I normally enjoy reading Bob Wojnowski's articles - especially when he reports secret conversations from lockerooms - but his latest article is nothing more than his opinion clothed in conjecture and made-up facts. Coach-talk normally doesn't interest me - especially during OSU week - and I recognize there are legitimate arguments supporting the various opinions on Michigan's head coach. But I couldn't leave Mr. Wojnowski's article without comment. It can be found here:
He starts with this:
Anytime I hear "quick" and "fix" in the same sentence regarding a car, house, or football program, I get a little suspicious.
Conveniently, Mr. Wojnowski uses Mr. Harbaugh's entire coaching career and best season when describing his "track record". (Wikipedia says that Mr. Rodriguez is 120-81-2 as a head coach, if that matters.)
This may be one of the most misleading statements written about Michigan this year.
First, switching from Mr. Rodriguez to Mr. Harbaugh "could" be "tricky"? How about - to quote him from earlier - will absolutely be messy? Michigan has tiny men who are unnaturally quick. A standard Wisconsin running back makes the offensive line look small. The players have spent the last couple years learning a system that is not "traditional power football", meaning they would have to start over learning a new system. And he is willing only to say that such a transition would be tricky? As if the only thing Mr. Harbaugh would need to do to be 10-2 his first year is tread carefully? Another 3-9, 5-7, 7-5 sequence is more likely.
Mr. Wojnowski does not elaborate on how Mr. Harbaugh would work with Mr. Robinson. Does he mean in some kind of business they start after he is graduated? Will Mr. Robinson maybe be some kind of assistant coach? Because I know Mr. Wojnowski cannot mean that Mr. Harbaugh would consider a relatively short and relatively light player as a quarterback in a "traditional power football" scheme. Maybe he could return punts and kicks - that would be lots of fun to see. Mr. Robinson - if I remember correctly - wasn't heavily recruited as a quarterback, and for good reason: he doesn't fit as a quarterback in very many systems. Mr. Wojnowski recognizes how ridiculous it would be to say that he would be the quarterback in a "traditional power football" system, so he leaves it at the vague and misleading, "[Mr. Harbaugh] could work with Robinson."
Why does it have to be "job-saving progress"? Why can't it just be progress? As I mentioned at the beginning, "we" are not looking for signs or signature moments: we're looking for wins. And we're getting them. As fast as we would like? Of course not. But how do we know what would have happened if someone else would have taken over in 2008 - for example, Mr. Miles? Would he have gone 3-9 the first year and have 7 wins his third year? Maybe no one could have done much better than 15 wins over these last three years. We don't know. But regardless, Mr. Wojnowski knows it's not enough: he hasn't achieved what may have been impossible.
Again, Mr. Wojnowski resorts to cursory references to give a certain impression not reflecting reality. "NCAA violations" standing by itself sounds exactly as Mr. Wojnowski wants it to sound: ominous and serious. Anyone who read the most abbreviated summary of the actual events and findings knows otherwise. Perhaps Mr. Wojnowski is hoping some of his readers aren't familiar with the facts and findings.
This is a reason to pursue Mr. Harbaugh? That he's interested in the NFL? Why would his interest wane at Michigan? We've seen what happens if you don't win the Big Ten three years after arrival. He may not be as loyal as we want to believe. His comments in a previous year suggest as much. Say what you want about Mr. Miles, but he wouldn't leave Michigan if once hired, nor would he disparage Michigan just because it suited his present interests. Quite the opposite, based on the coaching search a couple years ago. He went out of his way to speak well of Michigan. Mr. Harbaugh went out of his way to speak ill of Michigan. If it suited his purposes, he may be as quick to coach in the NFL as Mr. Wojnowski is to hire him. Look what happened at Notre Dame when they hired a quick fix whom everyone thought would run off to the NFL: they gave him an enormous salary to convince him to stay at Notre Dame so they could fire him a few years later.
Mr. Wojnowski then goes on to explain why, really, it would be better for everyone, including Mr. Rodriguez, if Michigan got a new head coach.
This is where Mr. Wojnowski most obviously conflates his fanciful lockeroom conversations and actual reporting. My job has nothing to do with sports or Michigan, yet even I know why Mr. Rodriguez left West Virginia. Mr. Wojnowski's job is sports in Michigan, yet he apparently doesn't know something that was reported repeatedly in something with which Mr. Wojnowksi should be familiar: newspapers. I can't be bothered to go back and look at the quotes, but I remember Mr. Rodriguez had serious disagreements with the administration at WVU and even a politician or two. Apparently Mr. Wojnowski also can't be bothered to go back and look at the quotes.
Also, I don't remember any great longing that Mr. Rodriguez had to prove himself in the "big, bold Big Ten". (Is it a new drink someone is promoting or a conference?) I do remember something about the year before coming to Michigan, Mr. Rodriguez almost went to a different school; Alabama, I think. Again, neither Mr. Wojnowksi nor I can be bothered to take a minute to search on the internet for this information. The difference is that I remember the facts to a certain extent, whereas he forgets the facts and makes something else up instead. And gets paid for it. While I sit here typing in my cave.
Since I am clearly using my time poorly, I end this here. Again, this is not meant to be a proof that Mr. Rodriguez should get another year or another ten years or whatever, nor does it prove that Mr. Harbaugh would fail or ultimately be a poor choice as head coach. It's just evidence that Mr. Wojnowksi should not be consulted on the matter and that, when discussing anything, really, people like to come to conclusions first and then make up things which support those conclusions.