Wanted to throw some numbers and charts up to look at the six candidates Brian outlined, the two that are in the media but off of his list and the dream candidate who won’t quite go away.
For the uninitiated or the those who used to know but haven’t seen anything for the last month or two (which would be all of you!) all numbers are in PAN, Points Above Normal. 0 is average +5 is really good and anything over +10 is incredible. It is adjusted for opponent/strength of schedule. The data I have goes back to the 2003 season but nothing before.
Coaches will appear in the order that Brian had them ranked. I looked at each coach versus who the program did in the two years preceding their arrival and the two years after in the case of departure. Where they were coordinators in some cases, I looked only at the appropriate side of the ball. Caveats apply in all situations depending on who was hired before or after. Stan Parrish can make my 2 year old son look like he can coach football but following a national championship season under Nick Saban is a tough act to follow.
#1 – Dan Mullen
Big increases in year 1 and from year to year 2. The offense improved by 3 points immediately in year 1 but stayed flat into year 2. The defense jumped 2 points in the first year and 4 more in year 2. Based on the Miss St experience, Mullen’s team has shown dramatic improvement, but not a ton (except against us) on his historical side of the ball.
Gaps between pre and post are pretty strong but asterisks abound on this one. First of all three of the four years Mullen was at Florida, they had this guy you might have heard of playing quarterback. At least he used the talent there as the cupboard was far from bare the last two years when the performance regressed significantly.
Utah was a similar story going from nearly +9 in 2003-04 to +3 in the two years after his (and Urban Meyer and Alex Smith’s) departure.
Lots of caveats apply but the guy can clearly coach with proven improvements at every stop and drop offs after his departure.
#2 – Pat Fitzgerald
Obviously off the table at this point. His numbers were nothing impressive but his “luck” has been off the chart. Northwestern finished this past year #1 in my annual luck rankings (luck = actual wins vs. statistical expectation) and is a clear number one over the last five years. NW has been the only team in the country to exceed expectation by at least a game each of the last five years and has been first or second nationally in three of the last four years. Guy is doing something right.
#3 – Gary Patterson
TCU total team PAN:
Patterson’s been at TCU as long as I have data for so their are no comparisons but the team has made consistent improvement over the years. Even though the program was ranked the year before he took over, it was the only time in 40 years that TCU had finished in the top 25 and they have been in the top 25 7 of 9 years and will probably be top 3 at the end of this year’s Rose Bowl winning run.
My personal first choice, FWIW.
#4 – Charlie Strong
Only one season, that followed the immortal Kragthorpe and always be wary when N=1, but man, that was a nice season Strong’s Cardinals put together.
Improvements of at least 4 points in all three phases of the game. Went from 104th in 2009 to 44th in 2010.
Florida saw a dropoff in their first year without Strong from +7 to +4 but also lost a host of talent from the previous year’s squad. One season means a change is highly unlikely and the results above may be an aberration but it’s about as good as you can expect for a one year change.
#5 – Chris Petersen
Another highly unlikely candidate but has certainly taken Boise to new heights after the foundation had been laid. As head coach he took the offense that he formerly coordinated from +4 to +6 but showed he knew both sides by overseeing a climb from +1 on defense to +6. Has a number of big institutional advantages but has exceeded the progress of those before him.
#6 – Kyle Whittingham
Haven’t heard much on Coach Whittingham and the move to the Pac-12 makes it that much less unlikely. Probably the toughest comp of the bunch being preceded by Urban Meyer and an undefeated season. Has shown modest improvements on defense and special teams since taking over but hasn’t been able to recreate any of the offensive magic of the Meyer/Mullen/Smith.
“Michigan Man” #1 – Brady Hoke
Better than I expected, actually. Slow steady growth taking the program from terrible to average over four years and then a big leap forward. The team obviously fell apart in two years under Parrish. The good news is that the team progressed well over a long period of time, the bad news is that during all the period at the helm, Hoke only produced one above average team.
San Diego St has shown nice improvement during Hoke’s time there. The Aztecs have improved by over 7 points each of the last two seasons. The big jump has been repairing a terrible defense (-11 in two preceding years) and turning them into an above average group by year 2. The offense has improved as well, but the majority of change has been driven by the defense.
“Michigan Man” #2 – Les Miles
Miles has been at LSU a while now and the comps are a little tougher. His Bayou Bengals have averaged +10 a season, the 10th highest program average over the same span. This is actually a decrease from what they have achieved in the two years prior, which includes the aforementioned Saban National Championship.
Oklahoma St saw a drop-off upon his departure. The Cowboys were +7 in 2003-04 under Miles and fell to +2 in Mike “I’m a Man” Gundy’s first two seasons.
What’s Your Deal – Jim Harbaugh
hitting refresh to check if status has changed
Michigan may or may not be out on this one, but the Harbaugh effect on Stanford has been impressive.
Improvement has come each and every year with big jumps in the last two. The only question might be defensively as the year’s squad was decent after two really bad years under Harbaugh.
