The Trials and Tribulations of the Michigan Coaching Search
January 5th, 2011
It has been a long strange trip and I doubt the surprises and pitfalls are over yet. The topic of changing the Michigan head coaching job has been popular since the last year of our retired poet coach, Lloyd Carr. After a disastrous showing against a spread offense I-AA school and a shellacking at the hands, or should I say webbed hands of the Oregon Ducks, people were fed up with Carr’s hackneyed style of pro offense. It seemed the underlying mantra to switching to Rich Rodriguez was that if we couldn’t beat a spread offense, we might as well become one. Become one we did. After Bill Martin’s sailing excursion in the Caribbean with Johnny Depp and some Bahama girls, he went out and got the architect of the damn thing.
The first year of the Rich Rod experiment went as well as a VIOXX addiction. With the changing of offensive systems, bare cupboards in way of players, and a new defensive scheme, a sub par year was expected. Then he finished 3-9, most recorded losses at Michigan for a season in its storied history and no bowl for the first time in over three decades. Seeing how the silver fox alumnus and Detroit Free Press Kool-Aid drinkers were not overly happy with the hire in the first place because he wasn’t a “Michigan Man”, a huge block of the fanbase was ready to throw him to the wolves after one year. Coupled with NCAA allegations and infractions that would make Erik Dickerson giggle a little bit, and a 5-7 season with no bowl again, he was not getting many Christmas cards in 2009. Come 2010, not even a super hero the likes of Flash Dilitium could save Rich Rod from a predestined outcome of being axed on January 5th, 2011. Another day that seemed like another chance to begin another fresh start.
Throughout the 2010 season a man occupying a coaching position on the west coast caught the attention of a lot of people ready to return to the “Michigan Man” was the only man for the job that was given to a country bumpkin that had no place here while spitting his tobacco juice all over Schembechler’s coffin. There was also a faction of revolutionaries ready to defend Rich Rodriguez to the very bitter end, including me. That was until the Gator Bowl episode, where I became open to a change. Not necessarily getting rid of RR, but at least a major overhaul of the defensive staff like they were some worthless hacks in a company merger ready to be cut loose and beg on the street like vagabonds. It is my general belief that if the Michigan fan base were armed to the teeth, the bloodshed after that game would have rivaled the death toll at Gettysburg. Change of some sorts would have had to happen, no doubt about it. Within two days of firing Rich Rod it seemed only two options were acceptable and likely. Either Jim Harbaugh would ride in on his white horse and raise the spirit of Bo to win at least six national championships in a row or the same result with Rich Rod and a revamped defense with General Tommy Franks as defensive coordinator. Then, BOOM, went the coaching change.
January 5th, 2011, a day not to celebrate a new start, but a day to commence panic and find the nearest lifeboat left as the Michtanic went down in the cold waters of Lake Huron as a string quartet played the final verse of Hail to the Victors. Dave Brandon, Chief Pizza Tosser, announced the firing and then announced he will begin the national search for a new head coach. Begin the search you say? As soon as that pepperoni eating fool uttered that sentence, the hounds of hell erupted into a fit of laughter and began feasting upon the souls of many people near and dear to our hearts.
Our fearless captain of the S.S. MGoBlog went into DEFCON 5 mode; the blog broke due to heavy traffic, and every two bit expert wanting to weigh in on the wasteland known as Michigan football. I consumed a near dangerous level of Ambien to wake up in 2013 since I could not evoke my disapproval through digital nuclear warfare upon the masses. The national blood pressure average spiked as many of the MGoBlog community and residents of Michigan fandom nationwide erupted into anger that made the drunken Mel Gibson rant look like a children’s bedtime story. The end of Michigan football, along with the announcement of the end of the world in May put very bad vibes in many innocent bystanders of this pitiful saga.
January 7th, 2011
The White Horse and the Other Candidates
“Michigan Man”, a term coined by the late Bo Schembechler. Many began to think it should have been buried along with our beloved coach. By measuring every football entity with the “Michigan Man” measuring stick, we have duped ourselves and placed a millstone around any future coach that would dare step within the city limits of Ann Arbor. There is nothing wrong with upholding an aurora of decency and model citizenry for a coach, but to only allow a coach to come in with ties to the original “Michigan Man” is foolish at best and self destructive at worst.
