The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Most of you may not know that I live in Arizona. I recently [ed note: not that recently anymore!] got the chance to see one of the final football games of the regular season for Michigan defensive end commit Craig Roh and offensive line target Taylor Lewan, teammates at Chaparral High. Chaparral beat Lewan's former team Cactus Shadows 45-28. Their team is 9-1, and they both have a lot to do with their team's success.
Craig Roh is a defensive end, four star recruit, and Michigan commit. Throughout the entire game he played strong, and didn't seem fatigued. The P.A. regularly announced his name for tackles and big plays. He was very vocal on the sidelines, focused on the team rather than himself.
He told me that was one of the things that drew him to Michigan, "They treat everyone like family, whether you're a freshman or not. I really like that each player gets treated the same, and with respect."
He also really likes the tradition of Michigan football, and has already started to build friendships with other players. "I've talked with Anthony Lalota a little bit," said Roh, "and I actually have Mike Martin's phone number, so we talk too, which has been good to get to know my future teammates."
We went on to talk about his excitement to get up to Ann Arbor this summer, where is his main focus will be building strength and putting on weight. When I asked him whether or not he was trying to convince his teammate, and friend to join him at Michigan, he looked back at Taylor down the field, and said "yeah, I want him to come to Michigan; I want him to be there with me."
While the recruiting process has slowed for Roh after his commitment, it's picked up for Taylor Lewan. Lewan, a recent convert to offensive tackle, stands 6' 7", 272 pounds and runs a 4.72 40. Before his senior season, he was relatively unknown, but now he's one of the hottest offensive line prospects in the country, a newly-minted four-star recruit and possessor of over 20 offers. Oklahoma State and Missouri are the latest BCS schools to add themselves to that list.
I had the privilege of talking with Taylor and his father Dave. They both seem to be taking the process for a ride, and are excited about Taylor's success. The elder Lewan was an athlete at Minnesota, and lived in the Detroit area earlier in his life. He told me "I'm not being biased at all, this is Taylor's time, and he's going to make the decision."
They both told me about Taylor's favorite player: former Michigan left tackle and current Miami Dolphin Jake Long. Dave told me that every Sunday, “Taylor watches the Dolphin games, and actually rewinds every offensive play to see what Jake was doing, and his technique.” Lewan draws comparisons to the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Taylor plays left tackle, wears the number 77, is one of the smartest players on and off the field, and has based his game on strength. Coming out of high school, Long was a recent convert to offensive line rated about where Lewan is.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Lewan since he was relatively new to the position, but he showed why colleges across the country are after him. He stands taller than most of the players on the field, and lacks the usual spare tire around his waist. He's solid muscle, and has a good frame to build on.
Then he strapped on his helmet, and showed me his best Jake Long impersonation. He plays with harnessed anger and emotion, and more importantly plays snap to whistle on every play. The play that stuck out was when he drove a defensive end all the way past the right hash mark, and would've kept going had the whistle not blown. His dad told me that Taylor thought he had a poor game, but that type of play is pretty normal for his son. "If you watch his highlight film,” he said, “there's a play where Taylor drives a kid 30 yards down the field, and actually out of the camera shot."
He told me he actually prefers playing in the cold, which is refreshing to hear from a warm climate player.
Coach Dews has been in contact with Lewan regularly, and has made a great impression on him. "I really like how Coach Dews treats me, and when we talk, I feel like he's my friend," said Lewan. Taylor seems to have a great head on his shoulders, and the right support system in his family. He's looking for the right opportunity, and wants to play. Roh and Lewan were both recently invited to play in the Under Armour All American Game. They drill together after practice, and credit each other for their success.”There’s no way that I would be where I’m at right now without Craig, he’s pushed me, and I’ve pushed him to where we are today,” said Taylor. Lewan told me that he will be taking one of his visits to Michigan. He originally planned to do so this weekend, but Chapparal has a playoff game and he has to reschedule. He currently plans to visit December 6th.
