I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
just jump already
Disclaimer. You probably don't care about any of this but while we wait for an "embattled" Rodrigez to meet with Dave Brandon today and the 7PM meeting with the players that seems like a likely moment for news to break, here's some other stuff. I've gotten a couple oddly-sourced things claiming that the office of Mark Hollis, Esq., Michigan State athletic director, is now telling people Rich Rodriguez is going to be fired today, not like that would come as a surprise or anything.
Also Harbaugh is now apparently a hot candidate for the Dolphins job, which would be a Michigan owner pirating Michigan's best coaching candidate to coach Chad Henne and Jake Long and would be the ultimate FOAD from God. Seriously, just jump.
Nothing to see here. Terrelle Pryor's college career should be over. He's already suspended for the first five games of next year and three(!) times since he arrived in Columbus he's been pulled over in someone else's car:
Three times in the past three years, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was stopped for traffic violations while driving cars that were owned by a car salesman or a Columbus used-car lot where the salesman worked, according to traffic citations obtained by The Dispatch.
Amazingly, Ohio State and Pryor spun out a story about car repairs and a test drive to Pennsylvania even after getting wind of a very familiar scheme…
Ohio State examined the relationship between its athletes and Auto Direct in July after receiving an anonymous letter saying that employees were trading use of cars for autographed memorabilia. Archie concluded that there were no NCAA violations.
…and the NCAA was all like "yeah, that makes total sense to me!"
Unbelievable. Michigan gets a "major violation" for niggling details and Ohio State players are bartering memorabilia for services at every business in Columbus and no NCAA violations are occurring. It's completely irrational to believe that if Terrelle Pryor was a 5'7" chemistry major that he'd get a free test drive of a thousand miles, but the NCAA turns a blind eye because logic is hard. Dan Wetzel's crusading about Pryor exposing the "charade of college athletics" and the NCAA can't even be bothered to suspend him for a measly year. I hate everything.
Chaos not limited. Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that Penn State's coaching staff could fall to bits in the near future? Yeah, didn't look like it would happen after Pitt insanely hired Mike Haywood. But then Haywood got in some legal trouble and got O'Leary'd and Maryland bizarrely hired Randy Edsall, leaving two prominent Northeast openings.
Meanwhile, Penn State message boards are filled with rumors that would be lurid insanity (mass chaos in the coaching staff, Paterno declaring his return without consulting anyone, threats of defection) if former players weren't talking trash on facebook and the highly-touted freshman quarterback who spent a big chunk of the year starting didn't watch a walk on throw five interceptions against Florida without getting a single snap himself and then book:
A day after Penn State's loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl, the father of true freshman Rob Bolden told Lions247.com that his son will seek a transfer from the school.
"It's true, he's looking to leave Penn State,"said Robert Bolden, Sr. on Sunday afternoon. "He's notified the coaches, that's as far as it's gone so far. We're waiting on the next step now."
With Kevin Newsome already headed out the door (and clearly more of a tight end than a quarterback by this point anyway) that leaves Penn State with McGloin and redshirt freshman Paul Jones. Jones is highly touted but there's probably a reason Bolden won the job in fall.
There are also rumors that much of the Penn State staff could be headed elsewhere. Tom Bradley missed on the Pitt job last time around but right now he seems to be one of two leading candidates along with Marvin Lewis of the Bengals. Lewis is now expected to "work out" his differences with Cincinnati, however, leaving Pitt with one giant blinking locally respected recruiting-class salvaging guy who seems to want to GTFO and take a big chunk of PSU's staff with him.
BSD has a roundup of the various things being said that includes the ridiculous—Bradley will leave PSU to become Pitt's defensive coordinator—and plausibly unsettling if you're a PSU fan; Slow States says that if Bradley does depart that "could and should" end the Paterno era, or "charade," if you will. Misery loves company.
Cheery reminder. FUN!
Robinson was asked after the game if he will be playing for the Wolverines if Rodriguez is not the coach.
"No response," Robinson said.
When asked how he would feel if Rodriguez does not return, Robinson did not say much more.
"That's my coach, that's who recruited me," Robinson said. "That's it."
