 after serving as a Michigan assistant from 1995-2002.
"I haven't talked to anybody," Brandon groused when asked about Miles and Hoke specifically. "I just relieved our current coach a couple of hours ago. I'm not going to get into this game of who or lists. I'm going to talk to people who are qualified."
Rodriguez's tenure was the shortest for a Michigan coach since Elton Wieman had a two-year stint in 1927-28.