"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
It occurs to me that while we were all about to pull our hair out, lose our jobs, and ruin our marriages during the hellish week that has now passed -- not to mention the potential damage to our recruiting class -- it might have been helpful for the team to have a week delay between the firing and the hiring. They really seem to have loved RR and his staff, and this gave them time to grieve his loss a bit. It also caused them to come together with one another, which I think has been evident in their statements. It them gave them a sense of relief about the naming of the new coach, rather than potential resentment if he was named the day after Rich Rod was dismissed.
This is not to say that DB should get credit for this or anything, but I think the delay may contribute to a warmer reception for BH, a bit of a bounce for the team with his arrival, and more internal pressure among the players for everyone to stay and buy in.
Why fire Barwis? It seems Hoke is intent on doing a complete housecleaning like RR did. Why not retain someone that seems to be one of the best, that brought Michigan up to date? It would seem you would like some continuity for the players. Offense and defense schemes will change completely (again). We expect all of the defensive coaches to be gone all of the offensive coaches gone (except maybe Fred Jackson). Ex players seemed to hold Barwis in high regard and he would seem to have relationships with all of the players that might aid in retention. He seemed to be good for recruiting.
It bugged me when RR fired everyone last time rather than trying to keep some staff to serve as a bridge (in hindsight keeping the defensive staff would have been a good idea). S&C coach would seem like the least risky (from a scheme standpoint) to retain.
I tried to think about the coaching hire from DB's perspective. Dave is a member of the Michigan football alumni fraternity. This fraternity was consumed in group think. The vast majority of former players seemed to think that the traditional the program had suffered greatly under RichRod. He came in and changed traditions about the #1 jersey and team captains. RichRod didn't know to dance a jig around the Little Brown Jug on St. Patrick's Day or to salute the moon after each NASA launch to honor UM grads involved in the space program. The changes to traditions resulted in losses, ANGAR, and the Gator Bowl.
Dave saw a fractured fan base and decided that a new coach was needed. He settled on three criteria the new HC must meet. The new coach would have to head coaching experience at the highest level of college football and he would have to be a "Michigan Man." Applying the first two criteria left DB with just candidates: JH, LM, and BH.
What was the third criterion? The new coach would have to be a good employee. Why the third criterion? Because Dave is a hands-on businessman who values control. The new coach would have to coachable. DB is the boss and he does not tolerate insubordination. BH was plan A because of the third criterion.
I see DB imagining his interactions with the possible head coaches:
Scene 1 - DB busts in on JH's team film study.
DB: "Hey Jim."
JH: "What are you doing here, Dave?"
DB: "I came to watch film and to evaluate the way you interact with your players."
JH: "Get the hell out, Dave!"
DB: "Jim, I'm the boss! Now get on with it."
JH: "Get the fuck out Dave before I call the 49ers!!"
Scene 2 - DB tries to discipline LM after UM wins The Game:
DB: "Les, may I have a word with you?"
DB: "Les, quit it an listen. You can't go around lifting up the cheerleaders' skirts and eating their pom pons."
LM: "We just beat tOSU on their field. I can do whatever I want."
DB: "QUIT IT LES BEFORE I FINE YOU!"
LM: "Try it and see how fast I apply my abilities to another opportunity to be taken advantage of."
Scene 3 - DB busts in on BH's team film study.
DB: "Hey Brady."
BH: "Hey Dave."
DB: "I came to watch film and to evaluate the way you interact with your players."
BH: "Do you want some popcorn?"
What does it all mean? It means that DB found the best coach for DB. The hire of BH gets his frat brothers off his back and gives him a compliant employee. The coaching change was for the benefit of the AD. He has his model of how to run an organization. Apparently it does not include sharing power.
Is BH the best fire for UM? Time will tell. My initial reaction to learning of the hire was deflation. However, I am willing to give BH the benefit of the doubt. I believe he will give his best effort. I have noticed that most of the negative reaction about the hire has to do with his physical appearance. I know that people tend to overestimate the competence of attractive people and to underestimate the competence of those less fortunate. We have a new HC who is no Fabio and an OC who is no Brad Pitt. They will not will beauty contests. I hope they win games.
I want you to think back, carefully, think back to the days of Coach Carr. What did you used to say, muttering to yourself grimly or shouting to others in the room angrily during the game? “A field goal will only put us up 6 and there’s plenty of time for another drive left. Go for it!” I shouted this at the TV on many 4th and 1’s from the opponent 14. “We’ve been blitzing successfully all day, and now we get down to the last minute, and you go to this totally ineffective Prevent? Play to Win!” You may have supported Coach Carr to the upmost, like I did, but you can’t deny that his choices infuriated you on occasion. He so often played not to lose. He so often did things ‘the old way’.
