is pretty self evident in all the guys saying they are bigger, stronger, and just as fast or faster. Look at Death Roh, as one example. Denard said in his recent interview that he added 10-15 lbs of muscle, IIRC.
Injuries just happen man.
I have been on the MGoSidelines for an extended while, too shellshocked by the current state of Michigan football to participate much or even complete my McBean Rating System. Yet, I return on the eve of the season because I think a point need be made. Assuredly, it’s been made before, but perhaps not with this emphasis.
I am somewhat hesitant to post this, and some will say I was not hesitant enough. I am going to the UConn game overflowing with optimism, but the optimism comes with a catch, which, because it is cathartic, will now pollute MGoBlog.
Absolutely nothing, in my opinion, now stands or can stand between the results we see on the field and a verdict on this coaching staff. We are at a moment of refreshing purity where a simple answer to a simple question now awaits the spiritually hungry:
In previous Rodriguez campaigns, muddy waters divided the Michigan faithful; one side, with justification, pointed at coordinator changes, mismatched personnel, attrition, distractions, and injuries, while the other side declared that, despite all these high-quality excuses, no serviceable coaching staff could ever lead a Michigan team to 3-13 against Big 10 teams over two years. (Can this actually be true? Pinch me. A 3-13 record against the Big 10? Hit me.)
The debate is thankfully over. Almost like the nauseating propaganda that precedes an election, this confusion now ends in Election Day: eleven votes are to be cast that will answer many questions, but one in particular:
Reading scrimmage notes prompted me to post this; in particular, I detected a faint odor of excuse wafting from comments about the secondary and the marginal tackling performance.
No more excuses, no matter how tempting. If our entire team transferrs tomorrow, no excuses. If we’ve had the bad fortune to overrate every linebacker on the planet since David Harris, no excuses.
Last year after the Indiana game, I posted on how other coaches are doing more with less. Allow me to quote myself:
The Iowa defense is younger than ours overall and features a less-experienced secondary that averages 5.3 for a Rivals Rating, or a middle range two-star. Brian says about Michigan, “There is exactly one junior and no seniors at both safety and cornerback.” Iowa has less experience. Yet my gut tells me – with absolute certainty – Darryl Clark will have a far better day against our secondary. Who wants to take me up on that bet?
In general, their players are more lowly rated at every position (possible exception of one LB), often significantly so, with players converted from the offensive side of the ball (a TE turned DL) and one playing out of position.
Occam’s Razor makes it difficult to accept that our stud HS talent was pretty much collectively overrated, and Iowa’s meh HS talent was pretty much vastly underrated. Ferentz would have given a kidney to have Cissoko or Warren or Graham or Brown or Mouton or Martin. He doesn’t have enough organs to bargain with the devil to get those types of players with mega-hype coming out of HS, yet he easily is fielding a better defense that probably would have consumed Indiana whole without any sauce.
As for the “new system” argument – that switching from Shafer to Robinson has resulted in our guys being at the start of a new learning curve – I accept some of that, but not all. Now, I will defer to Sharik or gsimms to tell me whether a new system can transform studs into non-studs, but it would seem to me that stopping Eastern in the first half or stopping Indiana at all would frequently be possible with raw stud talent playing by instinct.
I backed down last year. New DC I was told. New system, fool. Well, it’s not new anymore. No one in today’s game gets a decade to establish a system. If Appalachian State can manage Mannigham, Arrington, Matthews and Butler with walk-ons, we can manage better than last year with our secondary. If Michigan State can dominate most of a football game with putrid DBs, so can we. If Iowa can mold nasty defensive lineman out of corn oil, tight-ends and spare body parts, then our row of premium four-stars is ready to be twice as nasty…if the coaches are competent.
I look at the Michigan football team, and I don’t see players, I see red litmus paper hovering over a solution know as UConn, that, if basic Michigan coaching is present, will turn that paper Blue.
(FWIW, I feel the paper will turn Blue. I think we shall catch a glimpse of WVU-style offensive firepower against Oklahoma come September 4th en route to an 8-4 season.)
is pretty self evident in all the guys saying they are bigger, stronger, and just as fast or faster. Look at Death Roh, as one example. Denard said in his recent interview that he added 10-15 lbs of muscle, IIRC.