Michigan has some good competition for this highly touted recruit, but I can confidently say he will be a household name where ever he goes. Both he and his family spoke highly of Michigan, and had some great things to say about the coaching staff as well. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out, and there will be a lot of teams watching his every move.
Update 11/25: Linked to articles on FL CB Jayron Hosley, FL QB Denard Robinson, AZ OL Taylor Lewan, MD LB Jelani Jenkins, FL K commit Brendan Gibbons, PA WR Jeron Stokes, FL CB Josh Robinson. Moved FL S Vlad Emilien to committed. Here's video of FL RB Vincent Smith, Gibbons.
Removed OH DE Tank Carradine (Illinois).
Added AL LB Tana Patrick.
Should I add OH OL Marcus Hall back? He's visiting Michigan officially… and last!
Recruiting board lives here.
Upon consideration there is definitely not a joke about plantations anywhere in here.
Yesterday Michigan picked up a commitment from Plantation safety Vlad Emilien, which is a boost to a secondary in need of some fresh blood. And, call me crazy, but I think there's been a sea change in available information on his teammate, FL CB Josh Robinson, in the past couple days. Much of it is in premium articles locked away from from the plebes, but this one's out in the open. In it, Robinson notes he's not taking an official visit to South Florida:
“USF is still in contention. It has kind of had an affect on my decision because they want me to come for my official after I’ve already made my choice.”
“I was thinking the other day, ‘Alright, if you really want me then why not let me come in and see the school before I make my decision.’ But I talked with the coaches and I feel good about it."
Sounds like USF is out, which leaves Michigan battling UCF for Robinson's commitment, with FIU inexplicably still under consideration. I always assumed USF was the likely destination because it's, you know, not part of Conference USA. Is Robinson really going to eschew any chance at being on a powerhouse team or making a BCS bowl when he's got an offer from Michigan?
Maybe. Robinson's always made a huge deal about wanting to stay in-state. However, he's backed off that stance in recent articles. I'm beginning to get the feeling this one is going to go Michigan's way.
FWIW, Robinson on the two presumed finalists:
Michigan: The history and tradition speaks for itself. I think they have a strong foundation with their coaching staff, and I know they’ll be for at least the next 4 years.
UCF: I’ve always liked UCF, I like the campus and the overall environment. I have a relationship with the coaching staff and early playing time is a big factor with them as well.
Before anyone fires off a "how good can this guy be" comment based on the other schools recruiting him, note he's a four-star on Rivals; ESPN gives him a 79—equivalent to a low four-star—and says this($):
Robinson is simply an electrifying athlete with elite speed … Bottom line, Robinson possesses some of best top-end speed we have seen in this class, and his versatility as an athlete should see his recruiting start to heat up nationally. Great prospect who should blossom at the next level when he concentrates on one position.
I think we could use that guy, yes?
FWIW: I've got him on the board as a corner but recent articles have suggested Michigan is recruiting him at either receiver or tailback(?!); most likely they'll just get him on campus and decide where he goes later if they're fortunate enough to get him.
Michigan's hard after Craig Roh teammate and AZ OL Taylor Lewan, and Lewan is reciprocating the interest:
“I like Michigan a lot. I love Michigan. They’re a great school. Not the best year this year but that doesn’t have any effect on my decision at all. If anything, from playing wise, it’s probably better for me. I like Michigan a lot. But at the same time I like a lot of schools, so I haven’t narrowed anything down yet.”
Though he "hasn't narrowed anything down" officially, it kind of seems like he has unofficially, with visits scheduled to Oregon, M, and Minnesota (which he just took to see a 55-0 beating at the hands of Iowa, FWIW) and then a hazy intent to take the last two to somewhere, I guess.
The general feeling is that Lewan's decision will come down to Minnesota and Michigan, so that Minnesota visit (and the Gophers' late season slide) probably help our chances. Also helpful: Minnesota's offensive line coach just resigned.
Later today I'll front page Tom VanHaaren's article on Lewan from a couple weeks ago, if you missed it in the diaries the first time around.
No link on this one, but a reliable source indicates NC OL Travis Bond is basically down to Michigan and UNC. UNC is leading, though.