What does it mean?
Heck if I know, this whole thing has turned into a disaster. Strong, Mullen and Patterson all seem like very good long-term prospects if we can get one of them. Obviously Harbaugh is first choice if Brandon can pull a coup. Miles would probably appease enough of the base in the short term but doesn’t have the upside of some of the other candidates. Hoke at least has indications he could be good, but there is also huge risk involved hiring someone’s who’s success is so limited at such lower levels.
Sorry I don’t have anything to satisfy the “who is going to be” question but hopefully this sheds some light on the pros and cons of the names being thrown around these parts.
On a peronsal note, probably won’t see many more posts from me in the offseason and very low likelihood next season. Just found out this week that my wife is having triplets this summer so I’ll be lucky if I even get to watch any games this fall!
Part of me just wants to wallow in despair and ice my soul dong, but at the same time I just can’t overcome the urge to post my thoughts about the past couple of months in UM football. And since I’m more an REM fan than a Smith’s, this post is sprinkled with a couple of my favorite tunes’ names.
**NOTE: Depending on your office culture, there might be a few NSFW-ish memes here. Nothing epic or pornish (sorry), but you’ve been warned.
Shiny Happy People
After the Purdue game, my feelings about the team were shared by a bulk of the UM community – namely, .
Or, in words, excited about being 7-3, dreaming of possibly splitting with Wiscy and OSU, and finally ending the constant speculation swirling around RR and the team’s coaching staff. Sure, it felt like a bit of a smokescreen – this team was still worked over by MSU-Iowa-PSU that left me with a bad case of the – but I definitely felt that with Robinson and co. putting up record-breaking offensive numbers the season had taken on a feeling.
Plus, the wins, the offensive resurgence, and the uptick in recruiting they brought pointed to something greater – a sense that UM fans no longer needed to worry about rogue newspapers flailing about with half-cooked exposes, of turning on your television and seeing some smug talking head on ESPN crow about the “fall of Michigan” and how Rich Rodriguez was “definitely” on the outs, of scrolling through the blogs and Twitter with baited breath lest another player on the 2-deep tears tendons in his knee, fails to make the grade, or simply wants to leave. For the first time in 3 years, fans could finally look in the mirror and say .
Losing My Religion
…er, Ann Arbor, reality did not mesh with this dream scenario of a return to normalcy for fans of the Maize and Blue. While the offense had made definite strides under RR, the defense under this dapper gentleman had badly regressed even from the historically-bad standards of the previous two years. By any metric, this was one of the worst defenses in college football, and watching them every week made me so….
Yeah, I conveniently overlooked the fact that in order for there to be an historic 67-65 win over the Illini UM had to give up 65 points (!!!111!!11!!) in the process, or the fact that the Purdue ’s were calling key screen passes between their 3rd and 4th QBs. And yeah, Wisconsin and OSU still outclassed UM from a talent standpoint and would provide the staunchest tests yet for this fledgling offense, but still, nobody had really shut down UM’s offense yet, and when the game gets up to the 30-40 point range anything can happen. So really, what was wrong with a little bit of homerish optimism in an upset?
What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
I don’t (and won’t) need to recap what happened in gory detail, but let’s just say that phrases like “ that was a horrible series for the offense” and “GERG, ” were frequently typed, tweeted, uttered and sworn over those last two weeks. At some point during the second half of the Wisconsin game, I thought that jewel thieves were breaking into my house and had simply ed a single run play and set it on a loop on my TV to distract me. And if that shellacking wasn’t enough of a wake-up call to the UM faithful that this team was not ready for prime-time, the demolition by OSU the following week drove the point home that if you are an above-average offense against UM’s defense. Fans were left feeling , though not so much because of the defense’s shortcomings (by that point, nobody expected anything from the unit), but because the offense suddenly went from to .
And despite the mountain of factors and valid arguments explaining why this team was going to struggle against elite competition, and in spite of the very positive fact that it was going to be playing a NYD bowl game against a legit SEC team for the first time since…well, the last time they played a NYD bowl game against a legit SEC team, one couldn’t ignore the reality that it was another year of against marque teams not named Notre Dame while the fanbase yearned for a season .
Despite the thumping at the end of the season, at least this season had an expiration date beyond Thanksgiving, and after the past two years that felt like a win. Of course, this was all overshadowed by the rumors surrounding RR’s potential termination and the deafening silence coming from AD David Brandon on the matter beyond “I’m evaluating the team as a whole.” This led to a clear distinction amongst fans – one side felt that and Brandon either relieve RR of his coaching duties or publicly support his continued employment, and the other side that felt rushing to a decision was too reactionary and that a more measured approach was necessary. All would acknowledge, though, that the uncertainty surrounding the program had an adverse effect on recruiting, as everyone was , hide your recruits from other schools poaching them. Committed kids like Dee Hart started to look elsewhere while recruits like Zettel chose other programs (at least in part) because they weren’t sure if RR was going to be there next year, and frankly it was hard to blame them.