Injuries just happen man.
Injuries do happen, and I threw that one in for effect. I was actually thinking more about tackling, a more tangible Barwis dividend. Not that technique isn't more important, but I bet Superman could tackle like a freak even with bad technique.
I give this post 4 McBeans. Does Meeechigan Dan have a 5-McBean post in him this year?
I am a four Bean? I would have thought I was a 5.2 on the scale. Thanks!
Unfortunately for us all, life is more complicated than that. Go Blue, expect to see our boys fight hard.
This needed to be said. Great job OP.
Well written, well said. I'm with you. Time to overachieve and let the play do the talking. I think 8-4 or 9-3 should be the expectation and I will not be suprised to see it happen.
I don't feel we would be overachieving at that point. Look at last year. MSU and Iowa were lost due to turnovers while Purdue and Illinois were all but wrapped up and they still found a way to lose. Give us just those games and we are at 9-3. Then throw in that OSU is beatable as long as Pryor is their QB and PSU is going to have a down year and overachieving suddenly looks like 11-1.
were near losses. Why does everyone who say we almost beat MSU, etc. ignore this point?
Well, I think we are going to improve more than most teams in the Big10. So, it would only make sense that we would look at scoring a few more points or take away a turnover in each game and see where we end up. Take away the turn over in OT and we probably beat MSU. Take away the turn over on the final drive against Iowa and we probably beat Iowa. A few more points against ND or Indiana and the games don't look as close.
My point is that marginal improvement relative to each team in the Big10 should have us winning close games against 8-9 teams and at least staying competitive with the rest. I'm counting on us giving away a close game due to turnovers or our defense, but I'm also counting on us stealing a game or two like we did last year. That would indicate that anything less than 8 wins is an under-achievement compared to last year and anything more than 9 is an over-achievement.
Because logic goes out the window when it comes to blind optimism.
hindsight is 20/20 and this argument, while it can be encouraging, can be made in some way,shape or form at the end of every season. I do agree that we should have had some of those games. Lets just hope this years team learned from the experience and move forward for the better.
I generally agree with your thoughts, but I disagree that it's going to be time to do anything about it after this season either way. I am of the "old," perhaps never-existing, school that says that coaches should get five years unless they murder someone. This is not reality, but only my view of how it should be. If they were good enough to hire them, I think it is a disservice to your school, the coach, and the long-term health of the program to get a nervous trigger-finger. If coaches know they will have 5 years they will build for the long-term, and short-term hiccups--like injuries, weird transfers, bad luck--will probably wash out. I think five years gives you a reasonable amount of data to make a decision on a coach, and less than that is selling everyone short.
So, yes, I think this season is mostly on RR, although the defensive depth situation is still in recovery mode from Carr's classes, as we saw from those exhaustive diaries. But even if it's all on RR, I'm not calling for his head even with a bad season, e.g. 3-9. I don't expect most will agree with me, but there it is.
I agree with you. It takes time to build a new system at a program. It takes even more time when it is a polar-opposite style of football from what you were previously playing. Without giving the coaches time to build their system you're only hurting the longevity of the program. Hell, look at Notre Dame and their couching carousel and how it has served them.
I don't get it. You give an excuse (for our recent failure) that we were changing system and point to ND as a case of how changing coaches can be a bad thing. Didn't they go from pro-style to pro-style? That's not a change in system. That's just a change in coach.
The constant pissing and moaning about RichRod and his need to win x number of games in order to keep his job is god damn ridiculous. You can't coach successfully without the ability to build long term (as RichRod is clearly achieving).
The premise of Dan's diary...it's been done before. Thanks for your insightful commentary on this most repetitive topic. Thankfully, after RichRod blows up UConn real good things will turn to UFR's and more relevant discussion.
You have two illuminating sentences:
I think we are coming to a point of more clarity. Not as all encompassing as you put it. While scheme issues, and fundamentals are on the coaches, keep in mind that the first RR only class of recruits are still only sophomores. I will be sufficiently assuaged with 7-5 and glimpses of serious progress.
That said, the eternal fan in me says 9-3. Thankfully we will know for sure soon enough.
with mayo, cuz that is how i rolls.