Staying in the state that is going to provide like half of our recruiting for the foreseeable future: new guy on the board is four-star FL CB Jayron Hosley, who's had a super weird recruitment in which he has done nothing whatsoever until right now. As of a week ago he picked up offers from Michigan and Ohio State.
SoFlaFootball.com's Luke Stampini on Hosley's state of mind:
Hosley doesn't know much about either school or the Big Ten conference and hopes to sort things out on visits.
He will not take any more official visits (Louisville in Sept)until after his season is over. When talking to him you get the sense he has no idea where he wants to go, but knows things will certainly clear up after seeing more schools campuses.
…After talking to him this past weekend about the offers he seems intrigued by OSU the most right now. He remembers Dillard's Chris Gamble playing for the Buckeyes a handful of years ago. After seeing he could start for Michigan RIGHT NOW, should only help their cause. I also got to think the fact Michigan has/is getting a handful of kid from the same county as Jayron will add to their case as well.
Ohio State continuing to pursue defensive backs is really strange since even with the McDougald decommit they've got five, but I guess spread bler bler. (A side note for the 2010 class from Stampini. Someone asked if FSU was the destination for Pahokee WR De'Joshua Johnson: They lead for sure, but it's not a done deal with him. I think the Michigan offer intrigues him. So there you go.) FL QB/ATH Denard Robinson still sounds like he's headed to Florida: The school that is recruiting Robinson the hardest is in-state favorite Florida. "They call my coaches and talk to me a lot," he said. "They send the most mail and emails and are in contact with me all the time." Michigan should get an official, and then we'll see. New Guys A couple additions or sort of additions: Cleveland Glenville OL Marcus Hall has again rearranged his visit plans: "I'm going out of town Dec. 5 on a family vacation thing, so I'm going to visit Ohio State Dec. 12," Hall said. "I scheduled Illinois Jan. 9, LSU Jan. 16, Miami Jan. 23 and Michigan Jan. 30." … "I don't have a favorite, but as I take my visits I think some favorites will come out," Hall said. Michigan had been dropped from consideration twice before, I think. This guy changes his list like whoah. Last visit for a top-100 tackle sounds exciting, but the guy is from Glenville and has an Ohio State offer; I'm not even going to put him back on the board until something more committal comes down. The other new guy is an SLB from Alabama named Tana Patrick. He's just getting started with his recruiting and seems likely to go somewhere in the SEC, but: "Michigan is playing a lot of young guys this year and I think I could play early there," he said. "I know they haven't done well, but I think that coach Rich Rodriguez will get things going once he's gets some more guys in. "It would definitely be great playing for a program with such great tradition," Patrick said. With Emilien's commitment Michigan now has two pure safeties and that will likely see both Isaiah Bell and Mike Jones move to OLB. With Jordan Barnes wavering (a little; I'm considerably less concerned about him than Peace or Jones), though, and spots opening up on the regular Michigan will at least stay involved with Patrick as long as he's interested. Zippin'. I can't embed this, but Rivals' All The Way To Friday took a look at a game between Pahokee and Vero Beach a few weeks ago; Vincent Smith is featured making several impressive runs. Fair and balanced. In case you ever find yourself reading something put out by Bill Kurelic that's unexpectedly negative about Michigan's chances for some guy, you should keep this in mind: he's a rabid Ohio State fan. Here's a fantastic example; he works for an independent OSU recruiting site and has posted the following things over the past couple days: Five things, one of them even slightly newsworthy, all of them negative. When you read something from him that does not jibe with the conventional wisdom (and he writes a recruiting blog for ESPN), consider the source. HERE COMES THE BOOM. Our kicker commit has a little Neinberg in him: Oh, snap.
Ohio State continuing to pursue defensive backs is really strange since even with the McDougald decommit they've got five, but I guess spread bler bler.
(A side note for the 2010 class from Stampini. Someone asked if FSU was the destination for Pahokee WR De'Joshua Johnson:
They lead for sure, but it's not a done deal with him. I think the Michigan offer intrigues him.