Of course, this led to an unrelenting number of commentators and pundits creating
Even venerable MGoBlog, wasn’t immune, leading the creation of the CC tag for posts about a potential coaching change as a means of identifying at least some of the rampant speculation surrounding the head man for the Wolverines. And this level of confusion/misinformation wasn’t limited to traditional media sources; while bloggers called for their readers to , it was clear that nobody knew what was going to happen to the Michigan program, and that probably included Brandon. It was enough to make
What made the situation even worse was the poor planning that had seemingly been put toward a potential coaching search by those in the UM family, with the groupthink being that that Harbaugh was the guy and he would jump at the opportunity to coach his alma mater despite evidence that UM wasn’t the most attractive offer on the table. For all the UM fans had taken in recent years from Notre Dame’s schizophrenic coaching decisions, the botched handling of the situation so far by the AD left me wondering if this wasn’t that far off.
Hey, remember that bowl game UM was going to play? Remember how everyone was excited that the team would have 15 more practices to prepare, and how it would allow the coaching staff (especially GERG) to focus on a single team and really prepare for everything, possibly leading to the type of competent defensive effort this team hasn’t displayed since UConn to start the season (the only other time when the staff had over a month to prepare)? It wasn’t rocket-; you made the Bulldogs pay for blitzing on offense and brought the pressure on defense. Honestly, a brain-damaged Capuchin monkey with a smartphone could have figured that out. Yeah, about that…
. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too crude. It wasn’t quite prison-shower-scene style, but more like …. UM was dominated by the Bulldogs in a way that was more shocking than even what Wiscy and OSU had done in previous games because while those teams were a combined 22-2 and 2 of the best 7-8 teams in the country, MSU was a very beatable SEC team that (thanks in large part to MGoBlog’s obsessive analysis) had clearly defined faults that could be exploited.
Yeah, apparently this was all news to the coaching staff. After the first quarter the offense couldn’t score (thanks in no small part to the realization that even chip-shot FGs were full of ), and the defense was thrashed AGAIN with minimal resistance. It was the worst bowl loss in UM history, yet another chink in the once-impenetrable armor that surrounded the University of Michigan football program. And more than the just the numerical domination, watching this team being manhandled by the Bulldogs was just embarrassing – the team looked ill-prepared and lost at times out there, everyone waiting for Denard to just carry the team to a victory that wasn’t going to materialize. It was a fitting end to another season for the Wolverines, and to many signified the final nail in RR’s coffin.
It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
After the Gator Bowl debacle, everyone braced for the announcement concerning the future of the program and where RR fit in. Most expected him to be fired, though a few held out hope (the author included) that he would be retained for another year to see how this team would perform with all the returning players. Plus, given that it was now about a month from Signing Day, it would be incredibly trying on a new coach to assemble his assistants, reach out to current commits AND snag some blue-chippers in a couple of weeks.
Harbaugh still looked like the leader in the clubhouse, with Brady Hoke and a gaggle of longshot , and the sentiment remained that once the job opened up to lead the Wolverines, Harbaugh would welcome the opportunity. I mean, it’s not like this transition wasn’t hammered out between the OSU game and January 1st.
Maybe the first clue that the power of Brandon’s might have been overstated a bit came from the frequent reports that Harbaugh was not sold on returning to UM; that he was weighing options in the NFL and even returning to Stanford. Then came tweets and articles from Fox Detroit and Michael Rosenberg that RR was fired, even though there had been no official word and wouldn’t be for at least one more day. This was an obvious formality and not a stay of execution for the Rodriguez era, and on Wednesday Brandon officially announced the termination.
Bang and Blame
So now a “national coaching search” begins on January 5th - ಠ_ಠ – and we are left again wondering what went wrong under RR and if this program’s recent instability was a blip or if it will be forever.
Personally, I think the key factor in the coaching search needs to be less about bringing in a “Michigan Man” – that anachronistic alliteration that makes Brady Hoke a legitimate candidate – and more on finding a coach who can work with the talent already in place and who understands how to run a defense/hire a competent DC. RR’s inability to find a non-Casteel Castell at Michigan, or at least allow a competent DC run his system, was the main force behind his .
The next coach, whether it be Harbaugh, Miles, Patterson, or whomever, needs to step into this situation and adapt quickly, hopefully winning along the way. Because what this whole experience has taught me is that despite our claims to the contrary, the average UM fan isn’t ly different than fans at other elite schools – they expect to win and have incredibly thin skin when they don’t, are largely resistant to change except if it works immediately, and are only as patient as is necessary before a “better guy” pops up.
