I turned this in for a journalism class where we had to write opinionated columns. I thought I'd share this. (P.S. I got an A on this)
The 2008 football season was not supposed to be a good one for Michigan fans. I’m sure, however, that nobody expected anything quite like this.
Heading into the rivalry game with the hated Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan is a paltry 3-8 under first year coach Rich Rodriguez. Many streaks came to an end—non-losing seasons, long winning streaks over Michigan State and Penn State, and consecutive bowl games.
The first sign of problems came when Rodriguez left his coaching position at his alma mater, West Virginia. There was a massive legal dispute involving a $4 million buyout.
Then came the drama of “shred-gate” where Rodriguez was accused of shredding documents at West Virginia on his way out the door.
Top all of this off with what may be the worst season Michigan has ever had, and plenty of alums are crying to the administration for Rodriguez’s head.
These people need to take the advice of Rodriguez himself and “get a life.”
Rodriguez has won at every stop he’s ever been to. In fact, he has shown throughout his career, the ability to take a bad team and make them good in a short period of time. His first team at West Virginia won only three games in his first year there. He turned them into a perennial national power.
Unless he’s suddenly forgotten how to coach from 2007 to 2008, his ability to coach probably isn’t an issue.
Take a look at the roster Rodriguez is working with. Contrary to what some Michigan fans believe, this team was not as good going in as people thought.
Football starts on the offensive line. Only one of the five starters here had any sort of college experience coming into the year and even he is only a sophomore.
All-time leading passer Chad Henne is being replaced at quarterback by a walk-on named Nick Sheridan. With all due respect to him, that should spell trouble.
All-time leading rusher Mike Hart also departed, leaving the team with injured veterans and a slew of true freshman who were still worrying about things such as going to the prom this time last year.
The defense lost the top four tackling leaders from last year. Making things worse, the top two wide receivers also left early for the NFL draft and the top lineman departed to the NFL being selected No. 1 overall.
No team in America can suffer those sorts of losses and expect to be great.
Finally, Rodriguez brings his new spread offense from West Virginia. Michigan previously ran a pro-set offense under Lloyd Carr and had done so since 1969 when Bo Schembechler was the coach. It is extremely difficult to not only run this offense when moving from a pro-set, but when you’re trying to do it with players who don’t fit the system, it is going to take time to install.
So while Michigan sits home from a bowl this year, watch the other teams enjoy themselves during the holidays. Sit back and think to yourself, each one of these teams has gone through this same thing before. Then imagine Michigan playing in a National Title game in the next five years once the new high school recruiting classes have arrived.
Don’t give up on him. Don’t jump off the bandwagon. For those clamoring for the days of Bo, remember to give Rodriguez the same respect of “Those who stay will be champions.”
AUTHORS NOTE: I'd also like to add, if this article had been turned in later, I would have also done a comparison of RichRod and John Belein. The similarities there are striking.
Nobody who knows anything about football, or about the specifics of the situation at Michigan, should be calling for RR to be fired after one season. As long as he demonstrates some improvement in the coming seasons and doesn't create a Moeller-esque scandal, RR should have at least a 3-4 year honeymoon period.
what caused me to write this piece. i was actually quite angry when i was putting this together
except I would argue that, in a sane world, Moeller's outburst would not have been reason to axe him
Nice write-up, MichFan
but Michigan Football coaches are among those public figures whose behavior is scrutinized far beyond anything that makes sense (by those who have to sell a story and profit from the misfortunes of others). All the more so for RR, given his rocky transition from Morgantown to AA. Coaches earning the big bucks do need to sort that out for themselves and be mindful of it as part of their responsibilities -- even if it isn't really sane. You can scream at your players, but not at a waitress.
and other opinion pieces into the Ann Arbor News as letters to editor, because people (including RichRod) need to know how much support he actually has. Except for this blog and maybe a couple others that are less signficant, all the 'fan reaction' that is publicized is highly negative.
You should have cited mgoblog. Brian deserves a lot of creditfor the ideas being presented here.
Well done. The only silver lining about the overreaction from some "fans" is that most of them are so reactionary and short-sighted that they'll stop calling for RR's head by the end of the month.
Im listening to Rich Leach's comments on RR and the entire coaching search situation on wtka.com right now...very good stuff...check it out under podcasts...he is telling it like it is.
for a journalism class at Michigan?