[Ed.: Bumped for awesome.]
For pathos purposes only.
Rodriguez: Trouble at Schembechler!
Assistant: Oh no - what kind of trouble?
Rodriguez: One on't zone reed gone owt askew on spreadshred.
Rodriguez: One on't zone reed gone owt askew on spreadshred.
Assistant: I don't understand what you're saying.
Rodriguez: [slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent] One of the zone reads has gone out askew in the spread n’ shred.
Assistant: Well what on earth does that mean?
Rodriguez: I don't know – Mr. Magee just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at Schembechler, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Coaching Inquisition.
[The door flies open and Cardinal David Brandon of Domino’s enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Rosenberg has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fatcatalumnus is just Cardinal Fatcatalumnus]
Brandon: NOBODY expects the Coaching Inquisition! Our chief Replacement Candidate is Hoke...Hoke and Miles...Miles and Hoke.... Our two Replacement Candidates are Miles and Hoke...and Patterson.... Our three Replacement Candidates are Miles, Hoke, and Patterson...and an almost fanatical devotion to Harbaugh.... Our four...no... Amongst our Replacement Candidates.... Amongst our Replacement Candidatery...are such candidates as Miles, Hoke.... I'll come in again.
[The Cardinals exit]
Rodriguez: I didn't expect a kind of Coaching Inquisition.
[The cardinals burst in]
Brandon: NOBODY expects the Coaching Inquisition! Amongst our Replacement Candidatery are such diverse candidates as: Miles, Hoke, Patterson, an almost fanatical devotion to Harbaugh, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!
[To Cardinal Rosenberg] I can't say it - you'll have to say it.
Brandon: You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief Replacement Candidates are ...'
Rosenberg: [rather horrified]: I couldn't do that...
[Brandon bundles the cardinals outside again]
Rodriguez: I didn't expect a kind of Coaching Inquisition.
[The cardinals enter]
Rosenberg: Er.... Nobody...um....
Rosenberg: Expects... Nobody expects the...um...the Coaching...um...
Brandon: Coaching Inquisition...
Rosenberg: I know, I know! Nobody expects the Coaching Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect -
Brandon: Our chief Replacement Candidates are...
Rosenberg: Our chief Replacement Candidates are...um...er...
Rosenberg: Hoke and --
Brandon: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! ... our chief Replacement Candidates are Hoke...blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.
Fatcatalumnus: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the House of Bo. 'My old Michigan Man said follow the--'
Rosenberg: That's enough.
[To Rodriguez] Now, how do you plead?
Rodriguez: I’m innocent.
Brandon: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Rosenberg: We'll soon change your mind about that!
Brandon: Miles, Hoke, and a most fanatical -- [controls himself with a supreme effort] Ooooh! Now, Cardinal -- the MAJOR VIOLATIONS!
[Rosenberg produces a ONE-PAGE LIST OF NCAA MAJOR VIOLATIONS. Brandon looks at it and clenches his teeth in an effort not to lose control. He hums heavily to cover his anger]
Brandon: You....Right! Tie him down.
[Fatcatalumnus and Rosenberg make a pathetic attempt to tie Rodriguez to the sheet of NCAA Major Violations]
Brandon: Right! How do you plead?
Brandon: Ha! Right! Cardinal, make the public [oh dear] make the public believe the violations.
[Rosenberg stands there awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders]
Brandon: [gritting his teeth] I know, I know you can't. I didn't want to say anything. I just wanted to try and ignore your crass mistake.
Brandon: It makes it all seem so stupid.
Rosenberg: Shall I...?
Brandon: No, just pretend for God's sake. Ha! Ha! Ha!
[Rosenberg pretends to publish the violations in the Free Press using a plastic coated dish rack as a printing press]
[Cut to them torturing Rodriguez]
Brandon: Now, Rodriguez -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by Game Captains, heresy by Hick Accent, heresy by Not Understanding the Rivalry, and heresy by the Number One Jersey -- four counts. Do you confess?
