are an MGoGOD. Amazing stuff as usual.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
I hate Henri the Otter of Ennui.
For me, losing hurts. Watching Ezeh bite on a Juice Williams ninja fake hurts. Getting run over by Wisconsin hurts. Getting run around by Purdue hurts. Coming up just short after outplaying Iowa, having a win in East Lansing slip out of our grasps after a tantalizing tie, getting out-coached and out-executed by Penn State: these things hurt.
Henri can turn himself off. He can be blasé about such things. I can’t. I hate Henri for that.
Here’s some things that I seriously thought today:
Because unlike Henri the Otter of Ennui I am incapable of shutting down my feelings, after losses, I grieve. This is part of the grieving process for me: questioning all that is given, thinking the thing that hasn’t been thought for awhile. To quote Dunder Mifflen Paper Co. Regional Manager Michael Scott, “there is such a thing as good grief; just ask Charlie Brown.”
I have tried several ways of dealing with post-loss grief this year, none of which have really done the trick. The best – but least repeatable – method was to go late-season lake perch fishing, catch almost 30 perch and a handful of smallmouth bass, race back home, and throw the still-twitching perch in a frying pan and gorge, all the while lashing out at snarky Spartan family members.
I also tried zoning out to Law & Order reruns with my head in Misopogal’s lap (although this had the probably foreseeable outcome of receiving an assessment on my need for a haircut). I tried drinking copious amounts of whiskey and losing $25.00 to friends who are better at poker than I am. I tried sitting in a grumpy corner during a weekend-long in-law family event, eyeing the guitar case in the corner that would allow me to belt out my sorrows between Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan songs, and avoiding eye contact with Misopogal, who has a strict No-Belting-Out-Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan Songs-During-Events-With-Her-Side-of-the-Family policy. And I tried sucking back Boddingtons and Stilton Fries in the window seat of Ashley’s while watching the throngs of maize-clad disappointment and waxing half-hearted existentialism with my best friend.
All of these are cathartic in their way. Some got me very full. Some got me very drunk. Some finally got me into the barber shop. But I’m running out of new and exciting coping mechanisms. So my latest is going on MGoBlog with a bevy of stupid questions, which I go on to answer at length using Hamlet and Charlie Brown and The Office and buried Infinite Jest references, i.e. logorrhea.
I’m a Johnny-Come-Lately to the whole ‘Maize-Out’ thing. I started wearing maize on Football Saturdays last year. We started really really sucking last year.
This should not be taken for a causal relationship. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. Moving on.
C.S. Lewis had this theory (actually it was more of a mourning observation) that there is no such thing today as a fair argument. There is no right or wrong anymore. Rather, in any disagreement, there is one side that is popular, and another side that is unpopular. The side that is unpopular has the burden of proof, and must argue with perfect clarity. The side that is popular – whether it is right or wrong – is best served by arguing with platitudes and rhetorical tricks. The only way they could possibly lose is actually have a fair argument, therefore a fair argument should be avoided at all costs.
The sports radio you can get in your car in Detroit is all platitudes. It’s also All-Fire-Rich-Rod-All-the-Time these days. Unfortunately, I finished my last CD-on-Tape (a biography of C.S. Lewis) last week and have little else to listen to in the car when stuck in construction-abetted gridlock, and I can’t stand Jim Rome because that guy is more in need of an ass-whopping than any man in history, so I end up listening for like five minutes to Mike Valenti (MSU brah!) and Terry Foster (Drew Sharp Lite) until I’m literally pounding my fists on the dashboard.
This is where having Misopogal around is incredibly important for me, because she knows how to use an Adam Sandler movie quote to make me realize how little it really matters what, say, Mike Valenti or Sean Hannity or those douche bags who say “Unacceptable” while walking out of Michigan Stadium have to say.* I won’t attempt to do her justice on here. Suffice to say that if everyone was as fair and open-minded and good at listening as my fiancé, well, she wouldn’t be as remarkable. People have strong biases and much prefer hearing that they’re right to seeking truths, and if you let this bother you, you will end up a grumpy old Oxfordian who’s as insufferable to others as others are to you.
Fuck Sean Hannity. Fuck Bill Maher. Fuck Mike Valenti and Terry Foster. All they do is reinforce opinions that weren’t going to change anyway. Those who make the important decisions don’t listen to these fucks. I seriously doubt that Mary Sue Coleman and Bill Martin and Bill Martin’s replacement are the type of folk to let Valenti and Foster talk them into felo-de-se.
* “Well, I have a microphone and you don't, so you will listen to every damn word I have to say!”
-The Wedding Singer
The Peter Principle … holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions … Peter's Corollary states that "in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties" and adds that "work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence".
Dunder Mifflen’s Michael Scott is the modern paradigm of the Peter Principle. The character was a fantastic salesman because of his everyman charm, * which earned him a promotion to Regional Manager, his spectacular incompetence at which provides the majority of the show’s humor.
The way you avoid the Peter Principle in your own hierarchy is to judge candidates on whether they show the skills required of the higher job.
I think you can make a great Peter Principle case for Charlie Weiss. I don’t think you have as much of a case with Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez built a national power in West Fucking Virginia. While the Big East is not as on-par with the Big Ten as whatever the SEC version of Sean Hannity is would like you to believe, neither is it that huge of a jump to go from head coach at a Big East school to head coach at a Big Ten school.