Brandon put himself in this predicament by removing RR before a replacement was in place, so the pressure is squarely on him to deliver. Whether he does is open for debate, though my pessimism should not be dismissed as mere. Until proven otherwise, I view Brandon as an unknown commodity as an AD, and how he handles the next couple of days and weeks will define his tenure for years to come. Based on his business acumen and UM’s historic success, I am confident that Brandon will bring in the and return this program to national prominence, but if I’ve learned anything these past two months it is that such logical arguments are
Hail to the Doomed and Purple Rain
As another rabid college football fan, I was bursting at the seams of my favorite polyester pants in anticipation for the 2010-2011 bowl season. Many criticisms have been leveled at the NCAA for the current way division I-A chooses to participate in a post season, many of which I agree with. The players, without them there would be no bowls, seem to be locked into a NCAA led masochistic agreement with this year’s A-list clients in the way of sponsors for bowl games. It seems every year that any mongrel that has a dollar and something to push gets an added bowl. I am expecting and dreadfully waiting for the soon to become real Maxi-Pad bowl between 3-9 La-Monroe and 2-10 Washington St Cougars held in Flagstaff, Arizona to drive home the “stays dry” selling point.
Anywhoo, enough with doom predictions, there is enough doom to go around after this bowl season. The 2010-11 bowl season kicked off in New Mexico. The Mormons of BYU versus the upstart UTEP Miners. The result of this dull game gave a menacing outlook for the rest of the bowls. After cashing in a lackluster performance in the regular season, the Mormons pulverized UTEP into smithereens. I of course picked UTEP in a friendly college bowl pool. No worries, 34 more bowls to go, and a heavy stash of mood and reality enhancers to get me through it.
As the appetizers of the bowl season rolled on, I realized that I judged this bowl season about as right as those taking Jim Cramer’s advice on Bear Stearns did. Not only did the teams I expected to win, lose, but they lost it in Mel Gibson fashion.
12/28/10 would be the first time for the B1G on the national stage for bowls. The background for this game couldn’t be much worse for Iowa. Players transferred, arrested, and shamed after the swine busted them for a “drug house”. It is a shame, because I am guessing the Paterno household contains more drugs than any early twenties kid could handle without getting vampire bats high in their attic. I of course listening to the solar winds of the universe picked Missouri to stomp Iowa like a one eyed child orphaned by Satan himself. I was wrong, and again I cursed the Mormons for setting the tone. Iowa slugged Mizzou all game long with the use of the demon infested halfback named Coker and play action passing that could have fooled Bobby Fischer if the game was held on a chessboard. By halftime I thought it was over and I might as well finish my drink and go to bed. Thankfully Lou Holtz opened his mouth and I had to have more of my liquid coping mechanism. Mizzou came out, put up a respectful fight with a surgical passing game. Coker, however, would not be denied. It was as if a methed out Mack Truck driver was at the wheel just running over any hippie that dare get close to him. The Missouri quarterback tried hard to imitate Stanzi and succeeded, except it was the Ricky Stanzi of 2009. The two interceptions thrown at the end put the dagger through the heart of the Missouri team. Ricky Stanzi and every other corn fed, long hair haters were thoroughly impressed and satisfied. Could the B1G be vastly underrated? We all here in Michigan nation hoped so.
After a night of total debauchery, I woke to a stern looking Jack Russell Terrier staring at me intently. Obviously the love seat that I finally succumbed to because of the toxins in my body was his regular sleeping habitat. Strange way to start the new year indeed. After piecing myself back together and getting necessary sustenance to carry on, I was ready for the New Year Day’s bowl schedule. The first taste came from Tampa Bay in the form of the Outback Bowl. It aggravated me to no end that this bowl was now on at 1pm. I became accustomed to waking in the second quarter of it when it was televised at 11am. The Gator Bowl started at 130pm. I was in a houseful of PSU fans that had just got done pleasuring themselves over the JoePa/Meyer interview by Jon Gruden. Of course they came away with glowing reviews of his genius while I was still trying to figure out if the man was alive and someone was just pulling strings above the set to make him move.
Finally the Gator Bowl began and I commandeered the remote away from the ring leader of this strange cult, my best friend. The Bowie knife on my side became all in one day a great deterrent and evidence in a surely coming criminal trial. After suffering for weeks upon weeks of coaching change talk, I was ready for an impressive show by Denard & Co. that would have Rich Rodriguez deniers begging to lick the fromunda cheese build up he has been saving them in his upper taint region. I busted open a little hair of the dog and also had a dog wearing a Michigan hat over its hair sitting close to me in case any of these rat bastards tried to go for the remote or my jugular. Michigan got the ball first. I was actually hoping they would go on defense first. I would be able to tell if we had a chance if the defense was on the field first or if I would have to reach in my bag of goodies early in order to be able to tolerate the Neanderthals that surrounded me.