I have thought the same thoughts for a while as far as recruiting is concerned. A few months back, I looked at Iowa and Wisconsin's recruiting. Compared to Michigan, they are not in the same league. The only thing one can say is that when you have a system in place for extended periods of time, you are able to execute more and better on both sides of the ball for a host of reasons, most being obvious.
As far as Barwis is concerned, he may be very good at what he does, but so are other trainers. We seem to take huge pride in our players getting bigger each year - doesn't that happen at other schools too?
While I wish RichRod and the Wolverines the best of luck, if this year does not turn out to be at least a couple of wins better than last year, I also think a fair share of the blame will and should fall on the coaches.
I thought the same thing when Woolfolk went down. This is GERG's opportunity to prove he can coach. I know we won't be a Top 3 D in the league, but we should not be a bottom 3 either.
Moreover, RR has had to deal with more issues as a coach (some his fault, some not) than any other coach in the country. This is his year to prove he's a great coach. If not, then Brandon will deal with it.
While I have the highest hopes that RichRod succeeds beyond anyone's hopes now and in the future, there is something about David Brandon that I take great comfort in. I believe that he will do what is necessary to create a winner. His performance to date has been very impressive in the face of a lot of adversity.
Rich Rod's offense will be very good, barring turnovers.
Defense should be improved, at least average for the Big Ten.
The biggest question is: Can GERG coach defense?
It took a couple of years to fix the offense. Done.
It will take a little more time to fix the defense.
That's not acceptible. He can't have more time. We should be seeing frequent flashes of those "fixes" as the system takes hold, not more talk about "bad tackling" two weeks before the season. Last year we saw squat. This year, I hope we are surprised. Personally, I don't think GERG has what we need, and I don't think RR is engaged in the defense enough to know. RR's offensive genius will have to carry the day, which will win more and more, but not ever enough without D.
Thank you for pointing out that there are indeed two sides of the football. It seems that many care only about that famous RR offense and only use the defense as an excuse for why we weren't as good as expected (Carr didn't recruit enough bodies, too many injuries, too much youth, new coordinator, another new coordinator, only second season under the new coordinator, etc.).
It is a bit funny though that no one complained about a Defensive Coordinator change after one season...but the head coach...oh no, he really hasn't had a chance until JoePa XVII is running the show at PSU.
Wows, not that old saw Dan. Come on guy, you can do better than this...oh, and last I looked GERG, unlike say Scott Shafer, actually has a resume of competent coaching at the D1 and NFL level. I guess he must have forgotten whatever he picked up when he got those two Superbowl rings by accident?
Maybe give the coaches and team the season before stuff isn't acceptible...
There's been more than a faint odor of excuse around these parts. It's more like a rotting corpse of excuse. Alas, I know you were just treading lightly to avoid upsetting some very delicate how-dare-ye sensibilities.
The time is coming. We all want the turnaround now. There is no more waiting. There are no more excuses (no, please, no one comment to this by pointing out how we're in a hole created by Lloyd Carr, or Boren is a traitor, or that Rosenberg is evil, or that Dorsey should have qualified, or that someone didn't put RichRod's dressing on the side). Can RR coach this team to win games; or are all the coaches winning with lesser parts better than he is?
Alas, the final excuse which should be banished - If-we-fire-RR-after-this-season-our-recruiting-class-will-be-terrible. No, if we have a bad enough year to fire RR, our recruiting class will be terrible if we don't.
OP- Great work.
8 Wins (excluding bowl). Nothing less. Must beat State.
Ok, and if we don't get 8 wins or don't beat State, or both, then what? There are something like 12 seniors on this roster (including Woolfolk) and next year's team will be even better given the additional year of experience. If we don't reach the bar you've set, the answer is to fire the staff and start over, in what will likely be new or mostly new systems? I'm not saying that would ruin next season, but it's going to set things back. Short of an absolute implosion this year, I think that if Brandon believes Rodriguez is the guy, he's going to stick with him. I don't think the artificial "do this or you're out" is realistic or the "Rodriguez has to win X games to keep his job" stuff that's floating around the national and local media is either. It's not so simple. And, I believe the biggest mistake we could make is emulating the hiring/firing patterns that plagued schools like Nebraska and Notre Dame the last 15 years.
