Okay, we'll do the disclaimers first.
- Yes, this has spoilers. If you haven't finished 3&O, close this tab now.
- Yes, I realize 3&O has been out for awhile. I wanted to sit on it for a bit and gain perspective though. 3&O carries a rather heavy emotional payload, so I read it. Set it aside, watched us win 10 games, and then reread it. I was less suicidal the second time I read it. If you want to complain about this kind of diary reopening old wounds, close this tab now.
- I'm not going to cite things with page numbers or whatever. If I miss use a quote, call me on it. Consider 3&O to be a heavily cited work that gets the credit for most facts.
- It's long and doesn't have any pictures. I'm sorry.
Now then, why am I writing this. Because we're not entirely over RR. We have people who still are up in their caves, wearing their turbans and engaging in the Freep Jihad. We have people who scour every word written on the blog's mainpage and ranting at anything that might be critical of Hoke. We have people who take praise of Hoke to be an attack on RR. So I want to talk about the three years of sadness. If you feel an angry rant coming on, last chance to close the tab.
Right before Bo passed he said that once he died, we'd find out whole the real Michigan Men were. We did and it was damn ugly.
In the wake of Bo passing and RR being hired, we had three major players in Michigan football. Lloyd Carr, Bill Martin, and Rich Rodriguez. It would expand to 4 after MSC got involved and later Dave Brandon would replace Martin. However the tone of the era was set by the actions of the first three.
Lloyd Carr is the engima here. He was successful at Michigan. The only two coaches who had his number, Tressel and Caroll, ended up fleeing to the NFL one step ahead of the NCAA sanctions committee. He also won a NCAA title and 78% of his B1G games. He never lost more than 3 B1G games in a season and only finished below 3rd in the conference once. At the same time he took a lot of heat form the fans. Claims that he only won his ring with Moeller's players. Heat over his Rose Bowl issues and issues handling the spread. I still remember walking into the stadium one game and seeing an anti-Carr fan holding a sign. It read "Osama Bin-Lloyden is destroying Michigan football". The dude had a megaphone and was ranting. I just had to shake my head. Every year Tressel took him down, the fanbase got bitchier.
Since Carr has been silent (no comments in 3&O or anywhere else for the most part since he retired) it's hard to know what he felt at retirement. The evidence suggest he was burned out in 2006, but Martin had no replacement plan so he stayed on. The Horror happened and the heat on Carr was turned up. At the end of the day the best insight I have into Carr's mind comes from Bacon, who writes that Carr wanted to name his successor.
Here I'm going to make a leap. Carr felt like he'd accomplished a lot here and he definitely had. However the fanbase was pretty bitchy by this point and a lot of people were happy to see Carr retire. Basically it was a "Thanks for your service, here's your award, door is to your left" kind of retirement. No one exactly went into mourning when Carr hung it up. I see a potential situation where Carr felt bitter, underappreciated and not properly compensated in terms of legacy for his work. In 3&O, Carr tells Martin that someday a MAC team was going to beat us. Basically saying college football was getting tougher, more parity, and yet Michigan fans want to see the 100-0 scores that we'd manage in the early 1900s and when we didn't, we got bitchy. Carr did a lot for us and we photoshopped his face on Bin Laden's body. I can understand why the man might be bitter. Carr ends his career wanting DeBord or English to replace him, but after his last few seasons the fanbase would go nuclear if either of them did. Martin wisely says no to that. Carr's legacy ends him him kind of coming close to getting run out of town, despite his body of work. We all laugh at Minnesota for firing Mason despite his body of work, but we were dicks to Carr desite his. (As a side note I'm using we here because we're all part of the fanbase, even the retards).
So Carr is retired. Burned out, but not going since he was an Assoc. AD. Martin comes forward and coaching search begins. Miles is ruled out early (Carr says "Hell No" and MSC backs him on it, insert various rumors about why here). Martin screws up on a bunch of offers, Miles kind of becomes a hail mary option, Martin goes sailing and can't work his damn phone. Carr meanwhile reaches out to RR as kind of an end around on Miles and so he is kind of naming his own successor. Suddenly we have one of the top offensive minds in the country, a guy who won BCS games with WVU (while we lost ours), and a hot, young name in coaching.
We also have a problem. Carr is going off the reservation here and making first contact and from Bacon's work it carries the implication Carr did so on his own, at at the behest of Martin or MSC. In the Bo era if you went behind Bo's back, you paid. We're now at the point where a future Assoc AD is sneaking around behind his boss's back.
