I want another post that gets me excited for the GAME we have in two days, and also gives me hope that the short-sighted, soothsaying fans and media will not ruin what I've been waiting for since Rich came here. After working a midnight shift and catching a cold yesterday, this is not what I needed to read today.
One Last Blind Stab In The Dark
Let's make a deal.
Saturday Michigan takes on Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl and Sunday something may or may not happen involving the throttling of an infant Denard Robinson in his cradle and the tears and lamentation that may or may not result. That would hypothetically also mean the reign of terror Greg Robinson's hair and the zombie minion that goes by the name of Greg Robinson would be over. The city of Ann Arbor emerging from its cocoon of upper middle class ennui to shoot AK47s in the air would at least partially offset the tragic, still hypothetical loss of baby Denard. I have taken too long on this bit.
Two days later Jim Harbaugh and his Stanford Cardinal take on Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. After he may or may not be destined for Michigan or the 49ers or the moon. The latest from Harbaugh is reminiscent of one Brian Kelly last year:
"I only talk about the job I have now," Harbaugh said when asked if he or his representatives had spoken to the 49ers about their coaching vacancy.
He acknowledged having a "dual focus"—
--on his team, which will play Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday, and on his daughter, Katherine, who was born just before Christmas.
Aw, come on, Harbaugh.
So what's going to happen? I still don't know. No one does. Last time on this show I said I didn't have anything solid and probably wouldn't because of the nature of the "search" but that the mystical aura wasn't looking so hot:
I'm not inclined to put much in the widespread chatter that had RR out the door after the OSU game and seems to be continuing since its sourcing seems to be pissed-off-you-guys folk clearly unhappy with the state of the program taking small interactions and interpreting them as they desire. However, the vibe I'm getting from other people who seem to be on the fence about what to do—or at least close to it—also makes it seem unlikely Rodriguez is back. Emphasis on all the qualifying words in the previous sentence, please. I've got nothing solid because no one does.
I also said that Brady Hoke would be named Michigan's coach over my dead body and the last semblance of sanity in the universe but that wasn't based on inside information. It was more a "has everybody gone CRAZY!?!" moment, and if the threat of Hoke didn't linger in the air I'd apologize for it. As it is I'm on the battlements with an axe* waiting to behead anyone who pops up and says "my name is Buh—." Bill Parcells is duly warned.
With less that a week left before the month of limbo is over, I haven't received anything that pushes my opinion much one way or the other. To reiterate, that's:
- There is a nonzero chance Rodriguez is fired, otherwise there would have been an announcement.
- Schools do not start coaching searches on January 2nd.
- There's only one guy out there that could plausibly be socked away or all but in time for Michigan to have a reasonable finish in recruiting and could justify yet more chaos in a program that is pointed in the right direction, even if vaguely.
So it's Rodriguez or Harbaugh and we'll probably know the day after the Orange Bowl. With all due respect to people who would argue otherwise, it makes no sense to fire Rodriguez in January if you do not have a coach lined up immediately. Since the list of people other than Harbaugh who Michigan could install within a week reads "Buh—[blood theatrically spraying from neck]" your alternatives are between rushing someone through without pause for consideration—which worked out so well last time—or dragging the search almost up to Signing Day, leaving your recruiting class a smoking crater and possibly dooming the next guy, who will forever be Not Jim Harbaugh, to repeat the cycle.
I have heard some things that push me more towards Harbaugh:
- Some connected guys at Cal email that Tedford is aiming to poach Harbaugh's OL coach since he has "agreed to go elsewhere already" as of the 17th of December. Caveat: the Cal rumor mill bears no animus towards Rodriguez but would love to see Harbaugh anywhere but Stanford, so as things get passed down the chain they get more certain.
- A player who split his career between RR/Carr years tells an emailer that Harbaugh will be installed on the fifth. Caveat: why the hell would some former player know?
- An emailer who reports things second hand but has been reliable in the past suggests that Mary Sue Coleman isn't a big fan of Rodriguez, which isn't much of anything to go on but just adds to the pile.
