...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
After reading Three and Out, and watching this years team, it got me wondering whether there was any journalist following this years team or if it was just a one time thing with RR?
The highly anticipated new book by John U. Bacon that tells the story of Rich Rodriguez's turbulent tenure as Michigan football head coach is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.
Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football will put you back $17.35 and ships Oct 25, 2011. Interestingly, based on the front cover that appears on the site, the book had a previous title: Third and Long: Three Years with Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines. As noted in the comments below, the new title is clearly more evocative of the reality of the last three years.
Here's the blurb:
The national spotlight never strays from the University of Michigan football team. More people have seen the Wolverines play football—in person and on TV—than any other team in the nation. Michigan boasts the most wins, the best winning percentage, the biggest stadium, the most alumni, the most heated rivalries, and the richest tradition in the game. As their famed fight song proclaims, the Wolverines are "Victors valiant . . . conqu’ring heroes."Or they were, until 2008. The brilliant but star-crossed Rich Rodriguez led the young Wolverines through three of the program’s toughest seasons. With the entire sports world watching, they enjoyed thrilling victories and suffered heartbreaking losses, often falling short in the winner-take-all struggle of big-time college football. Day after day for three years, John U. Bacon watched the drama unfold, from the sidelines to the locker room to the meeting rooms and even the homes of the players and coaches. No sportswriter has ever been granted more intimate access to a top-flight college football program. Now Bacon—an award-winning journalist and coauthor of Bo’s Lasting Lessons—has written a narrative saga in the vein of Friday Night Lights and Season on the Brink.His story is one of hopes raised and dashed; of reputations pumped up, then punctured; and of coaches and youngsters striving to satisfy the demands of a culture that values winning above all else.
Not sure I agree with that last sentence, but whatever. While you're at it, order Dhani Jones' new book: The Sportsman: Unexptected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey discussed here and get the free shipping deal.
[Ed.: I agree with the commenters below that point out that the book's title as published is "Three and Out" and that "Third and Long" must have been a working title that was rejected. The OP was edited to account for this.]
In his latest missive, Matt Hinton (Dr Saturday) tackles RichRod's recent assertions that he was, oh so close to a breakthrough and if only he had been retained... Well you know the rest. Hinton's not buying it, not in the least.
Presumably, Rodriguez thinks Brady Hoke only has to crawl through the last few remaining yards of crap before he breaks into the clear, thanks to the previous administration's legwork. That makes some sense: Going forward, the Wolverines figure to be one of the most veteran teams in the country this fall, with nine offense starters returning around Robinson – including four-fifths of the offensive line – and a defense that should at least have a clue for a change, if not a sudden influx of talent. Hoke is obviously exaggerating for effect when he says anything short of a Big Ten championship is a "failure," but it's not an exaggeration to expect the 2011 edition to look closer to the Michigan that you (and Hoke) grew up with than any of the depressing teams that took the field under his predecessor.
And really, that would probably be the case if Rodriguez had been miraculously granted a fourth year. But some discernible return to form was the mandate for 2009, too, and again last year. Despite their fast starts, those teams ultimately delivered nothing of the sort. The 2011 team, the first legitimately veteran lineup at Michigan since Lloyd Carr's last go-round in 2007, may be the one to fulfill that promise, regardless of who's at the top; a lot of people who aren't dumb will probably spend the next six months predicting exactly that. But the natural optimism that comes with an experienced team is an inevitable matter of time, not of steady, coordinated progress. If a more seasoned outfit does manage a breakthrough this fall – minor or otherwise – does Rodriguez really think he's earned the right to lead it?
Rich Rod spoke in depth with Dennis Dodd of CBS. (Link: http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/14640415/rich-rod-we-thought-it-was-just-getting-ready-to-take-off?ttag=gen10_on_all_fb_na_txt_0001)
Most of the things are stuff we've heard him say before..."we were almost there; lots of drama; took longer than I expected." Something new that I hadn't heard him say was a critique of Dave Brandon and his position to make the decision that he made:
"Were you treated fairly by Dave Brandon?
Rodriguez:"To say publicly how I was treated would be self-serving. Everybody says three years is enough time. If you don't know all the factors maybe you make that conclusion. If you're here in the middle of this for three years fighting all the battles. ... We'd like to be able to finish the job. I can't sit here a month later and say this and that should have happened.
"What I am going to do to make sure the next job I get, we win the national championship and everybody is pulling in the right direction. Dave's been on the job -- what? -- nine months? He knows the business world. I did the best I could to tell him or show him what was going on in the football program. I tried to show him as best I could. He wasn't involved in athletics [before getting to Michigan]. I've been a head coach in Division I for 10 years and coaching for 25. I know college football."
(Note: Brandon played defensive end under Bo Schembechler at Michigan. He is also a former Michigan regent. Brandon came to the school after serving as Domino's Pizza CEO.)
That's an interesting place to needle Brandon on. I don't think it's fair to say he "wasn't involved in athletics." As Dodd points out in his note, he did play for Michigan and as a Regent from 1998-2006 he undoubtedly was involved in athletics at least little bit. Seems like sour grapes to me.
Rather than engaging in the bouts of Hokemania running wild all over this site, or joining the numerous posters who seem to have forsaken Michigan for a love of RichRod forever-more (similar to my childhood fandom of "whoever Warren Moon plays for" after playing Tecmo Super Bowl as the Oilers), I decided to examine the rich and voluminous history of Michigan football to find some historical perspective.
