No offense can put up consistenly great offensive numbers against a great defense. For example, Oregon only put up 17 against OSU in the Rose Bowl last year. Putting 35 on a great defense is almost impossible. By definition, great defenses don't give up 35 points. Thats why putting up 28 against Iowa and their 8th ranked defense was impressive. We scored 14 more than their season average. We scored 11 more than the PSU average. Sadly, we shit the bed against MSU scoring 3 less than their season average but you know the story, turnovers blah blah, missed field goal, etc.
The Tenuous Case For Keeping Rich Rodriguez
Where I'm at. The previous "when can we fire this guy" post?
(illustration via reader Brian Louwers)
I promised I wouldn't talk about Rich Rodriguez's job status until the season was over but apparently I'm going to. I blame everyone.
Too many posts in the Fire RR vein argue things no one is disputing. This one titled "The Buck Stops at Rodriguez," argues that a head coach is in charge of his program. This is not very enlightening. Neither is restating his record. We're all aware of Rich Rodriguez's record. We watched it. Saying "but this happened and I was sad" means you're answering the wrong question. You're answering the question "what will make me feel better?" Sometimes you're answering the question "who would have been the best choice for 2008?"
These are the questions I'm interested in:
- Which football coach will give Michigan the best record in 2011?
- What about 2012?
- What about 2015?
You hire a coach for the long term. I think you fire a coach for the short term, though, and the point at which you boot the last guy is when you think the next year isn't going to meet a reasonable minimum threshold of progress. I completely understand people who have hit that point. You can save your comments about how he needs to go—neither I nor anyone else cares to hear it for the one millionth time in the last three days. It's an understandable position. If Rich Rodriguez is cut loose after the season and Jim Harbaugh comes in I will not be in the streets with a bullhorn.
But I wouldn't endorse that move (at least not right now), because I think the answers to questions one and two are conditionally "Rich Rodriguez."
Upperclass Denard: How Does It Work?
Michigan has a unique talent on its hands in Denard Robinson, and they've acquired a mobile offensive line, slot receivers, and tailbacks to complement him. Some of these players can easily transition to another scheme. Stephen Hopkins can I-back with anyone. The outside receivers are just outside receivers. Taylor Lewan is going to hate donkeys in any scheme.
Others can't. The gaggle of tiny waterbug types—including Dee Hart, though he probably won't end up at M if there is a change—are going to be marginalized. I'm not sure how well the offensive line will hold up in an offense that prizes power over movement. Michigan isn't going to be able to materialize an excellent fullback and tight end depth out of nothing.
And then there's Denard. He could move to receiver or tailback, I guess, or more likely transfer, or you could bring in a spread guy, or you could try to keep Magee, or you could just ride with the guy who has already made Denard the all-time leading QB rusher in the Big Ten, will make him the all-time leading QB rusher in NCAA history, and turned Pat White into one of the best quarterbacks in college football before that. One of the "Smiths or MGoBlog" posts contains an argument I've made before:
For everyone that wants RR gone, I submit a short rebuttal.
1 Oregon 8 2488 2095 625 4583 7.3 572.9 2 Oklahoma State 8 1471 2747 615 4218 6.9 527.3 3 Nevada 8 2407 1754 584 4161 7.1 520.1 4 Michigan 8 2204 1943 563 4147 7.4 518.4 5 Boise State 7 1500 2111 473 3611 7.6 515.9
This team (could) return 22 of 24 starters next year. The #4 offense in the country will return every skill position player except Martell Webb and the offensive line should improve even with losing S. Schilling. The 2011 schedule is set up for a Big 10 Championship. Rodriguez will finally have experience and depth at his disposal on offense. No freshmen(even redshirt freshmen) save possibly Hart will see the field. Don't you want to see what could become of this offense and the stars it could attract with stability up top? If you broom RR then what? If you bring in Harbaugh, Denard is either gone or a slot back. I have no idea how much attrition you get but this offense has been molded by RR for 3 years, it will not be as good.
