3&O: Just Mortals

3&O: Just Mortals

Submitted by CRex on December 5th, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Okay, we'll do the disclaimers first.

  • Yes, this has spoilers.  If you haven't finished 3&O, close this tab now.
  • Yes, I realize 3&O has been out for awhile.  I wanted to sit on it for a bit and gain perspective though.  3&O carries a rather heavy emotional payload, so I read it.  Set it aside, watched us win 10 games, and then reread it.  I was less suicidal the second time I read it.  If you want to complain about this kind of diary reopening old wounds, close this tab now.  
  • I'm not going to cite things with page numbers or whatever.  If I miss use a quote, call me on it.  Consider 3&O to be a heavily cited work that gets the credit for most facts.
  • It's long and doesn't have any pictures.  I'm sorry.

Now then, why am I writing this.  Because we're not entirely over RR.  We have people who still are up in their caves, wearing their turbans and engaging in the Freep Jihad.  We have people who scour every word written on the blog's mainpage and ranting at anything that might be critical of Hoke.  We have people who take praise of Hoke to be an attack on RR.  So I want to talk about the three years of sadness.  If you feel an angry rant coming on, last chance to close the tab.

Right before Bo passed he said that once he died, we'd find out whole the real Michigan Men were.  We did and it was damn ugly.

In the wake of Bo passing and RR being hired, we had three major players in Michigan football.  Lloyd Carr, Bill Martin, and Rich Rodriguez.  It would expand to 4 after MSC got involved and later Dave Brandon would replace Martin.   However the tone of the era was set by the actions of the first three.  

Lloyd Carr is the engima here.  He was successful at Michigan.  The only two coaches who had his number, Tressel and Caroll, ended up fleeing to the NFL one step ahead of the NCAA sanctions committee.  He also won a NCAA title and 78% of his B1G games.  He never lost more than 3 B1G games in a season and only finished below 3rd in the conference once.  At the same time he took a lot of heat form the fans.  Claims that he only won his ring with Moeller's players.  Heat over his Rose Bowl issues and issues handling the spread.  I still remember walking into the stadium one game and seeing an anti-Carr fan holding a sign.  It read "Osama Bin-Lloyden is destroying Michigan football".  The dude had a megaphone and was ranting.  I just had to shake my head.  Every year Tressel took him down, the fanbase got bitchier.  

Since Carr has been silent (no comments in 3&O or anywhere else for the most part since he retired) it's hard to know what he felt at retirement.  The evidence suggest he was burned out in 2006, but Martin had no replacement plan so he stayed on.  The Horror happened and the heat on Carr was turned up.  At the end of the day the best insight I have into Carr's mind comes from Bacon, who writes that Carr wanted to name his successor.  

Here I'm going to make a leap.  Carr felt like he'd accomplished a lot here and he definitely had.  However the fanbase was pretty bitchy by this point and a lot of people were happy to see Carr retire.  Basically it was a "Thanks for your service, here's your award, door is to your left" kind of retirement.  No one exactly went into mourning when Carr hung it up.  I see a potential situation where Carr felt bitter, underappreciated and not properly compensated in terms of legacy for his work.  In 3&O, Carr tells Martin that someday a MAC team was going to beat us.  Basically saying college football was getting tougher, more parity, and yet Michigan fans want to see the 100-0 scores that we'd manage in the early 1900s and when we didn't, we got bitchy.  Carr did a lot for us and we photoshopped his face on Bin Laden's body.  I can understand why the man might be bitter.  Carr ends his career wanting DeBord or English to replace him, but after his last few seasons the fanbase would go nuclear if either of them did.  Martin wisely says no to that.  Carr's legacy ends him him kind of coming close to getting run out of town, despite his body of work.  We all laugh at Minnesota for firing Mason despite his body of work, but we were dicks to Carr desite his.  (As a side note I'm using we here because we're all part of the fanbase, even the retards).  

So Carr is retired.  Burned out, but not going since he was an Assoc. AD.  Martin comes forward and coaching search begins.  Miles is ruled out early (Carr says "Hell No" and MSC backs him on it, insert various rumors about why here).  Martin screws up on a bunch of offers, Miles kind of becomes a hail mary option, Martin goes sailing and can't work his damn phone.  Carr meanwhile reaches out to RR as kind of an end around on Miles and so he is kind of naming his own successor.  Suddenly we have one of the top offensive minds in the country, a guy who won BCS games with WVU (while we lost ours), and a hot, young name in coaching.  

