Presenting for discussion ... *not* a Freep article:
* To some degree, I believe in all this "toughness." I don't think it was lacking under the prior regime, but there are worse things to emphasize. I won't be surprised if it improves.
* Navarre (who, to be fair, has always seemed like a good guy) seems to be equating toughness with the pro-style offense here: "We're going to have a fullback in the game, the quarterback's going to be under center." I do not agree. John does not seem to believe that spread teams can be tough.
* More from Navarre: "I know they're doing a lot of mental toughness things they've been doing for years that we got away from a little bit." Where's the evidence for that?
* We've seen Griese's comments about "effort." I wonder if he watched the Oregon game in '07?
With all the obvious targets (defensive coordinator position, etc.) provided by the RichRod regime, why is it that we continue to hear about things like "toughness" and "understanding the rivalry?" To me it's evidence that a bunch of brains locked up when Rodriguez lost too many games. If Griese et al. would restrict themselves to GERG, academically shaky recruits, etc. they'd sound a lot more reasonable.
Presenting for discussion ... *not* a Freep article:
1) "there are worse things to emphasize" like a decided schematic advantage?
2) you're right, Navarre is a great guy. It's too bad the fans booed him.
What makes Navarre such a great guy? Maybe I've been living in a vacuum but, like someone else mentioned, I haven't heard anything about the guy for years. All of a sudden he feels the need to weigh in?
IMO, great people make points that stand on their own rather than denegrating previous points/ideas. In other words, its more powerful to speak about playing tough generally instead of going down the road of insinuating (or outright stating) that toughness was lacking previously. All that does is denegrade the players in the previous system.
Are we reading the same article?
Navarre alluded to a shift in scheme, and then said that they're doing some "mental toughness exercises" they weren't doing previously.
I hardly see how this is denigrating anything. It seems like it's more saying "Hoke doesn't do things the same way Rodriguez does", which, I think, should be assumed.
few people making such knee-jerk assessments really care about what they're implying. It's more just a general cattle-call for all men, past and present, to climb on the new gravy train.
While my own mental makeup--and that of lots of independent thinkers here--tends to make me mock this ritual behavior (wherein the new lion runs off the old lion and the pride falls into line), I've also got to admit that there's something healthy, necessary, in it after so much division. Among other things I think it will help Hoke get the extra year or so that he may need.
I don't think Navarre was booed here, or if he was, it was only by a scattered few. Unfortunately, some of those few bad apples actually went much further and sent him hate mail. I cannot understand that mentality at all.
I wasn't keeping charts on it at the time. I'd guess you're right, the team heard boos no more or no less than any other team when they weren't performing up to the expectation of the fans, which is perfection.
But he was by far in talk radio, the limited internet, campus talk, and anywhere else you could hear a fan's "voice" the most criticized and knocked player I have ever seen in my years of Michigan Football viewing. People were brutal towards him, and only begrudgingly gave him some credit after beating OSU. Getting thrown in a year early because Henson left really clouded a lot of views on him. If you take his last two years only, his record really isn't all that different than a poor man's Tom Brady. (Not to say they were the same...even just at Michigan, on the field, Brady had an air of confidence about him his last year; but in wins and loses, it's basically an Orange Bowl win over a Rose Bowl loss).
I agree with all that. Anywhere people could bash him "behind his back" (on radio, the internet, etc.) they did. Someone even (unwittingly) badmouthed him to his father at a game. Brian's legendary "John Navarre Blamed for 9/11" article in the E3W was definitely warranted.
can remember fans saying he should change his panties after several tough losses. People were lambasting Darius Morris for much of this season--couch potatoes sitting in judgment, without the brains or eyes to appreciate what some 19-year-old kid is trying to do, let alone the ability to emulate it. The lack of empathy can be astonishing, but--just maybe--blogs like this give you more insight and connection, make you less likely to be that kind of dick, I dunno.
And hell yeah Navarre was booed.
How quickly we forget.
John Navarre was most definitely booed in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and to a lesser extent in 2003. It was merciless, and totally egged on by the hate he got on sports talk radio, the media, etc. etc. in between.
