Cheer up, dude. Go look at your cat pics or something.
Weak Links And The Destruction Of Everything
...except that defenses CAN force the issue. If you line up showing cover zero, for example, don't you basically force the other team to pass? Alternatively, if you play a dime with a 3-man line, you are basically asking for the run. Most defenses aren't good against the run or against the pass, but have talent distributed in certain places. A team that has an excellent defensive front and a mediocre secondary may still be good against the pass simply because they get pressure on the quarterback with four and drop 7 into coverage. Certain defenses are built to play with a lead but are not so good when playing from behind. I don't think that you can really talk about the defense in isolation; talent distribution is a better way of thinking about it. That being said, I agree with Brian's analysis as it relates to Michigan.
Here's my question. For Rodriguez supporters, why is next year THE YEAR? Everyone believes that he needs to win 7 or 8 games to continue coaching here, or at least have the support of most of this fanbase. What has he done in the last 2 years to make you believe he can't win at Michigan and what's going to dramatically change in this 3rd year? The team is still young. He's really just completing his 2nd full recruiting season. The team will still probably be in rebuilding mode.
I guess I'm just surprised that other than a complete collapse, there isn't more support from even his supporters to give him a full 5 years and let him get his entire program fully installed.
although one thing to keep in mind is that if RR's contract isn't extended then recruiting will become very difficult.
I look for the type of offensive improvement that comes from a qb with a year of experience and hopefully more Molkitude on the line. Defensively, at best we will be more talented but that new talent will be young.
We will start the season with a good UConn team coming off a bowl victory and ND on the road even with a new coach could be a loss. We could start 0 and 2 and have to hear "OMG the season is shot, RR can't coach...".
I want to win now as much as anyone else, but this is a four year project. I truly believe the people who hire and fire feel that it is a four year project as well. All "the sky is falling" stuff only makes it tougher on the coach, the team, recruiting--in a nutshell, tougher to succeed.
We need to be more like a bunch of Fonzies. And what was Fonzie like?
Amen to that. While I agree that our team will be more talented next year it is also going to be very young on defense. I hope we win 8 or 9 games next year but our defense might still not be that great.
Based on UM history of not having a quick hook, I fully expect RR to get 4 or more years even in the event of a 6 win or less 2010 season. And I support that. I don't like not having 8+ win seasons, but if you believe that he is likely to get us there in year 4 or 5, why not give him the chance instead of the program having to start all over again?
Also, keep in mind that message boards tend to bring out the negative more than the positive ("I am surprised there isn't more support from his supporters").
"if you believe that he is likely to get us there in year 4 or 5, why not give him the chance instead of the program having to start all over again?"
I realize this is kind of my go to point in all of this, but you basically just said that the acceptable goal is to get to 8+ wins in year 4 and 5. My response to that is, we already had that and took it for granted, now we've been awful for two years and we're just trying to get back to the low end of our previous expectations. So what was the point of overhauling the entire system? The only defense for that can be that we really thought (not hindsight, but thought at the time) that allowing the previous regime (under Hoke, English, Loeffler, whoever...) to continue was going to drop our level of accomplishment below the bottom end of what Carr's teams had done.
I thought Rodriguez was a great hire because he could take our program past the Carr level of expectation to a point of playing in and occasionally winning BCS titles, not just getting back to 8-4, 9-3 and playing on New Years Day. Objective, tangible results say he has failed almost completely up to this point.
Basically, what I'm saying is that if you think Rodriguez can get us to a BCS Championship level, say it loud and stand behind it. Don't cop out and say you think he can get us back to 8+ wins and be happy with that. That wasn't the task that was set forth in December of 2007. I personally think that with the resources UM has, any decent coach can get us to 8+ wins when they have their system in place, I just don't think that's what we all were asking for when we soured on Carr and we shouldn't change our expectations. If you think that 8+ wins is the ceiling for Rodriguez, I say give someone else a chance who can go for 10+.
You are willing to wait till year 9 for his first 10 win season? What could be anywhere from 2/3's to half of his career? Or am I misinterpreting your statement??