I said you don’t have as much of a case. But there is a case. Because Michigan really isn’t “just a Big Ten school.” Michigan is to the Big Ten what Texas is to the Big XII, or Florida State is to the ACC. Wherever you draw the arbitrary line of where college football history doesn’t matter anymore, Michigan is still one of the top programs in a sport that functionally rewards top programs more than any other.
* In my biz we call these guys “handshake guys” – they are not necessarily bright, nor do they even know the real value of what they’re selling, but they interface very well with clients’ handshake guys, with whom they form handshake-guy bonds that generate a ton of inexplicable sales.
There are parts of this job that require much more than a successful Big East coach needs to be successful:
Some of these things we can assess. Others are way too early. I will make a stab at each, with regard to Rich Rod, but include percentages after each to tell you how sure I am of my assessment:
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a nervous, John Cooper-esque feeling (not helped by the smartest sports guy in my office saying this all the time), that RR doesn’t “get” rivalries. What I mean by that is mostly that he doesn’t know how to blow enough smoke up everyone’s asses about rivalries.*
There is a “it’s basically a football game” attitude that engineers can appreciate, but which makes us LSA folk whinge. I’m starting to think that RR falls in that engineer category, which makes sense since he is widely considered (by the considerably small group of people who actually consider things) to be one of the best football engineering minds in the game. What engineers don’t realize, but LSA folk seem to understand intuitively, is that if you blow enough smoke about something, you can convince yourself and others that it is true, and then your brain can make it come true, and it actually does become true.
There is no good physical explanation for how Bo writing 50** all over the place in 1969 led to a huge upset over Ohio State, or why Bo was able to build off that win to establish a dynasty that lasted almost 40 years. You engineering folk are just gonna have to trust us wussy-ass liberal artfarts on this: for the head coach of Michigan, beating Ohio State matters more than any two wins anywhere on the schedule. And part of the way you beat Ohio State is to be more irrational about beating Ohio State than Ohio State is about beating Michigan. I believe this. I don’t think Rich Rod believes this. 60 percent.
* This was the subject of a recent bout of existentialist post-(Purdue) loss grief therapy in the window of Ashley’s.
** i.e. the amount of points the 1968 Buckeyes put up on Michigan.
This is one of the few jobs in the United States that is conducted in a national fishbowl. People know who’s coaching Michigan like they know who the Vice President is. RR came in with a more open, aw-shucks, honest approach than Lloyd's "Eat the crags in my face, bitches" answer.
The local media's response was to eat him alive.
In media, as in football, those who are in the room for the big stuff are those who have already managed to succeed in the highly competitive, dog-eat-dog industry we work in. The problem with a room full of carnivorous survivors is that predators can't resist weakness (or, like me, find other, less-competitive niches to exploit).
We journalists are as incapable of coming up with a mutually beneficial relationship with a public figure as a bear is incapable of independently coming to a working relationship with a Salmon population. Since the early days, RR has adapted, and adapted very quickly.
Until taking a job like this, there is really no way of assessing how a person will do in it. Think of how many promising politicians have flamed out in the first month of a presidential campaign.
Nobody does well at first. When you enter the fishbowl, you either have the stones to handle it, or you don't. At this point – and it's still early – it is my professional opinion that Rich Rodriguez does absolutely have the cojones to hang in. It may be he'll lose it after a few more years, but I think at this point that is pretty doubtful. We are lucky as all hell because this is a very rare trait, but this is a guy who has been put through the worst we can dish out, often, and early, and come through. I think RR can handle the media. It won't ever be, like Obama-level graceful, but in his own clunky way, this guy's got it. 70 percent.
If there's a place on Rich Rodriguez's resume that was cause for concern, this was it. Granted, it's hard to get anyone with an opportunity to go somewhere else to live in Morgantown, W.Va., for four or so years. But RR's teams, wherever he has gone, have been explicitly built with "his" kinds of guys.
This isn't someone who can go in and win with other guys' players, as has been demonstrated so thoroughly by our underperformance of talent the past two years.* The thing is, the real blue chip high school talent pool is small and therefore not so varied. What I mean is that RR won at West Virginia and Clemson and Tulane by taking his hand-picked 3-star guys against someone else's base sample of 3-star guys.
You don't get to hand-pick so much with the smaller 4- and 5-star talent pools. There aren't four 5-star ninja slot guys every year – rather, you get like one national Percy Harvin or Reggie Bush once every four years. This creates a recruiting disadvantage for RR as opposed to Lloyd, whose M.O. was that any 4-star receiver can come here and head to the NFL. As Brian has pointed out, the dynamics of his system will result in lower-rated classes (if much higher than West Virginia).
Even if the system more than makes up for that, this has an unfortunate corollary, in that our rivals (e.g. Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC), get to mop up on what we don't make a play for. There's a limit to what you can do, recruiting-wise, with a system-based program. Just as Beilein probably can never be MSU, I get the feeling that Rich Rod can never be USC. If he's winning just as much, I don't give a damn, but it does leave the door open for USC to be USC, and Ohio State to be Ohio State.