And that's what made that OSU victory in '03 that much better. Kid deserved far more than he got from this fanbase. All he did was leave Michigan holding just about every QB record...
Speaking of forgetfulness - he definitely wasn't booed in 2000, because he only made two home starts and they were the first two blowouts, when he briefly led the nation in passing efficiency. People then were wondering if Henson would even get his job back. Navarre then played poorly against UCLA and Illinois, but those were road games. He didn't see significant action thereafter.
In 2001, too, he was generally well-received by the fanbase until the OSU game. That was the turning point. Up to then we were in position for the Big Ten title and hadn't lost at home. That game colored a lot of fans' views on Navarre. His awful first half overshadowed the fact that he actually played pretty well in the second. If Marquise Walker could have held on to that ball he dropped in the endzone, we may have won and Navarre would have been a hero.
Navarre was most definitely booed. There is also the urban legend about a night at Ricks after an OSU loss where he allegedly had multiple pitchers of beer dumped on him in the bathroom. I doubt that person lived to tell about it, but Navarre was definitely treated like shit.
I mentioned this:
Does it really matter that we'll have the QB under center and play with a fullback?
WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO PEOPLE. I dont care if we play with 10 OL and Denard if we win...
and for real, I don't care how we play football if we play winning football
Exactly. Look, I agree that "mental toughness", that is, the willpower to play hard, aggressive football in spite of setbacks and physical pain, is critical to success. But why do so many people think pro-style is somehow "tougher" and more "manly" than spread? It's not like a touchdown scored behind a rumbling fullback from 2 yards out is somehow worth more points than a touchdown by a slot receiver. Spread teams can be tough. Pro-style teams can be sissies.
In the Carr years, "toughness", at least on offense, looked a lot like "stubborness": we're gonna run it right up the middle even though it didn't work the last 20 times and shows no indication of working the next 20 because dammit, that's how you play Big Ten football.
Besides, "toughness" wasn't our problem the past few years, not even on defense - there the problem was that the players were young and/or not that good, and were totally lost in the scheme because the coaches didn't know how to run it.
relies on having faster, quick (which usually translates into smaller) guys who go around/ juke defenders as opposed to running over a guy.
The FB is the stereotypical example of this. When I hear FB, I think Madden style 250lb, short truck of a man who bowls over defenders and is the epitome of "toughness".
I don't really agree with this, but it's the image that people think of when they hear toughness. Also, practicing against slot guys and speed guys, doesn't give the D an opportunity to hit as much, because it's a different practice style.
I think it may be how much hitting is emphasized in practice, which increases the possibility of injury, but increases the team's, and individual players', overall toughness. I don't think the former players are speaking from a stereotype of that scheme, more from a knowledge of how the schemes structures (pitch and catch/evade, or gruel out, hit hard, and run over) are set up and their perception of the practice focus of the team.
OK, so I have been wondering if running our spread offense in practice- OR - if our focus on fielding an effective spread offense over three years of QB transitions, made it harder to be an effective defense.
Florida ran a spread and had a good defense, so I am guessing it was either emphasis, or coaching, or inexperienced talent, or all three.
Also, it appeared to me that the only people you could live tackle were the running backs. Other than Denard, our running game has just been a funk since Mike Hart left (and even when Mike Hart was out while he was here). We've suffered from running backs of glass syndrome, and I wonder if it is because we haven't chosen a back, and not tackled that guy in addition to Denard, and so our backs are getting the crap kicked out of them as tackle dummies in the Michigan Drill.
Anyway, Hard Edge seems to smack of toughness doesn't it? I think our guys suffered more from mass confusion, and then low morale more than anything else. (Low morale at least can look like lack of toughness.)
Maizenbluenc. I'd agree that Florida indicates good defenses are possible with the spread. I'd have to wonder if it were application here, as well. Defenses often end up standing around a bit more when head coaches are very offense focused in my limited experience, but I really can't speak to that with us. Although I know RR made statements about being hit-shy except in the off-season last year.
