Maybe not NC-caliber, but close enough.
I think we totally could beat the Tarheels.
A very special mailbag, with just one question. This one has been asked, or implied by people sending me reasons the play of the team is definitely the fault of the coaches, by many, many people the past couple weeks. If you sent one, I read it. I'm not responding except here. Sorry. Usually I try to be better about it.
The platonic ideal:
Just talk me off the ledge...
Please explain what it would take for you to no longer support Rich Rod. What specifically has to happen? And then, please state not just what you expect to see from the program in the coming years, but how the team will improve? To me, that's why I just can't support Rich Rod anymore. Show me where are the underclassmen who will show improvement and how you actually see the coaches making them better.
I just don't see it. Instead, I see a mentally soft team, that while yes, has serious deficiencies, is currently losing to teams that also have serious deficiencies. Our players seem to be all over the place and just poorly coached in general.
Like I said, talk me off the ledge..
I get emails like this because I've been a supporter of Rodriguez throughout his tenure at Michigan and am moving much more slowly towards the conclusion that Rodriguez should be fired than the rest of the universe. The emailer asks for specifics. To set ground rules, here are the assumptions I am working with.
Virtually nothing that happened in 2008 was avoidable, and it was mostly not Rodriguez's fault. Michigan's program had already been gutted by attrition and poor motivation by the time Rodriguez made it to campus, and the exodus of offensive stars in the aftermath of his hiring was an inevitable consequence of the radical shift in offensive philosophy.
I have it from reliable sources Ryan Mallett was gone no matter who was the coach and that Manningham was headed for the NFL after three years from day one. Arrington left because Mallett left. Boren left because he was asked to put in the same amount of effort as the rest of the team and not given special exemptions to go be Mr. Plow. If you want to blame Rodriguez for Boren, fine. Add him to the team last year and you still have a disaster of an offense that starts Nick Sheridan most of the year.
Arguments that Rodriguez should have stuck with a pro-style offense he's never coached and forgo the installation of his system in order to get to 5-7 when hardly anyone on the roster has even played in a pro-style system have been discussed already; I think they are silly.
Rodriguez is not responsible for the enormous holes on the roster. Rodriguez has had a single full recruiting class and had a brief window in which to patch some spread-type players onto Carr's last class. The gaping holes on defense and the lack of talent at outside receiver and offensive line are almost entirely Lloyd Carr's doing. The freshmen quarterbacks are a combination of Carr putting every egg for three years in Mallett's basket and the radical shift in offensive philosophy.
This has been discussed elsewhere on the blog; I won't belabor the point.
Hiring Scott Shafer was a terrible mistake, and the other hires are questionable. At the very least it was a misjudge of the guy's ability to fit in on the staff. At worst, he allowed his DC to get submarined and saw the defense implode because of his assistants' impatience.
This may extend to Rodriguez's other hires as well: Jay Hopson has recruited very few players as Michigan withdrew entirely from Mississippi after last year's debacle; Hopson also secured the commitments of both defensive tackles who went elsewhere on signing day. His linebacking corps has regressed horribly.
And while the jury is still be out (very, very out) on Robinson given the players he has to work with, but his track record since his salad days with the Broncos is one of relentless failure with a single good-not-great year at Texas mixed in.
It is worth noting that the guys who can really be considered DeBord-style crony legacy folk are Magee, Tall, Smith, and Gibson. Dews is a vagabond who was a grad assistant at WVU for a few years before wandering around to Holy Cross, CMU, and UNLV. Frey was picked off from South Florida a year before Rodriguez left WVU and had no prior connection to Rodriguez. Hopson is obviously new. Fred Jackson was an enforced hire by the Michigan AD.
The crony guys are the offensive coordinator who everyone loves, the DL coach who is, IME, doing a very good job, the QB coach who helped Pat White be Pat White, and… well… Tony Gibson. At this point I'd rather see Rodriguez hire a guy he knows inside and out; the folk he brings in from the outside haven't done that well.
We are not at the point yet where the deficiencies in the team are clearly the doing of the coaches. It's pretty suggestive at linebacker, sure. But the secondary is just a disaster zone and would be a disaster zone if Monte Kiffin cloned himself eight times and had all eight players try to teach the safeties how to play football. The offense has improved greatly from year one to year two and has done so with true freshmen at quarterback. Since Rodriguez has a track record of success, he should be extended the benefit of the doubt.