- Media people I talk to generally say the best thing is probably to give him one more year but that they don't expect he'll get it. Also not much of anything but vibe.
The only thing pointing the other way is the generally sunny disposition coming from within Schembechler Hall, but with recruits the coaches are saying they've got no idea what's going on but if they're still around after the bowl they'll still be around forever, or something to that effect. That's a hard sale right there.
If I was 55-45 Harbaugh a month ago I'm 65-35 Harbaugh now. I wish I could be more certain and wouldn't make the decision I think is likely if I was king of the world, but that's life. We'll know soon enough.
AWFUL BONUS: If there is a change you can go start the Denard transfer watch at DEFCON 2, since Robinson knows what he is—the Big Ten offensive player of the year as a sophomore at quarterback—and where he fits. How screwed up is a program that manages to get both Ryan Mallett and Denard Robinson to transfer away from certain starting QB jobs in the course of three years?
This hasn't happened yet. Breathe. I am talking to myself mostly.
*(To avoid a Tucker Carlson moment let me clarify: I am not going to cut Brady Hoke or anyone's head off with an axe.)
You're right, we do have a football game coming up one of these days, don't we? I've been so busy reading all the posts on this Michigan football blog that I forgot all about the game . . . .
don't want the Jihad Jackoffs celebrating with a "mission accomlished" attitude when this is all said and done
The "conventional wisdom" around here seems to be that the bowl outcomes will make little difference and DB has already made an irrevocable decision. I find that hard to completely accept. Consider the following two scenarios:
Scenario A: Michigan wins impressively in the Gator Bowl and Stanford gets thumped by Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Scenario B: Michigan is embarassed by MSU in the Gator Bowl and Stanford wins convincingly in the Orange Bowl.
I would estimate a 20% chance for each of these scenarios, with a better than even chance that something less decisive plays out. Scenario A would make it very difficult to justify a coaching change and Scenario B would make one very difficult to avoid. At the very least, the popularity of the ultimate decision would be greatly affected by these outcomes. Whether that would ultimately matter to Brandon, I can not say, but it is at least possible that his mind is not fully made up and part of the reason for his extended timetable is to see how the bowls play out (thus keeping potential pitchfork mobs at bay).
Personally, I would like to see RR back, but if Scenario B were to transpire, even I might be inclined to hop the fence.
If Harbaugh comes, Rich Rod will be an ESPN analyst for a year and then will take the HC job at Clemson.
When he got hired by Michigan, Tommy Bowden (a mutual friend of the family) told me that we made a great hire and that the fans in Clemson love Rich Rod.
He'll do just fine there and that's the type of program that he needs to be running.
Apparently, there's a third candidate: does anyone know what system the goat runs?
with a stubborn defense and strong kicking game.
I am a RichRod supporter, and I hope DB keeps him.
However, I have come to accept the idea that he is probably history.
If we get Harbaugh, he is a great coach.
Michigan and its fans win with either coach.
It all depends how you look at another transition. If you are okay taking another hit short term to get back to old school michigan football then you will love Harbaugh. But if you love the new fast offensive style you will be sad with the change. I for one will be sad, especially if Denard and a few other key speedsters leave town.
So sick of this constant refrain that Harbaugh will bring us back to "boring" "old school" Michigan style. He ran a spread at San Diego. His offense at Stanford is anything but boring - 40.3 points per game!
The PAC10 is completely overrated. Just look at Arizona's performance in the bowl game.
Oh wait. Pointing to one team's performance in a bowl game and concluding a conference is overrated is not remotely logical.
Especially considering Arizona had a horrible matchup. OSU should have been playing on NYD or in the Cotton Bowl.
Plus it ignores that Pac-10 also-ran Washington beat Big XII runner up Nebraska last night.
Total Offense: Michigan (6th); Stanford (14th)
Scoring Offense: Michigan (22nd); Stanford (8th)
Strength of Schedule: Michigan (39th); Stanford (10th)
Strength of schedule?
Stanford played two ranked teams, Oregon and Arizona. Arizona finished the season 7-6.