I think that's indisputable: you will lose offensive firepower by making a change. Over the course of his career Rodriguez has established he is standard deviations above the mean as an offensive coordinator. Criticisms about the offense exist but are limited to suggesting that this group featuring two seniors and a sophomore quarterback isn't really the fourth-best offense in the nation because they're not scoring enough. That's true—Michigan is only 19th in scoring offense—but the blame for that rests largely with a defense that doesn't force turnovers (or punts) and the nation's worst kicker situation. If you adjust for all the vagaries that make straight yardage and scoring statistics unrepresentative, pile on a strength of schedule factor, and average it all out this is not, in fact, the fourth best offense in the country:
Michigan is still ranked #2 nationally in rushing and #3 overall in Points Above Normal but the game scores are coming down.
While Michigan's performance over the last three games is not that good, it would still be top 25. If you're wantonly throwing that much data away to make that your conclusion you've just gone Nanking on math for little reward.
Whatever you lose had better be made up for by better play from special teams and defense, but if we're rebooting the defensive coaching staff what does it matter who's doing ninja stuff on the other side of the ball? Unless Anonymous New Coach, who we'll call "Jim Harbaugh" for simplicity's sake, brings in someone who can play instantly the only way that will happen is by bringing in a better defensive staff. Michigan can do that without disrupting something that looks like it's going very right on the other side of the ball.
The obvious argument against that is Scott Shafer, Jay Hopson, and Greg Robinson. That's why the conditional case for bringing RR back rests on either 1) grabbing Jeff Casteel, probably in the event of a Bill Stewart firing, or 2) clearing everyone (or almost everyone) out, bringing in a defensive coordinator with a track record of established recent success on the college level, and giving him carte blanche to bring in the people he wants to bring in. This will be expensive but I hereby volunteer a dollar from each Michigan season ticketholder to make it happen.
The Convincing Argument Against
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I AM TOTALLY GOING TO KICK THIS SMOOTHIE'S ASS
WHAT IS YOUR DEAL, BANANA AND WHEATGRASS?
i hope i'm not having an aneurysm—YEAH SMOOTHIES
Recruiting, basically. Rich Rodriguez is chased around by a horrendous narrative caused by a lot of losing and a lot of other stuff. Jim Harbaugh has to deal with a DUI and some self-serving statements about Michigan's academics—these don't live up. If Michigan goes 9-3 next year under Harbaugh, people are delighted. If Rodriguez does it there remain many, many grumbles. Michigan can throw away the last three years and start over.
Even if this reduces expectations short term, the narrative is totally different and recruits might be more amenable to jumping on board. Fuzzy Dunlop, who amazingly does not have a tennis ball avatar:
Many of those saying the defense is not Rodriguez's "fault" miss the essential point. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. What matters is who has the ability to rectify the situation. And we are fast approaching the point where Rodriguez will no longer have that ability (if he ever had it).
The defense sucks. Let's say it's not Rod's fault. Fine. So how does he fix it? Get great defensive recruits? If we lose out, or eke by Purdue, what makes anyone think the good defensive recruits will be rushing to come to Michigan this year? Perception becomes reality -- our defense is perceived to be a joke, with terrible coaching -- this is not a situation talented players are going to rush into.
He gets a little more negative than I am but the point is valid. Unfortunately, at some point the baggage in your past becomes an active detriment to your future. Rodriguez is either already there or one season from it.
The Gibson Issue
Defensive backs coach Tony Gibson is a lightning rod for criticism because the secondary is a disaster zone and the internets have it that he and Rodriguez have a Clinton-Blair style "special relationship," with all the charges of cronyism that brings. Even Michael Rosenberg is making that argument after years of blithely ignoring the DerpBord era. (Q: What's the difference between a Free Press columnist and a message board poster? A: Editors.)
Unfortunately there's no statistic you can point to that definitively says he's good or bad but the vague outlines provided by the NCAA's site aren't exactly damning:
|Pass Eff Rk||28||63||30||20||45||47||8|
That's not great aside from the bizarre first year (West Virginia was terrible at run defense so teams just ran) but it's consistently above average. In six years Gibson had three players drafted, one of them (Ryan Mundy) a guy who transferred away from Michigan because he wasn't going to get playing time. That's about one per slot he was in charge of, assuming that the spur and bandit were not his responsibilities. The rest of WVU's team saw eight guys drafted across nineteen spots.