If there's a new coach he's going to have a lot of work to do to convince Robinson to stick around.
I have terrible news: David Brandon's pimp hand has badly malfunctioned and is now marching, Godzilla-style, on the greatest rivalry ever in the history of ever. This morning he showed up on WTKA to discuss Big Ten divisons and said this:
SAM WEBB: If you are making the decision, are Michigan and Ohio State in the same division?
[pregnant pause in which Brandon struggles valiantly against the malfunctioning pimp hand's electrosteam power source. "NO," he stammers. "MUST… NOT… SUBMIT." He feels like he's trapped in an episode of Star Trek, playing Kirk in any one of the dozens of episodes in which something in his brain compels him to evil. Sweat breaks out on his brow; he begins to tremble. The shaking increases in intensity, threatening to break out into violent convulsions! At any moment David Brandon's existential dilemma will come to a head! Things are afoot—
A twitch. Two twitches. Now a facial tic. All is silent. An unnatural calm descends.]
DAVID BRANDON: …No.
[Deep in a bunker underneath a Kenosha corn field, Barry Alvarez allows himself the deep rumbling bass laugh only the blackest hearts can muster. Yes. All according to plan.]
SAM WEBB: And why? [Ed: …GOD WHY?]
THE UNSPEAKABLE THING THAT POSSESSES THE BODY OF DAVID BRANDON: Because we're in a situation where one of the best things that could happen … would be the opportunity to play Ohio State twice.
He said he has received only a couple of e-mails from people worried about the possibility of moving the Michigan game to earlier in the season. Whether those – and other critical opinions expressed on the Internet – are reflective of the broad fan base is impossible to know, Smith said.
"I know one thing for sure - that we're going to play (Michigan) every year," Smith said. "We may end up playing the last game of the year, or not. I just don't know that yet."
The "not" scenario will only come to pass if the two teams can play again and the Big Ten is trying to avoid the farce of a best-last-one-out-of-two scenario. And with both ADs at Michigan and Ohio State trying to prepare the fans for a soft landing, it's clear which way this is going: the stupidest possible way.
ONE: It is extremely unlikely that Michigan and Ohio State would ever actually score a championship game rematch. Splitting the two teams is a pointless exercise in hoping that once every ten years you get another one. This is no longer the 1970s.
TWO: Michigan's year-end opponent: Michigan State? Boy, that will fire up everyone on Rivalry Week: "It's Michigan! It's some team that's been within a game of .500 every year since SEC schools started recruiting black kids! On ABC!"
THREE: Whatever damage the rivalry sustains because of the split is going to vastly outweigh the piddling slice of extra revenue Michigan and Ohio State will get from a 1/12th split of the incremental bump the Big Ten Championship Game gets because maybe once every ten years they'll get to pit Michigan against Ohio State.
FOUR: Dennis Dodd thinks this is the way to go. QED.
Not that this matters. Apparently it's done. Get ready for Michigan-Ohio State sometime in October, not even playing for a division or anything, because the "TV people" really want it. Do I need to remind you about Mark Shapiro?
UPDATE: Professional hottie's tweet has disappeared. You can safely ignore the below, I think.
Um… so this person…
…has a twitter that says this:
Very reliable source telling me Tate Forcier requested a transfer from #Michigan this AM. NOT yet confirmed, will update as I know more.
I'd link it but I'm getting fail whales and am suffused with an overwhelming ennui.
Not to disparage smoking hot bikini models or anything, but I'd probably take Mike Rothstein's word over hers. Then again she has done some sideline work for the Big Ten Network—the entire reason this is credible enough to bother with—and Rothstein is not banging out strenuous denials and this is Michigan post-Bo so it's probably true and all she left out its that he's hiring someone to bash Denard's knee in, Tonya Harding style.
Time to dig out the "just jump already" tag: this forum thread may be annoyingly phrased but does
- indicate Troy Woolfolk just got badly injured, possibly in a season-ending fashion
- come from a guy with a two year old account and a track record of dropping information people are skeptical about.
Also apparently Sam Webb has it on Scout.