Martin's cluelessness with personnel decisions continued. When he interviews RR he tries to tell RR he has to keep Lloyd's entire staff. MSC though is now taking a role in the process (post Miles clusterfuck) and shuts him down. I want to break this down a bit though. Martin asks RR to keep the entire staff in a meeting with RR and MSC jumps on him. This wasn't something that Martin and MSC privately talked about on the way to the meeting. This was the President having to slap the AD down in front of a potential new employee. Way to plan ahead for interviews...
It also means something even worse. Think about what Martin said. "We love your spread and shred offense and want to hire you, by the way we want to you to keep DeBord on staff as the OC." Think about that for a minute. Bang your head into your desk. Later in the meeting when RR says it will take him awhile to install his system and Martin says that's not a problem, you really have to wonder if Martin had any clue what RR's system was. If Martin had any clue what he was getting into.
Martin of course then lowballs RR's assistants and fails to secure Casteel. So we arguably whiff on the second most assistant of RR's machine (I'd argue since RR is offensively minded, DC is more important than OC. Coordinators of course are clearly more important than posistion coaches). We also screw up the whole firing of Carr's staff. RR makes them wait in the hall and people like Gittelson (30 years here) are fired.
This is a failure for everyone. For Carr, for RR, and for Martin. Carr's about to become the Assoc AD for football operations. If he's so worried about his assistants getting treated fairly he should take a greater role in the process. Martin should be finding jobs for people like Gittelson (there has to be come kind of generic title we can give him, keep him on the Michigan payroll, and reward his loyalty. Barwis is now the man for football, we have dozens of weightrooms on the campus, we could have found Gittelson a place. Same with the others, stuff them in some AD job until they find coaching work. We're Michigan, we're supposed to be loyal.). RR of course really fails at handling the firings well. Carr of course ends up unhappy, somewhat openly advocating transfers, and the whole RR-Carr relationship goes sour.
We know how it goes from there. Freep columnists are harsh on RR, Carr era players attack RR in the media. Martin does nothing public, Carr does nothing public. RR says the wrong things, loses games, and finally Grobans himself out of a job. Plus of course getting bombed in the bowl didn't help.
My reason for rehashing this 3&O content was to show the actions of people and compare them to Bo. There was no "The Team, The Team, The Team". No concern for the players.
First off Martin flushed his legacy with the RR hire. The man put us in the black, he built a beautiful athletic campus. He set us up with the stadium suites that generate an amazing amount of revenue. We have the world's largest indoor practice facility because of him. Crisler doesn't look like shit anymore because of him (DB did it with his revenue). We could afford to offer Harbaugh 5 million a year because of him. We could pry Mattison out of the pros because of him. We have a massive bank account, a massive revenue stream, and top shelf facilities because of him. We also had the NCAA investigate us and a civil war because of his poor personal management. If we had a comptroller hall of fame, he goes in the first round. As it stands though he is remembered for going boating during a coaching search with a cellphone he could not operate.
I love Carr and anyone who bothers to read my posts knows I'm in the Carr defender category. Carr has done a lot for this University. On the field and off the field (namely his fundraising for Motts is really his greatest achievement as a human being since sick kids are a million times more important than kicking around an inflated pig's bladder). Yet when the time came he wasn't a Michigan Man. RR's teams were loaded with Carr's recruits. Yet he turned down 8 chances to speak to RR's teams. It's fine if Carr wanted to dislike RR. RR did fire all his friends and talk a lot in public, the antithesis of Carr. However when our fanbase errupted into a civil war it was the players, the players that Carr recruited who suffered as the program was ripped apart. Carr must have promised these kids B1G rings when he recruited them. Yet he shut up and didn't do anything when the program collapsed around them. It's almost as if he told them "transfer, because I'm cutting all ties and won't be around to help you after the Bowl". Bo was known for walking into people's offices and telling them "You need to shut up". Bo would have been defending the kids and the program. Carr was silent. At best he did nothing, at worst he was using his players and contacts to undermine RR instead of help him. I have no idea what Carr did during those three years, but he wasn't a Michigan Man because he definitely wasn't using his power to support the team.