They're not "soft." They don't play like mincing Frenchmen. They play like speed-addled kids with ADD. They are irresponsible and sometimes dumb. This is because they are terribly young or Michigan's linebackers. What does "soft" even mean? Jonas Mouton blowing coverages and cutback lanes game after game is not soft. Mike Williams overrunning everyone on Illinois is not soft. Michigan blowing assignments on the Illinois goal line stand is not soft.
It takes time to dig out.
Michigan was not a 3-9 team by accident; they had the talent of a 3-9 team. If you disagree with that, it's probably to suggest that Michigan was really a 5-7 or 4-8 team that Rodriguez screwed up into being a slightly more horrible team, right?
If you think that Michigan's downfall was entirely Rodriguez-made and you're pointing to the gutted recruiting classes that were in the top ten at their inception but have been ground down to dust, you can safely move on from this post since nothing in it will convince you. My opinion is that a combination of poor late stewardship from Carr and the wrenching transition to the opposite of Lloyd Carr in so many ways is what doomed us to this transition.
I expect Rodriguez to provide continual improvement until Michigan is back to being Michigan. That's my baseline. I'm not exactly thrilled with what's gone on this year but I think it's understandable. Given the roster situation and the chaos at DC—which Rodriguez is responsible for—this Michigan team is within the range in which Rich Rodriguez is not an idiot who got lucky with Pat White and Steve Slaton. It's towards the lower end of the range but it is in the range. It takes time to dig out from the hole they were in.
Next year, Michigan must be better than they are this year. I have no idea where the emailer is getting the idea that Michigan can't be a better team when they return at least 16 starters on offense and defense, with Donovan Warren a potential 17th, some combination of Dorrestein and Omameh a potential 18th, and Darryl Stonum a functional 19th.
Additionally, the players on this team are still extremely young. There are 11 starters on the team who are sophomores or freshman by eligibility, and many of the guys with redshirts in there are guys like Hemingway, Huyge, and Molk who missed large chunks of time with injury. The quarterbacks should take huge leaps forward in their second year. The only spot at which Michigan should be appreciably worse next year, excepting special teams, is Brandon Graham. That will be a major loss; it won't offset improved play at every position on the field.
So, sure. If you really don't think Michigan is going to be better next year I can understand why you'd want to see Rodriguez fired. I also think you're completely nuts.
If they aren't obviously better, then Rodriguez should be fired. If they don't make a bowl game, if they aren't obviously moving away from the Big Ten cellar, if they don't approach yardage parity against BCS opponents, Rodriguez should be fired. I think all of those things are seriously unlikely, and am willing to invest a year to find out. Where it is in black and white: acts of God nonwithstanding, Michigan has to go 8-5 next year or Rodriguez should be cut loose. 7-6 might be okay if the bowl matchup is obviously bad.
This is the last I'll say about it until next year.
Maybe not NC-caliber, but close enough.
I think we totally could beat the Tarheels.
My baseline expectation was at 6-6 and it looks like it will hold true if Michigan can pull an upset against Wisconsin or OSU(seems unlikely but you've got to play the game or Michigan would be paper Big 10 champion every year a few years prior to the RR's helm). IMO, '10 is where we will see improvement from 6-6 to 8-4 or 9-3. '11 is the year where Michigan truly make noise as a Big Ten contender. The only question is will RR last til '11? Martin's retirement basically brought RR a year to justify the hire.
If he can go 8-4 in '10 I assure you he will last 'til 11.
but it all depends on the hiring of the AD that most likely will determine the direction of football's future.
That being said, If only a couple of the redshirt and true freshman next year provide an upgrade at safety or corner (allowing Wollfolk to switch back to safety) and one linebacker to emerge to the level of just-above John Thompson, this team improve.
Its hard to equate that with overall wins and losses without looking at the schedule, but I think ND will be probably be worse (and with defections even moreso), not sure about UConn or our MAC schedule, but there will be some turnover in hard-on-michigan mainstays in the B10 as well.
I think that 8 wins as a floor is probably better reserved for 2011 and even a crappy bowl extends the project another year.
ohhhh no waaaay. he goes 4-8 or 5-7... even 6-6 next year, he will NOT be safe til 2011 unless for some reason the U thinks they need him in title to hold onto recruits before signing day.