We also have a problem.  Carr is going off the reservation here and making first contact and from Bacon's work it carries the implication Carr did so on his own, at at the behest of Martin or MSC.  In the Bo era if you went behind Bo's back, you paid.  We're now at the point where a future Assoc AD is sneaking around behind his boss's back.  

Martin's cluelessness with personnel decisions continued.  When he interviews RR he tries to tell RR he has to keep Lloyd's entire staff.  MSC though is now taking a role in the process (post Miles clusterfuck) and shuts him down.  I want to break this down a bit though.  Martin asks RR to keep the entire staff in a meeting with RR and MSC jumps on him.  This wasn't something that Martin and MSC privately talked about on the way to the meeting.  This was the President having to slap the AD down in front of a potential new employee.  Way to plan ahead for interviews...

It also means something even worse.  Think about what Martin said.  "We love your spread and shred offense and want to hire you, by the way we want to you to keep DeBord on staff as the OC."  Think about that for a minute.  Bang your head into your desk.  Later in the meeting when RR says it will take him awhile to install his system and Martin says that's not a problem, you really have to wonder if Martin had any clue what RR's system was.  If Martin had any clue what he was getting into.  

Martin of course then lowballs RR's assistants and fails to secure Casteel.  So we arguably whiff on the second most assistant of RR's machine (I'd argue since RR is offensively minded, DC is more important than OC.  Coordinators of course are clearly more important  than posistion coaches).  We also screw up the whole firing of Carr's staff.  RR makes them wait in the hall and people like Gittelson (30 years here) are fired.  

This is a failure for everyone.  For Carr, for RR, and for Martin.  Carr's about to become the Assoc AD for football operations.  If he's so worried about his assistants getting treated fairly he should take a greater role in the process.  Martin should be finding jobs for people like Gittelson (there has to be come kind of generic title we can give him, keep him on the Michigan payroll, and reward his loyalty.  Barwis is now the man for football, we have dozens of weightrooms on the campus, we could have found Gittelson a place.  Same with the others, stuff them in some AD job until they find coaching work.  We're Michigan, we're supposed to be loyal.).  RR of course really fails at handling the firings well.  Carr of course ends up unhappy, somewhat openly advocating transfers, and the whole RR-Carr relationship goes sour.  

We know how it goes from there.  Freep columnists are harsh on RR, Carr era players attack RR in the media.  Martin does nothing public,  Carr does nothing public.  RR says the wrong things, loses games, and finally Grobans himself out of a job.  Plus of course getting bombed in the bowl didn't help.  

My reason for rehashing this 3&O content was to show the actions of people and compare them to Bo.  There was no "The Team, The Team, The Team". No concern for the players.

First off Martin flushed his legacy with the RR hire.  The man put us in the black, he built a beautiful athletic campus.  He set us up with the stadium suites that generate an amazing amount of revenue.  We have the world's largest indoor practice facility because of him.  Crisler doesn't look like shit anymore because of him (DB did it with his revenue).  We could afford to offer Harbaugh 5 million a year because of him.  We could pry Mattison out of the pros because of him.  We have a massive bank account, a massive revenue stream, and top shelf facilities because of him.  We also had the NCAA investigate us and a civil war because of his poor personal management.  If we had a comptroller hall of fame, he goes in the first round.  As it stands though he is remembered for going boating during a coaching search with a cellphone he could not operate.

I love Carr and anyone who bothers to read my posts knows I'm in the Carr defender category.  Carr has done a lot for this University.  On the field and off the field (namely his fundraising for Motts is really his greatest achievement as a human being since sick kids are a million times more important than kicking around an inflated pig's bladder).  Yet when the time came he wasn't a Michigan Man.  RR's teams were loaded with Carr's recruits.  Yet he turned down 8 chances to speak to RR's teams.  It's fine if Carr wanted to dislike RR.  RR did fire all his friends and talk a lot in public, the antithesis of Carr.  However when our fanbase errupted into a civil war it was the players, the players that Carr recruited who suffered as the program was ripped apart.  Carr must have promised these kids B1G rings when he recruited them.  Yet he shut up and didn't do anything when the program collapsed around them.  It's almost as if he told them "transfer, because I'm cutting all ties and won't be around to help you after the Bowl".  Bo was known for walking into people's offices and telling them "You need to shut up".  Bo would have been defending the kids and the program.  Carr was silent.  At best he did nothing, at worst he was using his players and contacts to undermine RR instead of help him.  I have no idea what Carr did during those three years, but he wasn't a Michigan Man because he definitely wasn't using his power to support the team.    

