I don't think we can assume that his baseline / downside is a four loss season. Until we see something even close to that as an upside, we just making a leap of faith.
Re-Evaluation is Necessary
how this was so egregious as to be negbanged. like it wasnt his opinion or anything.
Very well said.
I agree 100%.
I don't think anyone else would have done much better than RR these past 2 years, but, over the long-term, the ceiling with those people is much lower than it is w/ RR.
So, the question is, is the tradeoff worth it of having slightly less sucky (record-wise), but still sucky, teams over the past 2 years under a different coach, but a much lower ceiling of long-term achievement than RR provides? Or, is it better to, with RR, have a similar baseline long-term, really suck for the first 2 years, but, have also have the possibility of exceeding the baseline, excelling, and becoming a national powerhouse? In that trade off, I'm all in for RR!
When evaluating Rodriguez, we should evaluate him on an absolute scale, not a relative scale. This means that we should generate expectations based on what we think were a reasonable set of scenarios for a coach with his system taking control of the team in 2008.
You evaluate Rodriguez on a relative scale. This is more suited to determining whether it was logical to hire him, which is immaterial as we are deep into the transitional period and thus firing him would be counterproductive unless he is underperforming a legitimate set of initial expectations.
We should not blame Rodriguez for being hired. We should only blame him for things that he does wrong.
You evaluate Rodriguez on a relative scale. This is more suited to determining whether it was logical to hire him
Exactly. That was the approach of this exercise. I stick by my thought that we're too far into this to change course now, I am just saying it's not so obvious to me as it is to some that UM is on the right course.
I misunderstood your intent. Stupid of me (it hasn't been a good day in that regard, or in any other for that matter).
As to your original post, I do think that a philosophical change was necessary. A spread offense is clearly more effective than a traditional offense, which can be determined just by looking at the trends over the past 10-15 years. Teams like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas have been dominant offensively by running versions of the spread offense combined with good talent. Meanwhile, as more and more teams adopt spread offenses, the need to defend them further arises. And one thing that is clear from the Carr era is that Michigan was incapable of doing so.
Perhaps we didn't need to make so drastic a shift in philosophy as we did by hiring Rodriguez, but the need was clearly there. At any rate, we'll know where we stand much better in the next 1-2 years, at which point we will better be able to say whether our recent struggles were worth it.
Personally, I'm not very upset about this loss. The offense played well, and it would have gone to OT if all of the extra points were made. Roundtree had a breakout game and Minor had his best game of the year. Stonum is a great kick returner. Most importantly, Forcier played well enough to win. We kill the defense after every game, but the offense was supposed to carry this team, and for the first time in a while it did so (not counting Del. St.) The defense is bad. I think it will get better with depth and more familiarity with the scheme. The offense returns a lot of major players and there is a lot of depth at the offensive positions where there will be attrition. Patience is needed. I have no doubt other coaches could have been more successful, especially ones that runs a traditional offense. However, we have already made the transition, and it would be stupid to bail out now, just when things start to click.
Looking at what Purdue and Illinois did to us fills me with dread for opponents that are actually good.
Our offense performed well, but they went up against a very mediocre defense. They will now go up against some very good defenses, and will likely have a much harder time of it.
I sure would be interested to see what goes into GERG's formulation of a defensive gameplan. With so many holes to try to fill, it would be interesting to go through his thought process.
"Gee, I'd like to have Warren snuggle up to a WR, but shit if he gets burned we know Kovacs/Wiliams can't make a play so it would be 6. But, damn, if I play Warren 10 yards off the ball, then its 2nd and 4 all day long. I'd like to blitz, but we never get to the QB so what's the point?"
Personally, I'd rather see us pressing the WRs and being physical against them at the LOS. And, I'd like to see some creative blitz packages using Roh, S.Brown and Mouton. Afterall, isn't that the point of the 3-4? You're not supposed to know where the pressure is coming from? This defense bleeds to death the whole game and gives up 30+ points. Why not try to make some momentum changing plays with pressure? Isn't there SOMETHING GERG can hang his hat on to disguise some of the holes?