Obviously the “Michigan Man” guard thinks more of the damn term than the jackass that pulled the rug out from under them, Jim Harbaugh. He will be gold digging in the bay area of California while we piss and moan about him not being a true “Michigan Man.” After a years worth of lusting after him he left his obsessive water carriers looking like grafters and shameless dunces. It seems the chosen one chose elsewhere.
What were our options now? A name that wouldn’t seem to leave the psyche was Brady Hoke. Hoke was a “Michigan Man” and former coach on Lloyd Carr’s magical mystery team. It was clear that only a few felt positive about Hoke in this MGoBubble we live in. Although his die-hard supporters pushed his excellence to lofty and Yost like levels of comparisons, he was wanted by most as much as we would like to swap spit with a former Hutu warlord with leprosy that contracted the bubonic plague and took malaria baths.
Another candidate was Chris Peterson from Boise State. He was less toxic than that mutant Hoke, but it seemed as if Boise St. coaches forgot their winning ways when they left the Potato State. Our only choice would be to hire him and become the next Colorado NAIA team or paint the Big House metallic blue and raise it about 10,000 feet in the air to induce Boise State like winning.
Next on the ever lengthening list is Gary Patterson from TCU. Out of all the names mentioned so far, he was my favorite. He would be able to utilize Denard and install a defense similar to the one at TCU. The TCU defense brought purple rain and pain on the mouth breathing meatheads from Wisconsin, and I could only imagine the erotic feeling I would get if it became Maize Rain. He also has many entertaining superstitions like un-tying and re-tying his shoelaces if his team was winning. That would definitely be a bonding point to get Denard to stay. I was also exclusive to the fact from an unnamed source that he shat rainbows every blue moon and was a close cousin of Horatio from CSI Miami.
Another choice from the west is Kyle Wittingham, the head coach at Utah. This choice makes no sense to me if we just dumped a proven winner. Wittingham could still be riding the recruits brought in by the Urban Meyer experience and after a slight nose dive at the end of the season, my stomach feels about good on this choice as does the morning after downing a fifth of rot gut whisky. It was appealing the night I got drunk and dumped, but now it sucks feeling this way; waking up next to a one armed mustachioed heifer in some strange lacy red lingerie.
The MGoUniverse became the chorus of a trendy Spice Girls song as everybody was telling everyone else what they wanted. As the days went by, more names from all corners of the football universe popped into the MGoBoard orbit. Panic became a drink of choice as the hands on the clock rounded through the hours many times. The night after the Cotton Bowl almost became the accumulation of the gnashed teeth and ulcers that were eating their way towards our rectums.
Les Miles was all but certain to become the next coach at the University of Michigan. Book it. Done deal. Hell, even throw in some grass for him to munch on before we rolled out the red carpet in Ann Arbor for the soon to be anointed Jester-King. The LSU message boards were blowing up to the likes I haven’t seen since The Great Possum Snatching Scandal of 2002. I listened to Jim-Bob and Jimmy Sue’s radio broadcasting postgame show as caller after caller called in from Michigan and Louisiana to accept the fact that the trade was done and the universe could go back to focusing American Idol. Saturday came, no announcement. Sunday came, and again no announcement. Tom VH then came out with the depressing facts that our recruiting class mimicked a hemophiliac with no medicine.
What the fuck was going on? I told my doctor not to fill up my medicinal horse tranquilizer prescription any more. I was ready to whore myself out to the idea of waking up in the Mad Hatter’s tea house. Back to the veter…doctors I went. Double dose. I had to put up with more flight tracking maps that looked more like an updated version of the Atari game Pong, wild rumors of Hoke riding in on a snow leopard made of meatlovers pizza, and Jon Gruden would be popping out of Schembechler Hall frothing at the mouth while he held Tressell’s skull in a precarious position at waist level height.
On day six of this bat shit crazy wild ride things seemed to be falling in place. Planes were coming and going to Baton Rouge in the likely outcome of a Les Miles coaching contract. Even Les Miles put out a brief presser that sounded like he was announcing himself pope of the snake wielding, gibberish talking branch of the Appalachian Pentecostal movement. In other words, he was being himself. Eerily strange and vague it was though. It was no doubt however that the Les Tickler had a hankering for taste of Michigan.