The first drive was something to be seen. Nothing would deter Denard and Michigan from scoring. Not the Miss St defense, not the humidity of a Jacksonville afternoon, not five million fucking cowbells these yeoman farmers brought from their last farm show, not even Mormons could have stopped it. Denard showing flashes of his early performances of the year drove the team down inside Miss St’s 20 yard line. The first touchdown of the game came when Denard tossed a pass as beautiful as Katy Perry to Roundtree. I had about the same reaction as if Katy Perry would have been delivered to me in such a way, with complete insanity and reckless abandonment. I danced with the dog in the Michigan hat (Huxley aka Schnauzer), threw back another Jerry and Coke and got ready for the redemption of the season to continue with the same zeal. It was then bit of a let down when Miss St scored on their first drive. Things became a little darker on the field and in my mind. After another special teams mishap on the punting team, I thought for sure this was it. Game over. Fire Rodriguez and his band of hoodlums. I was wrong, at least for a quarter. The defense bent, but didn’t break and held the Bulldogs to three points. The ensuing drive, Michigan scored on a freak catch by Odoms. I then wondered if this is what it would look like if the archangel Gabriel caught the pass. Doubtful. Odoms is above Gabriel’s level. At the end of the first quarter Michigan led 14-10! Let the good times roll!
The second quarter on brought a harsh reality to all of us Michigan fans. Nothing has changed when we play challenging teams this year. We start out in a competitive fashion, but then finish like a three legged mule destined for hell. Miss St took total control of the game and Michigan became demoralized very easily and gave up. I have seen this before during the Wisconsin, MSU, and osu massacres.
Nothing has changed. Our defense lacked the discipline and integrity of a Pop Warner team, our offense folded in the pressure of trying to make swan napkin figures out of shit logs, and our kicking team continued to take the short bus to Terrell Pryor’s school for beginners class.
At this point I also started to notice the propaganda commercials every break from Values.com that told us how to be good citizens and people. How far had our society fallen to be told how to be compassionate and truthful? How far has this team fallen to be pitied and empathized rather than feared and hated? After a little research I found that the Mormons had a hand in the Values.com commercials. After a little self reflection and mind altering substances, I have figured out that someone must roast on a pike while being shot in the eye with cobra venom for the embarrassment that Michigan has become. Michigan lost the Gator Bowl 52-14 and I then lost my patience and sanity.
After watching Michigan drag itself off the field and when the powers of mescaline and devil’s lettuce took hold, I began watching the Fiesta Bowl with my best amigo and Huxley. This was it. It seemed nothing but evil prevailed on New Year’s Day. The ESS EEE SEE spanked the B1G in an aggressive way, not an exotic way. All I wanted now is for these boys from UConn to surprise the Okies from Norman. At the time of this writing, I have yet to see anyone hit harder and throw their bodies as hard as the kids from Connecticut.
While the game progressed, my friend and I began a lively discussion at knife point on the state of the B1G. In the end I could not argue with his assessment of the conference this year. The B1G had turned into the B1G MAC. Huxley didn’t add much to the conversation except for blank stares. He must have still been reeling from the Michigan loss or got into my blotter sheets again. It could not be argued the B1G was anything more than pretenders this year. The clowns from osu are yet to play, but I don’t expect much from them except embarrassment. Even if they won, it doesn’t excuse the poor performance of the B1G this year. Three co-champs that have turned out to be three co-chumps.
I then remembered watching the Rose Bowl and listening to the commentators talk about purple rain and the TCU defense treating Wisconsin like fresh meat in a maximum security prison that had just dropped the soap. Purple rain, it was more than just the TCU defense, but a weird description of the 2010 season. No one would have have expected purple rain to fall from the sky, or the B1G with three co-champs going down like Pamela Anderson on a random rock star. Bad craziness. Nothing but the feeling of helplessness and shame could be felt from Pennsylvania to Nebraska. What will happen next year?
I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain
I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend, hey
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It's such a shame our friendship had to end
Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin'
It's time we all reach out for something new, that means you too
You say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind
And I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain
I am not a professional fan at other B1G schools, but I am for Michigan. I want someone to roast in a slow painful public death or a good tar and feathering for the final game. I was an avid RR fan, but it actually looked like the team regressed into a Special Olympics team instead of making any progress after a long period to prepare. There better as hell be changes within the next couple of days or AA can expect a revolt the size of the July 26th revolution. If RR is gone, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles in this line of work. He may be a nice guy, but this culture, society, and game do not acquiescence to a nice guy as a coach. If not, the defensive staff better be put in pillories to feel the humiliation we all felt the past three years. I want someone that breathes fire and shoves their boot up Tressell’s and Dantonio’s ass so far that when they cough at the site of a Michigan TD the refs take their wheezing as a fucking whistle that inadvertently blows giving Michigan a free penalty on the next possession.
As New Year’s Day came to a close and I was in the thick of an extreme bender of multiple mind altering substances, I turned to a CNN documentary about John Lennon. It turns out his killer was a religious obsessive fan that thought he became more John Lennon than John Lennon. After finding out about his comment about the Beatles becoming bigger than Jesus, he started a downward spiral of psychosis and murderous tendencies. I then wondered before I slipped into comatose if that is what most of us have become.
We became enwrapped with the image of an invincible Michigan image that no matter what, we were Michigan and no one was better than us. To tell the truth, this fanbase is not accustomed to losing and to see it three years in a row, it seems a downward spiral has transformed us from a fanbase that was spoiled by a century of winning tradition to a fanbase that practices cannibalism amongst each other within three years. A sad sight to see and participate in indeed.