Current corner depth chart:
1. JT Floyd / random freshman
I guess Woolfolk can redshirt. So there's that.
Statement from Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
Troy Woolfolk suffered a lower body injury during practice this afternoon and was transported to U-M Hospital with our team physician. We can’t comment further due to medical privacy rights.
UPDATE II: Getting reports it is a dislocated ankle, which is in all likelihood season-ending.
Published reaction to the Day of Slight Reckoning has mostly fallen into two camps. One focuses on how the prideful block M has been brought low; addressing that is left for another post. The second shrugs at the end result, adds it to the ever-growing pile to strikes against Rodriguez, and quickly segues into a discussion of Rodriguez's presence on the proverbial hot seat, which is deemed hot indeed. Unlike last year, when a smattering of dips said Rodriguez was in danger of losing his job, there's no denying the reality of it: there are 2010 football seasons that end with Rodriguez getting run out of town on a rail.
How many are there? It will come as no surprise to anyone who's read this blog for a long time that I believe there are (and should be) considerably fewer than the popular conception does. Heck, I (and Dave from Maize 'n' Brew) just managed to convince Doug Gillett of this. For the last year and a half this space has been advocating radical patience.
For an example what seems to be the conventional wisdom, Bruce Feldman has a piece($) in which he repeatedly asks for much more than I think is reasonable for RR to deliver next year:
This is still Michigan, growing pains or not. This isn't a normal rebuilding job. Going 8-4 may not even be a strong enough sign that Michigan is rocketing back to the top and all of this tumult in the previous two years were worth it. …
Again, 8-4 might not be enough. Michigan needs to go back to winning like Michigan used to. Now.
Similarly, Dan Wetzel declares that setting the bar at a return to a bowl game is "incredibly low."
I had a twitter conversation with Feldman about this assertion a couple days ago. During that one of the tweets hit my main account—forgot the "d"—and thus the Facebooks, where it drew a chorus of raspberries because I asserted that going from 5-7 to 7-5 whilst replacing Baby Seal U with UConn would be "significant" progress. (It's since been pointed out that Michigan is playing a I-AA team next year so they're replacing with Eastern Michigan with UConn, but it's not like there's much difference between EMU and a horrible HBCU except when it comes to the entertainment provided by the marching band.) Patience is running low.
I know it's my role as the crazy fan blogger to demand the head of the coach when he fails to live up to my crazy expectations, but if we're seriously talking about an 8-4 regular season "not being enough" for Rodriguez to get a year four Michigan should have just fired him already. If this ends up being an 8-4 team the Mathlete's luck chart will have Michigan considerably on the happy side of the ledger.
- Aforementioned schedule upgrade.
- In games against non-baby-seals last year, Michigan was outgained 410-353 on average. They did not outgain any BCS opponent other than Purdue.
- The two-deep at safety, which covers three spots, has two walk-ons and zero upperclassmen. The corner depth is horrifying, as well.
- The quarterback depth chart also features zero upperclassmen.
- The scholarship breakdown looks like so: 11 seniors, 13 juniors, 20 sophomores, and 39 freshmen. The defense as a whole remains extremely young relative to competition:
The 2009 and 2010 classes make up about half of each unit for our rivals; for us it's about 75 percent..
- Only four seniors project as starters.
"This is still Michigan" is demonstrably false. Even in year three this remains a desperately young team with major holes in the secondary and no upperclass quarterbacks. Rodriguez's responsibility for the state of the state of the roster is limited to the absence of Terrelle Pryor, or any marginally acceptable option at quarterback from his first two months on the job, and a couple of would-be-sophomores Rodriguez did not add to the end of his first full recruiting class. You can wave your hands and say "Michigan! Rabble rabble rabble!" all you want but if you dressed these guys up like Generic State University people would expect them to go .500.
Progress is mandatory, but firing a guy because he's not healing lepers is unwise. This is a team that deserved to go 3-9 in 2008 and had four non-freshman defensive backs on the roster last year. Rebuilding from that is not a short-term operation. We've been through why this happened many times before; suffice it to say Rodriguez's margin of error to prevent a wholesale cratering was infinitesimal.