Your idea about backs is an interesting one I'd like to consider more. Sorry if this response is too late and is just an echo into the blogosphere.
The fact that our APR has become worryingly low during the RR era is a testament to his lax academics.
APR and grades are not the same thing.
The low APR is a testament to his inability to retain his players, not their grades.
This comment lacks the basic understanding of how APR numbers work.
IIRC, Rodriguez claimed GPA was at an all time high, and he was somewhat publicly (and embarassingly) corrected.
Technically, maybe. If you're told the team GPA is an all time high, but not told they have only been keeping the team GPA recently is that really embarrassing? Is repeating information you have been told by someone with greater knowledge of the topic an error when that information is not readily available to you.
If that's what it was, I'll retract the "embarrasingly". As I alluded, I didn't have the strongest recollection of the incident.
If you're told the team GPA is an all time high, but not told they have only been keeping the team GPA recently is that really embarrassing?
A university spokesman said that the school, as a matter of procedure, does not calculate the team GPA at all.
The recruits who signed LOIs and did not qualify or get accepted by admissions. If those scholarships had been spent on players who could qualify, perhaps we'd have a more experienced team (albeit with less No Fly Zone talent).
I know Carr did have some no shows as well, and to be fair, Rich might have had to recruit this way from his perennial hot seat. It will be interesting to see how Hoke's recruits do as far as academically qualifying over the next few years, as well as if he appears to take a flier or two each class.
I'm not sure the academically shakey guys recruited (Dorsey, Jones, Kinard, Witty) that never set foot on campus really hurt the program.
Have you seen our defensive depth chart the past couple of seasons?
it's another for 10, and still another for hunderds. Those former players know more about football and more about Michigan football than 99% of the MGo people out there, including Brian.
Now, when the same message is repeated, it's done so because it's
1) A conspiracy and everybody was fed a party line
2) It's just a cliche and mean's nothing
3) It's the truth.
I believe it's a little bit of #2 and mostly #3.
You and I have no idea if RR's teams were "tough" and probably can't even agree on a definition of tough. But if all of these ex-players are saying the same thing, maybe it's true.
It also seems like the AD is probably coaching the litany of players popping out of the woodwork on talking points. They seem to say precisely the same thing.
Dave Brandon called a bunch of players and said, "say points A, B, C..."? Do you think he's stupid enough to send a universal talking points memo to former players (God, I hope he isn't)?
I haven't even herd John Navarre's name for ages until it came up in the OP and yet he says it.
It's possible that Brandon is a puppetmaster, but more likely that the former players are correct.
I would question how you could possibly be "correct" about something you were never there to see for yourself...
The average MGo poster is saying "what's with this toughness BS, RR was tough too". I don't know if Hoke has "tougher" teams than RR, all I know is that this is what many former players are saying, and that means more (and is more likely correct) than your or my opinion.
They had a hard edge going into games, but never seemed to be able to stay that way through a game. Once something went wrong, they sort of fell apart. To me this is more youth and inexperience, than a toughness question.
However, I started to think Rich was never going to turn the corner after we failed to score from the one in the Illinois game in '09. I think Rich's biggest problem was his team really may have been all in, but with all the hot seat talk, and drama and controversy, they just couldn't translate into believing for four quarters. (As seen in spades in the back half of our schedule all three seasons, and in the bowl game.)
So maybe this is what the former Carr players mean by toughness. The mental toughness to believe and stick to it for a four quarters, game after game, in the Big Ten schedule.
In which case, a combination of team maturity, and (hopefully) reason to believe now there has been a coaching change, may get them over the hump.
I didn't say a word about whether they're correct or not - I have no clue.
What I'm saying is that when I see 15 guy say the same things on the same subjects with nearly no variation in a cavalcade of arranged media appearances, I assume that they're getting fed some lines.
I don't consider this to be an insult of anyone - Rodriguez, Brandon, the players talking, the current players, or Fritz Crisler. Nor do I intend it as an evaluation of the veracity of anything anyone has said.
Where have you (former players) been the last 2-3 years? How would they have any idea what's been going on? They obviously hadn't been around the program.