This is why it's hard. But, yes, if we don't win and don't beat State, then we are in for more pain either way, because our rapidly declining recruiting classes will decline further, just as sure a death knell to the program as another coaching change.
I would have to argue here that we do not have nearly enough data to support your claim that our recruiting is "declining rapidly." RR needs to win more than he loses, which a potent offense should achieve, and then should get a year or two of job security to get the defense serviceable enough to get Michigan back among the elite.
RR was an elite hire on paper at least; boot him early and we are facing diminishing returns at head coach, much like ND has experienced.
I'm sorry, no one is in the Excuses Department to assist you at the moment. I can confirm however, that the to-change-coaches-now-would-setback-the-program excuse has been recalled.
Again, enough excuses. Please. Stop. Further, contrary to popular mgoblog lore, there are more than just two offenses in college football. Researches have recently discovered that the Carr pro-style and RichRod spread are merely two of endless varieties. So, yes, if we don't reach the bar I set, I would fire RichRod and allow the new coach to select his staff. I don't buy the notion that coddling failure will prevent failure.
There's not an "excuse" in my post. I asked a couple of serious questions. Glad you were able to get around to an answer after all the bad attempts at comedy.
You said that firing the coach would set the program back. That's an excuse for keeping RR. You may indeed see the other side of the coin (and I think you do), but it's a very common excuse on this board, "RR just needs time; besides, firing him now would just cripple the program moving forward." I think that keeping RR (should he stumble again this year) would hurt the program more than any change we might make. We aren't the Lions. We can't accept failure as the norm.
Could you be any more dramatic? Thanks for letting me know that we aren't the Lions. And, just to be totally clear, I don't support the notion that we should accept failure as the norm. Nice strawmen.
You fire a coach that you don't think can do the job. You don't fire a coach based on arbitrary lines in the sand. I think the results you demand this season are nice in theory, but I simply reject the "he must do this or else" notion. My pointing that out is not an "excuse" to keep Rodriguez. My pointing it out is an answer to the unhinged "we have to win X games or else" argument because the people making that argument seem to believe that all we have to do is fire one guy, hire another, and things will be rainbows and unicorns again. I don't believe that. I don't believe that if we fire him and hire someone else, then problem solved. It's far more complicated than that. I didn't offer any excuse for anything that he's done so far. I didn't offer an excuse at all. What I offered was a reason why changing course right now might be a really bad idea.
I do happen to believe he can do the job and do it well. If you don't, fine, but it's pretty easy to be message board rant guy, and a lot harder coming up with solutions. If you think we can do better - that we can hire a better coach - then I guess I understand your impatience and look forward to your list of options (let me guess: Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, and Bo?) come December, if things don't turn out well. Unfortunately, I don't think there's a better coach out there and do think that if the powers that be are as wildly shortsighted as some people can be here, then we're in for a lot more pain in the future. I only hope that then, the people complaining now are as helpful with sharing their solutions as they have been in sharing their unhappiness.
[I'm not taking shots at the original post by M-Dan. I disagree with it to some extent, but it contained some reasoning and was respectful.]
I think we all agree that, despite the black-and-white nature of my post, if we see truly outstanding signs of progress, then we'd be fools to fire him because he went 7-5, but the team averaged 38 points a game and beat MSU and OSU with wombats playing secondary.
But, goll darn (I want to be civil!), when we're talking about not being able to tackle right before the season (provided this isn't coach hyperbole - and we have scary precedent that it might not be), we are in different country. These players as a whole...
Demens, Fitzgerald, Ezeh, Mouton, Hawthorne, Jones, Herron, etc.
...are good enough to be taught to tackle well. Sorry, they can't all suck. Simple logic says that the mean is descriptive of something, and the mean here is suck at LB play and tackling (last year), which means the system/teaching is un-good.
If we are saying don't fire him while we are still tackling Tacopants, then we are in denial.
I think you're reading too much into the comments about tackling etc. as every coach you ever played for in any sport always identifies how horrible defense and/or other technique is during training camp. You were expecting RichRod to say "well, they were hitting like a pack of angry wolves fighting over a steak out there...Obi Ezeh hits every carrier like they took money from his grandmother...etc.
Coaches never say anything positive during training camp. See Carr, Lloyd.
