Mike Lantry, 1972
These has been the longest of seasons for us diehard Michigan fans. The news today of additional players opting to leave the program comes at strange time in that we're in the last week of the season and usually players don't make the decision to leave mid-year or this late in the year. Some people choose to see this as a further indictment of the current staff, but I think it's just a continuation of the process required to build a program.
Many say that the program was decent shape after last season and the outcome of this season is more attributable to the new staff and their perceived shortcomings, but I think it goes much deeper than that. What is changing about the program more than the offesive and defensive philosophies is the mental make up of the players in the program itself. If one had the pleasure to know both Bo and Lloyd, they would know that Bo and Lloyd were as different as two people can be. Bo was as tenacious and demanding as any football coach I have ever known, but after he left coaching, he was potrayed as this lovable grandfather figure who had a snappy wit and penchant for telling great stories. The man was as intense as any person ever was on the football field and he recruited his type of players. Lloyd was fiery and he was competitive, but he was more reserved and introspective than most men you'd think coached college football. His demeanor was that of a banker more than a football coach at times. There is no right or wrong to their personalities or their style of coaching, but there was a distinct difference. When Bo recruited a kid to play for Michigan, he cared less about 40 times and squat numbers than he did about the fire in the person and the mentality of the player. The culmination of the recruiting process with Bo was the one on one with him in his office where he fired off questions that would make the toughest HR person in the world squirm in their seats. He basically threw Chris Spielman out of his office in disgust after Spielman showed up with torn jeans and snuff in his lip and acting like it was Bo who should be in awe of him. Lloyd was effective in recruiting, but his approach was much different in that he sold Michigan to recruits and their parents whereas Bo sold greatness and there is a difference. People who relentlessly strive for greatness have a certain mental make-up and that is what Bo sought. In today's game with the limited number of scholarships, Lloyd had a tougher road to travel and may not have had the luxury of evaluating the mental aspect of all of his recruits that way Bo did.
With that said, I think the process that Rich Rod has embarked on is one to restore the mental toughness of the players who play for Michigan. There is a process of building a program at all levels of football and the process is virtually the same. Rich Rod has to find the type of players that fit his philosophy, which has less to do with the workings of a spread offense than it does with their mental make-up. Rich Rod from what I can tell is an intense coach and he wants a certain type of athlete in his program. If you've seen the images of the facilities lately, you'll notice every wall has a sign hanging. Every sign is a challenge to the players to be great. "Those Who Stay..." is about striving for greatness and I think these new signs are also a call for people to strive for greatness. Look at Owen Schmitt for example, here is a guy who looks more like the guy driving the Budweiser truck than a football player. A guy who played Divsion III football beause he did not have the athletic pedigree to warrant offers from bigger schools, but the one thing not recorded on any film or any scouting report is the person's willingness to defy the measurables due to their desire to be great. Owen Schmitt was not afraid to strive for greatness and he found a coach who wasn't afraid to let him try. Yes, we've had some great players like Mike Hart that did the same, but Mike Hart was more the exception than the rule, IMO.
Sam McGuffie is an excellent athlete and with more experience, he'll be a good RB, but if he doesn't want to be at Michigan for whatever the reason, then it's better that he leaves the program. I don't like anyone leaving Michigan, but I certainly understand all of the factors that can affect a young man. I wish him well. Rich Rod has to find men that want to be here and want to be great. He has yet to have that opportunity here at Michigan except for the last few weeks of last year's recruiting class. I think RR will need at least 3 years to get this program built the way he wants it to be built with the type of players that he wants. Let's give him that time and keep our expectations realistic going forward.
I am not happy about the season, but it is easier for me to understand because I have played and coached football for almost 20 years and I understand to some small degree what RR faces. He needs to stay the course and keep building his program despite all the criticism and second-guessing that we as fans tend to offer. I am not giving him a free pass, which is currently the most popular accusation on the message boards, but rather I am tempering my expectations of him due to the state of the program. Once he gets two of his recruiting classes into the program(last's years was the continuation of LCs class) then my expectations will be raised back to the level of greatness. I think mental toughness will again be a focal point of the program. I think Rich Rod will recruit his players and you'll see the attrition curbed greatly as his players will have the same mental make-up as their head coach. There aren't guru ratings that measures those sort of things in recruits, so you'll have to trust that RR knows what he's looking for; how else does a school with the occassional 4 star player beat a team always in the top 5 of recruting in a BCS game?
I will not discredit the nay-sayers as they have the right to be upset and disgruntled about the season. They have the right to voice their opinions about the coaches, players, and sky falling, but don't count me amongst them insomuch as I see the process unfolding before me. At this point, people are saying we should be seeing the improvement on the field, so these coaches must be terrible, but I don't think that is where we are in the process. We are still in the infantile stages of the process. We have yet to get to the point where we can get RR's players on the field to compete. By this time next year, the nay-sayers will have pitchfork in hand as I think we're still in the .500 range give or take a lucky break or two. The process takes time and there are no shortcuts to do it right. For every player that leaves, there is another opportunity to fill that scholarship with a player with the attributes RR wants and that's not a bad thing; even if that person cannot leap over tall safeties in a single bound.