None of this is definitive but it's at least an indication that Gibson isn't the anchor certain FFFFFUUUUUUU sorts make him out to be. The debacle here could be a coaching issue, but Occam's razor suggest it's talent (and attrition). Cbuswolverine put up a diary looking at the experience of the top five and bottom five secondaries in the country with the expected results—everyone but LSU averages at least 3.5 years on campus, and LSU is at 2.75. It is possible that Tony Gibson is a huge problem, but even if he was we wouldn't know. His reputation as a great recruiter is commonly stated, but we have even less data on that.
I put in a Mathlete request for a fancy math version of the above statistics that would adjust for schedule strength and maybe parse out the sacks in the three years they're available.
The Most Insane Thing Ever Said About Me
It's days like this that I envy Brian.
What I'd Do At 7-5 Or 6-6, Probably—I Mean If We Lose By A Billion In Three Games, Probably Not, But Let's Just Say If The Season Plays Out Like It Looks It Will
I'd fire Robinson. Then I'd bring in Casteel if he's available post Stewart firing or broom most of the defensive staff and bring in someone making SEC dollars along with two other established position coaches, and then I'd give Rodriguez 2011 and hope like hell. Michigan's in a bad spot either way, but at least Ivan Maisel's with me.
Yeah, that's right: Ivan Maisel.
Other bits: for folks complaining about the O/D coaching breakdown, Touch The Banner surveys the Big Ten and finds that literally every team in the league has four defensive assistants and all but one (Purdue, which has a dedicated ST coach) has five offensive assistants, or would if they hadn't fired their head coach already. Maize And Go Blue is here:
Wojo on matters:
Rich Rodriguez didn't fire or demote his defensive coordinator Monday, and to some, that's a sad surprise. Frankly, I'm not sure it makes a big difference.
Greg Robinson has done a poor job, and his position certainly should be in jeopardy. But full accountability sits where it always sits, where it now shifts uncomfortably — on the coach.
It's gotten to the point where RR needs to go just based on general principles. Forget all of the "who/what's at fault". Look at the three year record. General principles, it's Michigan.
I really like Rich and he will be great somewhere else, just not here.
"It's Michigan". Does that win actual football games?
What are the general principles that determine RR's need to go?
I don't know what will happen, but surely Brandon's got to have much more vision than this.
Did you not read Brian's comment:
Too many posts in the Fire RR vein argue things no one is disputing...Neither is restating his record. We're all aware of Rich Rodriguez's record. We watched it.
We know his record. That is not an argument. Firing the HC on "general principles" is ridiculous, and what coach would want to come here when they would likely be fired for the same thing in 3 years (although many of you had your minds made up well before PSU '10).
It may not be an argument, but it's a pretty damning peace of evidence. A piece of evidence that is directly linked to the measurement of success in college football. And success/lack of success is directly linked to the opportunity to continue coaching at a top-tier( real or imagined) program. So, if your issue is that people are not framing an argument stemming from his record as its main premise, than you might have a point. But, for some all they have to do is point to the record and not say anything else. The conclusion that can be drawn from this piece of evidence is obvious. And really, his record is an argument for why he should be fired. To act like his record has no bearing on the atmosphere surrounding the program is flat out wrong. To treat it that way is dangerous and risks more damage to our program.
I'd like nothing else but for RR to pull it out, this offense is going to be even more special next year. He's just got to find a way to help out his supporters. A lot of us want RR to stay, he's just got to find a way to hit the local min and start climbing. SOMEHOW.
While I agree with the sentiment behind it, the RR record IS in fact an argument against him. It's just not a novel or new one. But it's compelling just the same. As for me I'm still in the wait until year end to evaluate camp.
I'm confident that an overhaul of the defensive side of the coaching staff will bring vast improvements. Illinois stuck with Zook through a terrible season and look how things have turned around now with his coordinator changes.
That said, what good DC is going to want to come in with the possibility of it being a 1-year job, expectations to make vast improvements, and possible constraints put on him by the head coach?
