this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Dis-claimer: I wrote this as a reponse to all the pessimism that was coming out in the last week or so and finally decided to post it. Well, I also had to wait until I had enough points to post as well. We'll see if I still do later.
Is it possible that we, not all of us, but some of us, are so consumed with what has passed that we cannot see the forest for the trees? Could the incredible, unimaginable, almost unthinkable things that happened last season, in the fading shadows of the beginning of the 2007 season, scar the landscape that is Michigan Football, so much so that we can no longer see what “can be” and only see what is otherwise referred to as “the worst-case scenario”?
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Before the Appalachian State disaster and the Oregon shellacking, to the fanbase, Michigan was a perennial top-5-10 team. After that season, a little hope still flickered as Lloyd Carr’s swan song was a gigantic victory over the mighty SEC. But then came the retirement, coaching search that seemingly went awry. And with it, another thunderous stone fell from the foundation of the greatest program in the country.
A new coach, a new philosophy and a new direction tried to brighten the landscape as they tried to burn off the haze left over from what had gone on for decades. There was hope, enthusiasm and an age-old trust in what had always been there, a defense that could be counted to keep the team in the game, give the offense a chance to learn, grow and hopefully by the end of the season regain some if not all of the respect tarnished by the opening of the previous season.
But, as we all know, football is a game of four quarters, and offense, defense and special teams. In 2008, our Wolverines never gained control over any one of those pieces, much less all of them together. As the season went on, more stones from the foundation seemed to crumble, if not the first quarter, the second quarter was the downfall. If not the first half, it was the second half. If the offense played well, the defense struggled or the defense kept us in the game and the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. And in some cases, the offense shined through the murky waters of repeated special teams disasters only to come up short because the defense never seemed to get off the field.
The cupboard was bare. Make no mistake, it was. Not because no one recruited. Not because “everyone” left. Not because the …………………
In 2007 the unbelievable happened and in 2008 the unthinkable happened. Now as the 2009 season is coming around the corner, we are trying to find reasons to be optimistic, but the damage done over the last two seasons has almost everyone believing that Michigan will have to be lucky to win, rather than making its own luck and controlling its destiny, by doing what Michigan has always done…playing Michigan Football. Yes, we will have a true freshman quarterback playing this season regardless of the name and number he will be a freshman. And yes, the DC is new for the second season in a row. And the defense is not chock full of household names that make you tingle with excitement or salivate over the number of sacks or INTs that they would undoubtedly rack up.
Despite what has happened in the past, and it IS the past, the 2009 version of the Michigan Wolverines has the same opportunity as so many other Michigan squads, to play with the passion, heart and strength that every other great Michigan team had. There will be some disappointments this season I’m sure, but the potential and the possibilities for this season are maybe greater than any in recent memory.
Don’t let the slow, methodical ways of the past cloud your vision. Our coach is the father of the modern spread. If there is anyone who can get these young men ready to execute and unleash the power of this offense on the Big11Ten conference it’s Rich Rodriguez.
Consider these factors in a bubble for just a moment; the entire offensive line is coming back, the running backs are healthy and in their second year under the new system The defense is young, but very hungry led by a proven leader. The defense WILL be faster! We have the greatest punter on the planet, the defensive coordinator actually has many years of experience building championship defenses. And possibly the best news of all, the QB knows how to run the spread AND he can throw. On top of all that, the offense is built and run by the guys who know it better than anyone else and have made it work EVERYWHERE they go.
Now if you take those factors and insert them into the history, tradition and bigger-than-life spectacle that is Michigan Football. Combine that with the largest crowd anywhere that will be MUCH LOUDER than every before, thanks to the new additions and more enthusiasm, with eight home games, three of them against huge rivals, and leave out what has happened in the past, that has no real bearing on the future, and this could be a great season.
Now, I know this all sounds like I have stolen all the kool-aid and downed it like a freshman who has never seen a beer-bong before, but in my 44 years on this planet and season ticket holder, I have seen many incredible things happen inside the hole “that Yost dug, Schembechler filled and Canham paid for”. There is promise, opportunity and an awful lot of desire being crafted by RichRod and company. I for one, think great things will happen and many of us will be very, very surprised this season.
As a footnote, I understand the concern, and even pessimism going into this season, but I just can’t believe that this program will struggle the way Nebraska, Notre Dame and others have.
The offseason is too long and Sept. 5 is too far away.
I was asked to repost this from the MGoBoard. I added a few things (in Bold) so enjoy the read.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Having had breakfast with Coach Frey and "BIG" Dusty earlier in the year he wrapped up the Boren situation in a very easy way.
1. Boren wanted to go home whenever he need to help his dad with his snow plow business. He abused that excuse.
2. He had always wanted to go to Ohio State to be closer to home and his dad bribed him to go to Michigan, hoping he would grow to love it.