In the end of the John Lennon story, a man was eliminated from the Earth that could have given more to us that we could comprehend. I don't want to see the same thing happen to the talent that is on this team right now. No matter what direction this program takes, I expect there will public execution of someone responsible for our malaise and a coach that will bring immediate hope to a fanbase that so needs it. What I don’t want to see, is a Michigan fanbase become so obsessive that they become the rudder that steers the ship right into a giant fucking rock. That would be a Notre Dame type tragedy. All we can do right now is imagine, but I know I'm not the only one. Mahalo.
This Weekly Update is going to be a little tough because so much can change within a matter of days. Here's what's potentially happening in the near future. With Demetrius Hart decommitting to Alabama that leaves Michigan with roughly seven spots to fill.
January 7th Visitors
As of right now most, if not all, of the visitors plan on making it in this weekend. I have received two texts from prospects asking if they should reschedule their visit, though. I'm going to make sure that everyone understands that anything can change at any time. That even goes for the comment I made the other day about current commitments sticking with Michigan. Tony Posada and Dallas Crawford both said they will "most likely" stick with Michigan. That most likely is their way out, so it's not 100%. Dallas is being actively recruited, so that's something to watch. [Ed. He did say he was "solid" on Facebook today, FWIW.]
Anyhow, here's the list of recruits expected to be in this weekend.
- S Sheldon Royster - Royster will be a tough pull for Michigan. Considering Michigan, Rutgers, South Carolina, Miami, and North Carolina.
- ATH Raymon Taylor - Decommitted from Indiana because of a coaching change. He loves Michigan, but ya know, they might have a coaching change.
- WR Devin Lucien - Devin was just offered by Miami today. He really likes Michigan though. He'll be making his announcement on January 30th at his school. He could be making his final decision soon though. Decision is different than announcement. He's said Michigan's standing does not depend on their coach.
- DT Darian Cooper - I spoke with Darian last night, and he said "he thinks" he's still coming this weekend. We'll see if that changes.
- WR Shane Wynn - Glenville product, potentially coming this weekend.
- QB Cardale Jones - Same situation as Wynn. The visit might not happen.
- TE Frank Clark - Same as the two above.
- DE Deion Barnes - This visit looks like it's leaning towards not happening, but I haven't confirmed it yet. I'll still include him here, just not expecting him to be there.
- TE Tanner McEvoy
Army Game Decisions
There are 13 total prospects making their decision public at the Army All American Game on Saturday January 8th. The two that apply to Michigan are LB Kris Frost, and DB Wayne Lyons.
Kris has been consistent with his public stance, and who he names in his top group. I have been in very close contact with Kris the entire time, and it's my understanding that he had his final decision made up around 3 weeks or a month ago. Frost is an early enrollee, and has told me he's comfortable with his decision.
Wayne has kept a lot of his recruitment close to the vest, but the rumor is that it may be between Michigan and Stanford, with potentially Nebraska in there as well. This provides an interesting scenario with Michigan and Stanford's current situation. I don't think anyone can predict the outcome of this one, so we'll have to wait and see what hat Wayne picks up on Saturday.
6'5", 330 lbs.
I put this on the board a few days ago, but Chris Bryant has decided to hold a press conference to announce his decision on January 21st.
Chris has always been very high on Michigan, and has been out to Ann Arbor a few times. The interesting scenario here is that Bryant is likely down to Michigan, Arizona, and Ohio State (if they offer). Stanford was also a school that Chris was very interested in, and he's aware of the potential coaching changes that could take place at Michigan. All of this could obviously change from now until January 21st, but I think Michigan is in strong position right now.
- The silent commits that I've alluded to are still intact. I know of two for now, and potentially a third soon. Some of them could decide to go elsewhere. They're still in place for now.
- If Michigan makes a coaching change, and makes it fast, there could be opportunity for that coach to bring in some of their recruits. Specifically Jim Harbaugh with his current commitments. I've spoken to a few Stanford commitments that are going to wait to see what happens, and make a decision from there. I've spoken to four, and only one has said he will stay with Stanford 100%.
- Early enrollee Greg Brown is in Ann Arbor, and ready to go.
- Again, all of this information could easily change in the next few days, so don't take it as 100%.
I'm sure we've all had those headaches that just won't go away. No, not how you feel about Sparty or the state of Ohio in general. I mean the real life ones, the ones that you can't shake. The ones that linger on for days. That's how Michigan fandom feels right now.
I hate to say it because I've been a Michigan fan since I knew what sports were. I went to U of M-Dearborn (couldn't afford Ann Arbor). I proudly watch every game, wear my gear out everywhere, live 15 minutes from the stadium, have been reading this blog for 4 years or so now, and tell everyone what my school is.
The endless drama, the non-stop CC, the media speculation, its all a constant nagging headache for me. Our program, our love, our TEAM, our passion is being drug through the mud again. We just went through this not even five years ago. Its painful even more this time than before.
