"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
Will and Testament. Don Nehlen served under Bo at Michigan before embarking on a successful 21-year stint as West Virginia's head coach. From 1981 to 1984 Nehlen coached one Rich Rodriguez, then a walk-on defensive back. Nehlen on the Rodriguez move:
"I think it's a great, great, great opportunity for him," said Nehlen, who coached at Michigan under Bo Schembechler from 1977-1979. "I think it's tremendous. There are very few Michigans. When you coach at West Virginia you walk on water in West Virginia, but when you coach at Michigan, you walk on water, period. There's a difference. Some people around here don't want to believe that."
Nehlen, no doubt, was a major influence on Rodriguez's decision, and it's clear what he advocated. Bo imparted the above opinion to Nehlen and he's kept that for nearly 30 years; in a fashion the Rodriguez hire is Bo's last gift to the program.
Wither Mallett? "Eeeeek, Mallett" has been a major sour note in the media and on message boards since yesterday's hiring. Typical version of the concern:
What does that mean for the Wolverines' current personnel? It's possible freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett, this year's backup, could start thinking transfer, since this is not the offense he runs. For receivers Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham, both whom I've believed would leave anyway, this might be the sign they need.
Okay, sure, there's a chance Mallett will transfer. But, IMO, the chances of a transfer are lower now than they were under Carr, with whom Mallett had a rocky relationship. (Carr had good reason to have a rocky relationship with Mallett, but still...)
Quote from his father in an AP article:
Freshman Ryan Mallett gained experience this year with the Wolverines, filling in for banged-up Chad Henne, and his father said people shouldn't assume his son is transferring because he might not fit into Rodriguez's offense that features a mobile quarterback.
"I talked to Ryan today and he's going to keep an open mind and is looking forward to hearing what coach Rodriguez's plans are," Jim Mallett told the AP. "So, we'll just have to wait and see."
Rodriguez does prefer for his quarterbacks to run, but he isn't stupid. If Mallett's the best option, and given the makeup of the roster he's almost guaranteed to be, he'll start and the offense will be decidedly light on speed option. There are other things the spread can do than run and Mallett worked in a spread shotgun in high school; the offense will be Rodriguez' but the Shaun King version, not the Pat White one. This blog linked a New York Times article from Rodriguez's first quarterback yesterday:
Folks these days most readily associate Coach Rodriguez' Mountaineer offense with 400-yard rushing outbursts, zone-read running plays and explosive jaunts on the perimeter by guys like White and Steve Slaton. While things have no doubt changed a bit since the early 1990s at Glenville State when we were chucking the ball around to the tune of 50-60 times a week and our leading receiver once hauled in 144 receptions in a single season, the fundamental premise of Coach Rod's scheme remains intact: Spread the defense and take what they give you.
It's a chicken-and-egg argument: Rodriguez has not thrown the ball a lot, but he hasn't had a Ryan Mallett to work with. In the press conference, Rodriguez stated he was bringing the system he's used to great effect, but that system is not just runny runny run run. At Glenville State they were 65-70% run.
Fiesta or Siesta? Conflicting stories out there on whether Rodriguez will coach the bowl game. He reportedly told his players he would not, but this story suggests otherwise:
The Mountaineers play Oklahoma Jan. 2nd in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, AZ. The early word is that Rodriguez wants to coach the bowl game.
That would create an extremely awkward situation, but what are the other options if, indeed, Rodriguez wants to stay until Jan. 2nd?
His letter to Athletic Director Ed Pastilong says resignation takes effect Jan. 3rd, the day after the bowl.
This is likely to be a negotiating ploy as Michigan attempts to whittle down Rodriguez's hefty four million dollar buyout. Beilein had a similar buyout in his contract and ended up paying far less than the contract stipulated after some legal wrangling. "CollegeFootballTalk.com" appears to be a spinoff of the ProFootballTalk whatever and has this to say about the buyout:
A source with knowledge of the situation tells us that Michigan is paying $3 million of a $4 million buyout of Rich Rodriguez's contract at West Virginia.
But then they immediately shoot their credibility into a million tiny pieces by saying this...
Our guess? He'll be there three years, at the most. Either he'll do well enough to jump to a $4 million-plus salary with an SEC school, or he'll do bad enough to get fired. If he was ever going to stay anywhere for the long haul, it would have been at West Virginia.
...so take that with an enormous grain of salt. (Also, Mike Florio: I will bet you ten grand Rodriguez is at Michigan longer than three years.)
