Would the turmoil from the book caused enough distractions, black eyes, and recruiting harm to end up getting him fired anyway? Not what Bacon probably intended...but then maybe he edits it differently if Rich is still coach.
Three And Out: The Questioning
So Rich Rodriguez did a deeply bizarre thing. Captain Renault, yes, yes. GERG, yes. 3-3-5 addiction, yes. Groban, yes. Right. I'll start again.
Amongst the many deeply bizarre things that Rich Rodriguez did was allowing John Bacon virtually unfettered access to his program for three years. He didn't know it at the time, but these happened to be the only three years of his program.
I received an advanced copy of the book that resulted and… man. If you are a Michigan fan the result is a must read. Hate Rodriguez, love Rodriguez, have deeply conflicted relationship with Carr, love Carr—doesn't matter. This is not another book where ex-jocks tell jovial stories about the slightly dangerous things that happened to them.
This is a book that immediately makes everyone in it mad as hell except the guy who did Never Forget. This is close to literally true. Bacon's been banished to the Drew Sharp area of the press box, Michael Rosenberg is livid, Rodriguez himself is apparently hugely pissed. And while I can't confirm this like the above, I can't help but think that Lloyd Carr hates this book more than anything he's ever hated.
I know Bacon a bit and have pressed upon him an opportunity for MGoBlog: to badger him with questions. I would like to crowdsource these questions because these are important. I want to cover all the bases, ask the things clarify a lot of the debates fans have argued endlessly about for the last four years.
So: what would you ask someone who spent the last three years embedded in Operation Spread Ann Arbor? I'll cull the best ones and pose them to Bacon. He'll answer, and maybe we'll get some clarity.
Before you get to asking, some context:
- While the book documents Rodriguez's increasingly desperate behavior it does seem to have a pro-RR editorial POV. Hard questions will be about the things he did wrong.
- It does not really address the DC fiascoes, which I'll already be asking about.
- The Free Press stuff comes in for a thorough treatment; if you want to be pointed the Qs there should be Devil's Advocate type things.
- It's clear Bacon could not get anything solid on the Great Stapleton/English Conspiracy Theory, though he tried. Wouldn't bother there.
- The Rodriguez coaching search went down essentially like we expected: Ferentz, panic, Les Miles boat incident, panic, Schiano, panic, Rodriguez.
- I'm not going to ask a guy who spent three years of his life with unprecedented access to a major college football program why he decided to write a book about it. Figure it out yourself.
Along with a severe grilling of Bacon, we'll be running an excerpt from the book around the time of its publication, which is scheduled for October 25th.
1-Prior to being contacted by the UM AD, did Rich Rodriguez have any kind of opinions regarding the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan, or UofM football? What were those opinions?
2-Did Bill Martin and RR have any kind of an agreement regarding on-field expectations in the first few years? What did RR expect? What did Martin expect? Did RR receive some kind of "ok" to lose in year one?
3-When Brandon was hired did he give RR any kind of ultimatum regarding on field progress?
4-When RR did the Groban thing, was he somehow trying to force the athletic department to terminate his employment? Would he have welcomed that result at that time?
RR played and coached under Don Nehlen, who coached under Bo before he took over at WVU. He told RR what a great place Michigan was and that's why RR was able to walk away from WVU whe Michigan came calling, but not when Alabama wanted him the year before.
And, yes, that means RR is at the same level of Bo's coaching tree as Hoke.
Yeah I knew about the Bo - Nehlen - RR connection. Is your statement
[Nehlen] told RR what a great place Michigan was and that's why RR was able to walk away from WVU whe Michigan came calling
A fact or conjecture? I can't recall seeing any evidence or stories that RR had some kind of well developed positive opinion of UM prior to taking the job.
Also Bo-Moeller-Hoke is closely equivalent to Bo-Nehlen-RR except for two things. One, Hoke worked here. Two, Hoke says he has had a well developed positive opinion of UM for his whole life. Kind of like how Meyer supposedly had the buyout clause for OSU, UM, and ND. Without any direct (or even indirect?) connection to UM/UM football, Meyer still has a well developed positive opinion about Michigan.