Of course, we may never find out. Early returns are not good. RR went head-to-head with Ohio State for perfect-for-our-system athlete Terrell Pryor, and lost out because Pryor thought the Buckeyes would make him a better pro. That this was a bad decision by Pryor is pretty much not in dispute (Hannityism nonwithstanding). It says something that RR went all-out for a recruit who was clearly better off at Michigan and lost him. However, at this point you can't knock RR too much – there is more evidence that Pryor is a bad decision-maker than there is for RR not being able to be a player in the blue chip recruit market. Seantrel Henderson, 2010's uber recruit, had Michigan a top consideration until the bottom fell out of our season. Until we see Rich Rod recruit with a 10-3 bowl win, we won't really know. 35 percent
* This is the subject of a future blog that I'm working on, but basically he won 3 games with a 5-win talent level last year, and is on pace for 5 wins with a 7-win group of talent this year. These are both within the margin of error, but as I'll show in that future blog, Lloyd almost never (2005 was the lone exception) came more than a game under expectation, and twice at the bottom of the margin of error is not a good sign. For now, you're just gonna have to trust me.
So far, obviously not a problem. Nuff said. 35 percent.
I know I'm chancing a visit from Captain Obvious here, but Michigan is in Michigan. September in Ann Arbor is perfect for a wedding (keep your fingers crossed for me), but playing games in Ann Arbor, and Columbus, and Chicagoland, and Madison, and Minneapolis, yada yada in October and November is just crying for chill, rain, wind, sleet, snow, hail, and of course the State of Michigan's specialty, chillrainsleetwindsnowhail.
That's on GERG, not Rich Rodriguez. There's more to it than that, but yes, we've been getting out-coached a bit this year, and not just from Joe Paterno. In the Michigan State games of this year and last, Dantonio took personal command of his defenses and had game plans that were as close to perfect against RR as you can come up with.
RPS 6 13 -7 Robinson got pwned.
So there really there is nothing before Rich Rodriguez arrived in Ann Arbor, nor anything since, to suggest that he's even an average defensive coach. RR relies on his defensive coordinators to handle that.
Positives - Excellent recruiter. Excellent in game coach. Runs a clean program (as far as we know). Seemingly a good guy who would fit into the mantra of a "Michigan Man." Recruits awesomely, awesomely named players.
Negatives - Loss to the Wannstache with a MNC berth on the line. Seriously. That's a significant negative. His players have an uncanny ability to fumble at the worst possible times. Defensive has never been the strongest tool in the utility belt and the Mountaineers generally have to outscore their opponents to win ball games. Limited ties to the Midwest and no ties to Michigan. May benefit from coaching in a weak conference.
At Michigan, his first DC hire was a total, fired-after-first-year flameout, which set back our defensive development by at least a year. His second? I don't know. GERG is in his first year, and has unheard-of depth problems and talent deficiencies. He's also getting pwned in Rock, Paper, Scissors by the Galen Hall and the Spread HD.
It could just be that Jay Hopson sucks. That's been kind of the unofficial premise around here. But I'm also looking at a weak 2008 defensive class, and a 2009 defensive class that didn't go balls-out on defensive backs when balls-out on DBs was like more necessary than any time in recent history. It's too early, but early returns say that Rich Rodriguez is and probably never will be a good defensive coach, and that this puts him at a disadvantage to guys like Paterno, Dantonio, and Bielema in recruiting and developing that side of the ball.
Even if RR had the best DC in the game, not being a defensive guy, in my opinion, will always hurt him. There's a huge difference between the man at the top having every faculty, and the man at the top having to trust his lieutenants.
MnB's Madden-esque way of saying this was "generally have to outscore their opponents to win ball games." Well, you actually ALWAYS have to outscore opponents to win ball games (not counting "Moral Victories," Lions fans). But it might be fair to say that Rodriguez's Michigan teams will have to be extraordinarily successful offensively, because the defense isn't going to win games himself. 40 percent.
This is easy. Basically, if you want to win despite random, no-fault turnovers, and crappy officiating, and Michigan-X-Hating-Gods, etc., then you have to not just be better than other teams but be WAY better and WAY deeper than other teams.
That takes time. And luxury. At this moment, we have neither.
The other thing is attitude. This is another one of those things that engineers don't appreciate, and the poetic know but don't understand. Again, way too early, but RR's teams are now starting to get a bit of a reputation for folding when things go against them. Illinois stands us up at the goal line: utter disaster. Purdue executes a perfect onside kick: instant long touchdown. Wisconsin basically gets gifted a turnover on a bogus roughing the kicker penalty: touchdown, fold, go home.
Of course, we're saying that about the same team that clawed its way back when overmatched against Notre Dame, roared back to tie the MSU game, and hung in there despite five turnovers against Iowa. Or if you prefer, the team that looked like a match for Ohio State in the first half last year. The thing is, when there isn't much hope, there is a performance drop on this team, particularly defensively. My guess is that it's not a lack of heart so much as guys who are normally prone to bad decisions trying to do too much. Either way, you expect the coach to be the guy getting that sort of stuff under control, and it has so far been a profound disappointment that Rich Rodriguez has not been able to do that. 35 percent.