I'm going to be brief on RR since we've dissecting him a million times on this board. He made a lot of mistakes on the field in terms of the defense. Off the field he really failed to win the political battle that comes with being the head coach at a name brand football school. Yes the deck was stacked against him, but even so he tended to make things worse, not better. For example RR played under Nehlen, a Bo assistant. He learned about "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" from Nehlen and used it himself when he coached at Glenville State. Yet he never told those stories despite the fact they instantly put him on the Bo tree and made him more acceptable. More importantly is how quickly he broke down. His locker room destroying rage, this "fuck you" ridden tirades over his headset when Tate made a bad play. Yes it is projection, but you have to wonder if in year 4 or 5 he goes all Woody Hayes on a DB or Bob Knight on someone. I don't believe RR as a person would ever do that, but people do snap. At some level when you read how broken down RR was as Year 3 went from 5 and 0 to 2 and 5, you have to wonder if it was a mercy firing.
What we see there are three people who aren't bad people. Martin made us rich, Carr did a lot for the program and the school, RR wanted to make this his destination school and cared for his kids, and he did install the offense we hired him to install. Yet everyone had their flaws. Blindess with personnel hirings, a failure to support RR the way Bump supported Bo, and the inability to properly adopted Michigan mannerisms/fix the damn defense. No one is the devil here or an incompetent, but no one is Bo either.
Then there is the fanbase, us. That member of our fanbase who called a regent to complain that RR used "ain't" in a press conference (seriously, fuck you whoever that was). The fanbase who the minute Bo died, demanded someone else become Bo. Then when everyone showed they were mortal, not Bo, and could make mistakes we devolved into armed "Old Guard" and "New Guard" camps. Communist football vs primitive saurian Llloydball. We all agreed Martin was a moron who couldn't work a cell phone, picked a coach (RR or Carr) and tried to crown him as the new center of Michigan football. We also didn't exactly cover ourselves in glory.
That's what we need to take away from the RR era. Our dad died. Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure. Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a melt down. Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel. So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.
As we enter the new era, 10-2, now willing to pay top dollar for top coordinators, with a guy who gets Michigan, and RR has a new job in a BCS conference, I think it may be time to let it go. At the end of the day we don't have a good guy and we don't have a bad guy. Martin, Carr, and RR all did a lot for this school and they all failed it. Any debate where you try to annoint one guy as the devil and one guy as the angel in this era is just going to generate a flamefest because each side has plenty of material to cite. The actors here were all humans who were successful in some areas, but unlike Bo they weren't successful in every area. No one was bad, they just weren't Bo and that is fine because being Bo is a high standard to live up to. As we go forward we need to stop looking for a new Bo. Bo's dead. But a new one will emerge. Just as it flowed from Yost to Crisler to Bo. Don't try and place someone on that throne by force though.
We should also remember how a house divided cannot stand against itself and more importantly how we hurt the players on the field with the whole civil war. We owe people like Graham and Moundros something. They gave it all on the field on Saturday while the fanbase was busy having a flamewar.
Oh and always remember Sharp and Rosenberg suck.
If we're going to keep one thing in our mind as we move forward, it should be that comment from Bo about how we'd find out who the real Michigan Men were when he died. We did and we need to remember what that cost us. It's up to us to keep it together now, because we won't have Bo to walk into our lives and tell us "You need to shut up now".
Okay, last installment. For the previous installments, see: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/three-and-out-100-pagesfor the first 100 pages, and http://mgoblog.com/diaries/three-and-out-pages-100-250 for pp. 100-250. Also, you might want to check out the comments to those entries for more exposition and clarification.
It’s clear that this whole book, and this subject, reopen a lot of old wounds and dig up a lot of old debates. I’ve actually thought a little bit over the past two days about what a couple commenters said, which was that they don’t think they’ll read the book because of a handful of reasons, notably because, well, it’s in the past, and why dig up old bodies, beat dead horses, reopen old wounds? I am conflicted by that notion. In a way, I understand that line of thinking- reading this book isn’t a fun exercise after a certain point because it reminds the reader of the agony of those 3 seasons. It is not a happy tale, and today, we have a new regime, a 6-0 team, and things are looking up. At the same time, I think it’s hard to discuss the past regime, the differences between Hoke & Co. and the past regime, and, most importantly, the differences between the two transitions without revisiting the dark days of late 2007-January, 2011. But the more I read the book, I could come to appreciate the idea that rehashing all of the negativity may not be something that many wish to do. That being said, I think it will be hard going forward to discuss the RR era without reading this book, even if you doubt the “spin” put on the story contained within its pages.
Again: this book is written from the RR perspective. Bacon was following RR, his team, etc. So a grain of salt (which many have rightfully pointed out) is wise.
These are just my musings on what jumped out at me, things I found interesting (personally) and thought that those who haven’t gotten a chance to read this yet might also find interesting. I actually finished the book a couple of days ago, but haven’t had a chance to write this yet.