Rodriguez: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Brandon: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Rosenberg! Fetch...THE INFLATABLE MICHIGAN MAN SEX DOLL!
[Rosenberg holds out an INFLATABLE MICHIGAN MAN SEX DOLL]
Rosenberg: Here it is, Lord.
Brandon: Now, Rodriguez -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of Tiny Slot Ninjas, reject the works of Casteel -- two last chances. And you shall be free -- three last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Rodriguez: I don't know what you're talking about.
Brandon: Right! If that's the way you want it -- Cardinal! Poke him with the Inflatable Michigan Man Sex Doll!
[Rosenberg carries out this rather pathetic torture]
Brandon: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Rosenberg: It doesn't seem to be hurting him, Lord.
Brandon: Have you got all the air in the schlong?
Rosenberg: Yes, Lord.
Brandon [angrily hurling away the Inflatable Michigan Man Sex Doll]: Hmm! He is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fatcatalumnus! Fetch...THE $2.5 MILLION BUYOUT!
[Zoom into Fatcatalumnus's horrified face]
Fatcatalumnus [terrified]: The...$2.5 million buyout?
[Rosenberg pushes in a GIANT PILE OF MONEY]
Brandon: So you think you are strong because you can survive the Inflatable Michigan Man Sex Doll. Well, we shall see. Rosenberg! Put him in the Giant Pile of Money!
[They roughly push him into the Giant Pile of Money]
Brandon [with a cruel leer]: Now -- you will stay in the Giant Pile of Money until another coaching job opens up, with only a year-long break on ESPN as an analyst. [Aside, to Rosenberg] Is that really all it is?
Rosenberg: Yes, Lord.
Brandon: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, man. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!
Rosenberg: I confess!
Brandon: Not you!
Bo Schembechler was a great coach and did countless good things for Michigan football during and after his tenure as Michigan’s head coach. One of those was the idea of being a “Michigan Man”.* Now that we regrettably find ourselves embroiled in another coaching search, this topic has been raised again. In addition to former player Jim Harbaugh (obviously no longer a candidate), former assistant coach Brady Hoke has been mentioned as a potential candidate, in no small part because of his previous ties to the university – he fits the “Michigan Man” requirement in the job description – if you’re someone who puts stock in that.
* - I personally don’t think Bo ever intended for the “Michigan Man” statement to have the meaning it is now given. After all, Bo was about as far from a Michigan Man as he could be when he was hired.
Jim Harbaugh’s candidacy spoke for itself as he has turned Stanford into a national power in a short amount of time.* But Brady Hoke’s candidacy is more controversial . Brian and many readers of this website don’t feel that Hoke is a worthy candidate at all but the MSM keeps throwing his name out there.
* - To add to your depression, compare Harbaugh's record at Stanford to that of Rodriguez at Michigan. They are nearly identical through three years. Harbaugh just got a fourth year, went 12-1 with his first ever second-year starting QB, and at a time the conference's dominant team was doen. What might have been......
Here’s the primary reason Hoke is even in the discussion:
Michigan’s Coaching Tree….err, Stump
Bo’s coaching regime at Michigan essentially lasted for 38 years – from the day he was hired in 1969 until Carr retired after 2007. During that time Michigan was one of the most successful programs in the country. You would think that a few coaches would have sprouted off of that coaching tree over the course of 38 years – but you would be wrong.
I started researching assistant coaches over the past 20 years and where they are today. What I found was pretty startling. From 1990-2007Michigan has employed a total of only 26 different assistant football coaches (the year after Bo retired is as far back as I went with my research since age became a factor). I think part of the “Michigan Man” mentality also led to a lot of excessive loyalty. While stability is wonderful, you would expect there to be more turnover than 26 assistants in 18 years. Putting it in perspective, there are nine assistants per season so a total of 26 assistants means that they only averaged one replacement per season for those 18 years.
As a result, very few former assistants have gone on to become head coaches. Of the 26 assistants in that time period, only eight have ANY head coaching experience at this point in time. And while that number might sound reasonable, a closer look at the list reveals it is actually pretty pathetic:
- Cam Cameron – Failed miserably at Indiana and for the Miami Dolphins, now a successful OC for the Ravens.
