Let me preface this post by stating that I have been a big Rodriguez booster from the time he was hired. However, I must admit my support has wavered and I am now approaching ambivalence on the issue of whether he should be rehired. That said, one of the things that Brandon said he looks at is progress on and off the field. I'm not sure whether any of us know what's up off the field -- other than we've put the NCAA and Freep allegations behind (for the most part) -- but on the field, I'm not sure whether there's been any progress from last year to this point. Yes, Michigan will finish the regular season at 7-5 or 8-4 and that is indeed progress when compared to 5-7. Also there is no doubt the offense is dynamic and exciting, and there's no telling what the numbers would be if the defense was even barely adequate. That, of course, brings us to the defense. It's hard to believe, but it's actually worse than last year. I know there are excuses including Woolfolk's injuries, but they're just excuses. That brings us to comparison of game results. I've essentially broken things down into three categories: better result, same result and worse result. Let's take a look.
Better result: Connecticut over Western (because of the quality of opponent. UCONN, believe it or not could still win the Big LEast.); Purdue (although some might quibble, since we could have won last year and needed a late TD to secure this year -- against a team that was clearly worse than the 09 version).
Same result: Notre Dame (last second winning drive); Indiana (ditto -- arguably worse but I'll call the same); UMass-Del State ; Bowling Green-EMU; Illinois (we should have won last year, without a bounce to Hemingway, we lose this year).
Worse result: MSU (we were one play from winning last year on the road); Iowa (we had the ball with a chance to win on the road); Penn State (the result was similar, but we were playing a team with more injuries than we had); Wisconsin (at least were competitive in the first half last year -- on the road).
Thus, one can make a case that the team overall is performing the same as last year. What does this mean? Perhaps nothing, but Dave Brandon has said he looks for progress in making his decisions. Absent a win over OSU, has there truly been progress?