Agreed. I don't know that he would be gone 100% - in fact at 6-6 I think he will ultimately survive for one more year - but his seat will be searing hot.
Leaves me thinking of a favorite quote:
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
Aww, man! Why you gotta be "That Guy?"
I agree completely.
That said...you saw the boards this weekend, right? I'm not sure how effective things like "reason" and "sanity" will be at this point in the season to the members of the fan base that have already made up their minds.
But then again, these are the people who were convinced that this is a 5-7 season without a bowl game even though we still have two games left to play and have a shot at winning either. Trying to argue with them is a textbook exercise in futility.
It's also interesting in that I think this note would have had a different tenor with even a squeaky victory over Purdue. You had stated that for you Illinois was a game changer, and that revision of thinking appears to have continued. I endorse the view expressed here, but if I could put myself in the mind of that emailer I think that he and those that think along those lines would argue two points.
First, there are some in the MSM that speculate that simply the loss of Minor alone will offset the year of extra growth of the offense next year. This is somewhat understandable since we rarely look good when Minor is not running, and on first blush even I wonder how he is replaceable since no other RB seems to run hard enough to break a tackle. But a year older Tate should be vastly better than this year, and given a returning Molk and a year of growth for everyone else, this will be a different offense but I believe a much better one.
Second, I think they would argue with the premise that we have improved this year. Yes that sounds nuts when the worst case scenario is 5-7 vs. 3-9, but here is a different question: are we improved this year versus last year in B10 competition? That one is a much tougher answer so far. And assuming 5-7, that improvement is much, much more marginal than I believe anyone counted on.
Bottom line however for me, is that even if those objections are true, I endorse the "I'm willing to invest a year to find out."
This post probably wouldn't have been written. Most folks' bottom line for this season was bowl eligibility. If Michigan had beaten Purdue, there would have been a huge sigh of relief, with upsets over Wisky and OSU available as the potential frosting on the cake. Now Michigan is in the position of needing an upset just to get to the level that was most people's bottom line for an acceptable season.
I share your concern about the loss of Brandon Minor. Traditionally, Michigan never rebuilt at the running back position; it just reloaded. For the first time since I started following Michigan football (the early 1970s), a smash-mouth Wolverine runner is graduating and has no heir apparent.
Transitioned to whom exactly? Jerome Jackson or David Underwood? I can't say those guys were exactly "heir apparents."
Yeah you might remember some guy named Mike Hart that came from literally nowhere.
So you think Brian is incapable of not talking about firing RR for the rest of the year? At this point, almost all of us expect the next two games to be losses (perhaps horribly bad losses). Therefore, no reason for Brian (or any of the rest of us) to comment.
I suppose, if RR wins one or two of these last two games, it might be irresistible to comment about how idiotic the fire RR crowd was (is?).
Brian has staked out his position with reason, logic, and evidence. Which, sadly, in the college football world, will get you well, not a whole lot. But Brian's take is reasonable and sound. You'll have a second year starter at quarterback, you'll have many returning starters, and you'll have another year of schemes installed and in place.
So this gets stickied as Cook 11/9, we point to it as needed and we move on to larger questions, ones that matter presently.
You should really comment more.
Aren't the smaller questions the ones that matter presently? Or are you moving on to the sources of human goodness, the meaning of existence, etc?
Honestly, I don't know. I think was trying to channel Murrow, or at least David Strathairn as Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck in his summation refuting the charges levied by Senator McCarthy, saying something to the effect when finishes that he hopes the program can return to matters of greater importance next week.
As for commenting more often, I have always subscribed to the quality over quantity theory. Today just happened to be a high volume day.
has been in short supply all across the country this season and not just in Ann Arbor. Of course, we have seen it weekly for the last month up close and personal.
Did anyone see Oregon shread USC then get torn apart by Stanford? I know you saw UConn almost stun Cincy Saturday night. Except for the top four rated teams, everyone ahs suffered on defense at times this season.
To be fair, M's defense is horrible. I don't know of many other squads that are fielding multiple walkons, with depth behind those walkons essentially (or literally) nonexistent.
Those other squads that you mentioned had defenses that at times have been shredded. Well, yes, even good defenses (and I'm not sure that Oregon and Cincy qualify here) get shredded. But not consistently, not like what we're seeing with Michigan.