RR mentioned it in one of his interviews, which is what caused me to look it up on wikipedia in the first place. You are correct with everything you say, but the interview I saw made it seem like Nehlen had given RR that well-developed, positive opinion of Michigan. Maybe the first-hand opinion makes a difference, though.
I'd like to hear the RR-Michigan perspective on Terrelle Pryor's recruitment right after the hire...
Supposedly RR phoned Pryor to tell him he's taken the UM job even before he met with his WVU team to tell them (from his WVU-issued cellphone). Pryor seemed to be a major pillar in RR's gameplan to remake Michigan's offense. Would love to have some inside info on those 3 months from the hire to Pryor's OSU announcement, and RR's private reaction following the announcement.
How could RR possibly want the top dual threat qb recruit when he had Mallett, Threet and Sheridan to run his spread offense? The nerve of that guy.
People seem to forget that RR was hired in December. The pickings at QB were slim that year and especially at that time of year. He attempted to recruit other dual threat qb's, including USF's starting QB BJ Daniels, whose reps reportedly went all Cecil Newton and demanded compensation. RR did not ignore other QB's for Pryor, although he, along with OSU and PSU certainly wanted Pryor (who would have been great in RR's offense by the way).
The very next year, RR got commits from Newsome, Beaver (both of who later decommitted and have done nothing since), Forcier (a 4 star dual threat qb - who ran the offense pretty well as a freshman and was a great backup last year) and then he got the top dual threat in Gardner the following year.
I heard that UM may have offered similar deals to TP and Sarniack as what OSU was offering. I wonder how much the staff felt they needed TP back in Dec 07. were they devestated?
Also, did RR and the staff feel comfortable with the talent they were getting (esp on D) or were they surprised at how tough it was to recruit big time talent to M?
Thanks for the heads up on this; I was completely unaware. Just pre-ordered my copy on Amazon.com.
This is all I can think of... CEOs like David need to stay in their boardrooms and stay out of pressers re college games. He was better off making bucks for PE funds than running Michigan athletics. I cannot stand this, this calcified stump of a human masquerading around M sports.
Sorry mods, flamebait or whatever you want to describe the post, I was generous with Brandon as his unilateral inclusion of himself to pressers and other areas wherein an AD politely stays to the side, is a bit worrisome. Working with PE portfolio CEOs, they are many times, as a poster noted above, frat boys who go along to get along. Sorry to go off-topic and borrow from Carl Icahn's rant that Corporate CEOs are stocked with frat men, but it serves us well to examine Brandon's prior work experience and understand his general approach to work. During The Process, or whatever Orwell-speak Davey Boy used, we had to be subjected to wrenching delays, subterfuge and other "Kirk Herbstreit says it's Harbaugh" comments. Brandon continues to be a sore topic of conversation. Go ahead, hit me "Troll -1", Brandon would.
The only thing I was worried about was whether or not we would see improvements with the football and basketball programs under DB. I think he has done a good job since he has been here. I was worried because Dominos Pizza has been the same shitty pizza before during and after DB was the CEO. We knew he could bring in the $, the question was, could he improve the quality of the product.
But I really wish this was released during the off season when there isn't much else to talk about. I don't know, maybe there will be enough stuff in it that will be good to be swept under the rug.
Actually, it was originally slated for release on August 31, 2011 and it was pushed back for one reason or another. Wouldn't THAT have made for fun right before the season starts reading.
1. What was/is Lloyd Carr's role in the Athletic Department, and how much of a role did he play?
2. What was Harbaugh's real position during all of this? As far as I'm aware, he never indicated interest in the HC position, but that didn't stop countless articles being written that he was. Did that effect any of the decisions that got made leading up to RichRod's hiring or firing?
3. Who were the most influential boosters during all this, and how much influence did they have? If someone like Stephen Ross can donate an entire building, I would imagine that kind of influence on the Athletic Department would be enought to force some changes.