Later in Feldman's piece he says Rodriguez is an "excellent coach" and "proven winner" who "knows how to develop talent and motivate players." If this is the case—and everything in his coaching tenure before Michigan suggests so—why shouldn't Michigan give him the benefit of the doubt? They are not going to hire a coach with two BCS wins to his name next offseason. Patience is warranted. One year now (to be clear: 2011) has the potential to pay off with a 20-year stretch of success. While recruiting has suffered Michigan's classes are well within the range where Michigan can expect to compete for Big Ten championships when it is not operating with literally half the upperclassmen of its primary rivals.
My personal measuring stick for Rodriguez: yardage parity and a winning record. I would be displeased with 7-6 but willing to grit my teeth and give Rodriguez a shot in 2011, when he will return both specialists, every starter on offense save Steve Schilling and all but three starters on defense. That will seem exceptionally kind to many, I know, but literally no coach in the country could take the leftovers after Mallett's transfer and do anything other than flail as Rodriguez has.
2008 was a complete waste. To me, this is year two for Rodriguez, and 2011 is when I expect rubber to meet road.
A very special mailbag, with just one question. This one has been asked, or implied by people sending me reasons the play of the team is definitely the fault of the coaches, by many, many people the past couple weeks. If you sent one, I read it. I'm not responding except here. Sorry. Usually I try to be better about it.
The platonic ideal:
Just talk me off the ledge...
Please explain what it would take for you to no longer support Rich Rod. What specifically has to happen? And then, please state not just what you expect to see from the program in the coming years, but how the team will improve? To me, that's why I just can't support Rich Rod anymore. Show me where are the underclassmen who will show improvement and how you actually see the coaches making them better.
I just don't see it. Instead, I see a mentally soft team, that while yes, has serious deficiencies, is currently losing to teams that also have serious deficiencies. Our players seem to be all over the place and just poorly coached in general.
Like I said, talk me off the ledge..
I get emails like this because I've been a supporter of Rodriguez throughout his tenure at Michigan and am moving much more slowly towards the conclusion that Rodriguez should be fired than the rest of the universe. The emailer asks for specifics. To set ground rules, here are the assumptions I am working with.
Virtually nothing that happened in 2008 was avoidable, and it was mostly not Rodriguez's fault. Michigan's program had already been gutted by attrition and poor motivation by the time Rodriguez made it to campus, and the exodus of offensive stars in the aftermath of his hiring was an inevitable consequence of the radical shift in offensive philosophy.
I have it from reliable sources Ryan Mallett was gone no matter who was the coach and that Manningham was headed for the NFL after three years from day one. Arrington left because Mallett left. Boren left because he was asked to put in the same amount of effort as the rest of the team and not given special exemptions to go be Mr. Plow. If you want to blame Rodriguez for Boren, fine. Add him to the team last year and you still have a disaster of an offense that starts Nick Sheridan most of the year.
Arguments that Rodriguez should have stuck with a pro-style offense he's never coached and forgo the installation of his system in order to get to 5-7 when hardly anyone on the roster has even played in a pro-style system have been discussed already; I think they are silly.
Rodriguez is not responsible for the enormous holes on the roster. Rodriguez has had a single full recruiting class and had a brief window in which to patch some spread-type players onto Carr's last class. The gaping holes on defense and the lack of talent at outside receiver and offensive line are almost entirely Lloyd Carr's doing. The freshmen quarterbacks are a combination of Carr putting every egg for three years in Mallett's basket and the radical shift in offensive philosophy.
This has been discussed elsewhere on the blog; I won't belabor the point.
Hiring Scott Shafer was a terrible mistake, and the other hires are questionable. At the very least it was a misjudge of the guy's ability to fit in on the staff. At worst, he allowed his DC to get submarined and saw the defense implode because of his assistants' impatience.
This may extend to Rodriguez's other hires as well: Jay Hopson has recruited very few players as Michigan withdrew entirely from Mississippi after last year's debacle; Hopson also secured the commitments of both defensive tackles who went elsewhere on signing day. His linebacking corps has regressed horribly.