That's one of the reasons Notre Dame didn't kill us. Unfortunately, offenses have seen the game field and have since adapted by spreading the field with more receivers and throwing quick passes that gain 8-10 yards a piece, unless the safeties are out of position in which case they gain a whole lot more. Basically, when there's weakness at every position group outside the defensive line, competent teams will be able to pick us apart as long as they don't run the ball every play.
Also, since the ND game, Woolfolk has been moved to CB to replace the departed Cissoko, which has weakened the safety position.
a 4-3 under as a base set.
Ok, I'll bite. Your post is well-thought out, perceptive, and articulately asks some valid questions.
OP, addressing your post paragraph by paragraph:
Re. Paragraph 1, and a conformist/defensive mindset on this blog:
I can see how you'd think that but I disagree with that assessment. I think what some people percieve as a backlash against RR criticism is simply due to the fact that most RR critics on this board (and everywhere) are posting knee-jerk, emotional reactions that really are just rants about the fact that we're losing, with RR playing the part of the lightning rod, since he's the head coach, a visible target, and has been the source of visible changes on our team that coincided with a dramatic change in our win/loss record. Our offense now looks different, our new coach talks funny, he carries himself in a way that's different from Lloyd, he's not a "Michigan Man".... and we're also now losing!! The easy conclusion to jump to is that this is RR is the cause. However, correlation does not necessarily imply causation, although people rarely take this into account in their reasoning. And I really do think that's how many people's minds are working with this, because there's been a distinct lack of articulately stated, well-reasoned, logical arguments from the RR critics, it's usually just a whiny rant. These types of missives are often ridiculed and negged here, however the distinction should be made that the reason these are ridiculed and negged is NOT because they are anti-RR but because they lack well-reasoned and clearly stated arguments on why exactly RR is the cause of our woes.
This goes hand-in-hand with the percieved defensiveness, and "apologist tactics". The fact is, many on the board that have come to RR's defense have taken the time to digest (and in many cases produce themselves) the in-depth, thorough research and statistical analysis that 90% of the overall fan base either isn't aware of or doesn't care about and doesn't take into account as they evaluate the team, and RR. We, the fans on this board, are the exception, not the norm in regards to this. I think people posting all the stats and charts, while it might come across as defensive, is merely a desire to help others in the fanbase get a clear sense of the bigger picture, and why we're seeing what we're seeing, so that an elite and innovative coach doesn't get run out of town on a rail. Because that stuff is absolutely significant as to why we're seeing the results we are. More on that below.
Re. paragraph 2 - I don't think people aren't questioning whether it will work out. Many RR supporters are starting to question. I, personally, am confident he will turn things around if he gets the time and the legitimate chance to do so.
But just as many people are also starting - and I believe prematuraly - to conclude that RR will *not* pan out.
Both camps - those who don't question that this will work out, and those who have concluded it won't - are mistaken in their assertions because the bottom line - and this is key in the whole debate - is that there simply is no solid basis yet on which to reasonably evaluate RR and to take a side either way with certainty. Once again, more on that below, rather, right here:
Re. paragraph 3: You say this:
"The cupboard was bare. I don't dispute the numbers that we've seen in the diaries, they are pretty bad."
In other words, you acknowledge the *fact* that the cupboard really is bare, but then you immediately follow that up with this:
"But I think before resting your hat completely on this theory you have to ask yourself the following question."
The cupboard was bare as you yourself acknowledge, so, how can you then turn around and allege that this is a mere theory? You continue:
"If Lloyd had stayed and coached last year and this year, would he be 8-14 in the last 22 games? If the answer is no, then a significant amount of the blame for that has to fall on Rodriguez."
That's a *big* if
Furthermore, so our evaluation of RR should be predicated on comparing the realities of this current team with a hypothetical extended Carr regimae over the past couple years?
That's not a reasonable criterion for evaluation because it's a fiction, a construction of the imagination. But, however we would imagine the teams of this season and last under Carr, certain realities about the team would remain unchanged - for example the paper-thin defense, which you acknowledge is a major problem, and which Carr is in large part responsible for.
And the defense is killing us.
For example today. The offense played well, in spite of its youth, putting up 36 points. When the offense puts up 36 and you lose, that's on the defense.