It's going to take a lot of useless posts that consist of "This" to dig you out of your hole.
Thanks for sharing, asshole.
I love RVB and I am not going to criticize him for speaking his mind. And to some extent it was a fair question. But let's not go too far.
These former players put their bodies on the line for our beloved program for four years - countless hours in the gym, at practice and on Saturdays, they contributed to this team that we love. They are allowed to express their opinions on what happened to our program during RR's three years here.
To respond to RVB's question directly, perhaps during RR's tenure, there HUNDREDS of former players took a look at what was going on, and felt unhappy about the state of the program. Maybe they honestly felt that RR didn't get the rivalry, hated defense, didn't like fundamentals or was secretly plotting to give the #1 jersey to a kicker. Who knows, but for whatever reason, perhaps these players were turned off by what RR brought to Ann Arbor. If this is true, then what these players were doing for the past 2-3 years was keeping their opinions of RR to themselves so as not to undermine the team. They held their tongues and didn't offer opinions to further divide the fanbase while RR was here, despite the fact that they likely would have agreed with the "please fire this guy ASAP crowd." If this is what they were doing, then I respect them for doing so, as it must have been hard for these guys - who love Michigan football to a level that we cannot understand - to sit by quietly.
Personally, I am sick of seeing the same group of posters (not directed at anyone in particular) on these boards trash every one of these former players - many of whom have done nothing more than express an opinion that the FORMER coach didn't do a good job.
look at the honorary alumni captains, or the alumni flag football game or the guys who worked out with Barwis, or the guy who went from the Steelers to the Lions or the guys who came for that Hutchinson Charity Golf Game (or the many other charity events).
How much insight into the day to day operations and mentality of the football program do you really get from attending a charity event or flag football game?
Exactly. Unless former players have been around the program a lot, at practices etc., they probably don't know much more than any other particularly devoted fan or sportswriter with decent access. So I'm sure there's a lot of echoing (and amplification) of 2nd and 3rd party info going on, which is part of why all the "disgruntled" former players sound the same.
What former players ARE experts on is how things were run when they were there. SInce I'm sure they have a lot of pride in what they did (i.e. they think they were the best), it's easy to see why any change from that would be met with skepticism and would be the the first thing blamed if on-field performance is poor.
I see that jblaze is being negged for expressing a viewpoint that is "anti-RR"? This is a valid point. At some point, if enough people who know what they are talking about begin to have the same criticism, perhaps that criticism has some truth to it.
I get supporting RR and liking the guy, but it seems like some posters on this cite are willing to trash just about every player they rooted for for years in favor of defending RR.
Meh, when I see 10 players use the same keywords - "family values", "toughness", etc., I assume they're getting some coaching on what to say, not that it's true.
I think RR was a failure, and I think he deserved to be fired. I have a harder time believing that he walled the program off from alums. I think they probably thought he was doing a shitty job, and didn't want to endorse it.
I'm sure a lot of them keep in touch and discuss the program with each other, so maybe it shouldn't be that surprising that they're saying the same things. In any event, it seems clear that a large number of them are on the same page.
I don't think RR tried to keep the ex-players at arm's length, but they were simply strangers to each other. The entire staff (save Jackson) was changed overnight. If you're used to seeing a lot of familiar faces every time you come back and then suddenly they're all gone, that can bring culture shock. And then when the new way of doing things isn't translating to wins on the field, it's not going to offer much encouragement to get to know the new guys.
I'm not sure where Navarre has been but the most effective NFL offenses (Colts and Patriots) never have their QB under center. I think he should be less concerned about the formations. Like others mention above, toughness is a character attribute and is not schematic.
I think that the "toughness" he talks about is, to a degree, just physicality. We can agree that I-formation, HB running behind the FB is a more "physical" approach than the read-option, which is more about deception, without making value judgements about the efficacy of either.
I agree that those traditional formations appear to be more physical approaches but I submit that the formations speak more to mentality than actuality. "Toughness" is simply a mentality. People either have it or not. Handing the ball off to a fullback on a dive play is arguably no more "physical" or "tough" than running a reverse with small wideouts that are running their a--es off. I guess what I'm saying is that its all relative. But I understand the argument on both sides.