January 10th, 2011
Time Travel vs War Eagle
At least to buy my time I was able to watch the BCS National Championship Game. In my perception I expected two versions of the spread offense square off. Would it be the blazing Oregon offense that was the first ever NCAA team to travel in the future to score? Or would it be the SEC powerhouse bruisers that ran downhill like rabid “war eagles” hell bent on the Scorched Earth policy as a game strategy? My hopes laid with Oregon. Auburn was a dirty thuggish team. I thought even a tad extreme for the SEC. Mostly at the hands of Nick Fairley. Obvious proof of his bully mentality lay across the internets. While we struggle with major problems of an uncertain and chaotic situation with the future of our program, Gene Chizik must grapple with such problems as the obvious character flaw in Mr. Fairley:
"It's real simple. You have a 315-pound defensive tackle and you can't block him, sometimes he's going to be very aggressive and people are going to get hurt," Chizik said. "We don't want that. We don't want to see anybody get hurt. But when you can't block a guy that's 315 pounds, that happens."
That must suck. Poor saps.
Unfortunately I missed the 2nd quarter due to an impromptu stop into a small Pennsylvanian town and was forced to swallow down the fact that I had to watch the hit long running series “The Bachelor”. The women in the house were serious that night and there was no way I was risking my life to change the channel. The vibes most likely would have shifted very wrong if I had. Finally leaving with the idea that it was a tight turnover prone game when I was last listening to it on the radio, I arrived ten miles to the north to watch the completion.
What I saw made me squeamish. The Tigers were up 19-11 in the third quarter. As the game progressed, one thing in my mind became clear. The Oregon offensive line was greatly overmatched by the behemoths breathing fire across the line from them. Auburn brutalized Oregon with force and blatant malice by Fairley again. Oregon made a last ditch come back scoring a TD and amazing 2pt conversion try. Oregon’s TE Jeff Maehl was their team last night.
Bummer for Oregon was that they left two minutes on the clock for Newton & Co. By this time in the game the Auburn o-line was eating up Oregon’s d-line. Oregon wasn’t tired, but they were out muscled. Auburn seemed to collect seven yards on every carry by Newton or Dyer. Auburn won in a close game that was really never that close. The final chapter on a year in college football was written, in which evil won.
January 11, 2011 (1/11/11)
The Day Before The Day After
Day Seven. It feels like we’ve been in a desert for eternity. No sign of water. We might have to Bear Grylls a snake and recycle our urine to survive. LSU athletic director Alleva announced that Les Miles will be staying at LSU. BOOM. ROASTED. I was just starting to think the Mad Hatter was crazy enough to handle this nuthouse we have created.
This coupled an article out of San Diego that Hoke was now going to meet with Dave Brandon for the University of Michigan Head Football Coaching position. This news can do bad things to one’s mind as a snowstorm rolls in from the west and trap you in alone. I expected to become destructive to society at any moment, but it never came. I had a feeling of numbness. If Hoke was hired, ok. Ok. Whatever. We have no other choice but support him and hope that Brandon saw something in his crystal Challis we couldn’t. He would be our coach and the fanbase faced two choices. Either stay on the boat and support our new head coach or load into a lifeboat and abandon ship. What would win out in an MGoCulture War? Michigan and unprecedented faith or a possible millstone necklace of tried tradition?
Lou Mannheim: “Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”
Two hours later, that decision came down the pipes from HQ. Hoke was our man, no joke. John Lennon once recorded a song titled “Instant Karma”. Then I thought about Jerry Kill.
The culture war ended that quick. What seemed like a never-ending all out nuclear war ended with in seven days, third in recorded history only to the Six Day War in 1967 that surprisingly only lasted six days and The Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 that lasted a tough 45 minutes. Regardless after a nuclear war, there will be fallout. How much is yet to be seen, but there will be a myriad of emotions for the ones that are left rooting for our beloved Michigan football team. It will only come down to two choices however. We can either band together and make a go of what we have and stand at having a better chance to survive or scatter like cockroaches into factions that continue to practice cannibalism ending in probable epic proportions of fail.