I'm going to be brief on RR since we've dissecting him a million times on this board.  He made a lot of mistakes on the field in terms of the defense.  Off the field he really failed to win the political battle that comes with being the head coach at a name brand football school.  Yes the deck was stacked against him, but even so he tended to make things worse, not better.  For example RR played under Nehlen, a Bo assistant.  He learned about "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" from Nehlen and used it himself when he coached at Glenville State.  Yet he never told those stories despite the fact they instantly put him on the Bo tree and made him more acceptable.  More importantly is how quickly he broke down.  His locker room destroying rage, this "fuck you" ridden tirades over his headset when Tate made a bad play.  Yes it is projection, but you have to wonder if in year 4 or 5 he goes all Woody Hayes on a DB or Bob Knight on someone.  I don't believe RR as a person would ever do that, but people do snap.  At some level when you read how broken down RR was as Year 3 went from 5 and 0 to 2 and 5, you have to wonder if it was a mercy firing.  

What we see there are three people who aren't bad people.  Martin made us rich, Carr did a lot for the program and the school, RR wanted to make this his destination school and cared for his kids, and he did install the offense we hired him to install.  Yet everyone had their flaws.  Blindess with personnel hirings, a failure to support RR the way Bump supported Bo, and the inability to properly adopted Michigan mannerisms/fix the damn defense.  No one is the devil here or an incompetent, but no one is Bo either.

Then there is the fanbase, us.  That member of our fanbase who called a regent to complain that RR used "ain't" in a press conference (seriously, fuck you whoever that was).  The fanbase who the minute Bo died, demanded someone else become Bo.  Then when everyone showed they were mortal, not Bo, and could make mistakes we devolved into armed "Old Guard" and "New Guard" camps.  Communist football vs primitive saurian Llloydball.  We all agreed Martin was a moron who couldn't work a cell phone, picked a coach (RR or Carr) and tried to crown him as the new center of Michigan football.  We also didn't exactly cover ourselves in glory.

That's what we need to take away from the RR era.  Our dad died.  Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure.  Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a melt down.  Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel.  So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.  

As we enter the new era, 10-2, now willing to pay top dollar for top coordinators, with a guy who gets Michigan, and RR has a new job in a BCS conference, I think it may be time to let it go.  At the end of the day we don't have a good guy and we don't have a bad guy.  Martin, Carr, and RR all did a lot for this school and they all failed it.  Any debate where you try to annoint one guy as the devil and one guy as the angel in this era is just going to generate a flamefest because each side has plenty of material to cite.  The actors here were all humans who were successful in some areas, but unlike Bo they weren't successful in every area.  No one was bad, they just weren't Bo and that is fine because being Bo is a high standard to live up to.  As we go forward we need to stop looking for a new Bo.  Bo's dead.  But a new one will emerge.  Just as it flowed from Yost to Crisler to Bo.  Don't try and place someone on that throne by force though.

We should also remember how a house divided cannot stand against itself and more importantly how we hurt the players on the field with the whole civil war.  We owe people like Graham and Moundros something.  They gave it all on the field on Saturday while the fanbase was busy having a flamewar.  

Oh and always remember Sharp and Rosenberg suck.  

If we're going to keep one thing in our mind as we move forward, it should be that comment from Bo about how we'd find out who the real Michigan Men were when he died.  We did and we need to remember what that cost us.  It's up to us to keep it together now, because we won't have Bo to walk into our lives and tell us "You need to shut up now".  

Dennis Dodds: Brock Mealer as Metaphor for CFB Comeback Stories

Dennis Dodds: Brock Mealer as Metaphor for CFB Comeback Stories

Submitted by MGoShoe on August 7th, 2010 at 3:18 PM

Dennis Dodds has penned a story that features Brock Mealer's rehab under Mike Barwis and the Michigan S&C staff as metaphor for various college football comeback stories, including Michigan football itself.  The story also includes a section on Mark Moundros and Jon Bills and the accident that almost took their lives earlier this year.

Barwis made sure his project was serious. If he wanted to go for it, Barwis and Whiteman were going to torture him.

This comeback attempt wasn't going to be half-assed. This was going to be unprecedented stuff. The doctors were going to look like fools if Brock Mealer walked again, the docs outdone by strength coaches' regimen and will. Barwis prides himself on building the perfect beast. Never mind that West Virginia went to a couple of BCS bowls under his relentless direction -- the dude once owned two pet wolves.