- Les Miles – Very successful at LSU, despite his grass-eating craziness.
- Tom Reed – A now-retired coach I have never heard of before who was briefly at Miami (OH) and NC-State
- Mike DeBord - A frustrating offensive coordinator for Michigan who was terrible at CMU
- Kit Cartwright – Someone I couldn’t even find decent google-stalk info about who was briefly the head coach at Butler before getting fired.
- Brady Hoke – Has been moderately successful at Ball State and San Diego State
- Stan Parrish – Another of Carr’s favorites who had stints at Ball State, Kansas State, and Marshall but was never successful and at 65 years old is probably retired now after losing his latest job.
- Ron English – A flaming disaster at EMU so far.
That’s it folks – pretty embarrassing list for a coaching tree. Aside from Les Miles, the only person with a resume even worth a second look is Brady Hoke – now you know why he’s a legitimate candidate in the latest search.
Hoping that there were other candidates waiting in the wings, I investigated the other assistants to see where they are now. Here are some highlights:
- Jim Herrmann – Was at Michigan for 15 years before wearing out his welcome. Now the NY Giants LB coach.
- Fred Jackson – Will probably have the RB Coach job description named after him since he will never leave.
- Greg Mattison – Had a 6 year stay at Michigan and is now the DC for the Baltimore Ravens.
- Vance Bedford – A successful DB coach at Michigan for a few years, now the Louisville DC.
- Erik Campbell – A solid WR coach for Michigan for 13 years, showing the lack of promotional opportunities under Carr. Currently holds that position for Iowa.
- Teryl Austin – Was a defensive coach for a few years at Michigan and was Florida’s DC last year. Rumored to be headed to Texas to take that same position.
- Andy Moeller – Currently the assistant OL coach for the Ravens.
- Scot Loeffler – Held the QB coach spot for Michigan for a while and held that same job for Florida last year. I think he should have been given a shot at OC at Michigan when it became clear that DeBord wasn’t utilizing the NFL talent fully. Would have been high risk, but would have been worth a shot the last two years under Carr in my opinion.
- Bill Sheridan – Bounced around the NFL as a defensive position coach, most recently for the Dolphins.
- Ron Lee – I can’t find any information about where he went after his forgettable two-year stay at a secondary coach for Michigan.
- Steve Stripling – After Rodriguez let him go he took the DL coach job at MSU.
- Steve Szabo – Currently the DC for Colgate.
While there are some names on that list you might be happy to see as assistants on the Michigan sideline, no one has the resume to take the Head Coaching job. Maybe you could reach for Austin, but that’s about it.
Finally, I tried to track down former players (such as Harbaugh) that have gotten into coaching. That proved to be a nearly impossible effort via the internet if I had any hope of posting this diary in a timely manner. Here’s what I have so far and could use help adding names if anyone has more info:
- Jim Harbaugh – You may have heard something about his resume lately.
- Mike Trgovac – Has been a defensive positional coach in the NFL for years and even a DC at times. Currently the DL coach for the Packers.
- Corwin Brown – Had a mediocre stint as Notre Dame’s DC, now a DB coach for the Patriots.
- Tyrone Wheatley – Relatively new to coaching, is currently the Syracuse RB coach after having the same job for EMU previously.
I like a lot of the names on these various lists for lower-level positions, but now you can see why Brady Hoke gets mentioned. If you want someone with a Michigan background who is qualified to be a head coach, he’s one of only a couple options. I have the utmost respect for Brian and I usually agree on all of his opinions related to Michigan football, but this is one situation where I don’t. I think Brady Hoke is a serious candidate on Dave Brandon’s list and could potentially be the coach in 2011 – whether that would be as horrific as Brian makes it out to be, I don’t know.
Contrast this coaching “stump” to lowly Eastern Illinois University. They have produced Sean Payton, Mike Shanahan, and Brad Childress – not to mention all of the coaches on their respective trees. In nearly 40 years of Michigan football there are only two coaches (aside from Moeller and Carr) who are even close to having a comparable resume as those three – Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh.