For another example, Iowa. We put up 28 points. 6 of them were from Warren, yes, but our offense, while not great, still did good enough in that game that we should have won. Take away just one of the many flagrant defensive errors in that game, for example their TE being wide open leading to 2 of their touchdowns, and we win that game. The fact that we didn't once again, is on the defense.
If those 2 games end differently, we're 7-3 instead of 5-5, and those 2 losses are on the defense.
Carr coaching this team would not have changed the defense.
In paragraph 3 you then elaborate on a standard based on the performance of the last 5 Carr years. Ok, that's reasonable, and concrete. I can accept that. Long-term, I thik it's a reasonable standard.
But you then proceed to contrast the numbers derived from Carr's last 5 years with RR's first 2 years, illustrating how RR comes up short. But once again, measuring RRs first 2 years to that standard implies that Carr would have been able to maintain that standard himself, or another coach would have been able to match it! The notion that Carr or another coach would have done better these past 2 years is a hypothetical one, and highly dubious.
Like I said, long-term, that's a reasonable standard. But concluding that becasue RR didn't meet that standard in his first 2 years - when it's likely no one (even Carr, who inspired those standards) would have been able to - that RR's a bad coach and hiring him was a mistake is completely absurd. Knowing what you know about our horrifying situation on defense, our relative inexperience on offense - including 2 freshman quarterbacks who as far as I'm concerned are overachieving at times (Where's RR's credit for that?) - as well as the injuries we've had (e.g. Brown, Minor, and perhaps most significantly Molk), can you really, truly, honestly say that any other coach besides RR would have been able to do significantly better with those circumstances?
Carr certainly wouldn't have continued to maintain the Carr inspired standards, and were he still here, people would likely be calling for his head right now just as they're doing with RR. I think Carr was a very good coach, and his legacy should be honored, but the problems we're seeing right now in 2008 and 2009 started under Carr in 2007. The lack of depth on D, lack of execution, underachieving... App. St. anyone?
People act like RR got here and we suddenly started sucking, but that trajectory began in 2007 - under Carr - when we started geting worse, hit rock bottom in 2008, and has started to improve in 2009 under RR. If anything, the progress from 2008 to 2009 indicates that RR has started to improve the trajectory of suckitude that the team embarked on under Carr, and is steering the ship in the right direction.
So, to answer your question, yes, I think we would have been 8-14, give or take a game or 2, under Carr for the past 2 years. But, in the end, a hypothetical Carr team is exactly that, a hypothetical, and is thus not a very good basis on which to evaluate RR. Using the late-era Carr metrics to evaluate the first 2 years of RR isn't reasonable because Carr himself likely wouldn't have maintained those numbers the past 2 years - nor would have anyone else. With RR, I think we'll get there eventually. If, after year 5, he's not there or very close to being there, then yeah, fire him. But questioning whether he was a good hire after year 2, making that evaluation based on the Carr standards, when it's very likely Carr himself wouldn't have maintained those standards, is crazy.
Regarding your paragraph 4 - You raise excellent, fantastic questions and observations regarding system and philosophy that I think are very useful in helping to crystalize some of the issues at hand in the "Is RR a good hire?" debate.
You say, "Another point rests with the entire assumption that a philosophical change was necessary."
We need terms at this point. That is, what exactly is meant when we refer to "philosophical" changes.
I think the debate is often muddled by the fact that there's actually more than one philosophical/systemic aspect on which Lloyd and RR differ. For the sake of current discussion, let's name 2:
1) Offensive scheme. This one is straightforward. Lloyd ran the pro-style, RR runs the spread.
2) What I will call "coaching ethos." This is perhaps an overly simplistic or reductionistic term, maybe even a misnomer. But for the sake of this discussion, what I mean by this is in a sense the core values that motivate and inform the coach's vision for the program and approach to running things day-to-day. In regards to this, we could say, broadly, that the Carr regime was characterized by tradition, conservatism, and playing it safe. RR's coaching ethos, OTOH is characterized by innovation, pragmatism, and risk-taking. These values informed how each man coaches on many levels, from hiring of personnel, to recruiting, to gameplan/strategy, to playcalling.
With that framework in mind, let's now revisit your implicit question, "Was a philosophical change necessary?"
In regards to number 1, offensive scheme: No. A philosophical change was not necessary. As you point out, there are coaches who run the pro-style offense successfully.