So there you go.)
FL QB/ATH Denard Robinson still sounds like he's headed to Florida:
The school that is recruiting Robinson the hardest is in-state favorite Florida. "They call my coaches and talk to me a lot," he said. "They send the most mail and emails and are in contact with me all the time."
Michigan should get an official, and then we'll see.
A couple additions or sort of additions: Cleveland Glenville OL Marcus Hall has again rearranged his visit plans:
"I'm going out of town Dec. 5 on a family vacation thing, so I'm going to visit Ohio State Dec. 12," Hall said. "I scheduled Illinois Jan. 9, LSU Jan. 16, Miami Jan. 23 and Michigan Jan. 30." …
"I don't have a favorite, but as I take my visits I think some favorites will come out," Hall said.
Michigan had been dropped from consideration twice before, I think. This guy changes his list like whoah. Last visit for a top-100 tackle sounds exciting, but the guy is from Glenville and has an Ohio State offer; I'm not even going to put him back on the board until something more committal comes down.
The other new guy is an SLB from Alabama named Tana Patrick. He's just getting started with his recruiting and seems likely to go somewhere in the SEC, but:
"Michigan is playing a lot of young guys this year and I think I could play early there," he said. "I know they haven't done well, but I think that coach Rich Rodriguez will get things going once he's gets some more guys in.
"It would definitely be great playing for a program with such great tradition," Patrick said.
With Emilien's commitment Michigan now has two pure safeties and that will likely see both Isaiah Bell and Mike Jones move to OLB. With Jordan Barnes wavering (a little; I'm considerably less concerned about him than Peace or Jones), though, and spots opening up on the regular Michigan will at least stay involved with Patrick as long as he's interested.
I can't embed this, but Rivals' All The Way To Friday took a look at a game between Pahokee and Vero Beach a few weeks ago; Vincent Smith is featured making several impressive runs.
Fair and balanced.
In case you ever find yourself reading something put out by Bill Kurelic that's unexpectedly negative about Michigan's chances for some guy, you should keep this in mind: he's a rabid Ohio State fan. Here's a fantastic example; he works for an independent OSU recruiting site and has posted the following things over the past couple days:
Five things, one of them even slightly newsworthy, all of them negative. When you read something from him that does not jibe with the conventional wisdom (and he writes a recruiting blog for ESPN), consider the source.
HERE COMES THE BOOM.
Our kicker commit has a little Neinberg in him:
The final number. Before the Ohio State game I mentioned a remarkable statistic: in this year of safeties living in the box and injuries and a makeshift offensive line and just all-around disaster on offense, Michigan actually had a higher yards per carry than they did the year before.
It was close, though, and Ohio State stomped that. Michigan finished the year averaging 3.91 YPC. 2007 beat that out by six hundredths of a yard. Okay, that's still pretty remarkable. Here's a pop quiz: where does that YPC rank over the past eight years?
Fourth! Above average!
If you needed any evidence that whatever Rich Rodriguez is doing on the ground is a pretty good idea, that should suffice.
A some serious newsbits from Rodriguez's recently completed press conference:
Brandon Graham should return. Rodriguez said he'd talked to Graham and he plans on coming back. Corroborating evidence:
"I'm going to eat it up right now and make sure it doesn't happen next year," Michigan junior defensive end Brandon Graham said. "This is motivation for next year to go out there and work even harder than we did this year.
This won't be official until January 15th, obviously, and I've heard that Graham will submit his stuff to the NFL's draft evaluation thingy. But, hey, thumbs up for now. That would be huge.
Corey Zirbel is done. They'd like to get him back as a grad assistant but his playing career is over.
Sam McGuffie was concussed again. This is not much of a surprise since McGuffie did not return after getting sandwiched on a kick return. This is, I think, McGuffie's third concussion of the year; we're now getting into the territory where this is a threat to end his career.