While I bought in at the beginning of each of the last three years and convinced myself we were "just around the corner," I was disillusioned each year as the losses mounted and the victories failed to do so. I don't think the wins/losses did RichRod in, though - my sense from talking to other alums (and trying to track my emotional path through all of this) was that the sense of "time for a change" came less from the losses, and more from the MAGNITUDE of the losses. With that in mind, I first sought out a list of all seasons in which Michigan has been outscored by its opponents. There were twelve, which was actually more than I expected to find. The seasons (with coaches in parenthesis) were:
This list tells me a few things. First, having a season in which you were outscored by your opponent does not create a supportable assumption that you are a bad coach; if you remove the coaches on this list, Michigan's national championships decrease from 11 to 2. Second, having such a season does make it likely that you will be removed from your duties of coaching football at Michigan at some point; while Yost largely retired on his own terms, there was a movement to get the old man to move on by the time he stepped down. Wieman was gone after his bad season; while Kipke got a bit more rope because of his two national championships, his fourth led to his ouster as well. Oosterbaan's one season being outscored coincided with his last, and then Bump got a bit more rope...because he was cleaning up Bennie's mess? Either way, two for RichRod in three years didn't indicate a future of much success if you look at the historical numbers.
Next, I sought a way to quantify HOW MANY bad losses there had been; the three at the end of this year definitely wore on me, and so I looked at (a) how many games each head coach had lost by 10+ points each year, and (b) how many they did so on average. The numbers are as follows:
|Coach||10-pt losses||10-pt losses per season|
This chart was pretty striking to me; RichRod had more double-digit losses in three seasons than Lloyd had in his 13 seasons!! Also, while the likelihood of these events increased in the Mo/Lloyd years vis-a-vis Bo, they were still well below the Bump/Bennie/Kipke mark, and not far from Crisler and Yost's marks. Five per year more than doubled Bump Elliott, Michigan's 2nd worst coach (with regard to big losses).
Finally, I noticed that RichRod had 5, 4 and 6 double-digit losses in years 1, 2 and 3, respectively. I sought to put those in historical context; of the 110 seasons examined, there were only seven seasons of at least four double-digit losses in a season:
When viewed through this prism, it's much tougher to make the argument that the team was "competitive" and "just around the corner" the last few years - 2010 featured the 2nd-worst set of losses we've ever seen, eclipsed only by 1962. While improving from 3 to 5 to 7 wins seemed on its face to be "progress," the margins of victory and loss indicated otherwise - Michigan was soundly defeated in more games this year than in 2008. Three of the worst seven seasons (by this measure) don't point in the direction of a guy that should have been kept.
While we don't know what direction the team'll take under HOKEMANIA, we do know, at least, that our new coach has a love and appreciation for the history that is Michigan Football. Here's hoping we get fewer of these seasons and more that finish in Pasadena!
So reading some of the message board responses today, I came across this comment and felt I had to respond:
....but the people on this board who are defending RR more so than their University and its fans aren't real fans in my book. "He won't have the arrogance and constant bashing by fans" etc.; this is bullshit. Why don't you guys go follow RR over to whatever school he ends up at if he is fired! (I am in no way a Rich Rod hater. I believe whatever coach is here next year needs to compete for the Big Ten Title next year considering that we have so many returning contributors.
So assuming Harbaugh is hired... he must compete for a Big 10 championship against established teams in our division such as MSU and Nebraska? This is also under the assumption that he gets ALL of his starters back (no transfers?) and no losses in the recruiting market?
You are also assuming the offense makes it back to a top 20 outfit (I'm giving you a little wiggle room) and he's as much a defensive genius as RR is on offense and he turns our D into something respectable at say around top 1/2 in the country?
Oh yeah... and assuming Denard wants to stick around to keep making plays for us (or if Harbaugh will even let him stay at QB) - let's remember that Denard is not a clean passer and a switch to an OSU-type pro offense has not done wonders for the likes of Pryor (who most have said is not meeting expectations), who has more of a pro-style frame/arm than Denard.
If Denard does stay, do we give Harbaugh flack if he DOESN'T implement a spread O? I mean, what fraction of this website's contingent constantly rides RR for not "conforming to his players' skills" in 2008? Your #1 and #3 running back recruits are also in danger because they do not fit the bill of Harbaugh's style of O. Are we willing to lose them and not suffer a drop-off in talent?
If he DOESN'T compete for a Big10 championship next year, is he then on the hot seat for not meeting this expectation? By firing RR, you then set a bar of expectation that by all accounts you MUST apply to the next person in line.
In addition, do we just ignore all of Harbaugh's past indiscretions (DUIs, comments in the media, comments about UM academics) or do we constantly give him a hard time like some have done to RR?
While I don't endorse a preference of whether to keep RR or hire Harbaugh (a case can be made for both and I don't know if I really mind either decision), comments like this are setting a major precedent for the successor. Two sets of rules cannot be applied just because you think Harbaugh is a "Michigan Man".
Reminder - Stanford has played ONE currently ranked team this year and lost handily by 21 (another spread O team similar to M's). He also wasn't a success overnight over there, going 4-8, 5-7, and finally 8-5 in year 3. This is eerily similar to what is going on now here at UM.
So I think we should be cautious at anointing Jim Harbaugh as our Savior because it becomes dangerous when you stand back and look at where our program officially stands at this point. Every transition has its speed bumps.