Which has several reads and is kind of a bizzaro evolution of the read option.
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.
It looks like you're evaluating the wrong statement. JUB said that RR developed the spread offense that most colleges now use. You changed that to "who has used the read option at some point since its development".
It doesn't really matter if a team has used the read-option "at some point since its development". Hell, we used to run the wishbone. Does that count? Yours is a completely standard. It includes teams that pull out the occasional trick play formation. It includes teams that moved away from the read option. Your list also seems to combine all "spread" offenses (rather that "the type that RR popularized").
An analysis of JUB's actual statement would be interesting. Many teams will occasionally pull out a read option play, but I think the number of teams using RR's version of the spread is not so large.
- Is there anything you left out of the book, not because of legal reasons, lack of credible sources, etc. but because you feared it could too heavily impact the program in a negative way?
- Related: Given your relationship to the University and your relationships with the Athletic programs, how difficult was it for you to maintain your objectivity throughout?
- During this period of "inside access" were you ever asked to leave the room, take a hike, etc?
- Did you allow anyone within the University, e.g., Brandon, to preview the book prior to finalizing with the publisher. If so, was there anything the U asked you to remove and or edit?
- How has this book changed your perception of collegiate athletics as a whole? Do you feel positive, negative, or neutral on the future viability of college sports, especially in light of recent transgressions/penalties and the shifting landscapes with conference realignment?
Was there anything your editor removed from the book to protect the press from the possibility of libel litigation?
If yes, did that section concern Lloyd Carr's relationship with Les Miles?
Does he feel this book will hurt RR's chances of landing another college football head coaching job?
Is there any commonality between the supposedly bad relationship between RR and the UM ADep and the well-documented bad relationship between RR and the WVU ADep?
I personally think it's a coincidence, but it seems strange that this guy had a (again, supposedly) bad relationship with two employers in a row. Could he have prevented this? Was there something he was doing that brought this about?
Really more of a philosophical question than factual, but since Bacon is uniquely placed... what would Bo have thought about the past several years -- specifically the alleged in-fighting and factionalism that followed the RR hire. And related to that, why wasn't there a firm succession plan in place for the inevitable Carr retirement?
why wasn't there a firm succession plan in place for the inevitable Carr retirement<>/i
But before I do, I want to know how much support (or lack thereof) RR had from the admin (MSM, etc.) I felt there was a real culture judgement that he couldn't win. Don't know how that all played out (regents, powerful alums, etc.)
Also want to know more about the Martin/Miles/ESPN/Boat thing.
Why three years? Was the book always intended to cover that much time, or did Bacon (or RR?) feel that the first/second years weren't successful enough and hoped for a breakthrough season in 2010 to be part of the story?
Assume that RR had the same overall record in three years, or even each year, but had somehow swung a mricale win or two versus MSU and OSU. Would that have been enough to keep his job?
One more question -- did Rich Rodriguez ever feel accepted in Ann Arbor? I realize that football coaches live pretty narrowly-defined lives, and probably socialize (if at all) mostly with their staff, but I wonder if he felt isolated here. He had a West Virginia accent, and a wife with bleached-blonde (or at least unusually blonde) hair. I know that Bo and Lloyd each had a network of friends in town, but I doubt that that was true of Rodriguez. Also, I think that it's interesting that while Bo lived Ann Arbor Hills, and Lloyd out by the Huron River, Rodriguez lived in Saline.
In any case, this isn't a meant as a slam on Rodriguez or his family (I've heard great things about Rita from an unimpeachable source), but I wonder if feeling like an outsider made things even more difficult.
I'll just add, I don't think there's much to living in Saline. A lot of the coaches and staff have lived there for years. Nice property, good schools, and just far enough away from town to be out of the spotlight a little. I'm sure he received recommendations that it was a good place for his wife to look for a house.
Would have thought about the situation...I think a better question is what he thinks Bo would have thought about the book. Because I'm guessing Bo wouldn't take kindly to him putting the program and any coaches or players, whether it be Rich or Lloyd or anyone else, in a bad light. And that'd be the end of his relationship with Bo too.
How do you report about Moeller without risking negative portrayal of the program as a whole? Can't whitewash Mo's blowup. So should we lie? I find it instructive that Bo never stood in the way of honest reportage about Mo's binge and related. Sunshine cures many unpleasant things. Get the truth out there.
But that doesn't mean he appreciated it. Some went overboard, and he thought so. Some people, particularly at channel 7, took extra glee with the situation.
For example, you can certainly report on the situation, and cover it completely, without having played the tapes of him with the police. It added nothing to the story, isn't done in any non-celebrity drunk cases, and was just don to be salacious.
And frankly, reporting on something, which is a reporter's job, is different from someone who's acting, and has acted as an insider. I know for a fact that he held it against Duderstat for using the situation to push Moeller out behind his back; and it contributed to the Dude not being around much longer (Presidents...you better contact your regents and see who's side they're on before you do stuff).
There's just a huge difference between "trying to stop Bacon from writing what he wants to write" and "you can do what you want...but lose my number, traitor". For someone who's been let in numerous times on the "inside", Bo would have seen airing their dirty laundry (in defense of Rich and Lloyd, not one or the other) as a betrayal. That's not censorship; that's simply not being friends with people who put their interest over yours.
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I'm curious to know what Bacon thinks Michigan's 2008 record would have been if Lloyd had stayed. Do Mallet, Boren, Arrington, etc. still leave? Does that matter?
Okay, so I see people have already asked about the DCs, Tony Gibson, the 3-3-5, etc.
I have another major question, which I hope hasn't already been asked.
RR was hired to bring in a fast-paced, modern offense that had given him great success at WVU, and building this offense meant recruiting different types of offensive players--dual threat QBs, slot ninjas, leaner O-linemen, etc. I get that.
What I don't get is why this coaching change and offensive philosophical shift should have necessitated such decay in defensive recruiting? I mean, the rating services all felt we recruiting well on defense, but there were SO...MANY...BUSTS/TRANSFERS. What was RR's thinking on defense? What explains his staff's personnel issues on that side of the ball?
Back in May 2010, around the time of the Morgan Trent fiasco, you wrote:
Through it all, Rodriguez just grits his teeth and asks if you've heard his Lion King joke. I shudder at the tell-all book that will inevitably follow a Rodriguez canning.
Now that said Rodriguez canning has occurred and said tell-all book has been written and read, were your shudder-inducing suspicions confirmed or rebutted?