...but that statement about Lloyd hating this book has me dreading what I will find.
Sometimes the truth hurts. But its good knowing in the long run. I think we all had eye-opening experiences the past 3 years and learned lots about the program that we never would have knowing without the coaching change. Maybe that's one positive to come out of the whole debacle . . . a greater understanding of Michigan football politics, etc.
...but the truth hurting is a fair thing to be disappointed about. You're right in that finding out about problems and fixing them is better than letting the problems persist, but coming from the place where you didn't even think the problems existed, it's a step down and a disappointment.
Yeah, this. It's hard to conceive of all the egos that are at stake in something like Michigan football. Figuring out the dynamic between them is all the more difficult.
This is lazy bullshit. You don't offer arguments. You ponitificate as if you're enlightened, somehow superior to the benighted masses, because you're unencumbered by crass concerns like "winning" and "not being terrible in every facet of football except quarterback play." Of course a secret cabal was out to get Rodriguez. What else could explain his failure? Surely we didn't overrate him as a coach, right? After all, he had dominated the Big East after Virginia Tech and Miami went to the ACC.
What did Rick Leach think he was onto with all the suspicion of insider undermining?
Why did the University wait so long to resolve the WVU buyout dispute, and let the mud continue to sling?
Did Rodriguez ever really get Michigan? Did he ever fully grasp how big the job he was given was? He always seemed like a fish out of water and that he had to keep telling everyone that he "got it," when it was painfully obvious that he didn't.
The other thing I heard from a source close to the situation was that RR wanted to and kept the Bo-era players at a distance. RR wanted to separate himself from the history. I'd like to Bacon to address that as well.
I know I will read the book and I also know I will be pounding my fists on the table as I do.
"Did Rodriguez ever really get Michigan?"
"...it was painfully obvious that he didn't."
And actively pushing it away. The latter is an act of ignorance, but as much to blame on those around him (AD, etc.) for not helping to educate him. The latter is a willful act of hubris, which lays at your own feet if it doesn't work out. For every "so and so in undermining Rich" rumor, there were an equal amount of "Rich is trashing how things were done here bofore behind closed doors" one. It seems Bacon concentrated on the former, but perhaps, if Rich isn't happy, he did some of the latter too (though it sounds more like it's because of the "acts of desperation" thing). So Bacon should be asked, did he get the impression from those around the program that Rich was outright ignoring the past, and trashing what was done before him? Or was it something just completely new to him, and Martin did a horrible job meshing him into the program? Because for all the "no support" talk, I've heard a lot saying that Rich didn't exactly endear himself to people to get any support.
Than the idle trash you believe that a secret cabal led by Lloyd was out to send the Rich Rod era crashing and burning in flames. There was the other Michigan blog that mentioned how they heard Rich was dimissive of the program, and what came before. And then numerous times he was less than diplomatic about what he was left with ("not after I found out what I had here"). And then an equivalent amount of scuttlebutt that at Schembechler he wasn't exactly kind to Carr, or the program, and that he rubbed a lot of people who had been around a lot longer than him the wrong way. Which is just that - rumor.
But since we're so interested in unfound rumors about how the whole world was out to get Rich Rod, it'd be nice to get some questions on how maybe, just maybe, Rich Rod didn't do a lot to endear himself and earn that support. But you're just as stuck in your view that you'll believe what you want no matter what's said as you accuse others of.
Because you take glory in our program in a bad light, and seem to enjoy failure and negativity. If that's your pleasure in life, I feel sorry for you. To lead such a miserable existence must be tough. You're not even aware of the difference between want equal time for rumor-mongering questions, if they're going to occur, versus your one sided screed. I never said anything shouldn't be asked (unlike you, who dismiss things), just that there's fair reason to ask both sides.