When is the last time you saw a reaction like that from someone who just beat a 2-6 team? Sparties still e-mail photos of the final score to each other. Srsly! I got one last week!
The reason why this is such a big deal to them is because Michigan still has that cachet.
I posited before the Penn State game that maybe we would be overlooked. One of the better Black Shoe Diaries visitors that week was incredulous. Overlook Michigan?
The point is that we don't just face opponents each week – more often than not, we are the second or first game circled on the schedule for every team we play. And that's just when we suck!
What does this have to do with anything?
It means there's more to "getting back" than just having the talent of a typical Carr team again. Maintaining Michigan's place in the standings to go along with its place in college football history means either being so good that you can take anyone's absolute best shot, or being so crazy competitive that you don't want just to win – you want to murder death kill every comer. Of the two, the second sounds easier. Since we haven't been in this situation yet, we have no idea how RR will stand. 0 percent.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
I wonder if a Northwestern fan has to go through this like every year. For me, justifying having a football program that could bring me such pain is not like something that I've ever considered.
I think losing the football program is a bad idea, and will always be a bad idea.
Let's say we weren't 5-6, but 0-11 right now. And let's say instead of Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren and Tate Forcier and Brandon Minor and Zoltan the Space Emperor et al. we had a lot of Jordan Kovacseses.
This would still be totally worth it, from the walk through the foliage, the by-far cleverest t-shirts of any fanbase, the toppled pumpkins in the streets, a stomach full of Blimpy Burger…
Ann Arbor rocks. Ann Arbor particularly rocks on Football Saturdays. Michigan Football Games would be awesome with half as good of a team as we have now.
We're rebuilding. Rebuilding looks ugly. But if you're sticking around and reading MGoStuff and putting on your M gear and Keep Coming Back, you can now imagine what this thing will look like when Big Ten Championship banners rather than pipes and cables, are hanging from the rafters.
And really, things aren't all that bad.
And thus the native hue of resolution
Do you still believe that the best-conditioned team in the land is the one most likely to win?
I'm still in.
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now?
That's just the thing, Prince Hamlet, this play is about vengeance, and comeuppance arrives for the jester as it does for the prince.
The thing about having a 40-year run at or near the top of college football is that we end up taking things for granted. We imposed our will upon so many 5-6 teams just crying for a bowl game – any bowl game – that we have forgotten what it feels like ourselves.
Now, I think we would make much finer winners than, say, repugnant Ohio State fans. But if we can learn anything as fans from this year, it's humility. For we have indeed been humbled.
are an MGoGOD. Amazing stuff as usual.
Can't count this. I wrote the bulk of it last night, although it was more emo and Hamlet-y when I went to bed.
than was beating the Bucks in 1969. It wouldn't be as monumental a game, for miscellaneous and obvious reasons, but if you judge upsets by the difference of talent and ability and coaching between two teams, the gulf between us and OSU this year is far more vast than was the gulf between us and OSU in 1969.
I don't know about that. Going into The Game in 69 OSU was on a long winning streak and were being bandied about as the greatest team of all time. I realize we ended up winning the B10 that year, but no one gave us a chance there.
I don't think there should be an argument.
Going into the '69 game, Michigan was 7-2 (5-1 in the conference), had won four conference games in a row by blowout margins, and was ranked #12 in the country.
Tell me again how an unranked 5-6 team, 1-6 in the conference, losers of six conference games in a row, giving up points at a clip unmatched in our program's long history, isn't at a greater disadvantage on the field than the '69 team? I'm not sure if it's really sunk in to people: we may well be the worst team in the conference, and Ohio State is certainly the best team. That disparity absolutely dwarfs the disparity between us and OSU in 1969. That defines the nature and extent of an upset to me.
Whether that disparity includes the coaching staffs is the question that has to be keeping Bill Martin and MSC nervous, regardless of their public (and appropriate) assertions of support for RR.
people were saying the Minnesota Vikings might be the only team in the country to have a shot against the '69 Buckeyes.
This OSU team lost to Purdue by more than Michigan did.
It's not how much better than out current team the 69 team was, but how much better OSU was then than now. That was a defending National Champion still undefeated some were calling the greatest team of all time. Woody himself said it wad his best team AFTER they lost to us. This OSU team could have lost to an Iowa team at home without their starting QB. No one outside Big Ten standards considers OSU THAT good.
Having said that, I hope we can argue for the next 50 years which was a bigger upset.
“The only way they could possibly lose is actually have a fair argument, therefore a fair argument should be avoided at all costs.“
It reminds me of the lines from Pirates of the Caribbean:
Jack Sparrow: [after Will draws his sword] Put it away, son. It's not worth you getting beat again.
Will Turner: You didn't beat me. You ignored the rules of engagement. In a fair fight, I'd kill you.
Jack Sparrow: That's not much incentive for me to fight fair, then, is it?
Aesthetically pleasant AND encouraging.
I have a feeling you'd be killer at the Price is Right...
"I reject your proposal."
Great post as usual.
Hate to nitpick but it was an obvious roughing the punter
I was watching the MSU game too, and just a little bit after, Purdue got a "running into the kicker" penalty for having one guy leap into the qb's chest, and another late guy take out his legs.
5 yards, repeat 4th down.