And while the jury is still be out (very, very out) on Robinson given the players he has to work with, but his track record since his salad days with the Broncos is one of relentless failure with a single good-not-great year at Texas mixed in.
It is worth noting that the guys who can really be considered DeBord-style crony legacy folk are Magee, Tall, Smith, and Gibson. Dews is a vagabond who was a grad assistant at WVU for a few years before wandering around to Holy Cross, CMU, and UNLV. Frey was picked off from South Florida a year before Rodriguez left WVU and had no prior connection to Rodriguez. Hopson is obviously new. Fred Jackson was an enforced hire by the Michigan AD.
The crony guys are the offensive coordinator who everyone loves, the DL coach who is, IME, doing a very good job, the QB coach who helped Pat White be Pat White, and… well… Tony Gibson. At this point I'd rather see Rodriguez hire a guy he knows inside and out; the folk he brings in from the outside haven't done that well.
We are not at the point yet where the deficiencies in the team are clearly the doing of the coaches. It's pretty suggestive at linebacker, sure. But the secondary is just a disaster zone and would be a disaster zone if Monte Kiffin cloned himself eight times and had all eight players try to teach the safeties how to play football. The offense has improved greatly from year one to year two and has done so with true freshmen at quarterback. Since Rodriguez has a track record of success, he should be extended the benefit of the doubt.
They're not "soft." They don't play like mincing Frenchmen. They play like speed-addled kids with ADD. They are irresponsible and sometimes dumb. This is because they are terribly young or Michigan's linebackers. What does "soft" even mean? Jonas Mouton blowing coverages and cutback lanes game after game is not soft. Mike Williams overrunning everyone on Illinois is not soft. Michigan blowing assignments on the Illinois goal line stand is not soft.
It takes time to dig out.
Michigan was not a 3-9 team by accident; they had the talent of a 3-9 team. If you disagree with that, it's probably to suggest that Michigan was really a 5-7 or 4-8 team that Rodriguez screwed up into being a slightly more horrible team, right?
If you think that Michigan's downfall was entirely Rodriguez-made and you're pointing to the gutted recruiting classes that were in the top ten at their inception but have been ground down to dust, you can safely move on from this post since nothing in it will convince you. My opinion is that a combination of poor late stewardship from Carr and the wrenching transition to the opposite of Lloyd Carr in so many ways is what doomed us to this transition.
I expect Rodriguez to provide continual improvement until Michigan is back to being Michigan. That's my baseline. I'm not exactly thrilled with what's gone on this year but I think it's understandable. Given the roster situation and the chaos at DC—which Rodriguez is responsible for—this Michigan team is within the range in which Rich Rodriguez is not an idiot who got lucky with Pat White and Steve Slaton. It's towards the lower end of the range but it is in the range. It takes time to dig out from the hole they were in.
Next year, Michigan must be better than they are this year. I have no idea where the emailer is getting the idea that Michigan can't be a better team when they return at least 16 starters on offense and defense, with Donovan Warren a potential 17th, some combination of Dorrestein and Omameh a potential 18th, and Darryl Stonum a functional 19th.
Additionally, the players on this team are still extremely young. There are 11 starters on the team who are sophomores or freshman by eligibility, and many of the guys with redshirts in there are guys like Hemingway, Huyge, and Molk who missed large chunks of time with injury. The quarterbacks should take huge leaps forward in their second year. The only spot at which Michigan should be appreciably worse next year, excepting special teams, is Brandon Graham. That will be a major loss; it won't offset improved play at every position on the field.
So, sure. If you really don't think Michigan is going to be better next year I can understand why you'd want to see Rodriguez fired. I also think you're completely nuts.
If they aren't obviously better, then Rodriguez should be fired. If they don't make a bowl game, if they aren't obviously moving away from the Big Ten cellar, if they don't approach yardage parity against BCS opponents, Rodriguez should be fired. I think all of those things are seriously unlikely, and am willing to invest a year to find out. Where it is in black and white: acts of God nonwithstanding, Michigan has to go 8-5 next year or Rodriguez should be cut loose. 7-6 might be okay if the bowl matchup is obviously bad.
This is the last I'll say about it until next year.