3. He wanted to do "his workout not Mike's"
4. He just simply "hated to run". Coach Frey jokingly told the linemen they had to run sprints at the end of practice before a holiday break (I think Easter Break). The intent was to have them line up and then surprise them with "I'm just kidding you don't have to run any sprints today". Instead of lining up Boren walked out of practice.
5. Even with all of that the staff wanted to make it work and get him on board...there is no doubt he is a talented player. After he left practice before the sprints Coach Frey confronted him about his actions. Even though he hated running he admitted that he was in the best shape of his life from Barwis "forcing" him to workout. Why the staff finally quit on him was when he talked about the new guys being "scrubs". By "new guys" I mean the current linemen not the new recruits.
If this is all true and I believe every word of it...then it really gives me a new level of respect for the way the staff handled it in the media...they could have trashed this kid but decided to concentrate on the players they were working with currently...can you imagine Lane Kiffen taking the high road like this?
Players like Boren are not good for a program no matter what culture it is...I'm glad the coaches now weed out these guys that would have coasted during the Carr years.
I'm not saying Wermers or O'niell is that guy but having talked to most of the staff and having watched a half dozen practices up close I will tell you this...Coach Frey is a really nice guy to sit and talk with socially, he will talk to you about anything in the papers about the program, he is straight forward and will give you "real answers". That being said he does not even begin to take one ounce of shit from his players. He teaches very aggressively and that’s just his style. I can see why guys who don't want to work or don't fit in want to leave on the offensive line. He is much more vocal and demanding then a guy like Coach Jackson...you could probably go four years without him ever taking your head off the way Coach Frey will.
In football no matter the level you have to build a foundation. Sometimes the best laid foundations come from subtracting materials instead of adding them. I truly believe Boren is a good player, I also believe that if we would of had a strong senior class last season he would have straightened out over time and been a strong player. Since we had little senior leadership a guy like Boren...or O'neill...or Wermers can become a cancer to young a team and effect them for years. That attitude must be wiped out from a team that is struggling. It’s hard enough to turnaround a struggling program without having to pull guys who don't want to go. Coach Rodriguez has said many times before that when you lose you have two options...New Players or New Coaches. I'm glad to see its the players that are going (besides Shafer) and not this staff. I really believe these are the guys to take UofM to the next level.
"Hold the Rope"
This is painfully obvious, but it is cathartic for me to spell this out. It appears the rough start for RR at both WVU and UM has little to do with player fit and everything to do with culture shock. Sure, many players didn't fit, but I am guessing that if RR wanted to be a players' coach and keep English and work with what he inherited, he would have made a bowl game last year.
Instead, our coach obliterates all traces of anything not done his way. I am cool with this, because his way is the Way of the Bull. The collateral damage of his uncompromised vision is three win seasons. The central success is that he can take zealots like Owen Schmitt and make fearsome football warriors out of them and go Oklahoma on people.
Thoughts? Doesn't 3-9 have everything to do with a house not yet cleaned, and little to do with maximizing wins with talent that doesn't fit? Is that even coherent?
Hey, something positive and new about the program!
U-M has confirmed that last year's team grade-point average is the highest in the past 20 years. It's also one of the best ever by the men who pull on the winged helmets.
"I know that Rich's football team made really significant strides in their team GPA," noted U-M Athletic Director Bill Martin. "It either is, or is very close to, the highest GPA in the recorded history of the football team. I'm very proud of that."
I wonder what Rodriguez's critics who talk shit about him being a coach with low class who wants thugs on his team are going to say about this. The article states that the new staff are putting more emphasis on grades than the previous one.
It’s a new day, and time for a new “Blog.”
Well, I saw so much anger and frustration come out with Barking Sphincter Blog I that I decided to stay on topic and continue in my vein of axing just why the hell so many people think Rodriguez should be given so many free passes. But I’m not going to concentrate on Rodriguez here—I’m going to call out the Defenders of the Rod with this one.
The angst UM fans are feeling is polluting the intranets. The Defenders of the Rod (TDoR) come out enforce to rail at anyone who questions not just Rodriguez, but the state of UM football and recruiting. A guy on a premium pay site axes something like, “Hey, who we gonna go after on defense? A lot of highly-ranked defensive recruits are off the board.” WHAMMO. Within minutes this post is swarmed upon as if it was dollar-days at a downriver Wal Mart and Cheeze Whiz was on special. The guy is called a “Chicken Little” a “Debbie Downer” a “Closet Sparty” or is barraged with sarcastic bullshit like, “Hey you’re right. Maybe Michigan should just give up football.” All that ridiculousness aside, the worst part is when the TDoR start justifying 3-9 and why it happened.
