I've got no typical Scout disclaimer to begin with. You know, when a guy says, "Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE me some Rich Rodriguez. I think we're gonna win the next 14 national championships. I now drink 4 gallons of chocolate milk every day. I haven't washed my underwear since we beat the Minnesota Golden Goophers. Charlie Weis is fat. BUT..."
I simply question why people are giving Rich Rodriguez so much of the benefit of the doubt. You can call me negative. you can call me a "Closet Sparty," you can call me a "H8TER," but I don't care.
Charlie Weis, Jim Tressel, and Mark Dantonio--the coaches of Michigan's most hated rivals--all won with with another guy's players. They all came in and implemented different systems, brought all new assistants, all of them are assholes, and yet--they ALL won with players they did not recruit (but they did add some of their own). And all of them did even better in Year 2. You can argue that Notre Dame fell off over the last two years--but at least Charlie Weis is recruiting the hell out of (whatever you recruit the hell out of), and Ohio State is stockpiling talent in a big way. They also have this one guy named Terelle Pryor.
And Dantonio? All he is doing is winning over provincial Michigan and provincial, sniping, self-righteous Michigan Media members and the perception is that MSU is THE program in Michigan. Yeah, Michigan high school football may not put out tons of talent, but Michigan has benefitted from being the Big Dawg in our great state for 40 years, and many, MANY Michigan stars have come from My Michigan. But overnight, MSU has seemingly usurped UM in the hearts and minds of Michigan, and Dantonio has, to this point, won a sort of "culture war" with UM. He tutored under the all-time passive agrressive genius in Columbus, and he is indeed making the state of Michigan greener.
So where does that leave Rich Rodriguez, Michigan football, and Michigan football fans?
Well, in my opinion, this goes way deeper than just shouting "We'll be back!" "Wait'll Rich Rod gets his players!"
Let's look at it from strictly a football standpoint for this first "blog" of mine.
2008: Rich Rod is hired. UM implements some sort of "spread" for the Capital One Bowl and beats Florida. Everyone happy. Everyone clap. Everyone say: "Where has this been? See what we can do? Look at what Rich Rod did at West Virginia! Now, with MICHIGAN TALENT--LOOK OUT BEEYOTCHEZZ!" And when Rich Rodriguez holds Lloyd's last recruiting class pretty much intact (losing only a tight end and a drop back QB)--and adding SIX players to that class in the 11th hour--it was party time!
Let's fast forward past last football season to now.
The recruiting class from 2008, for those who care to notice, is not looking so great, expecially for a team so thin. We have seen five players leave the team. A sixth, Justin Feagin, may never see the field again. The horribly named Mike Cox is a huge question mark. Even Darryl Stonum causes people to wonder. People, that's over 25% of the class.
2009 saw a great class come in. Eligibility questions aside, it is a good mix of real talent, offense and defense, and diamonds in the rough. And Rodriguez again showed great 11th-hour prowess with the signings of Warshington, Robinson, Lewan, Roh and Lalota.
But with so many departures during the first-year transition, and the attrition already seen from the 2008 class, 2009 and 2010 have to be HOME RUNS for a team that is thin with defensive talent and depth.
When Scout posters began hating on star gazing, forty times, and Michigan high school talent, they all shouted in unison: "Look at the offer sheets!" Well I did--and it ain't pretty.
To wit: Four---FOUR of the verbals from this class have no other offers.
Outside of Christian Pace, MRob, Ricardo Miller, Jeremy Jackson, Kenny Wilkins, and Devin Gardner, the other schools offering UM recruits are these (according to Scout): Army, Bowling Green, Indiana, Stanford, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Duke, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Minnesota, and Tulane. I have to admit--that is an impressive list--if you are going after possible future Rhodes Scholars and guys who can go out on a date with a coed and not even think about buying a condom. But Big Time national championships? Not so much. And go ahead and color me not terribly awed by a 6'2, 256 lbs offensive lineman in Pace. Can you say, "Another turbulent offseason splattered with multiple decommits?" I hope so.
Now we stand on the precipice of the 2009 season with two true freshmen at the most important position in the world (yes, even more important than the head cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys). We stand on the precipice of the 2009 season hoping that Brandon Graham and Mike Martin don't even get a hangnail. We stand on the precipice of a 2009 season which will see our beloved Wolverines go on the road to Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin. We stand on the fuck that. Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Penn State are all coming to town. We have our THIRD defensive coordinator in THREE years.
I know you all want to think that Rodriguez is "building something"--and so do I. But I'd like to know what it is, and I'd like to know if you really think he has the time.
2009 and 2010 have to be all-time recruiting classes. We need them for talent and depth. We can't have half this class being "flyers"--if 25% of the guys you really DO want wash out--what are the odds with guys that NOBODY wants? It is scary. Expecially if you are a guy who, like me, is a real loser with no other identity than to put on my Michigan jammies and go to the mall on Sunday with my chest all puffed out, just daring some fucking pathetic fucktard to give me some shit. Of course, if he does, I'll rear back and say, "Hey, I was just robbed and the police gave me this stuff to wear because the goddam robber even took my clothes and stuffed them in a basket he had attached to his iron lung."