things go poorly
I've also been a fan of the Rodriguez hiring. I still remember how excited I was when I checked my Blackberry on a train from New York to Washington on a Saturday afternoon and the Rodriguez rumors had hit the web. I also don't blame him -- much -- for last year's 3-9 season.
All that said, I think the turn in events makes it unlikely this hiring will turn out happily in the long term. I believe it will end in one of two ways: Michigan will go 5-7, 6-6 and 7-5 and the fan base will turn on Rodriguez; or Michigan will go 9-3 and Rodriguez will say I can coach just about anywhere so why do I need this crap and decide to start over somewhere else.
One of my responsibilities in my job is to act as an ethics advisor for a government agency. I regularly brief senior executives who join the agency about the ethics rules. For the most part, they are compliance rules -- don't work on things in which you have a financial interest, don't accept expensive lunches or gifts, etc. I also, however, talk about the infamous "Washington Post" test. Essentially there are a lot of things one does that are perfectly legal but have an appearance of not being kosher. If the Post -- or the Times or CNN -- get wind of the issue, the initial story is on page 1. When the story fails to pan out, it winds up on page B19. Everyone sees the first story; no one sees the exoneration.
So how does that impact the current situation. Well we all know the initial story is on page 1. The exoneration may come, but do you think the Freep is going to put it on page 1. Do you think ESPN is even going to run stories saying that nothing came of the allegations.
I'm not sure exactly how it came about but Rodriguez has done things to make himself a target. Perhaps it's jealousy. Perhaps it's that Rodriguez is a little arrogant. Perhaps he failed to kiss a couple of asses early on. But, whatever the issue, there's an issue. Once that happens, you have to be squeaky clean, or the first inkling of an issue will make it to page 1 and that appears to have happened here.
The fact that Rodriguez is doing exactly what 100+ other coaches is doing is irrelevant. No one else cares.
There may be some things that can rescue the situation. Perhaps the most likely is that I'm wrong about Rodriguez taking a hike. Hopefully his skin is a lot thicker than most people's and that that 9-3 season will not only quiet the critics but make him satisfied with his lot in Ann Arbor. Other scenarios are some of his brethren coming to his defense. We're not fans of Jim Tressel or Kirk Ferentz, but if they were to come out and say we've seen the stories and don't think there's a story, that would help immensely. Someone in the MSM could do some investigation of Rosenberg and totally destroy his story. If that were to happen soon, that too could lead to a favorable end to the story. I am, however, not optimistic and that makes me a little depressed at a time when I -- we -- should be looking forward to a season of redemption.
I've been told that RR got slapped with service on a suit arising from a biz deal-gone-wrong in Virginia. Seems like a $4M deal went bad. Anybody else hear this? Do we need any new shit right now?!
From a media relations standpoint this story sucks. Michigan is getting dragged through the dirt and most people won't read far beyond the headline.
From a team standpoint, this is probably a huge unifying moment, the line in the sand, us against the world. Think about how angry the Mgoblog community is, and consider the fact that it wasn't your teammates that were mislead and ambushed, it wasn't your coach, the guy you work with every day, who was dragged through the mud. Your anger probably doesn't even approach the team's collective anger about the situation.
With the Athletic Dept and coaches probably instructing players not to talk to any media, there's no outlet, no way to defend their coach. Each passing day is only going to make the anger more intense, as more BS is piled on. The only way to improve the situation is going to be on the field. Come Saturday, every WMU player might as well be wearing a Snyder or Rosenberg Freep jersey. I have no doubt that Michigan will be hitting hard right out of the gate.
(Note: I'm not saying we're going to be head hunting/doing stupid things like a Crable or Butler. I think it will be a tight, focused anger. Execute, execute, execute, without pity. Also I'm told there's an ESPN article that corroborates some of this. Go Obi.)
There's been some talk about this being a distraction. While I agree that this is impacting our greater community and possibly Rich Rod himself, I doubt the players that have bought into his system (aka, the starters and key contributors) give a flying f*** about Rosenberg's allegations. Do you think they're going to take Rosenberg's side over Rodriguez's, that this story has instilled doubt into their minds? They know the results of their summer work. They know they have to avenge a 3-9 season. They know only winning will shut the critics up and will be more motivated than ever.
And on the flip side, Rosenberg, and the Freep by extension, will probably lose lots of access with regard to Michigan athletics. Good luck talking the athletes and coaches now; they probably wouldn't even admit that the sun is shining or that snow is wet to a Freep staffer (Rich Rod forces students, players, to fight, with snow!)(Follow up: anonymous players state: "I've never seen anything like this" "He just stood there and laughed")
So, to summarize: Team is Angry. Will try and use anger on the field to win the games. This strategy may work. Pad levels will be good. However, if Pad Levels are bad, this strategy also may not work. Watch the game to find out.
I myself have no real connections to Michigan. I am not from Michigan, rather the east coast. I did not attend Michigan: I just recently graduated from a small liberal arts university in the south. In fact I will be attending my first ever Michigan game September 12. I am a fan simply for the sheer fact that my older brother grew up a fan. Maybe it was the Fab Five that sold him or the heroics of Elvis to Desmond. But I've been a fan ever since I can remember. I love Michigan football; more than my New York Yankees, more than my Pittsburgh Steelers. And what I know for certain is that I Believe In Michigan. I believe in our tradition, I believe in our coaches, and I believe in the young men who take the field every saturday of the fall season.