Eastern Michigan is the third nonconference opponent next year. Western and Notre Dame are the other two, if you didn't already know. Western's actually pretty good this year—they beat Illinois—and they return their star quarterback; Eastern should be dire as always. The bye week in the Big Ten schedule remains open and this year I'd be totally okay with something like The Citadel or Coastal Carolina or Southwest Canada State.
An unnamed fourth year senior was not at the team meeting. One guy with eligibility didn't show. Here are guys who could be redshirt seniors next year:
- Kevin Grady
- David Moosman
- LaTerryal Savoy
- Tim McAvoy
- Carson Butler
- Zoltan Mesko
- Mark Ortmann
- Andre Criswell
Ortmann, Mesko, and Moosman are obviously not the guy. It could be any of the others.
Your OL mentioned as potential contributors next year: Patrick Omameh was number one; he was on the travel team this year and was clearly the freshman they had the most faith in. Number two is Ricky Barnum; number three was Rocko Khoury. Other guys were not mentioned.
This will spur "what about O'Neill?" questions, no doubt, so a repeat of something I've said earlier: O'Neill came to Michigan in serious need of technique and strength work and was rated highly in high school mostly because he has that left tackle body (6'8", long arms, thick enough, etc). He retains high upside but I don't think you'll see him seriously challenge for a starting job until 2010.
The safety with the sweetest name and most ready-made nickname ("The Impaler") in the history of sweet names with ready made nicknames has committed to Michigan($). I know I'm late but Monday morning after the OSU game is a bad time to commit.
Informative update coming.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|3*, #41 S||4*, #16 S||80, #19 S|
Two sites say Emilien is a mid-to-low four star prospect; Scout says "meh." A possible reason for the disparity:
Plantation safety Vlad Emilien (6-1, 195) tore his meniscus in his right knee at the Nike Camp at UM this spring and tore his ACL during spring practices. He is hopeful to return in time for the playoffs.
"Spring practices" isn't quite right: the injury happened in July. Emilien has missed the entirety of his senior season to date. This makes him something of a risk, but as you'll see in the next section it's one a lot of schools felt was worth taking.
ESPN says the thing I most want to hear:
Comes up from the free safety position at proper run support angles and usually can react on the run.
Pass coverage is solid from both three deep and halves coverage. Makes a good break on the pass and times the interception well even though leaping ability is questionable. Physical when separating the receiver from the football. Emilien is a very good athlete that is a real competitor and gives super effort every play. Needs to keep working on strength and tackling techniques. He is a better strong safety candidate than free.
Here's a coach quote from before Emilien's injury:
Vlad is still just really developing,'' Davis said. ``He was a running back as a freshman. I think he has the potential to be just like [current Gator] Major Wright.''
Hey, that's a good comparison except that Wright was a fixture in Florida's nuclear wasteland of a secondary in 2007; with the injury to a "still developing player" I think early playing time is going to be limited to special teams.
We do have some evidence that Emilien has super healing powers like Wolverine (adamantium comic book guy version) or is just a maniacal worker:
“I’m way ahead of track, that’s what the doctors tell me,” said Emilien. “I just don’t want to risk coming back too early, so I’m trying to get it as strong as possible now. The whole thing (rehab) is going real fast for me.”
July ACL tear could lead to a November/September return? I think that would be some sort of record.
More evidence for the maniacal worker theory:
WHAT I DO TO STAY IN SHAPE: "I'm a workaholic; basically all I do is train, train, train. I wake up at 5 a.m. and go train. I run track, too, so I'm trying to keep myself in shape for that. I lift weights. Go on the track and do a couple of 400s to keep my endurance up. I run a couple of 110s, because that's what they run in college. I've got to get used to the college life and make sure my speed is up."
Emilien's recruiting was odd. He picked up an early offer from Ohio State in March and, along with his teammate Brandon McGee, seemed to be favoring the Buckeyes. Then OSU got a flood of defensive back commitments and had no room. They kept in contact with Emilien until his injury, at which point they backed off. Then OSU safety commit Bradley McDougald got in trouble for something or another and got his offer pulled, at which point Ohio State got involved again.
As late as August Michigan wasn't even in Emilien's top six, but then again no one other than Ohio State who ended up in his final four was in that top six.