Fawn, bitches! The national media gives a rousing thumbs up. Maisel:
Rodriguez made the leap. He brings with him the offense he has developed, a no-huddle spread that has worked everywhere he has tried it, from Glenville State in the NAIA to Tulane to Clemson to West Virginia. It will work at Michigan. He will open up the Wolverines in more ways than one.
How big is Rich Rodriguez to Michigan? In terms of the ramifications for both program and sport, it's college football's most significant hire since Florida landed Urban Meyer.
Allen Wallace of SuperPrep in that Mandel piece:
"Bottom line -- Michigan stepped up to the plate," said SuperPrep recruiting analyst Allen Wallace. "They've gone out and stolen one of the elite coaches in the game. If I were a Michigan fan, I'd be having a party tonight."
Urban Meyer in that Mandel piece:
"Rich is one of the best coaches in football," said Meyer, a friend of Rodriguez, whose own spread-option offense is based in large part on the West Virginia coach's. "Mic
higan's got great athletes and they're national recruiters. If everyone's healthy, they're the most talented team in the country."
Michigan hired a great football coach Sunday. Not a good one, like Greg Schiano. Not a very good one, like Les Miles. A great one.
"My first reaction is that (Rodriguez) is a good hire," said former Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin when reached by telephone in California. "It's sounds like the kind of system that Michigan could do really well in, provided they find the right people to perform. Michigan has had guys who sat back in pocket and could throw the ball a mile."
Audacity. One of this blog's main complaints against Carr was that his fourth down strategy -- which can be summed up in one word: "punt" -- was uncreative and suboptimal. One of the things that was exciting about Miles was his balls-to-the-wall approach in the Florida game, during which a series of fourth down conversions, one of them a fake field goal, turned 9 LSU points into 21 LSU points and defeat into victory. Rodriguez didn't have such an obvious come-to-Romer moment... or did he?
In the 2006 Sugar Bowl, West Virginia faces fourth and six with around two minutes to go. They lead 38-35; Georgia has burned their timeouts. Result:
But the Mountaineers saved their biggest surprise for the end. Georgia was poised to get the ball back when West Virginia dropped back to punt on fourth-and-six at the Bulldogs' 48. Phil Brady hauled in the long snap but took off running, gaining 10 yards on the fake and a game-clinching first down.
Obviously this is not the sort of thing that can become a pattern, but a game-sealing fake punt is most decidedly not in the Carr playbook.
Peanut Butter Jelly.
FYI: Rodriguez just referenced the Lion King in the press conference. Times they are a changin'. Sounds like he's not coaching the bowl game after all.
Bob Lichtenfels is inadvertently breaking all sorts of coaching news these days. From a premium article on Nebraska recruit (until Callahan got axed) turned West Virginia recruit (until Rodriguez left) turned kinda pissed off young man (resolution pending) DJ Woods:
"We did speak with Coach (Rich) Rodriguez today and told us he is taking most of his staff including S&C coach Mike Barwis with him," [Derrick] Woods said. "Barwis was one of the reasons that D.J. liked West Virginia."
Gittleson: gone, and with him goes the antiquated HIT system that only Michigan and Penn State still use. I've never known how much credence to give the S&C wailers, but I think we can all agree that when it's just you and Penn State doing something you're on the wrong end of the innovation bell curve unless the something in question is the Charleston. And every time Brent Musberger brought up Michigan's totally sophisticated system for beefing up Pat Massey -- literally "eat a lot of pizza, son" -- I wanted to throw a shoe at the TV, and then I wanted that shoe to magically transform into a defensive lineman who could stay within five yards of the line of scrimmage. So Git gone == good.
Who is this Barwis guy? Well, if you listen to the fluff put out by the West Virginia athletic department he's got the Ferrigno touch, turning everything he comes across into 230 pounds of twisted blue steel. Try not to drool, o wailers:
"I listen to people and they don't understand what it's like until they get here. They get here and they say, 'Oh my God, what I was doing was a joke,'" Barwis said.
One of those, Florida State transfer Barry Wright, has exceeded all of his personal training bests since he joined the Mountaineer program last fall as a walk-on.
"He told us he had never been through anything like this," said Barwis.
Today's strength and conditioning program is much more than simply lifting weights, says Barwis. It encompasses nutrition, flexibility, speed, agility and even psychology.
Fluff, perhaps, but this is not fluff, especially given the widespread internet rumor that Michigan's voluntary workouts were sparsely attended this offseason:
"Today starts full-go," he says of the team's eight-week voluntary summer training program.
The last two weeks following the conclusion of the spring semester was for informal workouts where the players could come in on their own three times a week.