And so, we brought in Rodriguez to change all that. To finally do away with the run up the middle on third and 50, and the QB who couldn’t get out of the way of the world’s slowest developing pass rush. We brought him in, scary as it was, to reverse the field and have lightning quick snap counts and to play to win. And it didn’t work.
Monday night, a spread & shred offense as good as anything Rich Rodriguez at WVU ever put on the table played in the national championship game opposite Auburn, a team featuring a more traditional spread. True to form, the scoring in this game was quick and furious, featuring scoring drives of less than a minute in many cases. Full field reverses and lightning quick snap counts were the play du jour. At times, it was awesome to behold.
Keen observers may note one thing, however, about the game. With a final tally of 22-19 and scoring that included safeties, goal line stands and field goals from within the red zone, the battle was undeniably defensive. In a game where the question was expected to be, “How long can these good defenses stand up before these excellent offenses find a chink in the armor”, we instead found ourselves asking, “How many chinks in the armor before the offense runs out of little things to exploit and can’t make anything else happen?”
And we were left with one more question. Why did the Auburn defense not get tired, slow down, and slowly but surely give the game away in increasing chunks of yardage, as every MSM talking head had prognosticated for weeks?
Ladies and gentlemen – we brought in Rich Rodriguez to be our coach to lift us out of our mediocrity and to finally lift our sights higher than a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl berth. We brought him in to reinvigorate the program and bring speed, style and a modern flair to Saturday afternoons in the Big House. We brought him in to win National Championships. And we sent him on his way because while the speed was coming, the rest of it, so far, was frustratingly not. And now you question it?
No, don’t say, “He needed more time. He needed more time to install this and ready that and yadda yadda yadda.” No. We brought Rodriguez in to take us beyond dreams of Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowl berths where we were never really in the national picture. We brought him in to wake up from our dreams of Bo. And as I’ve already pointed out, that’s no guarantee, even if everything works perfectly. The best Spread & Shred in the history of Spread & Shreds just played in the national title game, and lost, in a DEFENSIVE BATTLE. I’m not saying that the spread doesn’t work. Obviously it does. But think back to Michigan/Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Just because it’s the spread doesn’t mean it’s a winner, either.
And we recognized this. And we fired our coach. And we were prepared once again to move on. Except now, the name we wanted – we couldn’t get. And people are lamenting, “If we couldn’t get Harbaugh, we shouldn’t have fired Rodriguez.” Well, I’ve got news for you people. “4th and 1 from the 14? We couldn’t get the TD, so lets just kick the field goal.” “1:15 left up by 6? I think it’s time to pull out that prevent defense.”
No, we may not have gotten exactly who we wanted. But who we had was not getting it done, and even if everything was optimal, it very well may not have been enough.Brian talks about how we sacrificed our chance at being national champs to be conference champs. Well me, I think that's a lot of bull. Rodriguez was a good coach, but we were still a million miles from becoming a national power, and the next flash in the pan wasn't any more likely to do it. And last I checked, winning the Big Ten goes a long way in your national perspective. Keep Rodriguez if we couldn’t get Harbaugh? Avoid the perilous situation we’re in now? You’ll excuse me if I don’t feel like kicking the field goal and playing prevent. It might cost me, but I’m a Michigan fan. I want to PLAY TO WIN.
Just because we like to kill newspaper memes around here, I did a short analysis concerning the assertion that Brady Hoke's foreknowledge of the words to "The Victors" would translate to wins:
M head coaches who needed to be taught the words to "The Victors" on attaining the job:*
|Yost, Fielding H.||204||165||29||10||0.833||10||6|
|Schembechler, Bo †||247||194||48||5||0.796||13||0|
M head coaches who already knew the words on assuming the reigns:
|Crisler, Fritz ‡||90||71||16||3||0.806||2||1|
Needed to be Taught: 381-101-16 (79.05%), 6 national championships
Knew Song Already: 412-178-17 (69.83%), 5 national championships
Conclusion: It probably doesn't make a difference.
* Didn't count guys pre-1899 since song wasn't written yet
† Bo knew the song from his days as a grad assistant at OSU, but famously needed Revelli to walk in and teach him the correct words and tone. "It really sucks if you don't sing it right."
‡ Crisler heard it played many times while coaching at Chicago and Minnesota - I couldn't find the link but I'm basing this off an anecdote
After today's press conference I couldn't help but think of the potential this team has to be the next 1969 team. In both cases, after about a decade of consistently losing to Ohio, we bring in a coach that was raised there. The Game will also be played in Ann Arbor. Much like the 1969 team, this 2011 team will also have the talent to compete. Here's to Hoke and THE TEAM! Let's Go Blue!