Is our reign as a once traditionally powerful and feared program over? I’ll let Brady Hoke tell you that:
Brady Hoke. Love him or leave him. He is here. I am down with being a Hokeamaniac.
credit: Tom Pickle...WLA^^^^^^^
“Buy the ticket, take the ride…”
On the Jim Rome show he just said Harbaugh shouldn't take the Michigan job and that "Michigan needs him far more than he needs Michigan". Let's hope he is in fact a Michigan Man and takes the job here.
I've held my tongue for the most part on the CC discussion, mainly because I wasn't exactly sure how I felt. But having just returned from Jacksonville*, I'm convinced Rod needs to go. While Oregon and Auburn prove that a great O can overcome a middling D, Michigan has confirmed that a good but inconsistent O cannot overcome a hapless D. While I'm confident both sides of the ball would have improved in 2011 under Rod, I don't think they would have done so enough for RR to keep Bo's promise to his first senior class - "Those who stay will be champions."
But I hate it, for plenty of reasons. I hate that "The House of Bo" concept will be cemented. Don't get me wrong, I love what Bo stood for. I love when he originally coined the term "Michigan Man" it preceded a Men's BBall title. But I hate how the jihadis have twisted it - so that it doesn't include a man who took the high road, mentored his players, reprimanded them when they deserved it, and put their welfare above wins and losses. I hate how that twisted form will now be the accepted form. Because as we worried in 2007, if we only look for alums and former assistants to coach here, we are likely to stagnate. And the next time a disciple of Bo retires, it'll be even harder to change, even when change is necessary, because of Rod's failed marriage with Michigan.
I hope Harbaugh comes, and finds the success that eluded RR (because of his own mismanagement). I don't think it's certain. Coach Rod's tenure here proves that nothing is certain. He came to the winningest program in football as an innovative mind that had proven his mettle by dominating the Big East. I thought it would be the type of marriage that lasted for decades and included multiple NCs. I was very wrong.
I hate that Harbaugh's triumphs aren't certainties in my mind. I hate that the only thing I'm certain of is that we will struggle mightily in 2011. I remember in Columbus 2008, when an usher tried to steal my friend's ticket, and an old, fat, drunk woman tried to pick a fight with me. I remember some jerk-off calling me "Hajji" the whole game rows behind me, and when I finally turned around, and he pointed to the scoreboard, I had no comeback. So I did what any good Michigan Man would do. I said, "Good job, you deserved it today." I remember some OSU student telling me, "don't worry, Rod'll be gone in three years. We'll see you then." I remember taking comfort in the fact that he was wrong. I was so confident that they would all eat crow sooner than Gordon Gee.
But I was wrong, and those jerks were right. The Freep jihadis won this argument. A decent man failed at his job. He ought to be fired. But dangit, do I still hate those pissants. And I really hate the fact that at Michigan, the nice guy finished last.
He needs to go, but I really hate it.
*On a lighter note, while the cowbells were really annoying, I thought that the Mississippi State fans were not your stereotypical SEC crowd. They were all friendly and fun.
I know there was a thread a couple months back about helmet stickers and how Carr dumped them, but now that there is a non zero chance that JH will consider coming to us (barring a CC), it looks like he will bring his helmet stickers policy that he uses at stanford. I personally am not a huge fan and think the helmets look clean without them but also realize they were a michigan tradition in the past and am not open to the re-instating. How do the Michigan Men on this site feel about a possible return.
I'm sure we've all had those headaches that just won't go away. No, not how you feel about Sparty or the state of Ohio in general. I mean the real life ones, the ones that you can't shake. The ones that linger on for days. That's how Michigan fandom feels right now.
I hate to say it because I've been a Michigan fan since I knew what sports were. I went to U of M-Dearborn (couldn't afford Ann Arbor). I proudly watch every game, wear my gear out everywhere, live 15 minutes from the stadium, have been reading this blog for 4 years or so now, and tell everyone what my school is.
The endless drama, the non-stop CC, the media speculation, its all a constant nagging headache for me. Our program, our love, our TEAM, our passion is being drug through the mud again. We just went through this not even five years ago. Its painful even more this time than before.
