this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I have been an avid RR supporter since he was hired. I think he has a great track record. I think he is a moral and ethical leader of young men. But, after the Illinois game, I began to realize something that might be his biggest coaching flaw thus far at Michigan: his coaching-style is counter-productive to the kids on this Michigan roster. (I am not talking about spread v. pro-style, just the general way he coaches kids up.)
Let me explain. We all know winning is everything to RR. He pushes his players. But, it may be the WAY he is pushing his players that is the problem.
He rides them. He bi*tches them out on the sidelines and in practice. This caused some players to leave. Fine. They were probably soft anyway.
BUT, this team is extremely young. This team has A LOT of people who didn't sign up to get yelled at every day. This team is still a work in progress with pro-style players and a spread offense melding together. Plus, there is already intense media scrutiny on Michigan and its players. Put it all together and you have kids facing more pressure than most of us ever face.
RR's style isn't to quietly support his players after a mistake. You can see this when he publicly degrades them. You've seen it on the sideline like you never see it in other big-time programs in the current era. (Michigan coaches are also yelling at each other A LOT - weird.) I think that yelling and berating makes the players "tight." It causes nervous fumbles and mental errors. It builds on itself with these young kids. A bad game and you're benched... for a walk-on.
Its almost as if the team is taking on RR's problems (the pressure he faces at Michigan) and cracking because they are too young to deal with it.
RR may have been successful at WVU because the overall level of pressure on him and the players was lower. If the team had trouble, the seat didn't get too hot and RR could still coach 'em up. WVU was lucky to have him. Plus, RR loved WVU as a former player. He could share in that love of WVU with his players. It may have motivated them. Whereas, here, they may wonder whether is yelling is "tough love" from a fellow Wolverine or just a hired-gun screaming at the top of his lungs.
To me, this SOMEWHAT explains this Michigan team's turnover problems. This SOMEWHAT explains the team's second half implosions. This SOMEWHAT explains the mental errors.
Now, some of you may lament "going easier on kids." You may think kids are GENERALLY soft today anyway. And, you might be right. But, that is reality and he has to be a realistic coach. In the era of intense recruiting coverage, nationally televised high school games and "announcements," the fact that kids are a little soft is just something we have to live with. Now, RR doesn't have to start holding hands with the kids, but he needs to understand the REALITY of the generation.
Of course, this might not be the WHOLE new generation and could be a Carr-recruit v. RR-recruit situation when it comes to "toughness." Time will tell. Maybe in the swamps of Pahokee and the hills of WV, there are still a lot of tough kids that respond well to being "chewed out." The problem is that, if so, they are true freshmen on this team.
My suggestion: RR's coaching style needs to progress. He needs to adapt to talented kids who may need a different form of motivation, maybe kids who didn't grow up getting yelled at every day. He needs to adapt the pressure he doles by understanding the high level of pressure his players already face at Michigan. He needs to stay tough, but adapt to what works to motivate and instill confidence in the young kids on THIS roster.