"Carr level of expectation"
Lloyd Carr won a National Championship in 1997; that was the level of expectation that I was having while he was coaching.
"when we soured on Carr"
Isn't that exactly what happened. It's not like he became a bad coach any more than RichRod is a bad coach.
"any decent coach can get us to 8+ wins when they have their resources in place"
One look at the secondary last year tells us that RichRod has not had his "resources in place".
I am supportive of giving RichRod enough time to get his Seniors in place and if he can't win at that point then it is a new regime.
I think I agree with your points.
The point I was trying to make with the Carr Level of Expectations was that an 8-4 or 9-3 season were not thought of as successful. So if we have actually lowered our expectations which I inferred from the poster I was replying to, that makes this whole painful makeover seem insanely unnecessary.
Souring on Carr is a tough one. One part of my mind says, "hey, Michigan played in a virtual BCS Championship semi-final in just three years ago." The other part of my mind hated sitting in the Rose Bowl in '07 watching UM continue to run up the middle, wasting a good defensive effort and made my mouth yell, "Get the eff out of here Lloyd" as the App State guy was streaking for the end zone after the blocked field goal.
I also agree that Rodriguez doesn't have his whole system / resources in place at this point. BUT, if 8+ wins is all we're expecting when he does, that just seems stupid to me because we jumped ship on a culture and concept where 8+ wins was the absoulte bottom of the expectation spectrum.
Let it be known that I was pretty solidly fed up with Carr and was very excited about the innovation and everything that Rodriguez had to offer. I was pumped when I saw us go no huddle and Sheridan hit Shaw for a TD on the first drive in '08. I've just been beaten down and shell shocked since then. I keep thinking of Cinderella... "Don't know what you've got, til it's gone."
but I would like to pass final judgment after year 4.
When I see this roster, I see a TON of athleticism and speed. They're being conditioned properly. Unfortunately, they're still young. And young players make mistakes. I think RR is making all the right recruiting moves. The 4- and 5-star blue chippers will come with a couple more wins and bowl appearance. And then we're off to the races. I FIRMLY believe that RR will take Michigan to BCS glory.
Setting some arbitrary number of wins is ridiculous. It is what they do on sportstalk radio. It is like a form of fantasy callege football. It is the kind of thing that Drew Sharp might write, although it is almost too embarassing even for Drew Sharp.
What has to happen this coming year is that David Brandon has to either get comfortable with the notion that Rich Rodriguez is his football coach, or not. If I were David Brandon, that wouldn't depend on a set number of wins, or even some range of numbers.
What would matter is what I saw; is the program getting better? Are the kids growing, improving, distinguishing themselves? Is the future bright, or not? Is the outward appearance of the program what you want, for purposes of the greater prestige of the University? What do donors think? Does it appear reasonable, that under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan will be securely in the top tier of Big Ten teams?
If it all can be answered in the affirmative, you give Rich Rodriguez a contract extension, next year. But all that could happen with a 5-win team; and it might not happen, even with a 10-win team.
Myself, I am confident that it will happen, and that Rich Rodriguez will be our coach for a long time.
I have confidence in RR and can't wait until he has the team where he wants it to be. If it takes another year or 2 to get there, I can wait. I expect that we will be playing for championships. Let's focus on the end goal not the annual number of wins along the way.
you can make a similar argument in most other sports, as well. how many baseball playoff spots have been squandered because of lousy relief pitching? or stanley cups because of lousy goaltending?
it's something i've been telling my state buddies - yes, we lost our best defensive players, but our defense may actually improve if we can just put put out the fires (hell, forget 'put out' - let's just go for 'control') in the secondary. a rising tide raises all boats, or some such.
I have a follow-up coming on the answer to your nightmares*
I put it together then realized the 2010 class was likely to change dramatically. And it did already, so this is out of date. But, the thing will still look kind of the same.
Overall talent distribution in 2010 will start to resemble basically "A slightly poorer Ohio State," as opposed to 2009's "Ain't nobody home."