Everyone's buzzing about Casteel and I think he is solid, but I can't come up with any data points to show a time where his defense truly impressed against solid competition. WV always seemed to win shootouts against good offensive teams - although they were able to get stops on 50% of possessions, which is bad but not terrible (like UGH the 80% success rate for a horrible Penn St offense last week? I wanna puke).
I see what you are saying with the 1-year job, but on the flip side, that new DC will be matched with a top tier offense, which returns almost every starter. If he brings the defense back to average, we should be a top-25 team. plus for all future jobs, its easier to show progress from awful to (hopefully) good then from good to better.
is a top five defense this year (total defense, source:rivals.com). Competition or not, that is an impressive stat. Especially when you consider that two of the teams ahead of them are Boise State and TCU, both of which probably have weaker competition.
Question 1.," Which football coach will give Michigan the best record in 2011?" cannot be answered in any meaningful way. There are too many variables. The problem gets worse for questions 2 & 3.
I'd like to see Rodriguez remain our coach in 2011. But to do that, our team has to perform significantly better in its remaining games than it has in the last 3. Notice I said "our team", not "our defense".
In other words, I believe there is still time in this season for the team to show significant improvement in Big Ten games measured against the last two seasons. If it does, I want our AD to keep Rodriguez. If it does not, I'd be ready for a coaching change.
that the injuries and attrition all fall on Rodriguez's head, because if you don't, I think the offense has vastly improved and a majority of the defenses problems can be attributed to Warren, Turner and Woolfolk not being here.
even Gerg does better next year with more depth and experience and (maybe) having figured out the 3-3-5 RichRod's telling him to run. If the players are getting YET ANOTHER system, however, anticipate some regression.
Is it true, btw, that Gerg's wife and RichRod's are best buds? You have to wonder what the personal issues are, bubbling beneath the personnel issues. . .
Also true that a point of no return comes for the coach because of the forces aligned against him, whether paranoid, stoopid or not. But it is just so f'ing critical to remember--and I'm sure Brandon does--that Coach X coming in brings NO guarantee of wins. Nor--beyond the THEORETICAL HARBAUGH--does s/he even bring a promise Mr. Fickle Alumnut LIKES her/him. (Okay, a female coach is unlikely.)
(Not only this but Brandon's got a file somewhere in his drawer with a list of coaches likely to be coaxed; his list is better than ours, and any decision he makes--to retain or fire--will be based on his far-better info. Some years someone great is out there, MOST years not. A lot of people here thought Brian Kelly was great, and he is a NIDIOT.)
[Here's the link to a story at SB Nation called "Rich Rodriguez Kept Scissor Lift Low Due to High Winds on Same Day": http://detroit.sbnation.com/michigan-wolverines/2010/11/2/1789668/rich-rodriguez-kept-scissor-lift-low-due-to-high-winds-on-same-day. Good luck, Mr. Kelly]
THE GREAT PROGRAMS WERE BUILT ON A FOUNDATION OF STABILITY. Throw that out and you get. . . Notre Dame. Possibly lose another year, I say, in hopes of not losing another ten.
consistently bad seasons do not create a great program, they create Eastern Michigan.
If they play the last four games the way they've played the last three, we have to ask ourselves which is more likely:
A coach that has gone 4-20 in three years in conference will find a way to get us to 6-2 in conference every year OR
A coach that has gone 4-20 in three years will continue to go 2-6 every year?
past results are not necessarily a predictor of future success. Not only that, but your "past" is anhistorical. Go look up the Ws and Ls, year to year, for the great programs. You'll find they all had fallow periods.
True that history isn't the only indicator of what might unfold, but is certainly an indicator, and is often one of the best. Yes all great programs have gone through rough times, but their resurgence is usually brought about by a change in coaching regiemes.
I haven't done the research, can anyone find examples of coaches who have done as poorly in their first three years at a school as RR has, in relation to the school's history, and turned around to the point where they became a consistent conference contender. Frank Beamer is often cited as an example, but he took over a school that had fired their previous coach due to recruiting violations. Are there other examples?
At some point we have to use Occam's razor here -- the simplest possible explanation is that RR just isn't a good fit here.
Aren't doomed to repeat it?
How many of those programs with fallow periods got out of them with the same coach who made them "fallow"?