One thing that strikes me is that the team really seems to stick together throughout all of the negativity- the Free Press stuff, the losing, the rumors, etc. Over and over again, Bacon muses that he figures the team would quit on the staff, that, at times, they probably should quit on the staff, etc. He seems to look for cracks in the team’s drive/mission/togetherness, especially throughout 2009’s slide and in 2010 when the players themselves are fully aware of all the rumors. But if that was ever the case, he didn’t see it. Until, perhaps, the Mississsippi State bowl game, where the seniors, at least (but really more likely the whole team) were of the impression that RR was done, win-or-lose (more on that below).
The Les Miles stuff was purely for show and to appease the fanbase. He says, quote, that Les Miles would be Michigan’s head coach “over my dead body” when RR asked him about it when the rumors reached a fever pitch in late December 2010. The book doesn’t say why. I have a feeling that there are multiple reasons, and at the very least, some of the nastiest rumors must be either a.) true, or b.) believed by enough people in the Michigan community who actually have a say in things (LC, Brandon, among them) that Les was never a serious candidate.
Brandon also handled the transition infinitely better than Bill Martin from a “players leaving” standpoint. As soon as it was announced, he (DB) called a meeting with the players and asked them not to leave. Far cry from LC holding a meeting and saying “if you want to leave, I’ll sign.” DB told the players if there was a mass exodus, they’d be “crippling” the program.
Furthermore, after DB left the room, Molk, Van Bergen, and the other seniors-to-be stood up and said, essentially, “don’t leave. We’ve all come too far.” Seems everyone had learned from the 2007 debacle.
Also of note: Dave Brandon said that he’d talked to “lots of players” before making the decision to fire RR, and that his “door was always open” and had always been open. Apparently not to Denard Robinson. Denard requested an audience with Brandon multiple times between the U of M Bust dinner and the bowl game, both in Ann Arbor and after they’d all gotten to Jacksonville. Brandon never met with him during that time.
The 2010 Bust, Josh Groban, December 2010, and Senior Exit Interviews
To Bacon, this is where RR’s tenure ended. He seems to think that after the Groban debacle, RR was toast. Many people were exchanging uneasy glances as he started doing it (asking for the song to be played) saying (by their looks) please don’t do this. When the lights went up, Bacon says that even RR supporters whom he knew were, essentially, like “yeah…that was bad, and he’s done.” Also, apparently, there were rumors that Fox Sports and others were offering $50-100k for the tape. Dave Brandon told the film crew who were present that if the tape of the incident were released, they’d never have access to Michigan again.
Seniors conducted exit interviews with the A.D. (associate AD Greg Harden) in the weeks following the bust (but before the bowl game) and the conclusions the players reached was that Rich Rod was gone. The student managers told Bacon that, point blank, the seniors all “knew” RR was getting fired and, thus, “no one wanted to be here.” I’m talking about the student managers talking about what the players told them. And that trickled down from the seniors to the rest of the team. “They realized winning would bring not freedom from their burdens—as it would have earlier in the season—but an extension of them. The way things were set up, they had more incentive to lose than to win.” (P. 419). That quote is clearly Bacon’s opinion.
During this time, the coaches themselves were concerned. Rich Rod, of course, had a contract. His assistants did not. The assistants “knew that other schools might be interested in them—particularly Maryland—if Rodriguez would just entertain the offers, but he steadfastly refused.” (P. 418). Apparently, his assistants refused overtures (if there were any) as well, as Rodriguez said that none of them had approached him in the time between the tOSU game and the bowl game saying that they’d either a.) reached out to other schools, or b.) were considering offers from other schools.
On Hoke, from Dan Dufek: “He’ll be successful because we’re not going to do to him what some of those guys did to Rich,” talking about the former players, etc. (P. 428).
The school orders rings for every bowl game. They are allowed to do so and give them to all members of the coaching staff and football staff who were on the staff at the time of the bowl game. Michigan ordered Gator Bowl rings, but didn’t give them to RR and his assistants and any that RR had hired. They did give one to Scott Draper. When RR came to UM in 2008, even WVU sent him one from their Orange Bowl trip. Petty, not that important, but still…ugh.
When RR was fired, Brandon told the players that the new staff would pick its assistants and its strength staff, but that Barwis was still employed by the University. Sometime in either January or February of 2011, Florida State offered Barwis a package that would make him the highest paid strength coach in the country, a multi-year deal, and would employ all of his staff. He turned them down, as he was still coaching at Michigan and, assumedly, thought Hoke might keep him and his staff. In March, Hoke went a different direction, so Barwis opened BarwisMethods in Michigan.
