this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
It isn't fun to see your team lose. Results are the only thing that matter, in a sense. And yet, from my perspective, we have seen tremendous results. Michigan was in both the MSU and Iowa games. We simply don't have across the board skill on our team right now, and it won't happen overnight. We aren't strong enough, big enough, skilled enough, fast enough, and experienced enough to regularly win games like these. At least we know Michigan isn't going to go 3 - 9 in Hoke's first year. Coaching will allow us to steal some games, but not all.
As painful as it is, I think we need to be patient with Hoke, with Borges, with Mattison, with Denard. There comes a time when paitence no longer cuts it. We are not at that time, not this year, and not next year.
I feel so confident that by 2013, we will see a vastly improved team. Hoke has the support of the AD and the University. He has a crack recruiter in Mattison. We already have the best football recruiting class in many years.
Many are frustrated that DB has stuck to his guns, and not caved with providing public comments on the coaching situation TODAY. Some want him to bring on Harbaugh, some want him to give RR an extension. The commonality is that many want this resolved NOW.
Others are frustrated with RR, and what he has or hasn't done with regards to the defense. Many don't understand what he has in mind, and disagree with changes (or lack of changes) he has made with player personnel, and coaching staff. Many are embarrassed at the treacle displayed at the football team bust with the song and speech and all. (As if treacly displays weren't the standard fare at most such events.)
I have read and pondered many of these posts, good and bad, expressing great frustration, ANGAR, and sometimes ennui. They bring to mind a poem from Rudyard Kipling. I believe his poem captures fairly well the philosophical stance taken by both DB & RR. I present it for those of you who just can't wait. My counsel for you, my fellow fans, is patience. We are in a bowl, we are improving, and tomorrow will be better.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
Disclaimer: This is my opinion. And for the record, because the decision to keep or fire Rich Rodriguez is completely out of my hands, I no longer have an opinion on the subject. I trust the people in charge and will go with whatever decision they make. Unlike most of these other diaries, this has no statistics. They just aren't my thing. I warn you, this is long. It is basically my rationale for being rational. Take it for what it is worth... Thanks.
After the Ohio State beatdown, I was angry and wanted RR fired. Sunday I was too angry about the Wiki Leaks guy so I cooled down a little bit. On Monday, after seeing Denard Robinson win the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award, I've cooled down significantly and am looking at things more rationally, but not delusionally by any means.
Rich Rodriguez has done a terrible job coaching this team his first three years. When his WVU DC wasn't coming, he should have kept Ron English because he doesn't know shit about defense and/or the Big Ten. Ron English wasn't the greatest DC, but he was young, had energy and the respect of the kids that we had. RR should have adjusted his offense to Threet's talents, but he either didn't know how or was too stubborn. Then comes Tate, played well but he was a Freshman - what did you expect? Then Denard played flat out amazing but still he was a first year starter (Who won Big Ten OPOY). The defense? Can't honestly say Greg or Shafer are terrible coordinators or RR is a moron for forcing a system and staff upon them (or both). Either way, the entire coaching has failed when it comes to tackling. Every football player needs to know how to tackle with proper form. Offense on turnovers, special teams, and obviously defense. That is a fundamental. RR needs to give up on his defense philosophy and fire his friend Tony Gibson. On special teams, the kicking game is partly RR's fault, but Gibbons was a bust. Hagerup is great. Poor tackling on returns - that is mostly on Tony Gibson and partly on the other coaches for not teaching this fundamental football move. I don't know if they break down special teams film to look at teams blocking schemes on special teams, but uh, it didn't look like it. The injuries in 2010 really hurt, especially on defense and in our run game. Red zone turnovers by a first year starter at QB really killed us in some of those games, too.
It's a real conundrum we are in. Fire him and somewhat start over with a new guy, although I think the transition wouldn't be as bad as 2008 with a coach that isn't as stubborn as RR. Or say that for the first time, we have a returning QB that has proved he is electric. A stable of great WRs and RBs, many who are upperclassmen. Solid OL. Solid incoming recruits. Defense returning from an injury plagued year with many young players that had on the job training and game experience that will have an entire new staff running their own that is actually effective in defending Big Ten offenses (that is a MUST if RR stays). If RR can't handle an autonomous defense, then he is not all in for Michigan and should be fired. You want to build the best program in America right? Then bring in the best Defensive Coordinator and Staff you can find and let them do it their way, the same way you do it with your offense.
I pity David Brandon for having to make this decision. It basically makes or breaks his legacy as an AD. (And could have an impact on his political future, who knows.) Fans, media and former players all calling for the coach's head. Does he succumb to their demands? Does he see what I stated above and say "One More Year?" If he gives him another year and we have great season in 2011, he is a genius. T shirts will be made, "Patience is a virtue? No - David Brandon is patience." If we flop, he is a chump with no credibility.
