Special teams GERG
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.