alternate headline: man does job
End of an era
While I was in Fort Lauderdale in December 2005 I had spent an hour looking for a decent sports bar that had the Alamo Bowl. My hotel room's television decided that it wasn't going to cooperate with this one simple request of mine and forced me out the door. I hadn't missed a Bowl game since I was a child and this wasn't going to be the first.
I finally found one and it had a few Nebraska fans huddled around the only screen showing the game. I was by myself and the next few hours weren't much fun. It wasn't just the loss. I listened to these guys tell me how we were no longer relevant and how we were headed into obscurity just like they were. They kept saying the same thing a lot of Michigan fans had been saying for quite some time. We need a change. Fresh air. Someone with more motivational skill and to quit relying on the We Are Michigan arrogance. That our name and history will only get us so far. One quote stood out because it was as if I was having a deja vu moment with someone from back home. "Lloyd Carr is a good coach. A good man from what it seems. But good coaches will always get beat by great coaches."
These guys weren't being dicks. They were fans rooting for their team and being honest when we started talking football during the game. They even bought me drinks. What made the time suck was that they were right. I knew they were right. I had been denying this for awhile because I always looked at things like they were cyclical and in the back of my head always thought, "Oh we'll turn it around.."
But it was deeper than that. We had gotten behind and truly lost ourselves in that aura of arrogance as a fanbase. Michigan as a football program was living off of old money and not making investments in the future. I could see the trainwreck coming. I never envisioned or predicted it to get to this place, but I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. So I just lied to myself .
Then 2006 came and it played tricks on my heart. One last hurrah before the mighty fall. We all had a chance to watch and witness 11 weeks of what I still feel is the greatest college football team ever to have never won anything. Our football teams equivalent of the Fab 5. They beat team after team after team. All leading up to the biggest game on the national stage against our rival ever.
On November 13th I had bought tickets off of ebay, the most I had ever spent to go to any sporting event in my life so I could make the trip to Columbus and be a part of Michigan history first hand. On November 17th I received my tickets, just shy of an hour after hearing about Bo's death.
The next 4 games said it all. Out coached. Unprepared. Underachievers. Lagging behind even further from the pack of college football's elite.
Lloyd was burned out way before this and we had no plan. Greg Schiano turned us down twice. Greg fucking Schiano. Nobody with any credentials wanted the pressure of the job it seemed. We took our name for granted. But we all wanted change. Ohio State was kicking our ass. The rest of relevant college football outside of our little Big 10 world was also kicking our ass.
Beating MSU for most of a decade and winning a lot of Big 10 games made us content that we were still as successful as the rest of the elite but it was all an illusion. We were falling behind. 1997 was a long way away. Many fans knew this and were asking for change. Some of us were craving it! Then along comes Rich Rodriguez. Smart, football genius, young, but a bit wet behind the ears in his knowledge of the school he contacted about a job.
He came to bring us into another era. The same way other innovators and motivators had done before at Michigan. You had been asking for this for so many years now and Rich Rodriguez came in to be the one to give it to us.
Except when he got here a circus ensued instead. An outright debacle in the grandest fashion. People from within the very university we cheer for, its own alumni started something out of nothing before a game was ever played under the new regime. The seed planted. The media played it up. Our rivals relished it all. The michigan fan base ate it up. The masses rolled with every punch and instead of football you got WWE theatre.
I am not going to beat on too many dead horses here. They are all blood and mashed guts now. After reading this site for the last 4+ years it's probably just liquid. Most all of it has been said by every blogger on MGO in a million different ways. But I will rehash a few obvious points that have brought me to some conclusions about this whole state of affairs.
Rich Rodriguez is a good coach. He will be a good coach when he leaves here. He will win big somewhere else. But here it isn't going to work, ever. Here are some caps -EVER EVER- The ship sailed on that in September 2008. I just didn't realize it until this past few days.
When you want something. Especially when someone is trying to give it to you when nobody else will, smile and say thanks even if you didn't get it neatly packaged or exactly the way you wanted it. Don't screw it up by complaining about the trivial shit.
Rich Rodriguez deserved better than what was given to him. A big portion of the Michigan Football fanbase got what they deserved. I think that karma always has a way of showing its ugly head in every aspect in life and looking back at it all I can't say that this isn't one of those examples.
In all reality, did anyone of you that rooted against this guy ever expect him to succeed? How can you win with a giant cloud of shit hanging over your head every second of the day for 3 years? How can you succeed when recruiting, the lifeblood of any major program is impacted the way Michigan Football's has. How do you get to the next level when you have a hole the size of a moon crater in talent and bad luck as long as I-94 tagging along for the ride saddled with all that negative unnecessary bullshit created by some the very people you are trying to work for?
You don't. He hasn't. You cannot make a marriage work if the other person isn't willing to work too. You can't even correct small mistakes if you aren't given an straightforward shot at it. You can say everything you want to about his epic fail, but if we are honest and really look in the mirror we all know that these are not ordinary circumstances and to judge fairly you have to critique with the entire story in mind. This isn't just X's & O's, execution and on field coaching ability.
Ignorance. Nepotism. Cronyism. They all found a way into Michigan football in a way that has left a black eye on us. If you don't think so then I believe you to be foolish and as many outside of our own fanbase perceive-arrogant. But regardless of how I feel about Rich, I no longer want him as the coach of Michigan.
My support for Rich Rodriguez is no longer there. I want him gone. Yesterday. It is time to move on and I think the writing is and has been on the wall that he will be within the next few days. I used to think that he should get a 4th year no matter what. But even that is gone from my mind. What is a 4th year going to do. Even if he wins 10 games it won't be considered real success to the majority. Because the Majority of the Michigan fanbase doesn't like him and never will. Rich needs to move on for the betterment of his family, his future success and simply because he is wasting his time here.
So I think it is time to do something to save Michigan Football before we become completely irrelevant. I sure hope Jim Harbaugh is coming here. Because I think he is the only guy that can make this work right now. Because sadly if Jim Harbaugh comes to town unlike Rich Rodriguez he'll be treated like a god. The press will praise him. The average fans will all shut up whining. The dirty cloud of negativity will magically lift and he can do the job without this raging storm right outside his window.
I never thought Jim Harbaugh was a bad coach or that he would fail at Michigan. I just thought we already had a good coach and it wasn't fair that we didn't give our full support to the him. But since things are what they are, as a fan of gigantic proportions I am all about anything that betters the football team I have been watching my entire life. In my heart I now know Rodriguez is not that guy. But if Jim Harbaugh isn't available it doesn't matter who coaches in my opinion, the tables will be stacked against them. Hello spiral.. I hope if we get lucky and Harbaugh is announced as Michigan's next head football coach this week that he has us in mind for the long term because he is going to have to do what Bo did in the late 60's. Take a floundering/fractured program and build it back up. And that is going to take awhile. Hopefully by that time if Michigan hires outside of it's own we have learned our lessons and give the next man who comes from outside the support they need. Going through this once was enough.
Lastly I will say that I did learn something from this experience. I think as a fan I am a better one than I was pre-2008. I learned a lot about life through this. Through football. I'll always support the team and the school forever. But I lost respect for a very large chunk of the people who call themselves fans of Michigan football.
Hopefully time and some magical wins heal all.
Go Blue Forever