I believe in Rich Rodriguez and what he and his entire staff is doing for our program. I am confident that he has complied with all the regulations set forth by the NCAA. I have close friends who play Division 1 football who agree that in season (summer-fall) their days are incredibly long. They echoed Chad Henne's sentiments about the amount of hard work it takes to be part of a successful Division 1 program, and that alot of "extra hours" must be logged by the individual if they want to succeed or bear the fruits of their labor if you will. Naturally players are "punished" for not participating in optional work outs and captains practices. The punishment comes from the lack of reps, the lack of conditioning, lack of knowledge of the playbook, etc. They don't play simply because they didn't put in that extra work and the guy in front of him did, he earned his place, and for his committment and self-motivation he is the better player. The best players will play. Rodriguez didn't just come here after 20 plus years of coaching football, decide not to follow the rules, and run a proud program into the ground. This has all been a series of unfortunate events.
I believe in guys like Chad Henne and Mark Ortmann and Obi Ezeh. Michigan Men. Henne never played a down for Coach Rod, yet he was there in his defense. Ortmann and Ezeh, recruited by Lloyd Carr, has bought into Rodriguez and his staff. They too came to the defense of their coach. Brandin Hawthorne and Je'Ron Stokes, two freshman recruited by the new staff, were taken advantage of and misquoted, and are pist about it. Parents of the players have come to the defense of the coaching staff.
Justin Boren and Kurt Wermers left uncerimoniously. They are not Michigan Men; never have been, never will be. They did not buy into the coaching staff, they did not buy into the program. The program is something bigger than the coaching staff. Michigan football is greater than any individual, any group of individuals. Michael Rosenberg is not a Michigan Man. A saboteur maybe. From the start of the Rich Rod era, this man has man has made evident the fact that he wasn't in his corner. He has been on a personal crusade to get Rodriguez out and belittle his credentials. Much has been made about his article, and I don't even want to get into the fray. But I will say this: I believe this is a weak attempt by a non-believer to try and throw this team off. I feel that is Rosenberg's way throw a wrench into this season, create more turmoil, and ultimately sabotage the Rodriguez era. Call me crazy, or a conspiracy theorist, but that's the vibe I am getting. Perfect timing in what is supposed to be a new season and a fresh start. I trust that this staff has done everything they had to do.
What Rosenberg will never touch on is that Rodriguez and his staff are molding these players into young men, into leaders, and into high minded individuals. They play as a team and they play for eachother. The experience they garnered from the hardships of last season they will carry with them through life. They will use it to conquer their next challenge. 3-9 may have been the best thing for this team and for us as fans. Let's face it, as Michigan fans we've been spoiled, and it lends to the notion that we're a bit self-entitled. We should take last years experience as well and make ourselves better for it.
There are three people in regards to this recent event. The first group will sit back, hold no judgments until the facts are clearly presented, then form an opinion on that. The second will continuously bash Rodriguez. They will say he should have been fired after last year; he doesn't care about Michigan or its proud tradition. They will say that he's here to run the program into the ground and that he's only looking for the next big pay check. To that I say: Unless he's taking over for Urban Meyer or Pete Carroll, he ain't getting it. It doesn't get bigger than Michigan. They will say he has no family values and he recruits questionable character. These people can talk a big game when things go bad, and then feel entitled to drink the champagne when we win. It's inevitable.
But then there is the last group. The group that believes in what is being done at Michigan. That understands football. That realizes that it must be broken down, before it can be built back up. That knows the personel isn't quite there yet, but its coming. That realizes the amount of hard work these players and coaches put in Sunday through Friday. And knows that come Saturday, these guys will play their hearts out and play with pride. They believe in Rich Rodriguez and Mike Barwis, and Calvin MaGee, and Greg Robinson and the rest of the coaching staff. They believe that Brandon Graham will lead this team because he had unfinished business. They believe that Brandon Minor will push himself and his teammates to be the best because he is so disgusted by what went on last year. They believe that this team will rally around two freshman quarterbacks because they offer the best chance to win. They believe that this team will win when they deserve to win, and that that time is now.
I believe that these recent events will make this team and the Michigan family stronger and more resilient. I believe that Rich Rodriguez will take us to the other level, and he will do so with all his power while complying with NCAA rules. I am 100% unconditionally behind him. I believe that Coach Carr's recruits will bridge the gap between the old and the new, and that Coach Rod's recruits are really going to help us turn the corner. I believe that Michigan will soon become feared by their oppenents, and that the Spread is soon going to fire on all cylinders. I believe that we are privileged to be Michigan fans, and I will always be proud to call myself so. I firmly believe that those who stay will be champions.
I believe in Michigan football. I will always believe in Michigan Football.
I'm not sayin', but I'm sayin'...
I don't care how cheezy this sounds but in the "EFF THIS - Anyone..." diary, there was a great idea.
When they announce Coach's name over the PA on saturday, who is in for chanting something like "let's go Rich Rod" or "F-U Free Press"
Let me know you're thoughts. One thing is for certain, if we do this we all need to be chanting the same thing (or else our noise will cancel itself out).
If this idea is warmly received, maybe we should do some sort of poll on the main page (Brian?) so we can vote on the best thing to chant...
My Vote: "Let's Go Rich Rod..."
There is one way that I wish RR were more like Lloyd, and that would be to be more careful about dealing with the press. On the one hand it's nice to have daily reports and lots of access, but on the other hand there are assclowns like drew "assclown" sharp and mike "semi-retarded" rosenberg.
And I don't think it's such a great idea for freshmen to be talking to reporters, unless they've been coached up by someone on what to say.
And since the freep isn't even a real paper anymore, why treat them like they still are? Revoke their press passes. There's a hundred newspapers, the bigten network, mgoblue.com, dozens of blogs, and thousands of fans with facebook and twitter. If one less quasi-newspaper is missing, no one is going to notice. The important information of the game will still be available to all.
RR needs to send a message to all these lowlife dirtdiggers with an axe to grind. Get rid of the bums.
Or at least give the cliche' speech to all the kids before letting a reporter anywhere near them.