And that's all the book is. A side. One with a personal viewpoint, one by someone acknowledging he was pro-Rich Rod, and presenting a viewpoint that Brian reports left out the most negative portion of his tenure. He may have some insights, but Brian also stated he had no real evidence for the tinfoil brigade. This isn't a congressional investigation, it's an opinion piece by someone invested in his view. For all we know, it has as many "facts" as Rosenberg (which, he wrote it, and had sources, so it MUST be true! Or not)
So rub all you want. I'm sure you're used to that. Because you can't win....because you don't actually debate anything on it's merits, because you see no merits in anything. You just seek to tear them down. And that doesn't make me mad at you; just pity for you.
distanced himself from the previous players and appeared to try to write his own history at the expense of what went on before. I've always found many eerie similarities between the RR and BC fiascos.
internal AD conversations that occured before, during and after the NCAA violations hearings?
Did anyone in the AD office have a direct conversation with Rosenberg or anyone from the Free Press before, during and after the NCAA hearings, and any insight into what was said?
Your post doesn't quite make sense.
Did you mean to ask, "Did anyone in the Athletic Department have any direct conversation before the Freep published the August 30, 2009 front-page story?"
Because by the time the NCAA hearing rolled around, Bill Martin had retired, David Brandon had been hired, the Notice of Allegations had been published, Michigan's (and Rodriguez's) formal answers had been filed, and the whole cheesy overblown story was by then known to most everybody.
Now, back to the question as I posed it -- Did Rosenberg or Snyder talk to the Michigan Athletic Department before finalizing and publishing their story?
The answer: Yes, they did. But it was the freaking FRIDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE THE FREEP WENT ONLINE WITH THE STORY THAT APPEARED IN THE SUNDAY MORNING PAPER ON THE FRONT PAGE. The Friday meeting was with Bruce Madej, who had the horrifically unevnviable task of sitting and listening to Rosenberg say what they proposed to publish, followed by, We'd like to have the University's response later today or tomorrow morning at the latest so we can put in the story...
It is hard to say what was the most savagely treacherous act on the part of Rosenberg. I'd nominate this one. But it would have to beat out the sandbagging interviews of the two freshmen in the '09 Media Day debacle. "Treason" is a strong word, and despite the fact that Rosenberg and Snyder are both alumni, as reporters they have no particular duty of "loyalty" to Michigan. I am personally comfortable with them being "traitors," to the extent that either one of them proclaims any further affinity to the University of Michigan. But more than issues of "treason" or "loyalty," what they are both guilty of is trying to conceal their story up until their springing it on the football program on the even of the '09 season, that they basically did a shitty job of actual reporting on what CARA time really is.
is probably a better question, but I also want to know if anyone from the AD spoke with the Freep after the article was published and after the NCAA got involved and how those conversations went. I'm not talking about on the record, I'm talking about someone calling Rosenberg and the editor saying WTF, you know this is all a bunch of BS, what is the point of this, etc...
The Athletic Department was fairly mum during and after the whole fiasco. I am just curious what people were really saying behind closed doors and off the record.
He told me, in front of a large group of people, that he went through the story with a yellow highlighter, marking all of the false and questionable points. And when he was done, it was more yellow than not.
And let's remember this, about the Free Press -- the Publisher, Paul Anger, wrote his own editorial a week later, defending Rosenberg and Snyder, and saying that the Free Press would continue to publish all sides of the story. But it didn't; it never published one single op-ed which questioned Rosenberg. Most astonishingly, the paper never even acknowledged the criticism of Rosenberg from other people in the press, nevermind the blogosphere. The prime example of course is the nationally-known magazine editorial writer, Jon Chait. Who called Rosenberg's fishing expedition "journalistic malpractice."
It has all along been a massive disappointment, the way that so much of Detroit's local media (newspapers, television and radio all alike) just laid down on the journalistic-malpractice counter-story.
More specifically, Chait pointed to the decision to allow Rosenberg, an editorial writer/columnist who had already trashed Rich Rod in print over his language at practice (which was within his duties as a columnist) to moonlight as an investigative reporter as "journalistic malpractice" of breaking down the wall that is supposed to exist between news and op-ed.