Then I'd argue that you're choosing to read "toughness" in a different way than how he clearly means it.
Isn't that the point of these kind of discussions? Someone says something then some agree and other disagree. Its just an "argument" with no right answer. Navarre uses the word "toughness" in one way and I submit that it can mean something different. If he didn't mean it in the way I submitted, then maybe he should have chosen his words more carefully or explained his use of the word better.
P.S. I never cease to be amazed at the current rating system. You and I are having a completely collegial discussion yet I am deemed "flamebait" because I am taking a devil's advocate stance and arguing it intelligently without bad-mouthing anyone. The mob is a fickle bunch!
This, I guess, is in response to the somewhat snarky "How does Navarre know what happened, I thought all the players didn't come back to see what the team was doing."
John Navarre actually played in both Alumni Flag Football games organized under RR. Here are the 2010 rosters:
So - he did, probably, see what the team was doing at some point.
John Navarre definitely did not play in it.
our Big Ten record under RR speaks to his teams toughness.
I think Tate Forcier throwing a game winning TD pass with a bum shoulder is indicative of toughness. Denard Robinson returning to games after being constantly injured is indicative of toughness. Vincent Smith returning to the field 6 months after an ACL tear is indicative of toughness. Mouton making a game winning sack after one of the worst and most embarrassing UofM defensive performances is indicative of toughness. The fact that our kids could "show up to work everyday" even with all the distractions and play football is indicative of toughness.
Kudos to Chitown for investigating Navarre's visits here.
This article is just a small slanted piece aiming to incite people to read it. The Detroit News needs to make money to survive and this helps. This isn't an in depth analysis of toughness between the RR staff and Hoke staff. Imagine writing a two page paper on Plato's Republic and claiming it indicates Plato supported authortarian regimes. Regardless of whether that is true or not, a two page paper cannot possibly hope to prove it or even shed any light (no pun intended) on the truth of the matter.
RR supported toughness: as an earlier poster mentioned he had his "Hard Edge" campaign. That being said as Navarre points out, the schematic change, especially for offense, requires bigger and stronger players. Whether they are tougher or not depends on the definition of toughness. Yes, a fullback can run over people better than using a second running back as a blocker. Physically, Hoke's team will be tougher (that could still be debated). Mentally we don't know. Yes, the team lost big in the big games against tougher teams, but we have had a young and less-than-usually talented Michigan team. Confusion doesn't necessarily mean toughness, we could have been out-coached or out-manned. We say Zach Novak is tough because he plays with grit and passion. He isn't tough because he is big, or he always shows up in the tougher games and never gets blown-out. The kid gives all he can give, and sometimes that is not enough, other times it is. Same thing with all sports.
The big issue is the journalistic style of the article. It seems to be insinuating RR wasn't as tough. It takes very general comments from Long and Navarre and uses them for a story. Long never played under Hoke, so he might not know how tough Hoke's program is. Maybe he has seen Hoke run his other programs in the past and knows Hoke runs a tougher program than RR. We have to try and piece as much of the context regarding these stories together as we can, which for us fans means we will be left out in the dark often. Sure, Long, Navarre, and Griese know more about football than us, and most likely know as much if not more than us about Michigan football. That doesn't mean what they say is truth. It could be more likely they are telling shades (or reflections/shadows for some more Plato for everyone) of the truth. Griese works a job like all of us, so he can't constantly be monitoring UofM football, and maybe he did visit or not, but I think some people have been pointing out that although they are more qualified than us it doesn't mean we have to belive everything they opine on.
The flipside is kudos to these guys for not going on record about things like this during the RR years, since any bad press was killing us then. As someone said already, they probably didn't agree with everything RR did but kept it in for the good of the program. We need to stop bickering about Carr or RR because we can't change what has happened. Both have left their marks on UofM football for better or worse, and our opinions don't change it. Their influence isn't contained to each other's regime: the players Carr recruited either being hurt, academically ineligible, or leaving made its mark on the "RR era," just as RR's recruited players and coaching style will make its mark on Hoke's era. We have to be as supportive of Michigan football as we can. The last decade wasn't the best for us, but all we can do is look in the mirror and see where we fell short in support of the program and change that for the future.