When we first hired Rich Rodriguez and all that came with him I defended him to the ignorant. To those who wouldn't give him a chance. To those who knew nothing about him. To those who undoubtedly posted on many a message board with spittle filled monitors after screaming about him not being a "Michigan Man." I continued to defend him through 3-9. Through Toledo. Through the ended bowl streak. Through Sparty (three times). Through OSU (three times). Through 5-7 and now 7-5. It got so bad I gave my own father one rule every time I sat down with him to watch a Michigan game: Talk negative about Rich Rod and I'm gone. And I've had to leave in the middle of games full of anger and disappointment at my father to drive home to watch the games, alone. Headache.
Now there's nothing left to defend except hope. I want to defend, I want to fight, I want to see Rich Rodriguez come through and bring Michigan back to elite status...but I can't. I sit here with yet another headache. I see the board full of speculation, of the dreaded CC tag, of vitriol on both sides of the isle and it brings me to a headache. Once an ardent supporter and a fan through thick and thin I'm officially done with Rich Rodriguez.
I don't care what name our new coach has. I don't care what offense he runs. I don't care what defense he runs. I don't care if he brings in Johnny Chimpo and Jerry Giraffe to run the offense and defense. I just want to WIN. I want to strike fear in our opponents again. I want to DOMINATE.
I'm sure to most this comes off as my very own MAKE PLAYS moment and I don't care. I have to take a reprieve from this blog. I usually spend many hours here a week and check the main page and the board over and over scrawling for anything new. I can't do it right now. Every single CC and every single Harbaugh or Rich Rod or whatever is a giant headache. I want to ENJOY fandom again.
I'm young but my life is filled with great Michigan football memories. I want to feel that joy of watching Wheatley, my first favorite player, shred Washington. Of Biakabatuka shredding OSU. Of Grbac and Greise and Brady and Henson and Navarre (as frustrating as he was). Of Minnesota and the comeback. Of CWood at MSU. Of Braylon versus MSU. Of 97 versus everyone. I don't want my fandom to reside only in memories. That's what Notre Dame fans do. I want to MAKE memories. I wasn't fortunate enough to see a game in person until I was a Junior in high school. I've gone to more games in the past two years than the rest of my life combined because I can now afford to. The games are fun and there is no other experience like that of the Big House. But I want the whole experience to be fun again not just Saturday until halftime. I want the headache to go away.
There will always be heartbreak and pain and sadness in fandom. Without it we cannot truly appreciate the highs. Fandom is practical experience of the Tao Te Ching. But I've had more than I can stand of the bad for this week, this month, this season. I will NEVER stop being a fan because its just not in my blood. But I think this part is better if I just step away and come back when this week is over.
IIRC, the Detroit Lions got in a bit of trouble a few years back when they hired Mariuchi or Morningwheg or Marinelli...well...one of the "emms" anyway because Detroit did not interview a minority candidate. Something about "Millen wanting his guy and not taking a fair look at other candidates" or something along those lines.
- Does UM have to go through this process (I'm not saying it's a bad thing, btw) or is it strictly an NFL thing? Can Dave Brandon just hire whomever he wants without a committee or search or anything?
- How is it that this JH to UM thing is so quiet? Where are all the websites tracking airline flights (not a fan of this, btw) that may or may not be carrying UM interviewers or interviewees?
Also, if JH is not introduced as coach in the 'back half of the week' how badly does this reflect on Brandon? If there is no deal in place to replace RR with JH at this point, this is going to go from bad to worse in a heartbeat. Brandon has been talking about 'evaluation' for a while now. That has to be BS at this point and clearly a back up plan to JH bailing. However, after the bowl game, seems like the general feeling is that it's Harbaugh or bust at this point. No other coach will do. If the 'evaluation' has not been a cover up for a behind the scenes deal to hire JH after his bowl game tonight, UM football is seriously screwed, RR is hamstrung and Dave Brandon is responsible for at least this:
- Completely undermining his current coach (RR)
- The lack of focus in bowl preparations/game play due to coaching change
- General current and future recruiting fiascos (Zettel to PSU, Dee Hart decommit)