If Harbaugh doesn't come to Michigan, will the FreeP use the FOIA to report on whether DB hired a search firm to conduct a coaching search during this time?
Were you joking? It is not a joke. Any formal committee convened by David Brandon can be made subject to the Open Meetings Act disclosure requirments, and yes a FOIA could be used, to obtain records desired by the Free Press. And yes, they would do that. Yes, they will do that.
I'd rather let RR finish the job here, though now I'm wishing he had got on rebuilding the defense a bit earlier and letting the DC run the defense.
I hope Brian is right. If I cannot have my first choice RR, then JH is my second choice. The 49ers job will be very tempting for JH and if he decides to head in that direction, I would be happy to keep RR. But I am fearful that RR is gone no matter what happens to JH. I think DB has his short list and we will see a new HC. I will not be very happy if someone other than RR and JH are not our coach. But I will support our new coach and wish him well!
I was thrilled to have RR come as Michigan's coach because I was tired of M and Big10 losing to Pac10 and SEC in the biggest games. I felt (and feel) that updated schemes on O and D are needed to compete nationally. Yes the 3-3-5 too. I don't have the emotional energy to care anymore should RR be let go (my wife is considering intervention re. my time on mgoblog...). The Michigan fan base seems to me unreasonable and unrealistically "entitled". Should RR go, I'll bet there are only more years of lamentation and wailing, not real support for the team and it's development.
Check our record against SEC teams before including that in your argument.
I believe we are 7-3 in bowl games against the SEC, including wins in 3 of 4 appearances in the Cap One bowl, which includes a 2-0 record against Florida and another win over Auburn. Indeed, we own the SEC.
It's the Pac-10 teams that have given us trouble.
Mostly running pro style offenses.
In BCS Bowls (including pre-BCS) we have are 1-2 against the Big 12, 1-1 against the SEC, and 4-11 against the Pac 10 since 1969.
Even post-Bo, we are 3-4 in BCS bowls, 2-3 Pac 10, 1-0 SEC, 0-1 Big 12.
Not about BCS bowls. All I'm saying is, Michigan owns the SEC.
it's USC that has given us trouble.
Cool as ever, Brian. One point that jumped out:
"Media people I talk to generally say the best thing is probably to give him one more year but that they don't expect he'll get it."
Really glad you said this, Brian. Too many people are hellbent in their (false, cave-dweller) belief that every reporter who ever stepped foot in Michigan has been "against" Richrod since day one.
All of the RR apologists need any excuse they can get for his b10 record. If blaming the media does the trick, so be it.
I don't care what happens as far as the head coach goes but I hope that we do not lose Denard to a transfer somewhere. If he shows the same amount of improvement over the summer that he did for this season...man. If he has to sit for a year and just has a chance to work on his passing for somewhere else.....double man. And personally, I don't think Harbaugh coming here means that Denard is out. I think Harbaugh should be able to work with him and maybe he wont using him as the running back as much. Especially if he improves his long floating passes....
JH would just need to show Denard film of a certain U-M quarterback between 1984 and 1986, who ran a sick option, had a killer arm, beat tOSU like a red-headed stepchild, won the B1G championship, and played in the Rose Bowl.
Why would Denard, Mr. Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (and, if our team had been better, a possible Heisman contender), sit out a year? He's a proven star right now, and his transferring would sideline him for a full season. That would be a career disaster, in my opinion. I think Denard is staying regardless. Maybe that's just wishful thinking, because his departure would already worsen by Football OffSeason-al Affect Disorder.
And that man is ... Bill Martin. Putting aside for the moment my opinion on whether RR: a) should have been hired in the first place, b) should be fired now, c) should be replaced by JH, d) should be fondled by DB, this entire mess began because our former AD couldn't put together a decent search committee to save his life, and wouldn't know a good search process if it bit him on the ass.