In regards to number 2, "coaching ethos", I think the answer is a resounding "YES! A philosophical change was absolutely necessary!" I think most would agree with this. The program was beginning to stagnate under Lloyd. The lack of innovation, the total aversion to risk-taking in playcalling, the cronyism - keeping around subpar coordinators and settling for mediocrity, letting the S&C program stagnate, to name a few things.... Those are not the decisions of an elite, top 5 coach. In that respect, a change in philosophy was necessary.
The problem with your criticism in your 4th paragraph is it conflates these 2 aspects of the philosophical shift, as if the Carr-esque coaching ethos goes hand in hand with a pro-style offense, and the RR-esque coaching ethos goes hand in hand with the spread.
This conflation is ironic because you cite a coach that defies it, Pete Carroll, who runs a pro-style offense, like Lloyd did, but I would argue aspires to the same or at least simiilar values as RR (and other coaching elites - Miles, Stoops, Meyer, Paul Johnson, Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly, et al) relative to his coaching ethos.
When Michigan did it's coaching search, I think we were trying to get a coach that had that coaching ethos, which we got in RR. I don't think we were specifically looking to get someone that runs the spread as far as offensive scheme though, but in RR, we just so happened to get that as well. A side effect of getting RR was getting the scheme change. Adapting to that likely did affect us on offense last year, so, projecting RRs year 1 and 2 numbers (which were affected by that change in scheme) as a reliable indication of his prospects of long-term success is inherently flawed, because the change in scheme was a temporary setback which won't be repeated. But even if Pete Carroll were our coach in '08, running a pro-style offense, the same system Lloyd ran, providing some level of continuity, do you really think Threetsharidamnit! would have produced better results under a pro-style system than they did under RR's spread?
So, it's not like we were out there looking to find a coach that ran the spread, we were looking for a coach who could help us make the leap from being a consistently above average team, to a perennial MNC contender, but in RR, we also got the spread, which just added another factor to the perfect storm of the past 2 seasons.
Regarding your final paragraph, you state:
"I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you aren't even considering the fact that this all might have been a huge mistake."
Has it not gone as well as hoped? Absolutely. But there's also no evidence that leads me to reasonably consider that hiring RR was a huge mistake. At least not at this point in time. And that is entirely the point - with the abysmal defense, which is not RR's fault, there's simply not enough of a basis on which to evaluate RR in a definitive fashion, with certainty, whether the conclusions one draws are positive or negative. Yet, many persist in doing so.
In conclusion and summary, things are inconclusive at this point. Definitive pronouncements, whether they be, "RR sucks!" or "RR is the savior!" are unfounded right now. That being said, there is considerable, legitimate reason for optismism, because:
1) The defense isn't his fault. No coach would have been able to do much better with it over the past 2 years. Until he has enough time to get the chance to turn it around, the D shouldn't be held against him.
2) He has an established track record of excellence. The man knows how to coach and how to build a program. He didn't suddenly forget all this when he got to Ann Arbor.
3) In spite of inexperience on offense, he's managed to turn it around significantly from year 1 to year 2. For the personnel we have this year, running a relatively new system, with inexperience and injuries, the offense really has performed pretty well. RR should get some credit for running the offense well and developing talent, and this should be a sign of hope that eventually he'll be able to turn the defense around from its current abysmal state.
The woes of the past 2 years are demonstrably accounted for by mitigating factors (mainly the D) beyond RR's control and that no coach would have fared any better with, and he's an excellent coach, and most importantly there are no clearly stated, solid arguments that any RR critics have demonstrated on why, given patience by us the fans, and time by the University, he won't take us to the promised land.
It's not that I won't consider "the fact that this all might have been a huge mistake," it's that RR's critics to this point have presented no compelling arguments as to why I should think that.
This was probably the most thought out board post ever. It deserves at least a +20. Because of that, I won't express a few nit-picks on it and leave it to those who would argue against you.
In conclusion and summary, things are inconclusive at this point. Definitive pronouncements, whether they be, "RR sucks!" or "RR is the savior!" are unfounded right now. That being said, there is considerable, legitimate reason for optismism
Also, Nice use of "conflation."