My guess at how this transpired basically assumes that someone who didn't like RR leaked Rosenberg the CARA audit. Rosenberg, fearing that the freep was going the way of other papers in the internet era (and this was around the time that the freep reduced their publishing schedule and the Ann Arbor News folded) saw the story as his opportunity to make a national name for himself. He brought Snyder on board so it wouldn't look like a hatchet job, and the publisher went along with Rosenberg's byline because Rosenberg had the inside sources. They wrote the story as sensationally as possible, contacting some former players that Rosenberg knew disliked RR and either obscuring or failing to understand how the NCAA counted hours. And it worked out for Rosenberg, who now contributes to SI regularly.
Apologies if someone already raised this, but I didn't see it when I skimmed.
I'd like to know the real feelings that our football program / AD have for our three chief rivals (OSU, MSU, ND). RR spoke positively about OSU, but I think he implied that there were competitors who were sleazy on the recruiting trail. Who was that?
Yea, I'd like to know all of the major negative recruiting that went on against us. I'd also like to know if RR or any of his staff did any negative recruiting.
I would be interested in what went down in firing day. Why did Brandon and RichRod meet for so daggone long?
I'd also be interested in what RichRod has learned from all this. Does he acknowledge mistakes? What are they? What would he do different next time?
Why does JB think he was given this kind of access in the first place? Did they meet once and really hit it off? What's the background between the two?
Considering the 3 wins from the first season, he must have felt under pressure almost instantly, right? It becomes obvious right quick when you have 3 win talent. Just seems like RR was under a barrage of threats from day one to think giving this kind of access was a good plan. If you think you can count on good press or fair treatment, no need to give JB what he got, right?
Did you feel that RR ran the spread with Threet/Sheridan thinking it would give him a better chance to win or was he trying to implement his offense without care/concern for his first season's record?
Wrt recruiting, what did you hear about other schools when they recruited against UM?
What could RR have done to "get it"?
What was Carr's reaction to RR hiring and why didn't he support RR more?
When did you think it was over for RR?
as Borges seems to be running plays that are spread and plays that are pro-style. Is the offense clicking on all cylinders? No, but it can still score very quickly when needed.
I would ask at what point they realized Tate was not going to work out and how they reacted. I don't mean physical reaction but in relation to how they handled the situation with Tate and the transition to a new starting QB and to some degree altering their offensive scheme.
How was RR's relationship with other head coaches? Did they respect him? How did RR feel about the coaches of Michigan's rivals - Charlie Weis, Mark Dantonio and Jim Tressel?
No idea why people are saying Bacon is an idiot...everyone love conspiracies. He seems to be an intelligent guy who is more of a historian and tells it like it is.
I hope this book isn't like ripping a band-aid off in the middle of the healing process. It feels like it could be. I already ordered my copy, but am apprehensive about what I may find...sometimes things are better left unknown as it's "in the past"..
Anyway, I hope to gain some insight into:
- How RRod felt and was treated by Carr and the "Michigan Men".
- The defense and how he was hoping it would work out / how much he influenced it rather than let the DC just do his thing
- Recruiting standards and how desperate he became
- How bad the talent was when he got here in his opinion
- How the players stuck together (or not.)
- Did he have support from Brandon or did it appear as he was done no matter what.
- Was Lloyd supportive
- Did he believe it was on the path to improvement
Re support from Brandon. I think that if Brandon always wanted to get rid of the guy then he probably would have right after the OSU game. The only reasonable explanation of why he would wait till Jan if he had already made up his mind was if he had an under the table agreement with Harbaugh which it appears that he didnt.
I'd be curious about any inside info relative to that hearing in Seattle - what can Bacon tell us about the offical part of it (questions & answers / hearing itself) and also the UM politics / interpersonal byplay between the UM contingent.
Does RR prefer pancakes or waffles?
He prefers Pizza
Does Dave Brandon eat Domino's?