In 2008 when Rich Rodriguez was hired, there were people who didn't like him. 3-9? More people didn't like him. First NCAA violations in program history? More. 5-7? More. 7-5 with poundings by Big Ten's elite? Even more. And it's hard to argue against those people, it has not been pretty or fun by any means. And then there are the people who stood by the coach no matter what, because he was the Michigan coach. As long as they always pulled for Michigan to win, these groups are the same - just passionate Michigan fans with strong opinions. And today, there is a supposed divide amongst the Michigan faithful. FIRE HIM NOW and WAIT AND SEE. These groups are also one in the same - one views the glass half full, the other half empty. The WAIT AND SEE group is no doubt angry with the way this coach has mismanaged and poorly coached his way into a hole in the job of a lifetime and straight up dragged Michigan through the mud. With all the drama and losing the past couple years, they still ask for patience because they want to see where this thing goes when some stability is involved (minus the defensive coaches =)..) The FIRE HIM NOW group wants to...well..FIRE HIM NOW. And you can't really blame them for feeling this way after the past few seasons. At the same time, as much as they were saddened, angered and frustrated by watching the games we lost, they can't tell me that they weren't thrilled watching Denard Robinson go apeshit on Notre Dame or the defense coming through in 3OT against Illinois. I know you can argue that all the wins, yards and points came against lesser opponents, a back-up QB at ND and vs. UCONN, Bowling Green. You can argue that we played close games against bad teams. (We did, FCS UMASS 42-37 are you kidding me?) You can argue that we were not even close in any of our losses, and that most yards and points came in on clean-up duty defenses. Once again, you are probably right. You don't even have to argue about the defense. However, you can't argue against the fact that our offense has shown flashes of being unstoppable and that the defense was plagued by freak injuries that forced inexperienced players, young and old, to play in games they had no business seeing the field in. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you want the coach to stay for one more year, you should be able to support him and still agree that he has done a horrendous job thus far and excuses about the cupboard being bare aren't applicable anymore. You should demand he stays away from the defense. If you want him fired now, ask yourself this question. If you could turn the page and take a peek as to what 2011 holds for Michigan Football with Rich Rodriguez, would you be curious enough to take a look? If you would, then maybe your mind isn't as made up as you thought it was.
Virginia Tech was a basically a football non-entity until the arrival of Bill Dooley in 1978. After two losing seasons in '78 and '79, he reeled off seven straight winning seasons, including two with 9 wins. Up to that point, he was by far Va Tech's most successful coach, and under him the Hokies gained a measure of respectability, compared to what it had had before. Va Tech was an independent, so it didn't have the competitive schedule that's required to really get respect nationally, but it was no longer a laughingstock.
Allegations of recruiting violations forced Dooley to step down as HC and AD after the 1986 season, and the new AD hired little-known Frank Beamer to succeed Dooley. Beamer's only college head coaching experience was six years at Murray State, where he had compiled a 42-23-2 record. As you can imagine the selection was criticized by many of Va Tech's fans, since Beamer was basically a nobody with no D1A experience under his belt.
Beamer struggled right out of the gate. His first two seasons were 2-9 and 3-8, and coming after the successful tenure of Dooley this was hard to swallow. Beamer then followed with two modestly successful years of 6-4-1 and 6-5, but the '91 and '92 seasons were disastrous again, with 5-6 and 2-8-1 results. So Beamer's record after six seasons was 24-40-2, which basically was an inversion of Dooley's final six seasons of 46-21-1. I'm very curious what the attitude of fans and the upper administration of Va Tech was at that point, but I'd be willing to bet Beamer had very little support from anybody.
For whatever reason, Beamer wasn't let go, and that was fortunate for Va Tech. The '93 season was 9-3, and that kicked off Beamer's string of successful seasons extending to the present day. Since then his worst season was 7-5 in 1997, but just two years later he was in the NC game against FSU. There have been 10 seasons with ten wins or better in that span, including five in a row in 2004 through 2008.
I'm pretty amazed Beamer wasn't fired after the 1992 season, and I'm wondering if the nature of Va Tech's football history up to that point was critical. The Hokies had no real national football relevance, even after Dooley's tenure. They had none of the history behind them that powers like Alabama or Texas or Michigan had, and the fan base didn't demand 10-win seasons and prestigious bowl appearances. In other words, the standards probably weren't that high, compared to what they are at Michigan.
RR has to measure up to a historical record of success, especially since 1969, that dwarfs anything Beamer had to compare to, and I think that's the crucial difference. I'm skeptical that the administration would keep him after six years if the record was similar to Beamer's first six, but that doesn't mean it would necessarily be a wise long-term decision to fire him, as Beamer's record attests. Hopefully we're never in that position in the first place with RR. After two losing seasons, I can't imagine the condition of the Michigan football psyche if the agony were to continue for another four seasons.