Rodriguez threw in a carrot. Make it upright and walking by the Sept. 4 opener, he told Mealer, and you can lead the team onto the field before the Connecticut game. That was 10 months ago. "He hadn't even made it out of the wheelchair yet," Rodriguez said.

First there were, literally, baby steps as Brock inched his way across the turf at the indoor facility.

You decide.

While Barwis and Whiteman inspired Brock, Mealer could inspire the program further next month. Aided by canes, Mealer is on schedule to lead the Wolverines the 180 feet or so out of the tunnel, onto the field, under the "M Go Blue" banner to midfield for their 2010 season opener.

What started as a quest for Mealer is now a metaphor for the entire season. It is the year of the comeback in college football. Multiple teams, programs, leagues and careers are attempting to rise from the shadows this season.

Mark Moundros to LB - that sounds interesting

Mark Moundros to LB - that sounds interesting

Submitted by Sextus Empiricus on February 4th, 2010 at 11:38 PM

Moundros got the short end of the PT stick last year. I was looking forward to seeing more of him with Grady graduating, but this bit of news from RR at the signing presser gives me hope for even more time.

I'm wondering if we will see more talent come over to the D to protect some red shirts this Fall.

EDIT: Note this same interview RR mentions Cam Gordon to Safety. The redshirting is going to be interesting - Spring practice and the Fall are going to be very competitive.

Offensive Wrinkle: I-backfield

Offensive Wrinkle: I-backfield

Submitted by Magnus on September 7th, 2008 at 11:58 AM

 Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan offense showed us Michigan fans a new offensive wrinkle against Miami (OH) this week.  The use of the "I" formation comes as a surprise from a coach who runs a vast majority of his plays out of the shotgun spread.  But in the transition from Lloyd Carr's run-oriented offense to the spread, Michigan's personnel suggests that some more tradition offensive sets might be advantageous.

The advantage of the "I" formation comes in several ways.

1. The "I" formation is an unbalanced set that forces the defense to choose strength.  The quarterback lines up under center, the fullback lines up directly behind the QB, and the tailback lines up behind the fullback.  Most defenses will call strength toward the tight end; if there is no tight end, they will call strength to the two-receiver side.  If your standard 4-3 defense shifts to the strong side, an offense can gain a numbers advantage to the weak side by sending the fullback and tailback to that side.

2. The "I" formation provides a lead blocker in the running game.  Unlike most plays in the spread offense, an I-back can follow his lead blocker on wham plays.  On a wham (aka "iso") the offensive linemen turn their men away from the hole and the fullback leads through the hole on a linebacker.  If the linebacker attacks the block head on, the I-back can cut in either direction.  If the linebacker attacks with one shoulder, which he should, the running back should be able to read the block and cut in the other direction.

3. The "I" formation gets a running back closer to the line.  This can be helpful on quick-hitting running plays, like traps or dives.  Since there's no lead blocker for the fullback and since he's usually not a nifty runner, it's best to use these quick hitters when you know the defense isn't paying attention to the fullback.

4. The "I" formation allows the running back to run downhill and use cutback lanes.  Running "downhill" means that the back is running toward the defenders and not away from them.  Sweep plays allow the defense to chase the ball carrier, which can work against slow defense, but not often against fast ones.  Whams, traps, counters, dives, etc. get the running back headed upfield and put pressure on the defensive players to stay disciplined, fill cutback lanes, and break down to tackle the ballcarrier.

5. The "I" formation also gives the offense a chance to run play action passes and keep one or two backs in the backfield to help with pass protection.

Michigan's offense used the "I" formation well in the game against Miami.  With Mark Moundros lined up at fullback and Sam McGuffie behind him, the team ran an iso (which McGuffie broke outside for a big gain) and a couple toss sweeps to the outside (which McGuffie also broke outside for decent gains).  On top of that, Threet handed off to Mark Moundros on a fullback dive that gained seven yards.

Without the ideal quarterback for the spread option, Rodriguez will need to adjust the offense to his personnel.  The use of the "I" formation is a step in that direction.  Michigan has a plethora of tight ends, a good blocking fullback, and starting linemen that were recruited to play in a pro-style run offense.  As the linemen become more athletic and the quarterbacks get better at running the read option, the use of the I formation may be used less and less in future years.  In the meantime, it will be beneficial to use this set.  But as far as I recall, Michigan ran exclusively in the "I" formation.  In future weeks Michigan will need to run plays other than whams and toss sweeps out of the "I."  Otherwise, upcoming opponents will be able to key on the run.