Sorry I ranted. It has been a long time coming for me. Basic summary, don't worry if the Detroit News thinks we will be tougher. We will have an opportunity to see in the upcoming months.
"Toughness" won't get it done anymore without a decent scheme on both sides of the ball. The increment by which any team can "out-personnel" or "out-tough" the other is too small now because of the amount of information everyone now has available.
Everybody has access to the same information in training and nutrition, so nobody is really doing anything "new" anymore. Also, kids now keep in touch with old friends on FB, and know where to transfer if they get homesick or things don't go right for them.
Also, 85 schollies are a lot less than the 115 you used to be able to stockpile. Teams like Michigan could bury QB's who would be stars at the Purdues and MSU's of the world while convincing them they were in the "perfect place" for them. Now, a kid "sees the writing on the wall" after his freshman year and finds greener pastures.
In other words, unless you cheat like Saban, Tressel, or Kiffin, you aren't going to line up against anyone else and say "this is what we're running, but you can't stop us because we're tougher than you" anymore.
Wisconsin totally agrees with this assesment.
You're a douche.
EDIT: You're right - it definitely should have been an outstandingly funny comment. However, after the immediate fallout from that debacle and the water under the bridge, it just seems mean now. Douche was probably too strong. I hereby amend my statement by deleting it in its entirety and inserting the following instead: "You're mean"
You were right the first time.
I still can't belive he did that at the banquet, but you've got to learn to laugh about it...
You RAISE ME UP!!!!
I have to +1 you for that one. Well played.
is one of the stupidest memes ever, especially when a player's size or the coach's scheme is used to measure "toughness." It's hard to imagine anything more ridiculous.
IMO, two of the toughest players on our team are Martavious Odoms and Vince Smith. They are also two of the smallest players on the team. But watch Smith take on a rushing MLB with a 7 yard head start and stand him straight up or Odoms laying out a safety downfield and tell me they aren't tough, physically or mentally. Lewan isn't tough because he's a massive guy, he's tough because he has attitude and never gives up on a play (to a fault). You can also take a look at Denard and understand what toughness is. He carried a full rushing and QB load last year, played injured and went until his body couldn't take any more abuse.
Those complaining about toughness over the past couple years are really just complaining about losing (hint: additional toughness wouldn't have improved the record, depth and talent would). That or they haven't actually watched any games.
Ahh, Yes. Another pissing match between Rich Rod's Army and Hoke's Heroes.
Les Miles' Turf Eating Maniacs are here too. Don't forget about us.
Both are just convenient, default explanations for why teams win or lose. For some reason it's just not enough for fans or former players to simply say "they weren't talented enough" or "they were too young and inexperienced" or "the coaches didn't know what in hell they were doing."
Bo Schembechler's teams went 2-8 against PAC-10 teams in the Rose Bowl. Does that mean that USC, UCLA, Washington, Stanford, and Arizona State were all tougher teams than Michigan? Did they want it more? Or did those teams simply have more talent and/or better coaching?
Then again those teams did do that new fangled West Coast Offense passing thingy on us. Dirty tricks!
Is my favorite reality competition thing to say. That and "I am not here to make friends" which is immediAtely followed by "why does everyone hate me?!"
Not that I agree with it entirely BUT, when you look at a spread/option based team, they really don't establish anything, other than we're going to get our guys in space and they are going to be better athletes than the guys trying to stop them.
Its like RR on 1st, 2nd and 3rd and goal from the 3 would line his QB up 7yds deep no matter what. To me, thats like saying to the defense, we will not even attempt to try and push you off the line of scrimmage for positive yards. In not even attempting to out muscle the other team it gives the appearance of being more of a lover than a fighter.
Of course all of this is rendered a mute point and not even up for discussion if your scheme is winning "duh".
We ran pro set and I-formation quite a bit when inside the 3.