At the very least, the apparently herky-jerky nature of the search, interview, vetting, etc., led to the inevitable distress in the program over the past three years. I've seen, or been a part of, many working level and executive hirings in my career, and from the outside looking in, this was appalling. From news stories published in 2007, it seems RR was hired after a phone screen and an in-person interview with Bill and Mary Sue, on the strength of RR's resume and reputation. In other words, even if there had been a good process to screen and hire a candidate, it was likely shit-canned in the effort to hire RR (which smelled to everyone like a "Just-hire-someone-you-guys!" move made in desperation).
RR has said on several occasions that he didn't know what kind of personnel he'd find on the football team before he got here. In other words, he didn't do his due diligence, either. If he had, he might well have said, "Thanks, but no."
Which is really, really too bad for everyone. Because, just when the offense is on the cusp of being truly frightening to opponents, (as opposed to the fans who witnessed the 2008 product through barely-spread fingers covering their eyes) we'll probably never know what this team could have been.
I guess I am always amazed at the low regard for Bill Martin from average fans. I see it in the + and - votes in this thread.
I think that Martin is held in exceedingly high regard by donors and the University Administration. He will no doubt go down in the considered history of the University as a truly great Athletic Director.
On the other hand, somebody like Drew Sharp predicted that Martin would be judged ultimately on the success or failure of Rich Rodriguez, alone. Which is a stupid idea, but the sort of thing one might expect from Drew Sharp and indeed, among a kind of lowest common denominator of fans, Sharp might be right in that appraisal.
Martin was comically inept. The search was a study in panic. And that's why Martin "retired." Ninja is correct.
What should Bill Martin have done? Not hire Rich Rodriguez? Is the problem that we didn't hire Les Miles? Would Greg Schiano be The Answer? Maybe Brian Kelly, perhaps?
U-M made the offer, and RR accepted, before either party knew enough to make an informed decision or plan for the introduction and transition. If Martin had a process for hiring a new coach, he likely threw it out the window by the time of the RR candidacy. Either that, or the "process" extended only to the point of identifying viable candidates, not the vetting, the offer, etc. How else to explain the manner in which the hiring actually took place? Didn't it seem - to everyone - more than a bit rushed at the time?
As a consequence of it all, there was inadequate opportunity to talk through the buy-out in the WV contract, and to mitigate that related silliness. Not to mention how RR's introduction as U-M's next head coach was "stage managed". It was disjointed to say the least.
I believed at the time (still do) that RR was a great hire. But, because the entire thing was so mishandled, it got his tenure off on the wrong foot, and he's never recovered.
It was a problem created, hashed out, and ultimately settled by, several groups of attorneys. The only real substance was that it was a distraction to Rodriguez, for a short time, and made some headlines in the press, first on the part of an enraged, jilted West Virginia press and later a hostile-to-Rodriguez Detroit media.
So you otherwise didn't like the "Stage managment"? That's a reason to condemn Bill Martin, and wave bye-bye to Rich Rodriguez?
You missed the point. Had there been a proper interview and hiring process, steps could have been taken to ensure it (the buyout) never became a problem. Every HR manager worth anything knows you always discuss with a job candidate issues which may affect the separation from his/her current employer, and you have a plan for dealing with them in advance. That was obviously inadequate in this case.
You have also completely misread my statements. I never indicated whether I believe RR should be fired. Personally, I don't want him to be. But, to your question whether the RR hiring is enough to "trash" Martin, yes, I believe it is. Martin did some good things for the University. He had a huge mess to clean up after Tom Goss, he was well liked by donors, and he brought home some great new facilities. However, his most important personnel action, by far the biggest of his tenure, was not competently handled.
Closest I can think of is Mitch Mustain transferred from Arkansas after going 8-0 as a starter (not quite all-american, I know).
The thing that gets me is that as great as Denard is as a spread qb, why couldn't he be an even better rb in a traditional offense? Isn't that his future in the pros anyway? Seems like the obvious answer to me.
He doesn't have the build to play tailback. If he had to pass protect in addition to carrying the ball 20+ times a game, he'd likely never make it through a season.
He carried the ball 20/game this year, and he took a ton of knockdowns and huge hits on his 250 pass attempts. I can't see how that is better for his frame than pass protection.
