UM-OSU rivalry not lost on Rodriguez, OK?

November, 17, 2009
11/17/09
5:00
PM ET
You could hear the frustration in Rich Rodriguez's voice Monday when he once again had to reiterate the obvious.

Michigan-Ohio State is a big deal. Um, yeah.

"Just because I did not coach here before, I did not play here, I'm not from the state of Michigan, doesn't mean I don't understand the rivalry," Rodriguez said. "I understand it as well as any coach can understand it. I've only [coached] in it in one game. Trust me, I understand the importance of the rivalry."

The fact that Rodriguez has to keep defending himself on this issue is ridiculous, and it perpetuates the argument that Michigan will always be skeptical of anyone outside the fraternity.

Yes, Rodriguez has changed some time-honored traditions (the way captains are picked, etc.) at Michigan. There's a different feeling around the program, one that many don't like. But he's not stupid or blind to the obvious. He knows Ohio State isn't just another game.

Rodriguez has repeatedly told the story of having a "Beat Ohio State" button slipped inside his coat pocket before his introductory news conference as Michigan's head coach in December 2007.

How many more times do people need to hear it?

I asked Rodriguez on Tuesday if he looked forward to the day when he wouldn't have to prove he understood the rivalry.

"It's kind of amusing," he said. "I kind of expected it the first year, coming from outside. But even then it was like, 'Geez, I think anybody in college football understands it.' And certainly after you’re here a while, whether you’re here a year or a month or a day, you’re going to hear about the rivalry and the importance of this ballgame.

"It'll pass in time, I'm sure."

Perhaps only after he beats the Buckeyes.

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