We had two freshmen collide with each other, and one of their legs brushed Wiscy's punter's leg. If that's running into the kicker -- fine, I understand the call. But 15 yards and an automatic 1st down for getting in on the punter, missing, and then colliding with your own guy when jumping out of the way -- if that's a personal foul penalty then Shakespeare's a youtube commenter.
The point is that the punt block should never have been called in the first place.
It was tantamount to finding a $100 bill lying on the street, and then going into the Stop 'N' Rob and blowing every last penny of it on scratch-off lotto tickets.
Okay, I yield.
I still think Purdue deserved a roughing more. Perhaps that rule needs a re-examination.
Holy shit yes Purdue deserved 15 for that! Their guys flat out destroyed MSU's punter! I couldn't believe that call
Oh wait. Big Ten referees. Nevermind.
Running into - I can buy.
Perfect choice for a painting to start this off. Also, ironically, that painting is on display at the art gallery called the Tate Britain. Funny.
I've loved that painting since college.
Do you remember the band Oblivion -- they used to be in and around Ann Arbor c. 2001-2005. They had a song called "Ophelia" which I think was based on that painting, and was awesome. It was in my head the whole time I was writing this, and pieces of the lyrics kept coming out in the post as a result.
UPDATE: They have it online still. Download! Listen!
this guy needs a permanent staff position at mgoblog.
Well done, sir.
Great diary. Definitely leaves me concerned in many ways.
Especially when it comes to the engineer argument. RR has done nothing to show me that he can get his guys mentally ready to trounce. The same can be said for himself. Where is that killer look of determination that we need from our coach during a rivalry game? Every time our team closes the books and gives up after they're down 2+ scores, you can already see it by the look on RR's face. He looks lost, disappointed, already thinking about next week. I'm definitely concerned about his ability to manage the team's emotions and motivation. Especially for a young team, it's essential to play every down like it's a tie game so that they can learn. Half ass performances when you're down 17 will only lead to more mistakes when you're tied during the next game.
The big problem I feel about this is that it's not something that will ever change. This is his personality. For example when WV lost to Pitt and lost out on a MNC birth, you didn't see the fire there either.
RR may be an offensive mastermind but is he truly a general that can lead his troops into battle? He doesn't seem like one that can take 1000 soldiers into war and have their morale high enough to win a battle against 10000 enemies.
Really nicely done. I always enjoy a good narrative.
I agree with your premise about needing to be more irrational than OSU is about the rivalry to ensure victory, but (and I don't necessarily mean this in a positive way) I'm not sure it's even possible to be more irrational than we are. We seriously, completely hate you guys. 99% of the reason I want Michigan to be better is so that it hurts worse when we beat you. If you can manage to become more unhinged than we are about this deal we've got going with you, you're going to wind up papering your house in newsclippings about OSU, having TRESSEL tattoo'd on your knuckles doing push ups 24 hours a day to get ready for your walk on try out.
In short, go for it.
"Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
This would be Misopogal.
An infinite amounts of MGoPoints to you, sir.
Winning when you are the biggest game of the year for every team you face.
I think we are really able to see how much the rest of the Big Ten hates Michigan, it's just now that they finally can do something about it. Michigan is one of the top two or three games on every team's schedule that we're on and that is a huge burden, especially on a young team. Frankly, taking everyone's best shot is not easy, particularly when we are this bad.
First off, you're still my MGoHero, even if I now know that you're a journalist!
I take issue with one of your statements, that Rich Rod "is on pace for 5 wins with a 7-win group of talent this year."
I do not think we have a 7-win talent group. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of talent on the team. But football is not the sort of game where you can have 5-stars all over the field except for one key element --let's say, for simplicity's sake, that this element is pass coverage-- which is severely lacking in talent, and expect to win most of your games.
We are starting two walk-ons in the defensive backfield. The defense in general has little depth and is very young. All the opposition has to do is get someone behind our DL and toss the ball in their general direction and presto! 5+ yards.
This is a recipe for losing a lot of games. It could certainly be argued that starting the walk-ons is an artifact of RR's personality... but I don't think it matters much, even if true.
Thanks for keeping the flame of humanity going in this realm of engineers.
We are not starting two walk ons in the defensive backfield. We are starting one.
Excellent summation, but you left out one key hypothesis:
Michigan has been losing because of the Liveblog Jinx.
I vote for ditching LiveBlog for the OSU game.
Things like this are why this place is so interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share all that.
Excellent diary! I hate to nitpick but as my father reminds me, Rod hired Gerg so though Gerg is to blame ultimately Richrod is to blame for having hired Gerg regardless of future results. And we definitely roughed the hell out of Wisconsin's punter, but other than that I don't feel worse for having read this masterpiece.
This is fantastic, and I just wanted to compliment you on it after my first read through. I have to read this thing two to three more times to comment on it and do it (at least a modicum) justice.
But I will say: Weather? West Virginia weather? I really don't buy the weather thingy. WVU does have to go to places like Pittsburgh, Connecticut, did have to go to Boston, etc.
I think, offensively, it's too early to assess weather as a factor just yet.
I'll be back to comment more on this FANTASTIC diary--and I nominate it for DOW right now.
Diary of the Year
Ah, you stole my thunder, my only comment was going to be about the West Virginia weather. It's the same as Ohio and Pennsylvania, cold, rainy, snowy, nasty.