I want RR to stay and be a sucess, however what good DC would come to Michigan? We have lost all credibility, and I am afraid RR has to go to bring it back.
see the same HC job opening in the very near future.
Makes no sense. If the defense performs well, Rodriguez will stay. If the defense doesn't perform, and Rodriguez is fired, why would the defensive coordinator who didn't get the job done be elevated to head coach?
I'm in the middle of researching the O/D breakdown in great depth- this will eventually become a diary- but I can already tell you this is a real issue. I've looked at 29 teams so far (all of the big ten, big 12, half of the ACC and Notre Dame) and there's only two other teams (Notre Dame and Oklahoma state) so far that have 5 offensive assistants AND a head coach who spends most of his time with the offense AND a defensive assistant in charge of special teams.
1. Harbaugh wants to go to the NFL... why would he come here? Plus, his "tough, mean, angry, etc." defense got destroyed by Oregon. He just talks tough and neanderthal blog message board posters like that.
If GERG gets fired, whoever comes in is going to look like a genius because the defense will have approximately 150% the experience it has this year.
i don't think they'd have to try very hard to hit 70.
Stanford only has the 40th best defense and they give up 21 points a game. I would kill for that defense right now. We'd have one loss if that. But, its not like his teams have dominant defenses. They were worse in 2009-26 points per game and 2008-27 points per game. I think Harbaugh is a good coach but his teams at Stanford have not had good defenses. Rather mediocre.
We're giving up 30 ppg this year by the way.
I tried to use the Oregon-smashing-Stanford thing to calm down my Bo-era, RR-hating Dad, but to no avail. Maybe if Harbaugh could recruit at Michigan, he would have the talent to beat Oregon like OSU did last year. Harbaugh has taken Stanford, of all places, to the top ten. He's going for two to rub it in on a USC program that outschemed and outcoached loaded Michigan teams in their last two Rose Bowl meetings. Don't deny the secret, shameful appeal Harbaugh has for even the most staunch Rodriguez supporter. That said, I share your opinion that he would choose the NFL over Michigan (in a tear jerking fashion that puts an extra zero on his first NFL contract).
No one disputes the "Richrod is an offensive genius" point or "Denard is really good".
The one point that is consistantly lost in the "save RR" camp is the fact that our performance in conference is dismal. I think it has been established that the offense can score points in the conference. No dispute there.
But the quick-strike offense has defensive implications. 4 play 45 second drive is great - unless you are a defensive tackle and we don't blitz. We get worn down. Our 3 or 4 man rush becomes a 2 or 3 man rush by the 4th quarter because we are gassed. The opposing RB is at 110 yards with 8 minutes to play. Walk-on QB's have an eternity in the pocket. And the result is last Saturday's 3rd down fiesta at the hands of someone named Goiter.
It is a philosophical problem. At the base of it RR thinks he can outscore everybody. And he probably can in nonconference play. Everyone longs for the days of 9-3. Well if we go 4-0 in nonconfernece play, that means you are 5-3 in conference, losing every year to OSU and losing 2 of 3 to MSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Does that sound like Michigan Football to you?
My question to all the desciples is simple, and sincere - how much longer do we need to tolerate being ranked 100 or worse in the nation in defense before RR deserves to be fired?
None of the "Keep RR" crowd want to tolerate being ranked 100 or worse in the nation in defense; if he keeps it up, he'll get fired. The desire to keep RR is based on thinking there ought to be a way he can put together an average to good defense while the offense stays the machine that it is. This post suggests this is a more likely recipe for short term success than bringing in a completely new coach and staff.
I'd love to see RR bring in a proven DC with complete control over the defense, staff and all. But I'm worried, with RR's connections to Gibson, that if he can't get Casteel he would bring in a new DC but keep the same position coaches. We've seen how well that works twice now, and it would probably be the final straw for me.
The thermometer is cool. I'd add another notch near the top:
"One more Vincent Smith carry between the tackles on 3rd and short."
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I AM TOTALLY GOING TO KICK THIS SMOOTHIE'S ASS
WHAT IS YOUR DEAL, BANANA AND WHEATGRASS?
i hope i'm not having an aneurysm—YEAH SMOOTHIES
Just the latest example of why this 'blog should be required reading for all Michigan fans ...