Other early offers came from Tennessee, Auburn, Illinois, Purdue, South Carolina, Kentucky, and South Florida; Emilien picked Michigan over a final group containing OSU, Wisconsin, and Stanford.
Emilien missed his senior year with the injury; as a junior he picked up 93 tackles and three interceptions.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout lists Emilien at 4.5, which is so fake. The guy has a torn ACL, Scout.
I could not locate any free video, sadly.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The injury hurts Emilien's chances at early playing time; missing a full year in high school has to set you back experience-wise. The timing of the injury allows him to recover quickly enough to possibly participate in his team's playoff games, so he should be fine by January and can participate in spring drills. I'd still expect a redshirt, with Brown, Williams, and Smith rotating through the safety spots.
Past 2009, Emilien's got a clear path to playing time once Brown departs; he's rated on par with Williams, below Smith, and above everyone else at safety, and he's got a 3.8 GPA. I prefer my safeties with a grasp of geometry, thanks. OSU's early and continued, if intermittent, pursuit of Emilien is a good sign, too; despite having a ton of DBs committing they still made it clear he was wanted. Or made it sort of clear. Eh.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Emilien's commit is big in three different ways:
- He's a highly rated safety, and Michigan needs safeties.
- His commit makes it more likely Justin Turner can stick at corner.
- FL CB Josh Robinson might be more interested in coming north with his teammate already committed.
Michigan is probably done at safety but will take a commit from someone like MS S Dennis Thames if he decides on M; the big focus now is corner and offensive line.
We may get some news on that soon. Emilien's teammate, FL CB Josh Robinson, is deciding next week between UCF, USF, and Michigan. It's been the long held assumption of Anonymous that Robinson is staying close to home, but a couple recent premium articles were encouraging; we'll see.
Oh, and by the way, we've got some LOLSU re: nickname:
It's acctually Vlad Guerrero's nickname, but it sounds like a way better nickname for a ball hawking safety.
Wow. I always wondered where the name "Vlad the Impaler" came from. Who knew it was from a Major League Baseball player?
At least we've still got our sense of superiority, folks. Treasure it.
Etc.: Post-commit interview.
11/22/2008 – Michigan 7, Ohio State 42 – 3-9, 2-6 Big Ten
I gave you the emotional appeal for patience with Rich Rodriguez on Friday. Then Michigan went out and got clubbed to death like everyone expected, though the killing blows took a longer to get home. Michigan is 3-9, the season is over, etc.
So what happened? Who's at fault? How does this affect Rodriguez going forward?
What happened. In retrospect the optimism about the season was comical. At some point in fall camp it became clear the coaches did not think the one viable scholarship quarterback on the roster was obviously better than a walk-on who looks like the wimpy guy in a barbershop quartet. This should have been a HEAD FOR THE HILLS moment.
Instead, I saw (and participated in) a classic moment of irrational fan optimism: it's not that bad. He was injured as a senior, he could be okay. He slipped through the cracks. He's a better fit for the system. And so on and so forth.
Meanwhile, a defensive tackle was moved to the offensive line and ended up starting. Michigan lost one of its only viable starters in the preseason. Stevie Brown would reclaim a starting job, and the other safeties would be 1) a guy who had been playing corner and 2) a guy who couldn't hack it at corner.
People say "Michigan shouldn't be that bad with all that talent!" and I say "I would like to see some of this talent!" There is obviously none on offense except that which is underclassmen. Sure, the defensive line is great but it doesn't matter when none of your linebackers can cover worth a damn and the safeties give out long touchdowns like candy. This thing was doomed from the start, and even if Rodriguez screwed up all he did was make it slightly more doomed.
Who's at fault. Everyone:
- Lloyd Carr put all his eggs in Mallett's basket, leaving Michigan with David Cone as upperclass QBs this year. His recruiting was obviously rotting slowly, too.
- Angry Michigan Mobile Quarterback Hating God blew up Antonio Bass's knee.