Everything else...my helmet off to you, sir.
What a wonderful diary.
One point that I would like to add on the bad/cold weather and the offense is the players we have at the skill positions. Almost all come from warm southern states Fl,Ca, or Texas. You may recall last year the first really cold game we had, Odoms was dressed like he had just come from the local Stop & Rob. He was not a factor in that game. Hopefully, these players will adapt to bad Midwestern weather as their careers progress.
RR is the 17th coach we have had at UM. Only the first official coach, Frank Crawford, in 1891 left the program with a losing record. He was 4-5 in his only year. No,I didn't see him coach that year. With all the streaks that have been broken under RR, is this 15 coach winning streak going to end with RR??
Love the story lines and photos!!!
No doubt the celebrations (last year Sparty at 2-6 UM, this year Purdue against an invisible D and back-peddling front 5 on kickoffs, etc.) show that beating UM still means something. May we never lose that respect!
Sigh...we've made so many teams' highlight of the year.
Any solace that I can offer comes from watching a marvelously talented ND offense score a whole 3 pts in the first three quarters at Pitt. There is a coach who recruits 4 and 5 star guys and still finds ways to lose at least 4 games. Also, Wunderkind Jon Tenuta hasn't been lighting it up on D for ND either.
I just don't see any miracles happening next Saturday, though perhaps there is a patron saint of REALLY, REALLY, REALLY lost causes out there to whom we can pray, cajole, bribe, whatever it takes. Lord knows that we've suffered long enough counting the App. State and Oregon games under Lloyds and the sparkling 93-yd effort in Lloyd's final home game.
I'll be screaming my head off from the usual seats in Section 12, South EZ. If the game goes south, I can always remember watching Charles run back that punt return while sitting in those same seats. That goodness for You Tube and the guys who put out UM classics for us to watch.
p.s. as for JoePa, truly a great coach, but don't forget that he had ONE bowl appearance from 2000-2004 with a combined 26-33 record and a 1-7, yes, 1-7 record in 2003 in the B10. He was 7-16 in 2003-04. Rich Rod is fixing to be 8-16.
Lots of emotion here. A few things:
The Peter Rule is pure gold. My company would be run so much better if unqualified people didn't occupy every single position of authority. This is why I like working for small, start-ups.
I don't understand questioning whether RR "gets" the importance of rivalry games. He has had a shit hand to deal with and only has had one shot at Cheatypants so far. Let's reserve judgment on this until a week from now at least, hmm?
"whinge" - What does this mean??
I agree that Rich Rod handles the media pretty well. His sideline antics don't have the charm that BO, MO, and Lloyd's did though. I really wish he would focus more of his scorn at the refs and less at his staff and players.
I am on the edge of my seat for your explanation that this season's team has seven win talent. We have 2-3 win talent I would say on defense and probably 9 win talent on offense. This gives us 5-6 win talent at best IME.
I have found myself musing several times today about Harbaugh being our coach in the future. Then I remember how he threw Michigan under the bus to boost his own agenda. Then I just felt dirty for contemplating it. That man has serious amends to make before I would consider him a possibility for Michigan Head Coach.
Yes, Barwis is the Man. He will be integral to continued improvement. Yes.
Michigan fans have needed a big slice of Humble Pie for a while now. We need to learn to be happy with winning 75% of our games consistently and to love our team regardless of its warts. It sucks but will make us better fans down the road.
In terms of Karma, I have to agree, O$U should be screwed. But since Tressel is a Sith Lord, he can feed off of negative Karma, also known as the Dark Side of the Force.
Great read, as always. Your posts are always among my favorites.
Common in British English. Maybe Canadian too? Not sure on that one.
That was a fantastic post. The analysis was good and I had never even thought of the RR's engineering mentality. Overall just amazing. Also, that picture of the guy passed on after point #6...was that taken after the Purdue game? I swear I saw him too...
Yeah, after the Purdue game.
I felt how that guy looked.
Well done. I read parts to my girlfriend to help her understand my mind state.
man is he bad at this. You can say what you want about those who left (I certainly have) but the attrition at UM is astounding (at least to me). Throw in his constant (key word here) tirades on the sidelines and I think his bed side manner could use some serious work. 5* guys don't have to put up with a coach who will chew them out all the time on national tv. They can go anywhere. I think if he softened his stance a little bit it would go a long way to his tenure at UM.
This may be the best thing I've ever read on here. And that's saying something. (Though best thing I've ever seen, and may ever see, is the 2009 Michigan Football Season video...still gets me choked up).
I particularly love your engineer vs. LSA thing. I love the charts and stats that help keep me off the ledge, but sometimes I think the intangibles get lost here. There's a reason there aren't any scientists coaching major teams. It's a people person job, and there's a lot that goes into it that's emotional, not logical, and can't be quantified.
And hey, at least you didn't marry your future wife right BEFORE Rich Rod started...talk about going down the road of danger bad karma...
More seriously, I too worry about the Cooperizing of Rich...not because he's doomed to be that "bad" a coach (Cooper won a LOT of football games, but the ones that really get people's blood boiling weren't a successful), but if we're doomed to a loss this year, does anyone really think we can win one down there, next year? And what is the general status of all coaches in the rivalry after they have lost 3 in a row (and what a hole to dig out of)? Not too good...