Consistently bad is what we're talking about here. Excluding Delaware State, please point to the game where this defense gave up less than 30 points (hint: it was rockrockrock Michigan State).
2008 M offense = 2009 M defense. I'm not sure why that equation works, but it does.
There's a difference between struggling "at times" and struggling all the time. You don't mean to suggest that our defense isn't comparatively worse than average, do you?
in a downward spiral on defense but many other big name programs have been exploited too. There is more talent on the offensive side of the ball on many teams.
Thank you. Now if only that could be tattooed on the eyelids of various and sundry local "columnists", as well as the average yammering idiot in the fan base. Obviously, Michigan is not used to losing. But, the team is young, and change takes time. It's a fact.
This will work here, it will. I have faith. I have concerns, obviously, I'm watching the same games everyone else is, but I have faith, based in data, and logic.
Any new hire should get at least three years, saith the ghost of Bo, still fuming over Illinoi$' firing of Gary Moeller. But there has to be noticeable progress in each of those years. This year, there is noticeable progress at this stage of the game, although scant. And I smell a big surprise coming in two weeks, because these Buckeyes are ripe for the plucking.
What was it about OSU's utter dismantling of PSU on the road, a team that utterly dismantled us on the road, that leads you to the conclusion that the Buckeyes are "ripe for the plucking?"
You should know that football isn't transitive. One can legitimately come to the conclusion that OSU is vulnerable from many of their other games. I don't think it's likely (and in fact expect a rout) but stranger things happen every year.
Agreed, which is why the primary clause in my sentence asked about how the most recent evidence we have about OSU led the poster to the conclusion that OSU was ripe for the picking.
I think the biggest reason for the dismay of the fans is the 4-0 start. If they sat here at 5-6 with a couple of wins in the Big 10 instead of getting our hopes up that perhaps they were actually good, than perhaps the reactions would be a bit more tempered.
but almost everybody expected 3-1, if not 4-0 (I mean Western, Eastern, and Indiana are all terrible).
I've heard this one, from an M friend of mine. He would define it as "when anything negative happens, the team falls apart." Meaning that the team has difficulty bouncing back from adversity, and lacks the metal toughness necessary to understand that the momentum will shift, and they have to stay focused and come back. It means mentally soft. Now away from my M friend and back to me-- I think we are mentally soft in this way. But I chalk it up to extreme youth, which is another word for immaturity, and don't blame RR for this. But I will if it continues next year.
I understand the anger among fans. But let's look at the reality -- if Rodriguez gets fired U-M will not be hiring an outsider. And, given Brandon/Carr's problems with Les Miles, I don't see how Les will be allowed to come to the rescue. And given Carr's problems with Jim Harbaugh, same thing.
So that narrows the coaching possibilities to former Lloyd assistants. For those who want Rodriguez fired, which former Lloyd assistant do you think will be an improvement? Or, a different question, is there any former Lloyd assistant, the mention of whose name will not cause Jim Tressel to break out in a giggle fit?
I don't SweatVest knows how to giggle. I imagine anything close to it comes out in raspy, shortened chortles. Imagine a smoker trying to breathe after running a few miles--that is how I imagine a Tressel laugh/giggle.
Pick on the smokers.
A lot of this depends on who the new AD is, but my feeling is that IF Rodriguez is fired, and IF Miles is willing to come back to UM (both huge ifs), the job would be his for the taking. I don't think Lloyd's grudges would carry much weight in such a crisis situation.
But it appears that David Brandon is campaigning for the job and that he has support among the Regents. Since everyone in the know says Brandon did the dirty work for his good friend Lloyd in campaigning against Miles two years ago, I don't see him changing his mind about Miles as AD.
on who would/should/could be head coach is also a topic which should wait until next year.
True story, talked to 4 coworkers about UofM football today. 2 were men and 2 were women. The 2 guys both said Rod should be fired. The 2 girls both said that Rod is doing a decent job considering the circumstances and Michigan fans are "just spoiled."
I think not having a losing season since 1967 has really made the Michigan fan base have expectations that may be unrealistic.
I am firmly behind Rod getting enough time to get his players in. It would most likely drastically set the program back even further to change ship now. What top coach would want to come here with no job security? What if his system was different and we start over from scratch again and Rod's young players all left?
This really caught my eye: "Fred Jackson was an enforced hire by the Michigan AD."
I had no idea. If anyone has some color on that I'd love to hear it.
I VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE just for the purposes of BEING A DICK
I am CHECKING YOUR SPELLING just for the purposes of BEING AN E-DICK.
Also your VEHEMENT DISAGREEMENT is not worthy of a MICHIGAN MAN and is therefore UNACCEPTABLE.
I totally agree with Brian that this is a young team that was going to struggle this year. Again, I point out that most people figured 7-5 for this team, but of course that was with a health bit of optimism. They have blown exactly one game this year where they had a clear talent advantage (Illinois), and possibly one where they had similar talent and/or home-field advantage (Purdue). Along the way, the offense has made immense strides with two freshmen QBs, a banged-up offensive line, and mediocre WRs. The defense has been horrible at times, but they play like most youngish-defenses - they stop you on first and second down but cannot get off the field because of mental errors, and are susceptible to the big play. Hopefully some continuity with DCs over the off-season will help, as will the return of Warren and continued maturation of guys like Roh, Martin, and Campbell.
The immediate future does not look that promising for this team, but I still think we will be saying "Michigan being Michigan" sooner rather than later.
At the end of the day, what Brian is saying is not that different from what some have said, and been negged for, on the message board (albeit in a far more reasoned tone). We need marked improvement next year, regardless of excuses, or Rodriguez should be gone.
I think that if someone else had posted the exact same conclusion on the message board, he/she would receive 20 negs in minutes, with fifty variations of "you're insane, everyone knows Rich Rod needs at least 4 years, only an idiot would suggest firing him after the 2010 season under any circumstances, troll . . ."
Other than a few complete nimrods, almost no one has been advocating firing Rodriguez at the end of this season. Next year is the key - we need to see something that shows us this will work, something beyond past results in a different conference, or we need to cut bait, however painful the transition will be. A third year of futility, without a change, will virtually destroy our ability to recruit the players we need to fix this -- it's a vicious cycle that needs to end, one way or the other.
Good luck, Rich Rod.
I don't think you have enough information to argue that a well-reasoned, even-handed evaluation of RichRod that came to the conclusion that if the team is not obviously better in year 3 he should be fired would be met with derision and negging. There were no such posts.
Be that as it may, and FWIW, I disagree with Brian here. I think college football coaches need 4 years, barring SMU-style hijinx or 0-12 seasons. As Brian pointed out, year 1 (2008) basically doesn't count, for a variety of reasons. Year 2 involves freshman galore. Year 3 will involve sophomores galore. Year 4 is where I will start to think about year 5. If UM goes 6-6 next year, I will still think he should get a fourth year, though I recognize I will probably be in the minority.
I don't necessarily disagree with you. I think we need to see "marked improvement" next year, but I wouldn't arbitrarily lay out a particular wins-losses bench mark that we need to meet. There are different ways of going 6-6, and in certain circumstances such a record could be seen as showing the necessary improvement.
One issue I've had in recent days is the spate of excessively Pollyannish commenters who are saying thing's like "hey, we all predicted 6-6 or 7-5 this year, we're not far off, so what are you so upset about?" It's not purely a matter of final record. Having 7 losses but playing better as the year goes on and pulling off some upset wins is one thing. Losing seven in a row (against non-HS level competition) and regressing as the year goes on is something very different. This is what causes me concern, not the fact that we're 5-5 right now.
I hear you. I guess I was thinking there's very little way UM could get to 6-6 with "marked improvement." That is, I'm saying that even without marked improvement, measured however, I would still support a 4th year.
This was my point (probably poorly made). The sense that the team was not improving but still in that find a way to lose mentality was what bothered me.
Well said. The win against Delaware State counts as nothing at all. The Iowa and MSU games, I submit, were pretty good efforts. But Illinois, Penn State, and Purdue were debacles, and these debacles must be limited.
Not that there weren't debacles in the past. The 2002 Citrus Bowl was perhaps the worst effort by a Michigan team in the past 41 years, and I don't go further back because I simply don't know. The 1991 Florida State whipping was more in the nature of culture shock than anything else. Likewise the 1992 Rose Bowl loss, although that was a loss to no doubt about it steroid monsters (Steve Emtmann).
And one more thing. RR should be saying that any blame falls on himself and the coaches, even if he and they do not deserve it, just to try to preserve the kids' confidence in their own ability to improve.
Brian's message in no way mirrors that of the messages that appear to get neg banged.