I guess the worst record in the history of the program will do that to an emotionally fragile fan base whose identity is based in no small part on the successes and failures of the Wolverines. But it does beg the question: How does a legitimate query about THIS year’s recruiting turn into a self-pitying justification party about the PREVIOUS season? If the TDoR want to put 3-9 behind them, or tell others to do so, why are they always the first ones to bring it up? Take a look at my first blog. I had the vultures all over that post screaming like little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert, and about all they could spit out was “3-9! 3-9! Cupboard bare! Lloyd Bad Man leave no players!” Well, if 3-9 hurts recruiting so badly, how’s come Rich Rod landed some pretty good talent as the season wore on, and did so even after it ended? The dude blew a 40-year streak of non-losing seasons, crashed and burned a 33-year bowl streak, and really good players still signed on.
But THIS year, it’s different. Even after bringing a big time defensive coordinator on board in Greg Robinson. THIS year, 3-9 matters. Gone are the cries of “Yowza! 3-9 and we can still have a top 10 class? We are the ballz!” Gone are the cries of “THIS is gonna be the big year of turnaround! 2009—smokin, baby!” Those rallying shouts have been replaced by “I’m thinking that by 2011 we should be really good.” Bravado moving forward has been replaced by backpedalling and reminding everyone that our poor, young new coach was saddled by horrible players out to get him, Lloyd Carr lurking in the shadows with his non-support or super-secret coven of anti-Rodriguez co-conspirators, and a Michigan Media throwing its full support behind the bible-thumping Prophet of Lansing, Mark Dantonio.
And with all that back pedaling comes the revealing of a very confidence-challenged fan base worried about Michigan falling off the map as so many other Big Timers have. The UM fan base, which never saw a precipitous fall as even remotely possible before 3-9, reels from it and vehemently pounces on anyone who dares question whether Rich Rodriguez can get things back in order. Gone is civil discourse. Gone is acceptance, and discussion with those of differing opinions. These so-called fans, who claim to support a great university known for tolerance and open-mindedness are in stark, dark contrast to the image of Michigan. Many claim to be graduates of the school; to that I say “Bullshit.” Neither their writing, their use of the English language, nor their ignorant closed-mindedness and lack of intelligent conversation speaks to being a graduate of such a great institution of higher learning.
And this is no more proudly on display than when a recruit backs out on a commitment to UM or elects to go elsewhere if the fan base feels they were somehow “led on” by a recruit. Oh, that kid is in for some serious bashing. I remember the backlash against last year’s batch of decommits. Kevin Newsome, Shavodrick Beaver, and all the rest were creamed, called liars, their integrity was challenged, their families were insulted, and all because they simply changed their minds. Often, if not every time, the UM coaching staff had cooled on the kid and the decommit was more of a suggestion to him rather than the recruit just flipping. But no matter; these decommitments evoked a reaction that can not be described as anything but visceral. And all without ANY knowledge of the situation or the recruit in question. The really sad part was that type of reaction came from the majority, not the crazy marginalized sector, as is usually the case with this type of Mob Rule.
So it stands to reason that we now see these angry protestations against those who are, very legitimately, wondering about the status of this once-proud program. I say again: Michigan State is winning a cultural war with UM in the state of Michigan. MSU has “perception” on its side in a big way. Acknowledge it and fight it, or lose 40 years of goodwill and dominance in your own back yard. But again, to accept the challenge offered by Mr. Michigan is Greener means a wave of Maize Ragers raining down on you with the kind of contempt usually reserved for baby seal clubbers or soccer moms.
How long will this go on? Is it true that winning will cure everything? It remains to be seen if Rodriguez will build a winner—how much time does he have? and it remains to be seen—if he has time and does it—whether the “I told you so” crowd will welcome back their fellow UM supporters who, pretty much objectively, have done nothing more than voice warranted concerns.
Have a great weekend people! GO BLUE!
With last year being Rich Rodriguez' first year with the blue and maize you cant really blame him or be mad about the dismal record of 3-9 with no bowl elegibility. after all, new coach and new place do not combine to be a good combination. with his steller recruiting, getting 4 and 5 star prospects such as Tate Forcier and Je'Ron Stokes, i do not think it will be long before you see michigan back at the top of the rankings. and lets face it, we were ganna have a bad year anyway with offensive starters Henne, Hart, Manningham, and the #1 pick Jake Long gone, along with linebacker Shawn Crable (even though he esentially costs us the 2006 OSU game with that late hit AND blocked th wrong guy on the field goal that made us lose to Appalachian State).
I think that Rich Rodriguez is a nice fit though. although we dont really have a dual threat QB he can obvioulsy get one and even if we dont Tate Forcier will be a good starter next year (assuming Nick Sheridan starts this year)
thats assuming of course.
from the things ive read today it looks like Forcier will be starting though.
guess well have to wait and see.
The 2010 recruiting class is even better than the 09 one
im thinking this year wil be the .500+ year and NEXT year well all get what we wanted.
The Rose Bowl or the National Championship.
and Maybe even finally beating OSU.
and yes Tate Forcier is a dual threat but hes more Pro style than dual threat
-The Young Blue and Maize Fan