He doesn't have the build to be an every down, John Clay type tailback, but there are a lot of great tailbacks who are 5'10 190.
Mitch Mustain's transfer didn't even involve a coaching change. I don't recall the entire circumstance but there was weird shit happening between Houston Nutt's brother and somehow his mom was involved. Reminds me of my in-laws.
He obviously wasn't all-america but Mallett's transfer is very similar. You don't think Denard will transfer if JH offers him a spot as a WR?
Did you watch any of the games this year? Denard throws the ball pretty damn well. If I was Denard, I would be insulted by talk of being anything other than a qb.
Mallett's situation is nowhere near a hypothetical situation where M hires Harbaugh or any other coach. Unless, of course, Denard has already pretty much made up his mind to transfer.
I personally think RichRod is gone only if Harbaugh wants the job and I think that is the right move. If Harbaugh says no, Rodriguez is back with certain stipulations, though in looking at our schedule and the little guys RR recruits, I don't see him doing better than 7-5 next year. We were so far from winning the five games we lost, really, not even competitive, that we aren't going to jump up and win those games next year. Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State -- they will steamroll our small, speedy defense.
I really like Rodriguez as an OC, but he runs a system built for the Big East or ACC, not the Big Ten, SEC or Pac-10. My reasoning? It's a turnover-prone offense (his WVU and M teams have led their respective conferences in turnovers for five straight years), his defensive approach struggles against power teams, and his offense is so tricky to run that you're constantly in the position of suffering a dip whenever the starting QB leaves. True, a dropoff is inevitable when any offense sees a change at QB, but it is more pronounced with the spread because of the type of offense it is. Look at Florida: Tebow leaves and Brantley might be talented, but their offense looked horrible this season. Ohio State changes QBs and it doesn't even matter. Of course, they play defense, and not with little fast guys. Look at LSU: Their offense has been average or worse, their QBs are sporadic, but Les Miles recruits defense and they average 8 or 9 wins a year, even with the down years. Sometimes, they win 10-12 games.
With a more traditional pro set or I-formation approach, the offense is not so totally reliant on the QB. You can spread the risk, bring the player along slowly and the winning from year to year is more consistent. There is a reason Tressel's buttoned-down style wins -- it can be tailored to use the more experienced players more often until the QB grows up. There is a reason teams that run the spread are so up and down -- the QB is the whole offense, far more than in other offenses. They build for that one great season, then suffer a huge drop when new personnel comes in. You see it with every team that runs it. We don't want that at Michigan. It cannot consistently win.
My fear is more that we won't get Harbaugh, we'll go 7-5 or 6-6 next year and we've then lost another year to get the team straightened out. I am not too impressed by the 7 teams we beat this year. We had 5 quality teams on our schedule and they all manhandled us. That's not happening if Harbaugh is the coach. Our defense will get better immediately and our offense won't get our QB killed.
Denard is not going anywhere. He'll do great in any offense and, given that he did not make it through a single complete game this year, he'll see the wisdom of remaining healthy, using his teammates more, building a power running attack with Hopkins and winning a lot of games. He would love Harbaugh, who will help him become a complete quarterback and prepare him for the pros. This guy is a great recruiter and the NFL resume makes a difference with these kids.
I'm for Michigan no matter what, and that means supporting Dave Brandon. If he thinks a change is the best long-term move for the program, it's his job to think about the long-term. The sky is not falling if he pays RR $2.5 million and sends him on his way. RR will get hired somewhere else and Michigan will be far better equipped to compete in the Big Ten than we are now. The nonconference inflated 4-0 record means nothing to me. If we can't win in the Big Ten, nothing else matters. So let's recognize that RR has a gift for his style of offense, but also recognize its limits.
"and the little guys he recruits", and stopped reading.
...the same thing
is a first year starter, if I'm not mistaken
Except they got the equivalent of the guy two choices below Hoke. Tressel was an unpopular hire in many areas. I'm going on an MGoHoliday if they lose on Saturday.