Rodriguez isn’t the one who alerted the Big Ten to the punch by one of Purdue’s players (in a game not against Michigan) that got the player suspended. It was actually someone in Purdue’s own athletic department. However, after the Michigan-Purdue game in 2009, Hope pulled the stunt where he grabbed RR’s hand and brought the player (Zach Reckman)over and said “I want to introduce you to the man who got you suspended.” After that stunt, RR had a quote that I found humorous, which he blurted out after he told Rita what happened: “Bullshit! I gotta get my ass beat by a junior high school, no-class asshole?” I think JHSNCAH should be Hope’s acronym from here on out.
Justin Turner and Wingless Wolverines
So, summertime workouts are voluntary. Showing up to the first day of fall practice, however, is not. In the summer of 2010, Tate, Gallon, Austin White, and Justin Turner showed up to fall camp out of shape, after having loafed throughout the summer. Turner famously said of the S&C staff (when one of his teammates warned him): “they can’t break me.”
The team had a conditioning run, and the three who didn’t make in the time for their position group were White, Gallon and Turner. Tate made it, barely, by diving across the line. However, his landlord then called RR and told him Tate hadn’t been paying his rent. So these four gentlemen got two pieces of special punishment: no wings on their helmets until they earned them back, and a “Breakfast Club” conditioning workout.
Amazingly, RR himself did the drills with them, at least for the first part of the Breakfast Club drills. They involved a stairmaster, then lots of situps. It lasted only 45 minutes, but clearly had an impact on Turner. The workout ended at 7 am. He asked for a transfer by 2 pm.
This is mentioned on page 342. “…the contracts Michigan offered at the time did not permit (RR) to hire his first choice for many coaching positions, including defensive coordinator. In hindsight, he would probably agree that insisting on guaranteed contracts for his coordinators and cutting $100,000 out of the new weight room budget to secure Casteel- plus a multiyear contract- would have been wise, as would making recruiting an acclaimed kicker a high priority.”
RR and the NCAA
He paid most of his life savings (cash savings) on his own attorneys in the NCAA investigation (over $300k). This was to ensure that the charge that he, RR, failed to promote an environment of compliance was vigorously fought, as it wasn’t (in his mind) the University’s top priority. (I actually agree with him here: in any case where the individual employee and the company’s interests are both at stake in any lawsuit, which an NCAA investigation is, sort of, I strongly advise all of you to have your own counsel, not just the one hired by your company. Just my $.02).
Michigan ranks 5th or 6th in the Big Ten in spending on football (or at least that’s what RR thought, which surprised him). P. 397.
Barwis had a tear come to his eye after we beat Illinois last year in triple overtime. I didn’t even know that was possible.
Caught this little gem on Reddit today. Now if only wolves were allowed IN the weight room.
Search terms used in case of double posting: milk, chocolate milk, courant, hartford.
I do not doubt that Mike Barwis is a good Strength & Conditioning coach. How much better is he, than at other elite programs?
Michigan this year was not noticeably better conditioned than its opponents. I don’t think better conditioning was the obvious difference in any game. I don’t recall a game in which the Wolverines ground down their opponent in the fourth quarter.
In Michigan’s seven wins, excluding Bowling Green, the Wolverines were actually outscored (modestly) in the fourth quarter. (I exclude BG because the starters were no longer playing at the end of the game.) In their five losses, Michigan did outscore the opponents in the fourth quarter, but only by a total of 9 points—not a huge difference.
Michigan’s players certainly did not seem to be any less injury-prone than their opponents; if anything, they were more injury prone.
Although Barwis has clearly improved Michigan’s conditioning over the latter years of the Carr program, I do not see the evidence that he has made it a distinct advantage. All that one can say, is that it is no longer a liability.
As I was watching the game on Saturday, I couldn't help but notice how it seemed a lot of our guys got dinged up (the ones I remember are Carvin, Jonas, and D-Rob, but it felt like more), and not a lot of their guys did (there was one toward the end of the game that I remember).
I'm not bashing Barwis at all with this, he's obviously done a terrific job of getting our guys in elite shape, but I remember him saying that a big part of his program is about injury prevention. Can these injuries be pegged on him? Or are they more attributable to the fact that injuries just happen as a result of bad luck/some guys being more prone to injury? Maybe someone with more time on their hands could put together a diary comparing injuries at various programs over the past few years to see if the Barwis Effect is helping us.
The Toledo Blade had a special segment with Mike Barwis. the stuff on Brandon Graham is sick!