If this was an editorial cartoon, Steve Martin would have "Michigan" written all over him and the phonebooks would say "alumni." Also it would be terrible.
You know, my immediate reaction to this AnnArbor.com headline…
Former receiver Braylon Edwards impressed by one Michigan coach, down on another following busy Friday
…was "great, more people talking crap about Rodriguez." Turns out Edwards was just talking crap about Mike Hart. Well played, Bigelow. It's good to know that we've stopped taking hardly veiled shots at Rodriguez and are ready to move on—
“Just more about the tradition,” Edwards said of Hoke’s message. “And he appreciates the alums, and he definitely wants to get us involved and do everything we can to educate the players who play there now.
“Because it’s sad to say, a lot of them don’t know the tradition at Michigan. Back in the day, players knew the former players. They knew the countdowns, the titles, Hail to the Victors. I’m sure if you ask some of the kids on the team now, I guarantee there’s a couple of kids that don’t know all of the words in full.”
Son of a bitch. People are talking crap about Rodriguez not respecting Michigan's tradition at the alumni flag football game he started. In related news, this year's Tunnel Of Victors will feature a special version of the MGoBlue banner that says "F.U. RICHROD."
Meanwhile… Braylon Edwards. He should probably stop talking and doing things. When you punch some dude or say your DUI for blowing twice the legal limit was because of tinted windows or that Cleveland "has nothing" while you have a "New York-type essence" or that your teammates quit and the starting quarterback should be different and your OC is bad or that people on the football team don't know the fight song, that doesn't reflect well on yourself or "Lloyd Carr's" University of Michigan. It's one thing to take swipes at current players who might not be great at football collectively. It's another when they're awesome dudes and you're someone people euphemistically dub "controversial" or "outspoken." Because bitching about Charlie Frye makes you Malcolm X.
Mike Hart also said some things about how Rodriguez didn't value the tradition but prefaced that with a statement about how he always felt welcome back; Breaston dismissed the "he wasn't accepted" bit and focuses on winning games; meanwhile, Ron Bellamy:
“We are ecstatic,” Bellamy said. “We know it’s a process. You can’t build up the program in a year or two. You have to give him a chance to bring his guys in the right way and play football in this conference the way it is supposed to be played.”
Edwards before last year:
"He has to make it work," Edwards said. "If he can't -- me being one of the alumni guys -- I want someone that can make it work. We've been patient. If it doesn't go right this year, we'll have to find a guy that can make it work with that winged helmet."
Since Michigan's tradition quickly became "screw you, Rich Rodriguez," I can't imagine why there was a disconnect there.
Who cares? We just watched a bunch of guys who essentially never beat OSU and/or quit en masse once they didn't like the head coach blame Rodriguez for the program's decline. Yeah, it declined. Yeah, Rodriguez had a lot to do with it. So did they. Jim Brandstatter of all people:
"He had a lot of strikes against him when he walked in the door and that was sad," Brandstatter said.
Whatever Rodriguez's failings were they were amplified by a culture that immediately rejected him. There was a rebellion the seniors on this year's team are pointing to as a Bad Idea. Someone sold him out to the Free Press. He was treated like garbage at alumni outings.
Meanwhile, the complainers were the reason Michigan had to go outside the family. The Great Tradition of Michigan had recently devolved into a 1-6 record against OSU and The Horror. The Great Tradition had produced zero plausible head coaching candidates to continue it. The Tradition is blaming it all on a scapegoat instead of manning up and looking in the mirror. They are collectively Edwards blaming his 0.16 BAC on tinted windows.
That's not a good way to run anything. Without a serious analysis of what you did wrong other than "hire that outsider," with how your culture is messed up, you become Notre Dame. Some guys were willing to be active with the program over the last few years and plenty more didn't sell it out publicly; the decision not to speaks to the player, not Rodriguez.
Carr's former players aren't the program. A subset of them think it's about them, but it's about Denard and Molk and Martin and Kovacs, the ones who stayed and worked hard and were emphatically not champions thanks in some small part to people like Edwards. Van Bergen:
"You know, it's just kind of unsettling that there's … it's great that they're back, but it's kind of, where have they been the last two or three years?" Van Bergen said. "We've still been wearing the same helmets since they were here."
Despite what they think, the alumni are just fans now. It's hard to imagine a big chunk weren't the loathsome sort glorying in a season-ending blowout.
So you'll have to excuse the rest of us who stood in those stands during the Fandom Endurance III game and are terribly sad about how the last three years worked out: we've got a phonebook to care about instead of Braylon Edwards's glorious return to the program.
[ROTE DISCLAIMER THAT WILL BE IGNORED: This is not a defense of Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez should have been fired. It is not a criticism of Brady Hoke. I wrote a big long post about how Hoke's three non-MAC coordinator hires constitute a real reason for optimism. Early indications are this staff is taking advantage of the opportunities placed before them in this year's recruiting class, and with what's going on at OSU the hypothetical ceiling on the program could blow off.
I look forward to this being interpreted as an attack on Hoke in the comments. Bring it, reading comprehension failures of America.]