Have faith my friends and understand that greatness is not something one achieves in 10 months no matter how much we wish it to happen.
I feel like you took all my thoughts from my mind and said them in a very mature, eloquent manner.
Thanks for that Wolv, very nicely done.
Thanks for making this blog better. This is why MGoBlog continues to be at the top of the blogosphere; people who know, contribute. I am not saying that because this entry necessarily paralleled my thoughts, but because it had some thought from someone who knows football.
OT: I am a little worried that MGoBlog is getting watered down, even since I joined in October. (I have been reading for about a year...I would say I am part of the problem even though I try to make insightful entries) I would say that the quality is still untouchable as Brian does a great job, but the participation is sketchy at times. Nothing wrong with growing, but I can only imagine what it looked like 3 years ago. Is there an underground MGoBlog? I know I sound too good for others, but the last 5 weeks I have seen some interesting diary entries and board entries. And by interesting I mean shitty. Just wonder if anyone else has noticed this? Or do I have issues? Its been a rough 5 hours...who am I kidding, its been a rough 3 months. I cannot wait for that Ninja Football team to show up. That is going to be fun.
Totally disagree with all of this.
This year would have been a nightmare for any Michigan Football Coach. Had Coach Carr stayed with this team, Michigan Fans and Alumni would demand that He be fired. Now with a new coach and a nightmare of a season, every fan and reporter seems to know the answers to this demise. Having lived long enough to see history repeat it's self, I suggest patience.
Michigan Football walked into the trenches of darkness by 1) Coach Carr failing to recruit a qb knowing that Mallet might leave(Sheridan,Threet and Cone-ah?) 2) Fans thought and were told-"we'll be ok-atleast we have a defense"-with no offense the secondary is now exposed 3) not that 1 and 2 don't say enough-let's bring in a new head coach and a new offense and for icing on the cake-Pryor selects OSU-man the life boats-pass the Xanax-slam a shot, down a beer, give me a --I don't do that anymore-oh give me three-where is the tallest building? airbags-hang on-please-please this is Michigan Football-patience? Michigan Fans-For those that stay will be champions!
Im not sure McGuffie leaving (if he does leave) is attributable to the Schmit effect but much of the attrition we have seen was. He very well may be home sick or just does not feel he wants to be here.
I personally think alot of the naysayers that say Carr or a Carr like replacement would have done better this year are correct. Just a couple of the players we lost (like Mallet and Boren) could have made a great difference. The thing is all the things that led to "the horror" and the incessant 8-4 seasons would still be around. Maybe after this season people think those days were not so bad but I cannot agree. We don't have the players right now- then we did and we still lost- that is what was really disheartening. That is why I have no problem discrediting the naysayers, they would trade consistent mediocrity for a couple years of pain.
couldn't agree more. great post. thank you.
Very well written. Couldn't agree more. Nice job!
You have a coach who quit his team on the eve of a potential, maybe even likely national championship.
He may have a difficult time instilling a sense of loyalty into his players whether he recruits them or not.
What y'all need is a Michigan man who understands the meaning of the word.
Great post Wolv54
If you want to make the accusation that Michigan needs a "Michigan man who knows the meaning of the word", the first thing you should ask yourself would be "what would Bo think?" You might want to take some time and read "Bo's Lasting Lessons". Quite a few of the parallels between Bo and Rodriguez are quite stunning actually. Of course, you wouldn't know that because you're not a Michigan fan.
Also, the last time I checked your WVU boys haven't exactly been playing up to expectations without Rodriguez. Enough with the sour grapes. Move along.
Comparing RR to Bo? Rodriguez couldn't carry Bo's playbook. And, besides a Michigan man who knows Michigan football better than a former Buckeye? Also, it's true, Rodriguez has made a mess of more than just Michigan football, he hurt WVU's program as well but at least the Mountaineers will going to a bowl game this year and it may be a big one.
yeah, he really hurt WVU program when he turned them from mediocre to national elite.
Try doing some reading and you might just begin to understand what I was talking about and how stupid you look for questioning it.
This team is bereft of talent at many positions. The quarterbacks are lousy. The linebackers and safeties are slow. There is also a heap of inexperience throughout. They've dropped punts and kickoffs, fumbled numerous times, run bad routes etc. Defensively they are slow and tackle poorly. How many times have you seen players in position to make a defensive play but fail to do so? I haven't been impressed with a Michigan defense since 1997. Even the 2006 defense was shredded in Columbus. This condition did not happen overnight. It isn't just the Michigan team that may need to toughen up. Some of the fans are acting like spoiled babies.
Man, Props that was perfectly written. I totally agree with you, and if Martin decides to fire RR after next year if there .500 i think it would be a tremendous mistake, because the guy is a great coach, and he will bring greatness back to this program
Well thought out and written.
Well said, This should be required reading for all michigan fans, alumni etc. Nobody is happy now, but this is a process, you have to giver the man a chance to implement his system with his players. There is a much higher ceiling for success now, than there was under LC.