In a season full of daggers, the score, not the loss, of the OSU game was a plus size dagger to RichRod.
The entire year pundits and hacks like myself predicted steady improvement, and 7-5, with 8-4 an possibility. But also was expected improvement on both sides of the ball, and many, including myself, predicted that RR’s career may very well rest in the hands of GERG after the debacle that was last year’s D. GERG didn’t disappoint, generating an even worse D, injuries aside.
But for all the doom/gloom on D, the shining light was Denard, and the vast improvement on offense.
Then the OSU game, and 7 points….
Yr 1 of the RR tenure didn’t count given the lack of remotely adequate personnel on offense. But the complexion after that loss to OSU was that in the last 2 years, RR has merely treaded water, improving on O but regressing on D. UM went from 5-7 to 7-5, which is positive, but the offense, the only unit fans could hang their hat on for vast improvement, then goes out and only hangs 7 points vs OSU – a giant negative.
So now everyone wonders if RR will be back next year and it appears to be a 50/50 shot because, as bad as things have been, things will be better next year under RR. Healthier D with far more focus on that side of the ball, including a new D coordinator, experienced O, some semblance of special teams with new kickers.
8-4 or 9-3 are expected next year under RR, unless Mike Martin goes pro and the new D coordinator turns into another bust. 85% chance the team is better next year, but long term, RR has amassed a record the last two years indicting his capacity prepare a Michigan team to compete at elite levels.
So Brandon’s margin to keep RR either way is razor thin either way.
What will be the deciding factor? The score of this Gator Bowl. I honestly think it completely comes down to this game. So what do you guys think the score needs to be to keep RR next year?
Yes Miss State is an SEC team, and I know recruit rankings don’ t mean all that much (hello Boise State), but Miss State’s Rivals recruiting rankings last several years are as follows:
Essentially Miss State has recruited an average of roughly 20+ ranks below UM which would imply UM has the superior personnel. This factors against RR if we lose. Then again, we’ve had devastating injuries, which factors in his favor for next year. Then again several of his recruits have been monstrous busts (Turner, Campbell, Emilien, Cissoco, McGuffy, etc., etc.) which factors against him…
I believe that Brandon would’ve stuck to his plan to make a decision after the bowl game even if UM was 11-1, where it was a foregone conclusion RR would be back, but adding everything up, the call appears so close, that I strongly believe this Gator Bowl in two days will mark the course of our program next year, and possibly for years to come given the high likelihood that if RR is back next year, UM will be markedly better.
There are tons of other factors in Brandon's decision – his personal thoughts on RR, thoughts on recruiting, thoughts on Harbaugh, thoughts on the violations, the direction of the program, etc., etc. I’m not trying to oversimplify Brandon’s decision, I believe that if you add up all the pros and cons, it is an extremely close call for Brandon.
So for fun, what score do you think will swing Brandon either way? I believe any win, even by 1 point saves RR’s job. 8-5 after 5-7, especially with this defense, is worthy of his return. I believe a loss of a touchdown or less puts RR square on the fence. I believe a loss over 8 points or more, and he is gone.
I’ve stuck it out with RR for 3 years and have rooted so much for him to succeed, that honestly nothing would make me happier than to see him back next year for one last shot to finally break through. He’s had a month to prepare his team, and it is time now boys. GO BLUE!!!!