Co-sign on the DRob part. Remember, this kid wasn't a no-brainer 5-star QB. The coaching staff saw potential in him that no one else did, and more importantly, put together and implemented a plan that made him a Heisman contender. I am also in the "Fire GERG (even if it's unfair) and break the bank on someone who can field a mediocre D.
If the major accomplshment for this coaching staff is a "Heisman condender" you can keep it. I want 10 wins.
I'll take Denard (in case you were curious). Thanks.
8/9 wins, btw, would be more realistic. Still much better than today, yes ...
Not to mention most if not all Heisman contenders play for teams that win 10 or more games. That is part of what makes them contenders in the first place. If it wasn't for the shitty D we would most definitley be staring at a potential 10 win season
... whether RichRod will accept a new defensive coordinator, possibly not of his choosing, who has complete control over that side of that ball, and the ability to hire their own people. Would you as an employee accept that arrangement with your boss? Although I'm sure it is not as simple as that.
One thing that bothers me though is that RichRod has continually said that scheme is way overrated. If that is the case then why is he so beholden to the 3.3.5? My feeling is that Michigan should emulate what Iowa does. We don't need a gambling defense with the offense we have. We need a defense that continually gets stops, and therefore increases the number of possessions that our offense gets.
Sadly I have no confidence whatsoever that the defensive problems will be fixed under a RichRod regime. Either this year or next he is done. And for all the RichRod supporters out there, I hope that I am completely wrong, and you can rub it in my face at a National Championship game. Nothing would make me happier.
I don't think RR would quit if he were forced to give the DC more control, because (a) quitting with an overall losing record at a school that hadn't had a losing season since LBJ was president would kill his rep and (b) his next job would be less visible and much less lucrative. He'd be lucky to get the Colorado or Minnesota jobs.
The question comes down to...whether RichRod will accept a new defensive coordinator
Or the even more nightmarish situation where RR won't admit that defensive coaching changes are needed (perhaps due to his blind loyalty to his ol' buddies), and Brandon's pimp hand goes soft as he decides not to take the necessary evasive action of micromanaging the defensive coaching makeover.
This is the fear that keeps me awake at night.
I will gladly pay way, way. way more than $1 for each seat I have to bring in a top flight college defensive coaching staff. Especially one that flat out stars in the living room of recruits. I dont think GERG has those recruiting skills. Who wants to play for him after watching the 4-5 years of college football
I do feel, though, that many of these young kids getting worked right now will be starters on the next good MICH team. We just need to find a defensive guru
Neither model I think, provides enough R squared to evaluate the future success of R squared's coaching. (yes, I am a dork) My big worry here is that we fall into the "recovering sunk costs" trap with RR, whereby the pain of another few rebuilding years is too much to bear (I am more skeptical of a quicker turnaround than Brian is).
Also, I have a hard time thinking of a college fb coach recently who was given 4 years and eventually was successful for many after that. Whether it be bad luck, bad intentions (yes, that means you, Michael Rosenberg), or bad coaching, I feel like the reasons don't matter after a year or two, where a bad "trajectory" will drive players attitudes and recalibrate norms of what is acceptable in terms of success.
sunk costs and the alternative benefit of another coach. Brandon has better access to such data but it's an intuition call.
What we DO have, as Brian noted yesterday--is good evidence the D is far better next year, which makes an additional single year a better bet than all of the START-UP costs associated with a new coach.
The real question for me is whether you get a new D coach. That may also be less a question of data and predictable outcomes than of mollifying the baying hounds. The most relevant question (again) is who is out there. It's likely time for GERG to go.
Why should we think there's a good possibility Casteel would come to Michigan? Why didn't he come with all the other WVU guys in 2008? If WVU fails and everybody get's canned, who's to say Casteel wouldn't go somewhere else?
He has turned down RR twice. Either he is happy at WVU and has promotion on the mind, or he does not want to work for RR.
Even if Casteel were willing to accept offer #3, how would that look? Assuming RR keeps his job this season, the natives will be restless. Bringing over yet another WVU guy would just look like more inbreeding, even if the guy is good. My guess is that former players and traditional alumni types would be annoyed. And right or wrong, a lot of these guys probably think the 3-3-5 gimicky and would not be happy about bringing in a coach who just "runs it better" than the last guy.