When we first hired Rich Rodriguez and all that came with him I defended him to the ignorant. To those who wouldn't give him a chance. To those who knew nothing about him. To those who undoubtedly posted on many a message board with spittle filled monitors after screaming about him not being a "Michigan Man." I continued to defend him through 3-9. Through Toledo. Through the ended bowl streak. Through Sparty (three times). Through OSU (three times). Through 5-7 and now 7-5. It got so bad I gave my own father one rule every time I sat down with him to watch a Michigan game: Talk negative about Rich Rod and I'm gone. And I've had to leave in the middle of games full of anger and disappointment at my father to drive home to watch the games, alone. Headache.
Now there's nothing left to defend except hope. I want to defend, I want to fight, I want to see Rich Rodriguez come through and bring Michigan back to elite status...but I can't. I sit here with yet another headache. I see the board full of speculation, of the dreaded CC tag, of vitriol on both sides of the isle and it brings me to a headache. Once an ardent supporter and a fan through thick and thin I'm officially done with Rich Rodriguez.
I don't care what name our new coach has. I don't care what offense he runs. I don't care what defense he runs. I don't care if he brings in Johnny Chimpo and Jerry Giraffe to run the offense and defense. I just want to WIN. I want to strike fear in our opponents again. I want to DOMINATE.
I'm sure to most this comes off as my very own MAKE PLAYS moment and I don't care. I have to take a reprieve from this blog. I usually spend many hours here a week and check the main page and the board over and over scrawling for anything new. I can't do it right now. Every single CC and every single Harbaugh or Rich Rod or whatever is a giant headache. I want to ENJOY fandom again.
I'm young but my life is filled with great Michigan football memories. I want to feel that joy of watching Wheatley, my first favorite player, shred Washington. Of Biakabatuka shredding OSU. Of Grbac and Greise and Brady and Henson and Navarre (as frustrating as he was). Of Minnesota and the comeback. Of CWood at MSU. Of Braylon versus MSU. Of 97 versus everyone. I don't want my fandom to reside only in memories. That's what Notre Dame fans do. I want to MAKE memories. I wasn't fortunate enough to see a game in person until I was a Junior in high school. I've gone to more games in the past two years than the rest of my life combined because I can now afford to. The games are fun and there is no other experience like that of the Big House. But I want the whole experience to be fun again not just Saturday until halftime. I want the headache to go away.
There will always be heartbreak and pain and sadness in fandom. Without it we cannot truly appreciate the highs. Fandom is practical experience of the Tao Te Ching. But I've had more than I can stand of the bad for this week, this month, this season. I will NEVER stop being a fan because its just not in my blood. But I think this part is better if I just step away and come back when this week is over.
While I was in Fort Lauderdale in December 2005 I had spent an hour looking for a decent sports bar that had the Alamo Bowl. My hotel room's television decided that it wasn't going to cooperate with this one simple request of mine and forced me out the door. I hadn't missed a Bowl game since I was a child and this wasn't going to be the first.
I finally found one and it had a few Nebraska fans huddled around the only screen showing the game. I was by myself and the next few hours weren't much fun. It wasn't just the loss. I listened to these guys tell me how we were no longer relevant and how we were headed into obscurity just like they were. They kept saying the same thing a lot of Michigan fans had been saying for quite some time. We need a change. Fresh air. Someone with more motivational skill and to quit relying on the We Are Michigan arrogance. That our name and history will only get us so far. One quote stood out because it was as if I was having a deja vu moment with someone from back home. "Lloyd Carr is a good coach. A good man from what it seems. But good coaches will always get beat by great coaches."
These guys weren't being dicks. They were fans rooting for their team and being honest when we started talking football during the game. They even bought me drinks. What made the time suck was that they were right. I knew they were right. I had been denying this for awhile because I always looked at things like they were cyclical and in the back of my head always thought, "Oh we'll turn it around.."
But it was deeper than that. We had gotten behind and truly lost ourselves in that aura of arrogance as a fanbase. Michigan as a football program was living off of old money and not making investments in the future. I could see the trainwreck coming. I never envisioned or predicted it to get to this place, but I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. So I just lied to myself .
Then 2006 came and it played tricks on my heart. One last hurrah before the mighty fall. We all had a chance to watch and witness 11 weeks of what I still feel is the greatest college football team ever to have never won anything. Our football teams equivalent of the Fab 5. They beat team after team after team. All leading up to the biggest game on the national stage against our rival ever.
On November 13th I had bought tickets off of ebay, the most I had ever spent to go to any sporting event in my life so I could make the trip to Columbus and be a part of Michigan history first hand. On November 17th I received my tickets, just shy of an hour after hearing about Bo's death.
The next 4 games said it all. Out coached. Unprepared. Underachievers. Lagging behind even further from the pack of college football's elite.
Lloyd was burned out way before this and we had no plan. Greg Schiano turned us down twice. Greg fucking Schiano. Nobody with any credentials wanted the pressure of the job it seemed. We took our name for granted. But we all wanted change. Ohio State was kicking our ass. The rest of relevant college football outside of our little Big 10 world was also kicking our ass.