- Bill Martin scheduled Utah instead of Sam Houston State.
- Rich Rodriguez thought Steven Threet was worse than Nick Sheridan.
- Angry Michigan Fan Sanity God also thought it would be funny to see Michigan fumble every ten seconds.
There's plenty to go around.
The one criticism being launched on the internet and elsewhere that I think has some validity is directed at the defensive staff. They had one and a half viable linebackers and a returning senior who spent the last two years of his career as a LB/CB/S hybrid. Maybe Thompson plays against UW, MSU, and OSU, but the switch to a nickel package against the spread took nine games and was only spurred by a move to a 3-3-5 that Justin Siller shredded for 48 points. Much of the year Michigan ran out three-man fronts on potential running downs and was gashed.
If they keep Thompson off the field and go with a nickel all year and never, ever go to a three man line on a potential running down Michigan probably wins another game or two more games and this year is not nearly as ugly. Is that on Shafer? I don't know. I suspect there was some major conflict between the various guys running the defense, as two of them were new to Rodriguez and two were holdovers.
I'm willing to grant a first-year coordinator a mulligan when he doesn't know the strengths and weaknesses of his players; next year I hope to see a more coherent idea of what Michigan can and cannot do and what players are good.
What now. A favorite media complaint of late has been that "it didn't have to be this bad," inevitably followed by "why didn't Rodriguez run Mike DeBord's offense?" The latter idea has already been debunked here. The former is not a complaint for Rich Rodriguez, it's for Bill Martin. If Martin wanted he could have hung on to an assistant or grabbed Brady Hoke or picked up any number of coaches who would have changed the culture and offense less radically.
Once you decide to bring Rodriguez in, though, you are committed to some degree of rebuilding, and when your hotshot QB recruit transfers leaving nothing behind him that degree is "lots." This is not Rodriguez's fault. I'm sure there were any number of things he could have done better, and that in some way he has personality flaws that make transition years under him more brutal than they usually are. Okay. Those are a sunk cost. 2008 is a sunk cost. This is a sunk cost:
In economics and business decision-making, sunk costs are costs that cannot be recovered once they have been incurred. Sunk costs are sometimes contrasted with variable costs, which are the costs that will change due to the proposed course of action…. In microeconomic theory, only variable costs are relevant to a decision. Economics proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence one's decisions, because doing so would not be assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits.
Even if Rodriguez did run off Mallett and Manningham and Arrington and Boren and various other players and is just really horrible at transitioning football teams, all that already happened. We suffered the consequences of it. Booting Rodriguez before he's been given a chance to show what he can do with a roster of his guys makes this year in vain.
I mention it because the ridiculous "BCS with a sophomore QB in 2010 or DEATH" meme has spread beyond the addled brain of the Worst Columnist in America and to some of the more Little Wayne-obsessed parts of the Michigan blogosphere:
We're predicting a sloppy 7-5 campaign … and a loss in the Alamo, setting up a situation in Year 3 that he MUST reach a BCS bowl. No pressure, though.
I generally like the Realests, but no. This horrible season should not have much bearing on Rich Rodriguez's job security. It's sunk and gone. As long as Michigan improves consistently and Rodriguez strides towards the excellent program he had at West Virginia, his job should be safe. Firing him after three years if he goes 3-9, 6-6, and 8-4 would be the first step towards the doming down of the program.
Because. Because I have to tell you, the state of the program right now is not good. 19 scholarship defenders return. Not on the two-deep. On the roster. In all likelihood, a freshman will start at quarterback next year and the skill position players will be mostly underclassmen. Michigan should obviously be better next year. They probably aren't going to be good.
I'm sorry to harp on this, but in my mind it's the primary danger facing the program right now. They've grabbed a high quality coach with 20 years of experience young enough to stay at Michigan for 20 years, which is a combination you never see. Getting rid of Rich Rodriguez for not moving the program in the right direction enough would be the biggest mistake Michigan has made in over 40 years.
Suck it up and ye shall reach the promised land. As Ninja Football says: WE ARE GOING TO BE A MACHINE.