"We had 90 during that time," Barwis says in his familiar raspy voice. "We had open lifts Monday, Wednesday and Friday and they finished last week."
During the same period last year, Barwis estimated about 50-60 players took advantage of the open period. When the conditioning program began last summer every single scholarship player was in town for the entire eight weeks.
Alex Mitchell is weeping softly into his cheeseburger milkshake.
Ryan Mundy transferred over the course of the offseason and had this to say in August:
As far as the strength and conditioning program is concerned, Mundy says West Virginia's program is much more intense than Michigan's. Other players that have transferred to West Virginia have said similar things in the past, explaining that at some other places the players coming into the program are physically bigger and more explosive. West Virginia develops it.
"Down here we do a lot of Olympic lifts â€“ squats, power clings, hang clings and things like that â€“ and I hadn't done that type of stuff since high school," Mundy said. "I had to get my body back used to doing those types of movements. As far as the practice down here we run after practice and we never ran after practice at Michigan."
No doubt this is part of how West Virginia got excellent results out of mostly average recruiting classes, and part of why Michigan disappointed in recent years. The two stalest parts of the Michigan program were its offensive philosophy and the S&C; both of those things have been swept away and replaced by cutting-edge innovation.
West F-ing Virginia fans turn out to be as socially maladjusted as Arkansas fans, but in doing so they provide some useful information for Michigan fans wondering about the composition of the new staff.
This purports to be a picture of Rodriguez, his wife and family, and a couple assistants boarding a plane for Ann Arbor (or Toledo or wherever). Obviously you can't make anything out in this picture and it could be of anyone anywhere, but this one definitely features Rodriguez's wife. These guys were at the airport as Rodriguez "snuck out of town" like "a snake in the night" by taking a plane. It must have been an invisible cobra plane.
Anyway, the two assistants (drumroll)... defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson and offensive coordinator Calvin Magee (bios), which implies those two guys will be following RichRod to Ann Arbor. Which would mean that our current staffers in those positions will not be retained. Which is, depending on the position we are talking about, either mostly indifferent or totally awesome.
Bonus! I kind of hate quoting Anchorman -- played -- but there is only one possible response to these guys, who actually yelled stuff at Rodriguez as he left:
We did the O-H-I-O chant.
Asked him how it felt to betray the state. Told him he might have been born here, but he's not a Mountaineer.
Asked him how he would manage to be successful if he can't continue to live off of White's juke moves.
Told him he was outcoached by Wanstedt, the worst coach in football history.
More "living off of juke moves" comments.
Stuff like that.
ps. It will all be in the Dominion Post tomorrow.
And that is, of course, "you stay classy, Morgantown." Even more hilarious is the guy's signature picture, no doubt chosen to express a preference for a new coach:
The Rich Rodriguez era at West Virginia ended early Sunday afternoon, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
In an early afternoon meeting with his football team, Rodriguez announced he was leaving to become the head coach at Michigan.
Rodriguez walked into a scheduled 1:30 p.m. meeting with his team and emerged 10 minutes later without comment and walked briskly back to his office. Shortly thereafter the players began to file out of the meeting room, somber-faced and generally without comment.
Rodriguez reportedly met with Michigan officials this past Friday in Toledo, Ohio.
Bill Martin! I kiss you!
Update: WBOY has it, too.
Update: Detroit News article; Free Press article; NYT -- not exactly a rock of journalistic credbility -- has an article from the ur-spread QB that's tantalizing. Joe Schad is reporting on ESPN News that Rodriguez will not coach WVU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Safety note: if it doesn't subside in another hour or two, you should call the doctor.
The last hour has seen a wholesale reversal on WVU message boards about the Rich Rodriguez situation. EERHole changes course, albeit not definitively:
From my EERHole to yours. . . Part V
The rest of the board is either getting slammed with trolls or stuff is leaking out all over the place. Bob Lichtenfels at Scout is also reporting Rodriguez to Michigan based on a phone call from OMG shirtless mobile QB recruit Terrelle Pryor. I think this might be done.
Illinois' Scout board has a report on QB commit John Wienke:
John Wienke now heading to Iowa
Since people don't run around making stuff up about small school QB recruits just to yank people around, this is pretty solid. Understandable given the coaching turmoil and not a huge deal as long as Threet and Mallett are around, but unfortunately.
Sidenote: I've gotten a couple requests for recruiting updates, but there is no recruiting at the moment. Several kids have committed elsewhere, but that's to be expected. After the coaching search shakes out we'll see what the score is.