The bad news, they're all kids:
The silver lining: They don't have anyone over 21 to buy beer for them.
* The answer to your nightmare is a very long allegory to Titanic. Is est hodie, Michigan Football.
Those graphs are fantastic. Outstanding work, as usual.
This is brilliant, as is Misopogon's follow up.
I am already bought in, so it was worth it just for "Sweet hot Jesus in a pickle bun."
These posts are unnecessary at this point. Anyone who believes this is entirely
rr's fault already believes that and anyone who wants to blame ambivalent fate is similarly convinced (despite the seemingly obvious fact that the truth lies somewhere in between). There is no point in rehashing this because if rr does not produce next year he is gone. It really is that
simple, no matter how I or anyone else feels about it. So let's just hope he pulls this out and then, if he doesn't, bid him adieu without asinine malice or bullshit apologistic analysis. A plague on both your houses for allowing this stupid debate go on this long.
I don't think that we should discourage reasonable thoughts written clearly and backed up by reasoned analysis.
And obviously I love reading this stuff, but at some point an apologist actually focuses more attention on the person he's apologizing for than that person would otherwise get if the issue was just dropped. Personally, I think this just stirs anti-rr factions up and gives them another reason to spout off mindlessly. We all know that we had walk ons playing last year. We all know the team was young. The idea that football is a team sport (1 weak link in the chain, etc.) is not a particularly unique idea and, as I remember, was beaten into my head by every football coach I ever had. Anyway, Im not trying to be a jerk, I'm just saying that apologizing for rr right now might not be the best move, especially when there is no new information to analyze. This is just a different angle on a topic that has been discussed ad nauseum here and elsewhere and it has been toxic thus far and I expect it to continue in that vein.
I think that you have good points here.
"Anyone who believes this is entirely rr's fault already believes that and anyone who wants to blame ambivalent fate is similarly convinced (despite the seemingly obvious fact that the truth lies somewhere in between). There is no point in rehashing this..."
OK so far...
"... because if rr does not produce next year he is gone. It really is that simple."
?! Do you and Dave Brandon play golf? Do you have access to privileged information, or are you expressing an opinion? If so, you should be more open and honest about that.
To your later point: I'm not convinced that Rodriguez will ever get Michigan to the 9- and 10-win years. But, I think he deserves more than three years.
Why bother stating (and pushing) that opinion repeatedly? Because the motley Michigan fan base (Old Blues, Burgundy Blues, fans of Les Miles, fans of Lloyd Carr, inbred Ann Arbor townies) has, unfortunately, lived up to its reputation as a bunch of arrogant whiners. Without any deep thought, they've bought into every dumb idea out there (RR didn't use Threet and Sheridan properly, RR is an immoral hillbilly that scared away Boren, etc.).
Were nature allowed to take its course, the donkey and Rodriguez would already be headed toward the sun. To put that another way, the unreasonable fan base would have installed Brady Hoke or Ron English as the coach. I'm of the *opinion* that this blog and people like Bill Martin (to varying degrees, obviously) are the only responsible parties on this issue.
But you don't have to golf with anybody to know that if we plop out a 3rd straight losing season, we'll be looking for a new football coach. Because none of the "reasonable people" you mention are being asked to fill expensive luxury boxes. And we can't afford to have a Stadium with declining attendance.
And don't be surprised if this blog isn't leading the charge for his ouster (barring some ridiculous injury happenstance...which never seemed to be an effective excuse for Michigan teams), if the collapse continues. If you want to debate the gray areas of success fine.
What the poster was correctly saying was that if we've reasonably agreed that it's pointless to say "argh, fire Rich Rod" because it's not happening, it's equally pointless to rehash all of the reasons/excuses/happenings that defend Rich Rod, because not only is it equally pointless (and a bit disingenuous), it's not going to have any effect on saving him IF HE CAN'T WIN. I agree with Brian's (old?) view that it's tired, and let the season play out. He wins he stays, he loses he doesn't.
And however reasoned you may think it is, not only are you not changing the opinion of anybody, all these pretty graphs, as accurate as they may be, are having an equally zero influence on the people who make the decisions.