In my opinion this is one of the biggest detriments of Lloyd Carr’s tenure – failure to develop a viable coaching candidate. Perhaps it was being too loyal to assistants for too long. Perhaps it was the coaches being too comfortable and not wanting to leave for another opportunity. Perhaps the conservative game-plan approach limited interest in some of the assistants. Whatever the problem, it has left us with the prospect of Brady Hoke being a legitimate candidate.
[Ed: In case you were wondering what that business about dolla bills was...]
At Wednesday’s press conference, Brandon made reference to Michigan’s mediocre compensation package. I knew that Michigan didn’t pay top dollar for coaches, but when I heard Brandon refer to it as “middle of the road” and “unacceptable”, dude/etts… how can that be? It’s Michigan; we have scratch if nothing else. So, I embarked on a mission with the following objectives: 1) Define middle of the road and 2) recalibrate the coaching salary budget. I have learned, at the very least, a meaningful chunk of the explanation to a few issues we have observed.
For this study, I used USA Today’s Database of coach’s salaries for 2010.
What is Middle of the Road?
To answer this question a more sophisticated look is needed than my reflexive answer: the average or 50th percentile of the population. In Michigan’s case, the population could mean at least three things.
All FBS schools, pop.: 120. Pretty straight forward as to who’s included here. Middle of the road would be top-60 money. No way, Michigan has more money than Indiana, let alone Louisiana Monroe. This population is out.
All BCS AQ schools, pop.: 66. Again straight forward and more reasonable. Middle of the road is top-33 money. A useful benchmark.
“The FBS Hegemony”, pop.: 15 (or so). I have some ‘splaining to do here. Before 1980 college football was pretty different from what we see today: scholarship limits have changed, the passing game has been allowed to evolve, and the Florida schools have emerged. Not to mention the basic amateurism and substitution rules changes that occurred prior to 1970. In college football, anything before 1980 is simply a by-gone era.
As such, I define the “hegemony” as those schools who could plausibly win a mythical national championship in the modern era. To determine these I’ve looked at the schools who have actually won one since 1980, only 19 schools qualify. Of those, only 12 have won an MNC since 1990 and still could: Alabama, Florida, Florida St., LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, USC. Since Notre Dame gets special BCS consideration, they’re in. Then there’s another rotating crop of schools that could plausibly vie for an MNC today (Penn St, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Auburn, and Oregon) but haven’t done so in the last 25 years. Fifteen feels like a good number to work with, though I think a reasonable argument could be made for 20. I’m going with 15. So, middle of the road for “the hegemony” would be top-8 money.
Assessing Michigan’s Compensation Package
For simplicity’s sake, I focused my attention on University-based pay for Head Coaches and their staff (total). Of the 112 programs available in the database, the $2.5M Michigan paid Rich Rodriguez in 2010 is better than middle of the road for BCS schools (top-12 in FBS), but basically middle of the road (9th out of 15) for MNC-plausible schools included in the database.
When it comes to assistant coaches, things are different; unfortunately for everyone involved. In 2010, Michigan peeled of $1.8M in compensation for former Coach Rodriguez’s staff ranks in the 73rd percentile for the 112 programs listed (top-31 money) but dead last amongst the big dogs. Who among us is willing to pay more money for better defensive assistants? No one, I’m sure… /s.
I sooo don’t want to rehash but it’s clear that Rich Rodriguez had a specific vision for what he wanted his defense to be capable of and there he knew just the guy to do it (not shown at right). The word on Hoover street is that Jeff Casteel just liked West FUCKING Virginia too much to come to Ann Arbor. OK. Homeboy earned just over $372k last year. Allow me to visualize a phone call between Rich and Jeff circa Thanksgiving 2008:
RR: Hey! Jeff, buddy, pal, friend-o-mine; how goes it?
JC: Aiight, I guess. I kinda miss my homies and it sucks being Brian Kelly’s bitch, but the squad is doing ok down here and I’m super glad that I didn’t uproot my family to move to Michigan and deal with THAT cluster-[bleep], you know?