Beyond covering just about every concern I have, as well as every hope, this really says it all. If you have the time, Brian should have you join the team...before you start up your own blog.
Tip of the cap. Nice effort. Well done
I'll touch on a couple of the subjects...
I don't think that RR fully grasps the UM v. OSU rivalry yet. That being said, it's hard for anyone who has not lived with this particular rivalry to fully understand it. I don't necessarily want to see him obsess over it (like Dantonio with Michigan) but I don't really have a strong feeling that Michigan will be able to beat OSU any time in the near future. We're looking at a sixth consecutive loss this weekend. Things will get really ugly if the streak gets into the 9 or 10 range.
Personally, I'm not comfortable with the way that this particular system performs against physical defensive fronts. It took four cracks for Michigan to score from the one yard line against OSU last year. It took four cracks for Michigan to NOT score from the one yard line against Illinois this year. WVU lost two consecutive years against South Florida (physical defensive front). I just think that OSU is going to have the upper hand for a while.
I think that RR has done a pretty good job with the media so far. It's refreshing to see his openness as a contrast to Lloyd.
I must admit that this situation really intrigues me. Personally, I don't care about the "burned bridges" in the Harbaugh situation. That being said, I don't think that he'll ever be the Michigan coach. RR is here for at least another year or two. We need to accept (embrace?) that idea and move forward.
I will throw this out there for what it's worth.....Jim Harbaugh has won more games against Top 10 teams in the last nine days (two) than RR has won in the last nine years (one). I'm just saying.....
I kneel before you an beg for your continued guidance. I am your very humbled servant.
CAN WE NOW BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF OSU!!!
And start a reign of 40 years of dominance. Let that reign begin Nov. 21, 2009
First, the Peter Principle: Welllllllll...any greater example of that than Lloyd Jonathan Carr? I don't know what that means, just sayin'
Now to your bullet points. Er, arrows. That reminds me of the joke about theguy who got separated from his hunting party, and as instructed, fired three shots into the air. No reply. Three more shots...nothing. After three more shots, he says to himself: "I hope they come soon or I'm gonna run out of arrows" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHLOLZ But I digress.
On "Rivalry Games": This is a toughie. The record vs Pitt is 4-3 and we all know about 2007. But then again, WVU did have that "bullseye" on their backs for his last several years. Win? BUT--South Florida seemed to figure something out as well. Hmmmm
And at Michigan, we have major failure so far, especially the so called lesser teams that give UM their best shot. No can defend.
But I'm hopeful of a learning curve here. Penn State went through it when they joined the Big Ten, maybe now Rodriguez has to get to know the territory at Michigan and how others view UM. Is it just me, or does Michigan engender moe hatred from the other programs a lot more than even Ohio State? I think so. Again, was it me, or did it seem weird to others to watch Wisconsin kick that field goal with a minute to go? Those are occassions where you just give it to the RB on 4th down for a simple run play up the middle. I dunno...
Rodriguez have a LOT to learn in that regard if you axe me. You just can't be a nice guy at this level. Hell, I'm not even a nice guy at MY level.
Media Pressure: Again, if you axe me, lots to learn here. You go from the comfy confines of "Now listen here, Jommy Joe, ya'll want to keep covering West Virginia football, don't ya?" to "Et Tu, Rosenberg?" and "Rich Rodriguez has, on more than one occassion, we at the Free Press have learned, left skidmarks on his undies for poor Rita to wash out!" Tough transition there--I wonder if he felt a prevailing anti-Lloyd sentiment among Michigan fandom and felt like he was riding in to save everything--but the (IMO) self-righteous Michigan Media from the get-go said, "Not so much"--and their revisionist history and sentimentality for Lloyd went through the roof instantly.
And then, now I hate to bring this up (but I will)--the boohooing on camera. Yikes. And the sour pussing on the sidelines. Yikes. Under the microscope--double yikes. I'm not so sure on the cajones--but I'll defer to you--with the caveat that I hope Rich Rodriguez learns this phrase: "Why would you axe a dumb question like that? I hope you die soon."
Recruiting: ZOMG. I openly wondered about that as a poster on Scout--and was lambasted. I just didn't see any recruiting prowess--even while he was winning at WVU. BUT, I did wonder about the Michigan Brand dealio and thought a sure uptick was coming. Now, 2008 and 2009--pretty good. 2010--top heavy and then a dropoff and now ...I'm of the opinion that UM will NOT win without top talent--and I believe it's out there for UM to get. Doc Holliday, anyone? And I really do wonder why he so definitively (to his most ardent supporters) needs "Hizz Guyzz" to win.
Here is where I really disconnect with those who most fervently support Rodriguez. TDoR seem to compartmentalize the two, while I don't see defense and offense as mutually exclusive. If you install a new offense, replete with, say, NO ONE able to run it, well, that is going to stress the defense. Was the defense weak under Lloyd? Numerous games attest to that. However, Lloyd's offense hid them for the most part. Ball control, TOP, scoring just enough. All those things protected the defense. Rodriguez comes in and between the infinite three and oots, turnovers, and other assorted Yakkety Sax moments, and his defense is out there way too much, defending short fields, having quicker turnarounds, and that snowball rolls downhill real fast, getting real big.