I think the only way RR creates some optimism for next year is if he sweeps at least half of the defensive staff and brings in a DC that is not associated with WVU, obviously with recent DC success, but also strong leadership/confidence to stand up to RR and any retained staff. They could either chase a big $$ guy or a guy with UM ties. May be an impossible task. Hopefully, Brandon is working on this because it is clear that RR cannot do it himself.
Did we not all run around crying on each others shoulder when the only competent db on the roster exploded his ankle in August?
So now everyone is upset that we are getting shredded when our best DL goes down?
We are who we thought we were.
I like the Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchforch Co. sign. Did you consider using an ampersand? I think that might look pretty neat as well (I've always been a fan of symbols since literacy is for chumps).
I almost wonder if it's already too late for the defense and therefore too late for Rodriguez. Assuming he has a one year mandate to get the defense rectified, or else. You'd think year one (mind you 8 months of a "system") would yield only an incremental improvement and the real, difference making pay-off would come in year two. Assuming that's the case, our Lord and Saviour couldn't turn the defense around in time to save Rodriguez, barring some water-into-wine type scenario where unlikely heroes miraculously emerge from the depths of the current linebacking and defensive back corps already on campus.
With regards to an actual candidate, my thought would be that you're hoping Casteel would come over as suggested, but that presumes a) Stewart is fired and b) Casteel doesn't see Michigan as a sinking ship. Otherwise, if you demand experience then you're looking for somebody who's fallen on hard times. That person matches the profile of either a Greg Robinson circa December 2008, present day Jon Tenuta, or Moeller pulling a "Captain Freedom" type comeback.
Like I said below, if Casteel comes, its our second year in the 3-3-5 technically.
We can expect our Freshmen CBs to really mature in the offseason and at least one to stand out from the others. We can also expect that a below average defense (80th is allowing 28 points, 60th is allowing 24) would allow for our offense to simply outscore opponents while the defense continues to learn from mistakes and grow in wins. Our schedule is back-heavy, so that might give us enough time to improve, steal a win at the end, and buy a 5th year.
I definitely fear a change that leads to another square peg-round hole situation at QB. Whatever happens, I think we need Denard to be here and playing QB next season. It's going to be interesting how everything shakes out.
If - gigantic if - we can get Casteel, I'll feel much better about RR. But I don't know if that's realistic.
If we get him, we are essentially going into year 2 of the 3-3-5. Theoretically, all we have to do is add some blitzing packages. Hopefully, Casteel would be smart enough to move Roh back down to the line.
Mike Trgovac for DC? A longshot as he's coaching d-line for Packers.
What pushed me over the edge, has been our complete inability to beat anyone worth a damn in the last 3 years. It is sad how entirely predictable our games have become. I look for a sign that shows coaching acumen, one game where we were expected to lose and came out and outschemed an opponent. That hasn't happened once in the last three years.
Every team we've beaten over the past 3 years, with the exception of the fluky Wisconsin win in 2008, has finished the year with a losing record. Every Single Team. And Wisconsin only finished 2008 7-6. Every team that we expected to lose to, we've gotten pantsed. And every half-decent team we expected to beat like PSU this year, we've still gone in and gotten our asses handed to us.
I look for a sign, a spark, a something to tell me that this team can go out and beat a good team, but so far we haven't even managed to get lucky against a good team. Bo had OSU in 69, Harbaugh pulled out an upset against SC last year, heck even Danny effin Hope managed to beat OSU. These all foreshadowed better performances in coming years, a sign that of the trajectory the team was going to take (Purdue has been insanely unlucky, with all their skill players not injured, I would have taken them over us this year as well) Our games have sadly gone exactly according to expectation, and in most cases hasn't even been close.
I am sorry, I love Denard, and hoped to hell that RRod and his offense would work out, but I am done believing, and am ready to move on.
.... I have to ask...
If you're done believing, what happens if they improve over the rest of the season? I'm not just being argumentative--I'm just wondering what the endgame looks like for people who have given up, moved on, stopped caring, etc. If they get good, do you come back?