Beating MSU for most of a decade and winning a lot of Big 10 games made us content that we were still as successful as the rest of the elite but it was all an illusion. We were falling behind. 1997 was a long way away. Many fans knew this and were asking for change. Some of us were craving it! Then along comes Rich Rodriguez. Smart, football genius, young, but a bit wet behind the ears in his knowledge of the school he contacted about a job.
He came to bring us into another era. The same way other innovators and motivators had done before at Michigan. You had been asking for this for so many years now and Rich Rodriguez came in to be the one to give it to us.
Except when he got here a circus ensued instead. An outright debacle in the grandest fashion. People from within the very university we cheer for, its own alumni started something out of nothing before a game was ever played under the new regime. The seed planted. The media played it up. Our rivals relished it all. The michigan fan base ate it up. The masses rolled with every punch and instead of football you got WWE theatre.
I am not going to beat on too many dead horses here. They are all blood and mashed guts now. After reading this site for the last 4+ years it's probably just liquid. Most all of it has been said by every blogger on MGO in a million different ways. But I will rehash a few obvious points that have brought me to some conclusions about this whole state of affairs.
Rich Rodriguez is a good coach. He will be a good coach when he leaves here. He will win big somewhere else. But here it isn't going to work, ever. Here are some caps -EVER EVER- The ship sailed on that in September 2008. I just didn't realize it until this past few days.
When you want something. Especially when someone is trying to give it to you when nobody else will, smile and say thanks even if you didn't get it neatly packaged or exactly the way you wanted it. Don't screw it up by complaining about the trivial shit.
Rich Rodriguez deserved better than what was given to him. A big portion of the Michigan Football fanbase got what they deserved. I think that karma always has a way of showing its ugly head in every aspect in life and looking back at it all I can't say that this isn't one of those examples.
In all reality, did anyone of you that rooted against this guy ever expect him to succeed? How can you win with a giant cloud of shit hanging over your head every second of the day for 3 years? How can you succeed when recruiting, the lifeblood of any major program is impacted the way Michigan Football's has. How do you get to the next level when you have a hole the size of a moon crater in talent and bad luck as long as I-94 tagging along for the ride saddled with all that negative unnecessary bullshit created by some the very people you are trying to work for?
You don't. He hasn't. You cannot make a marriage work if the other person isn't willing to work too. You can't even correct small mistakes if you aren't given an straightforward shot at it. You can say everything you want to about his epic fail, but if we are honest and really look in the mirror we all know that these are not ordinary circumstances and to judge fairly you have to critique with the entire story in mind. This isn't just X's & O's, execution and on field coaching ability.
Ignorance. Nepotism. Cronyism. They all found a way into Michigan football in a way that has left a black eye on us. If you don't think so then I believe you to be foolish and as many outside of our own fanbase perceive-arrogant. But regardless of how I feel about Rich, I no longer want him as the coach of Michigan.
My support for Rich Rodriguez is no longer there. I want him gone. Yesterday. It is time to move on and I think the writing is and has been on the wall that he will be within the next few days. I used to think that he should get a 4th year no matter what. But even that is gone from my mind. What is a 4th year going to do. Even if he wins 10 games it won't be considered real success to the majority. Because the Majority of the Michigan fanbase doesn't like him and never will. Rich needs to move on for the betterment of his family, his future success and simply because he is wasting his time here.
So I think it is time to do something to save Michigan Football before we become completely irrelevant. I sure hope Jim Harbaugh is coming here. Because I think he is the only guy that can make this work right now. Because sadly if Jim Harbaugh comes to town unlike Rich Rodriguez he'll be treated like a god. The press will praise him. The average fans will all shut up whining. The dirty cloud of negativity will magically lift and he can do the job without this raging storm right outside his window.
I never thought Jim Harbaugh was a bad coach or that he would fail at Michigan. I just thought we already had a good coach and it wasn't fair that we didn't give our full support to the him. But since things are what they are, as a fan of gigantic proportions I am all about anything that betters the football team I have been watching my entire life. In my heart I now know Rodriguez is not that guy. But if Jim Harbaugh isn't available it doesn't matter who coaches in my opinion, the tables will be stacked against them. Hello spiral.. I hope if we get lucky and Harbaugh is announced as Michigan's next head football coach this week that he has us in mind for the long term because he is going to have to do what Bo did in the late 60's. Take a floundering/fractured program and build it back up. And that is going to take awhile. Hopefully by that time if Michigan hires outside of it's own we have learned our lessons and give the next man who comes from outside the support they need. Going through this once was enough.
Lastly I will say that I did learn something from this experience. I think as a fan I am a better one than I was pre-2008. I learned a lot about life through this. Through football. I'll always support the team and the school forever. But I lost respect for a very large chunk of the people who call themselves fans of Michigan football.
Hopefully time and some magical wins heal all.
Go Blue Forever