a terrible blight on our fine country
Yes, the dual title is a shout-out to “Rocky and Bowinkle”.
Although this post should be totally unnecessary, idiocy abounds and the madness must be stopped. Short of writing personal checks to players (or some equivalently massive set of rule violations), Rich Rodriguez WILL NOT BE FIRED by season’s end. He will live to fight another day and to coach another year in Ann Arbor no matter what happens on the field this season.
I was listening to WTKA recently and they had some airhead running his mouth about how RR is on the “hot seat” this year, that he needs to have a winning record, etc. I got ticked by his obvious ignorance of what exactly constitutes the “hot seat” and his general lack of analysis, betraying a lack of understanding of the state of M Football. But I dismissed it for what it was: talk radio. They’ve gotta talk about something to justify their existence. And the more simplistic, inane, and agitating, the better.
Then Brian linked a Phil Steele article from the Orlando Sentinel in which Phil lists RR as the #7 coach in I-A (FBS) on the “hot seat” and I couldn’t take it anymore.
FIRST of all, let’s start with the definition of the euphemism “hot seat”. In sports, “on the hot seat” means “you’re about to get fired unless you produce like now.” The last word in that sentence is where Phil (and others) must be getting confused. It’s not “yesterday” or “last year”, because that’s “you WERE fired.” It’s not “in the next 3-5 years”, because that’s a seat that’s just not hot. Hot Seat = NOW … or else.
SECOND, let’s look at what Phil said about RR.
· Phil expects M to be an underdog in 7 games. By implication, that means Michigan would be a favorite in 5 games. No one in Wolverine Nation would be thrilled by a 5-7 finish. But RR won’t get fired over it either. Why? Because Michigan AD, Bill Martin, is a patient man. Bill knows that his football coach is only in his second year of getting his players and his system in place. Bill waited through 5 years of Tommy Amaker, he’ll certainly wait through 3-5 years of RR.
· Phil thinks RR will get us to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. We would need to go 6-6 to go to any kind of bowl, 8-4 to go to a “decent bowl”, as Phil says. Why would that get RR fired? That sounds like the kind of progress everyone is hoping for.
· Phil thinks that a lot Michigan alumni mistakenly assume that RR’s spread offense is a pass-first, run-second scheme (like, who exactly, Phil?). Even if that were true, it would have exactly ZERO effect on RR being fired this season.
I'm sorry, Phil. Why exactly is RR in your "hot seat"?
THIRD, even a major catastrophe on the field this season would not result in RR being fired. Hypothetically, let’s envision Michigan going 0-12 this year. That means we lose to Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, and Delaware State all at home. Let’s just focus on those four games. Imagine the plausible scenarios by which we would accomplish this level of devastation. Here’s what comes to mind:
· Injuries to every starter AND Nick Sheridan and David Cone and … (Zoltan can play QB and we still beat Delaware State)
· Everyone who returns kicks/punts fumbling the ball (cf. the 2008 Wisconsin game)
· Coaches using a Ouija board to decide what plays to call
· Opponents discovering kryptonite to neutralize Zoltan’s super powers
· Pre-game F-16’s piloted by Bucknuts crashing into the Michigan bench kamikaze-style
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Last year, we beat Miami Ohio, the moral equivalent of Delaware State. Last year, we beat Wisconsin after turning the ball over 5 times in the first half. Last year, Nick Sheridan (bless his heart) led us to victory ON THE ROAD against Minnesota. Last year, we had the worst football team I’ve ever seen, and we still won 3 games.
There’s no way we do any worse than last year. Everyone on the roster has as much (true freshmen) or more (everyone else) experience as last year’s team. Which means we make some (or “significant” according to Phil Steele) improvement this year (somewhere between 4-8 and 8-4). Which means RR will not be fired this year. Which means RR is in no way on “the hot seat” this year.
So give it a rest, folks.
And don’t start talking about those Michigan fans who blindly defend RR at all costs. I’m not saying he’s the second-coming. Heck, we’re probably looking at a 6-6 season. I’m just saying there’s no plausible on-the-field scenario by which he gets fired by season’s end. Get used to the idea that RR will be our coach for 2009, 2010, and probably at least 2011 before he’s at risk of being fired. Like I said, Bill Martin is a patient man, even if you’re not. Use your heads and cool your jets.
And GO BLUE!
An article by Pat Forde. It's one of his typical dread pieces. He's terribly wrong with some of the things he says, but it's ESPN.
It's mostly about the normal stuff for this coming season; erasing last year's memories, QB play, defense growing up in time.
Before anyone gets the wrong impression, I pleased as punch with the Rodriguez hire. Love the guy, the system, the recruiting, even the accent. Here come's the but. But, he was my second choice during The Search, to Paul Johnson, then of Navy, now of Georgia Tech.
How do you think Johnson's triple option flexbone would have looked with Michigan's personnel last year? The idea of Minor, Brown, McGuffie and Shaw in twos threes and fours, with nary a Sheridan or Threet among them is a vision that taunted me occasionally last fall.
I'm no expert on blocking schemes, so I have no idea if there would have been any less early season ineptitude, but if they had improved as they did in the real 2008, how deadly could this offense have been by November?
I've been a Michigan football fan all my life. I attended my first game at the age of 8, celebrated in the stands after AC pulled out a victory over Indiana in '79, remember when the Rose Bowl MVP went to the entire O line, and still haven't gotten over the loss to the unmentionables in 2006. But I've had my greatest doubts (in the same sense as in the movie with Meryl Streep) as a fan in the past year. And it's not because of the losing. It's an identity crisis.
Until Lloyd Carr retired in 2008, Michigan football had been led by exactly three head coaches in my lifetime. And I'm no spring chicken. These three coaches were undeniably related - not by blood, but by football family. Gary Moeller had spent more than a decade under Bo, and likewise, Lloyd Carr spent more than a decade under Bo and then Mo. It was like nepotism, at its best. When coaches changed, it was seemless - there was no "clearing house", no radical change in style, no player exodus, and certainly no head coach who had to read a book to find out what Michigan football is all about!
When Carr retired, I had my heart set on Les Miles as his successor. Why? Because Les Miles was a Michigan man as I understood it - he'd played for Bo and coached under Bo and Mo. But, Rich Rodriguez was hired, and brought Morgantown to Ann Arbor. For the first time ever, I recognized almost none of the coaches (thank goodness for Fred Jackson...), had to come to grips with a complete change in style (there was no "spread" in those three dusty yards), and watched players who really shouldn't have, leave before their eligibility was expired. Understanding the significance of the Rose Bowl or the Brown jug etc. doesn't and can't come from reading - as RichRod and his staff reportedly did. I suppose Rodriguez understands the urgency of beating the round, hard-headed rival. At least, I assume so since coaches have been fired over that game.
It's "spread offense day" over on ESPN's college football section. Each of the bloggers interviewed a number of spread coordinators (Herb Hand- Tulsa, Sonny Dykes- Arizona, Matt Canada- Indiana (WTF?))
Then they also interview a number of defensive coordinators as well. A great read if your bored.
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.