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!
per halftime interview.
met with him today and will meet with him again tomorrow.
Just curious who the players that made it to the presser were, anyone have any idea? I wish the cameras would have panned the room, I would have liked to see how many people were there. Side note: MBB is looking great right now!!
Hoke has said that he is against zone blocking being an offenses main blocking scheme. I hope he realizes that that you can run power football out of spread formations. Nevada does it out of the pistol and Auburns base running plays are the power and counter, which are used by all pro style teams.
Here is a link on Auburns offense http://offensivebreakdown.blogspot.com/search/label/Gus%20Malzahn
I hope that Hoke and Borges decide to incorperate some spread power running game into their offense, so we can increase our chances of keeping Denard.