Lou, as the ND coach, would routinely state something along the lines of the following, (I'm paraphrasing here with a bit of dramatic license, so don't go all postal on me):
Our quarterback situation is just about as bad as it can be. Heck, I can't find a single running back who could break through a fence made of tissue paper. Our defense couldn't stop an offense with personnel provided by the Blind Sisters of Charity. And our kicking game, don't even get me started....
The following week, he'd go out and usually put up a bajillion (1 x 10+alot) points on his first opponent.
Moral of the story: Rarely believe much that comes out of fall camp, especially if its a quote from the head coach.
Fair enough. In my defense, last year they talked about tackling ad nasuem and then demonstrated that their pessimism was well founded. I was seeing a pattern. I eagerly anticipate that they are pulling a Micky Rivers on me.
Ok, all drama aside, I agree that a coach should be fired when the coach shows he can't do the job. That's why this season is no-excuses time. The ultimate point of measurement is on-the-field performance. Year 1 was a disgrace. Year 2 saw a team get worse as the season progressed. Let's see what happens on the field (assuming no additional off-field issues like additional sanctions) in Year 3.
Just hiring a new coach won't bring "rainbows and unicorns" (and you said I brought the dramatic statement?), but keeping a failed coach won't either. I think it will be plenty clear what needs to be done as the season wears on. Fingers crossed that it's keep-a-winning-coach. If not, there are plenty of options for a replacement (a list which doesn't include the corrupt or the dead). I trust that Bandon will work just as hard to find a new leader as he has in covering for RR's blunders.
You think that RR is the best coach in the nation ("I don't think there's a better coach out there"). I think that you're not only dramatic, but possibly insane. If 3-9 makes one the best, then somebody owes Brian Ellerbe an apology! That dude was awesome.
My only mistake here was wasting a second of my day arguing with you. You whine. You don't think or offer solutions. You're also failing miserably in your attempts to be funny. If things go well this year, you're the guy that pretends it was all his idea.
The only point worth reasserting, not for your sake but for others, and not because it was unclear but because you've purposefullly misstated it: I didn't say he's the best coach in the nation, but I don't know that we're going to be able to do better if we start looking for a replacement. He very well may be the best coach "available." I don't know that, but I'm not the one proposing cost-free solutions. Again, it's easy to say fire him, but it's pretty shortsighted to assume that fixes everything.
Easy, player. "I don't think there's a better coach out there." What's that mean? It means "no one is better".
My solution? Seriously? I'm the coach now? Blind loyalists hate such suggestions, but I would have (in year 1) realized that my offense will fail will the players I have and would have modified it. 3-9 was not required. I would have retained more staff from the previous administration to ensure better continuity between the previous coaching staff and my own. I would not have violated NCAA rules.
It's pretty short-sighted (actually, it's just not smart) to assume that keeping RR will fix everything. It's a long-term solution to assess his ability to win, and make a change if needed after this season.
If one of your criteria for coaching talent is the ability to modify your scheme to fit your talent, then RR doesn't measure up. However, the entirety of RR's coaching career both as OC and as head coach shows that he coached one offensive system and one system only. He had no experience doing anything else. If you want to call that a shortcoming, fine, but that also means that Bill Martin's choice of RR in the first place was deeply flawed. Nobody should have expected RR to do anything different, based on his record.
That's a completely fair assessment. I think that a coach should be able to assess the talent available and adjust his scheme where necessary to ensure that his season isn't a total disaster. That's just my 2 cents. Frankly, I give RR more credit than you seem to. I think he is more than bright enough to adjust his offense where need be. I'm sure he is very familiar with vanilla offenses, and probably should have installed a few such sets.
That being said, maybe it was a bad pick by Bill Martin, but RR sure made plenty of statements about how his spread could work with stationary QBs just as well as mobile QBs and that he'd adjust. He didn't. The result is the worst season in 135 years of Michigan football.
You don't know a thing about me so as to suggest I'm a blind loyalist. You're not even smart enough to read what I've written and comprehend it and respond to it and it's not complicated. And, you're suggestions as they relate to two seasons ago, again, are not forward thinking which means they're not helpful, and not answers to the questions I've repeatedly suggested require answers. I don't care what you would have done - we're talking about what you'd do (although, I no longer expect you are able to answer that question).