You can't beg to let the talk die and then keep bringing it back up. It's like saying you don't want to hear how (insert political party) is doing a horrible job, but then bring up why (opposing party) is doing a fine job. It's lime trolling your own site. Can't kill it till September, but you don't have to feed it either.
* I agree that, if they wind up with a losing record next year, there's a good chance he'll be jettisoned. Is that fair? Honestly, I'm still not sure when the (age) make-up of the team is considered. Whatever... I'll accept that I'm crazy to think that. jlvanals wasn't specific, though -- he just said "produce." Out of curiosity, do you have a threshold (wins) above which you'd keep RR?
* Speculation on attendance patterns with a losing team is interesting, but I'm convinced that they wouldn't change materially for at least a few years. Your point about the luxury boxes seems reasonable.
* No -- I won't be surprised if the blog leads the charge. If RR is *clearly* @#$%ing up, I'd expect that.
* I don't agree that it's pointless to refute all the ridiculous charges (e.g. "DUH! RICHROD NOT HAVE FAMILY VALUES! DUH!). What else should I do when some idiot with no critical-thinking skills mouths off in a room full of Michigan followers?
* I'm also not begging for the talk to die.
We may have had different interpretations of "produce". To your points-
I'm of the wait and see crowd. And while I think 7 or 8 wins should be a minimum, there are too many variables to take a hard line on that. Does that include a bowl or not? If he was 6-6, but 3 of the wins were ND, MSU & OSU, would anyone be in a hurry to throw him out (does those 3 wins mean he had to lose to U-Mass or someone?)? Is 8-4 glorious if we lose to the above 3 and PSU? That's why I think anyone setting an arbitrary number and you're out/in is flawed. I can see winning seasons that undercut my hope in him (yay! We won 9...but half the team was arrested...), or bad season that aren't so bad (had a losing record again?? Oh, it was after Tate AND Devin were out for the season with injuries...? And you say our secondary and LB's got a lot better...?).
I think Brian's 50-50 comment today shows the Blog's waning confidence.
True, I see the need for refutation of idiotic posts, when they appear. But Brian's post wasn't really in answer to anything, just piling onto a point. Having said that, you are obviously correct, YOU never said to let it lie till next season. I'm taking Brian's plea from multiple sources and erroneously making it a blanket statement.
on those plays where our difference-maker (brandon graham) trumped our weakest link factor (defensive backs), what you didn't notice was BG trucking over the opponents weakest link, thus solidifying the Weakest-Link theory
just means that any play that successfully targets the link gets added to that pile of plays that you wish you could unsee.
If you have a single terrible link and a good coordinator, you might end up with a decent offense/defense ... the idea would be that you would do whatever you could to prevent the opponent from focusing on your link. But without a good coordinator, opponents are more likely to find and feast upon said link, and if you have multiple weaknesses, you're pretty much screwed.
If you have both a strong player and a weak player on the same unit, then it becomes interesting, because you have to decide whether to shoot for balance (dropping more players into coverage in the hope that they block the QB's view of receivers long enough for Graham to crush him) or all-or-nothing (bring enough pressure that you bet the QB can't release the ball in 3 seconds).
So now I think I am leaning toward what I think you're saying. The weakest-link theory is a nice starting point, but it's too general to be accurate in all cases.
Even with all that info swirling around in my brain, I still find myself focused on the possible existence of a pickle bun
arent many still considering the LB play to be the weak link, much like it was this year?
rhymes so eloquently with "fun".
in retrospect, that last 2-3 classes of Lloyd were small in numbers and smaller in terms of return.
The 2007 class, for example, never should have been ranked as high as it was. It seems to carry a high ranking based on the guuru approval of 2 players--Mallet and Warren.
And, as i've said before, we were the worst team in the league in recruting and devleoping recruits from the state of Ohio towards the tailend of Carr's tenure, the most talent rich state in the Big 10 footprint.
Ezeh, Fitz and Mouton will be interesting to watch in 2010 with Hopson gone and a new guy coaching them.