I think we can attribute at least two losses last year to offensive and special teams woes: Toledo and Notre Dame. Oh, how about Purdue--when Rodriguez dong-punched Shafer went with his own defensive system--and UM gave up 48 points? Maybe even Northwestern??? Hey, there's your two to three more victories.
Boom, Shafer gone, new DC---
THAT all leads to this year. Holding MSU to 20 in regulation, five turnovers at Iowa? There's two very realistic chances for victory.
Now, my biggest sticking point: Platitudes. Really? Can you get any more platitudey than "We'll be back" or "The future is bright"? How are most of the supportive statements of Rodriguez not considered platitude-like?
That is all.
I love that it's got people thinking. I put my assurance levels after each of those bullets so they would be discussion points, and lo folks are discussing.
Lloyd as Peter Principle - I think Bo is actually a better example. He was a great coach, and actually a fine AD. Then he was made president of the Detroit Tigers, and reached his point of inutile
Arrows - I always think of a the original "Teen Girl Squad" Strongbad cartoon, when "The Ugly One" gets arrowed.
Rivalry Games - The operative phrase here was "blowing smoke." The guys who end up winning these games when they shouldn't (Tressell, Dantonio, Bo, Woody, et al.) are the guys who are
somewhat completely unhinged when it comes to them. Crazy works. But try teaching that to an engineer.
Media Pressure: If you ever wanna kertwang a group of journalists, stand up there when we think you're cornered, and come up with a response that there's no way we could have anticipated. Bill Clinton was the master at this. When the Practice "Scandal" broke, RR stood on the podium, filled his eyes with tears, and was incredulous AND SINCERE that someone would think he didn't care about his players. The "clank" sound you heard right after was the sound of jaws following notepads to the floor.
Recruiting - Don't post on Rivals. Don't post on Scout. Until RR has a 10-win season and a bowl game behind him, we don't know what he can recruit. Two seasons without a bowl game make things more difficult.
Defense - The defense has shown they are capable of losing games all on their own. They, more than the offense, seem to wilt when things are down. Which makes sense; the offense knows that they're short on talent yet able to move the ball pretty well thanks to having one of the game's geniuses operating it. The defense is kind of like 2nd class citizens. Their screwups have been more public. When the O couldn't put the ball in from the 1, the D then couldn't get a 3-and-out when Illinois started at the .5 yard line.
Platitudes - Here's the thing: in any argument, there is opportunity for asswipes on either side to resort to rhetorical tricks rather than debate. My point above was that when a side perceives it is winning, you get almost nothing but platitudes.
This could have as easily been called the Karl Rove Principle (because he's the only guy I can think of to actually outline and execute this as a strategy). Rove perceived that the majority of the U.S., given no other factors, would most likely trust their leaders to take us to war. Rove figured out that so long as it was platitudes and only platitudes coming from the hawks, they were golden. It worked. The doves had their platitudey folks as well, sure, but mostly they sat there with their long, boring "facts" and "proof" and "narratives" and -- here's the kicker -- "complex opinions." So long as the conversation was "Jayson Blair!" and not "Is there really a threat to national security?" the doves were dead in the water.
You've heard incredibly good arguments from Michigan bloggers as to why giving RR through 2012 is best for Michigan. Show me one such considered, falsifiable, good argument for firing RR today. All the talking points I brought up above were the closest I could come to that, and I had like no certainty behind them -- I gave it my best shot and still that case folded like a house of cards.
Who's leading the charge to "FIRE RICH ROD NOW!"? It's like fucking Mike Valenti! Who's leading the other side? Brian. It's your classic Vox Populi versus Vox Intelligensia argument. And it's also your classic Vox Populi versus Vox Intelligensia impasse because for VP to win, he needs to take control of pretty much every media outlet, silencing and marginalizing opposition, which in this case he can't do because the hardcore fans are turning more and more to the blogs; and VI can't win because to be "good science" his ideas need to be put through forthright and rigorous criticism, which is not forthcoming. To simplify: one needs their opposition to shut up (refuse), the other needs their competition to play fair (refuse).
Make me a liar!
I made a separate post for this, but if losing begets poor recruiting classes, and vice versa, how do we get to that ten win season?
Recruiting isn't instant. It takes awhile for each class to germinate -- like 4 to 5 years actually. Let's say RR doesn't make a bowl game in 2010 either. That would probably kill recruiting. However, at the moment, none of the projected starters for 2011 would come from that class anyway. So it's entirely possible, even with another shit year next year, for RR to have a BCS season before MSU-like recruiting actually turns us into MSU.
That's part of why these big programs have such an advantage over the competition. If we have a crappy season, the next year you still have a bunch of high-end talent on hand. It takes a good five years of underachievement to really change the status of a program, even though it takes basically one game to change opinions in sports media.
The only way for one of these programs to really topple is for a lot of events to come together at once, such as bad recruiting for Lloyd's end-of-term, plus tons of attrition, and then more bad classes, and horrible seasons, and then an overreaction from the Athletic Department, yada yada. We have entered the danger zone, but there's still a long, long way to go before we're Michigan State.