I don't assume that keeping Rodriguez will fix everything - it might and it might not. My point was that you don't fire him unless you're pretty darn sure you can do better. You clearly believe that they can fire him and get a better coach. I'm not so sure. But, somehow - and here's where the inability to read and think comes in - you take that to mean I think he's the best coach in the nation. The calculus is relative here and if you were able to calculate at all, you'd understand that much.
sadly you are going to waste a lot of time here, to no avail.
He doesn't understand anything about the game of football, or the state of the program, nor does he grasp the complexity of the situation that created the PR mess and potential for sanctions. I'm not sure if it is a case of 'can't', or 'won't', but the general level of knowledge on display in his posts certainly suggests the former.
I laughed when you pointed out that his viewpoint was 'simple', as I have used the same adjective many times for the exact same purpose, along with words like; myopic, obtuse, ill-informed, etc. etc. He really should just cut and past "unacceptable!!!' "8-16!!!" "Sanctions!!!!" over and over again, because that is really the only argument he ever presents. He never offers any type of alternative beyond "should have tailored the offense to the players...like good coaches do" which really just serves to point out how woefully inadequate his knowledge of football really is. He has no ability to provide useful analysis or insight beyond "he just needs to win more!!", which is well.....obvious, I guess. Still, he stomps around here, tooting his little horn and spewing his sniveling, spittle-flecked vitriol about it like he invented concept of wanting M to win and everyone else is making excuses and completely satisfied with an 8-16 record.
He has a personal dislike for RR that supercedes any form of logic and a convenient ability to ignore or discount any information that might serve to refute his belief that Rich is the devil incarnate and cause him to have any semblance of a nuanced opinion. To him, anything and everything is RR's fault and things likes facts and such just become what he labels excuses. Anyone who doesn't agree with him is called a 'blind loyalist' and he has labeled me as such on many occasions, despite the fact that I have stated on many more occasions that for me the jury on RR is still out pending a reasonable amount of time.
In short, don't waste your time.
You're trolling around to post garbage about me? Really?
Dude, re-read your post. Your personal insults mean nothing to me but reflect poorly on you. You note that I have a "personal dislike for RR" (a coach I supported even after 3-9 and until the Illinois game). I don't know RichRod. I only know the results of his performance. The coach is responsible for his program. Period.
You can excuse the worst two years in program history. That's fine. I'm not sure what "argument" you're looking for from me beyond record and adherence to the rules? Those, to me, are the most important factors to consider. You say that I "believe RR is the devil incarnate"? Sweet line. Almost as good as some of your other zingers. I believe he has failed as our coach. That's it. The rest is garbage you made up.
Do I label folks "blind loyalists"? Yes, in those cases where they willfully shield their eyes from reality. I don't recall if you're the one, but here's an example. Someone actually said that the sanctions (which mirror the allegations at RR's WVU) are Lloyd Carr's fault. If that was you...then I believe you're the definition of a blind loyalist. Many blame the current state of the program on the Free Press (who exhibited poor journalist behavior but did not coach the team). Those would also be blind loyalists.
Find better things to do than talk shit about me.
WHO IS GOING TO COME HERE IF WE FIRE RICH ROD AFTER 3 YEARS?
*PS YOU ARE REALLY NOT VERY SMART*
PPS YOU MAKE ME ANGRY!!!!
OK, dah. I'm game, sell me on your strategy. You're so sure there's nothing to lose, what makes you think that? When has getting rid of an underperforming head coach after three years worked?
People wanted to get rid of Dave Wandstedt at Pittsburgh after three years and they probably bitched when he was given more time. Who was right at that moment in time? (Hint: you have the benefit of hindsight in this case, use it.)
Enough Domers that a change was needed that Tyrone Willingham was canned after three years clearing the wide-as-fuck way for Charlie Weis. Whether Willingham would have panned out or not, what did Notre Dame gain by canning him quickly? It went very well while the Willingham holdovers played their careers out, then shit. How do you know Coach Next wont flame out here like Weis did at ND? Are you willing to sign up for that (2 good year followed by 3 terrible ones)?
So, again, I'm listening. When has your strategy worked? Legit inquiry, zero snark. Let's hear it.