I really can't see the secondary showing leaps of improvement next fall, but the DL could be decent even with Graham departing. Martin, DeathRoh, RVBergen and Will Campbell plus dudes like Lalota, etc. could present a pleasantly surprising front four for the Wolverines.
Good analysis. The lack of inside linebackers killed us. In the 3-4 they are so important. We won't win for the next 2-3 years unless we get some guys who can play that position.
There should be 3 or 4 decent contributors in there somewhere.
Already seen action:
JB Fitzgerald, Junior
Obi Ezeh, RS Senior
Jonas Mouton, RS Senior
Brandon Herron, RS Junior
Kevin Leach, RS Junior
Redshirts and Backups:
Brandin Hawthorne, Sophomore
Kenny Demens, RS Sophomore
Isaiha Bell, RS Freshman
Mike Jones, RS Freshman
Rusheed Fuhra, RS Junior
Paul Gyarmati, RS Sophomore
Davion Rogers, Freshman
Jake Ryan, Freshman
There's also the DE/OLB types of Antonio Kinard, Kenny Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz joining in 2010.
there will be. Unfortunately, one could say that there really weren't any decent contributors on that list in 2009.
"Football Foursome Named to Sporting News Freshmen All-Big Ten Team"
and of course,
We've won 3 conference games under RR in two years. One of those wins was a fluke (Wisconsin 2008), several 2009 losses were close.
Getting to 7 or 8 wins this year won't mean much if 4 of the wins are against non-conference teams.
The best measure of 2010--and or RR's future--will be to see conference wins jump to 6 or more. Six conference wins would go a long, long way to validating RR to the fan base and the new AD.
wins over UConn and ND would be nice, too
but just talking about next year, I don't see UM winning going 6-2 in the conference. I think if they could get to .500 in the conference next year (4-4) that would be good, especially considering they've only won 3 conference games the last two years.
8-4 with wins over ND and MSU wouldn't be bad imo. I definitely wouldn't be jumping for joy and pounding my chest, but imo, it would at least show the program seems to moving in the right direction.
I take one exception to Brian's post...
"When Tate Forcier came in and played like an average freshman—which is to say not very well at all—the offense went from worst ever to passable."
This seems a bit too harsh to raise expectations for the future. Tate played a lot better than an average freshmen and a lot better than not very well at all. He played great against non-conference teams including a big win vs. ND and IU (ug, big win vs. IU)... and was super human in tying that game vs. MSU. There were also bright spots the rest of the way. IMHO, Tate played like a very talented freshmen... lots of freshmen moments (ug), but lots of reasons to believe that as a year 2 starter things will be improved.
My two cents...
I just wanted to add a thought or two on a subject I think gets overlooked in the decimated roster analysis and that has to do with practice/preparation for games. While I'm not a close follower of RichRod's practice methods, most teams tend to spend the bulk of their prep-time (especially during the season) running the first team against a third/scout team. Presumably, the better guys you play against, the better you will get.
With that in mind, next year's third/scout team on defense will essentially be stocked with the incoming recruiting class. A d-line of Wilkins, Paskorz, Talbott, and Ash sounds a lot more formidable than Watson, Lalota, and a couple of lower level walk-ons. A linebacking corps with Kinard, Furman, Robinson(?), and Ryan looks like a big improvement. And best of all, Tate and the gang will actually get to go up against a real secondary this year with guys like Talbott, Avery, Vinopal, Johnson and possibly a few others, whereas last year's scout team consisted of me, a pair of Brian Cook groupies (not so hot, but great at play recognition), and an old tackling dummy Magnus had lying around his backyard.
On the other side of the ball, it can't hurt to have the first team D face Devin Gardner in practice every week instead of (God love him) Nick Sheridan.
Anyway, just another factor (of many) to explain why I expect this to be a really good football team within the next year or two.
... I'm just hoping for 6-6, and a bowl game. Then 9-3 the next year and fighting for Big 10 championship.
I fear the age distribution (or lack there of)