RR: Totally... *sigh* [collects himself] So, how would you like to bring your sweet-ass defensive coordinating ability and concepts to ace deuce next year? Our helmets got wings… ah? AH? Have I ever told you that you raise me up so I can stand on mountains? That, with you around, I can walk I stormy seas? That I am strong when I am on your shoulders? That you raise me up to more than I can be?
JC: Yo… get a grip, G. What have those hippies done to you, yo?
I dunno, bro; I kinda like it here and like I said, it looks like you have a cluster-[bleep] on your hands--
JC: Hey, Stewart! Eat a [hot dog]! See you tomorrow, Rich, buddy, pal, friend-o-mine.
Or something like that. By “like that” I mean verbatim.
Gerg was our second highest paid assistant last year at $270k, but really he only made $5k less than Magee. Guess what the top two assistants in the hegemony averaged in 2010 excluding Muschamp…about $425k. We had the lowest paid offensive and defensive coordinators by at least $25k and we were $100k away from middle of the pack.
Nope, that won’t do for a team trying not to suck. Bill Martin made many mistakes, but being cheap is the only one I find
impossible very difficult to forgive.
It goes on. You get the picture but, in case you don’t here’s a chart; gotta have a chart:
That thar is bullshit.
How Much Would You Pay to Not Suck?
$6.5 Million per year, exactly. No less than $5.7M
Jim Harbaugh commanded a salary at that Nick Saban / Mack Brown level ($5M per year). Pretty steep but I’d shell it out this very second… Anyway, Meyer, Stoops, Miles, Tressel are at the $4M range. To be the program everyone
used to thinks of when they hear MICHIGAN--you know, part of the hegemony. Right?—we need a head coach worth at least $3M (Mark Richt) and probably more like $4M (Jim Tressel - $3.5M)If you’re going to beat Tressel don’t you have to, you know, beat Tressel?
As for assistants, the golden ratio fits very nicely: 62% of budget on head coach, 38% of budget on the rest of the staff. That equates to a total budget of $6.5M.
But Wait, There’s More…
I think Michigan should be will to pay top dollar for the ultimate prizes (Bowl Wins, B1G Championships, National Championships). We need escalators for each accomplishments for everyone on the staff. Something like this:
Staff - Bowl Win: +5% Salary
Staff - B1G Championship: +10% Salary
Staff – National Championship: +35% Salary
All cumulative. So, winning a National Championship would increase each staff member’s pay by 50%. At a budget of $5.7M, a national championship would result in an outlay (salaries and bonuses) equal to Alabama’s base 2010 salary budget ($8.4M).
Boom, let’s get to work.
Assistant type folk I’d like to see M land/go after once we have a horse:
- Chuck Heater – Formerly DB / co-DC at Florida; played at Michigan with Dave Brandon.
- Teryl Austin – Formerly DC at Florida; DB coach for two Super Bowl Teams (Seattle 2003, Arizona 2006); defensive backs coach in prime Carr years (1999 - 2002).
- Scot Loeffler – Coached and/or recruited Tom Brady, Drew Henson, John Navarre, Chad Henne, Ryan Mallet at Michigan.
- Phil Bennett - Impressive 2009 national ratings in sacks (3.62 sacks/game), rushing defense (17th, 106.31 yards/games), scoring defense (19th, 19.77 points/game) and total defense (23rd, 319.31 yards/game). In 2010 Pitt ranked 9th in total defense (304 ypg).
- Bill McGovern - 2010 Eagles ranked #1 nationally in rushing defense (80 ypg), 13th in total defense (310 ypg), 19th in scoring defense (19.5 ppg)in the ACC in rushing defense, allowing just 103.2 rushing yards per game.
Everyone but McGovern is currently available AFAIK. It’s guys like this that make me most nervous about not having an HC locked down right now. I’d feel much better about Brady Hoke if I knew who he would have in tow with him if he were to be hired.
Still, I prefer to find someone who commands a $3-4 M salary.
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.