Moon Disaster Comment Count

Brian January 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 PM

1/1/2010 – Michigan 14, Mississippi State 52 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten

Amongst the many many things posted over the weekend that could have been posted at any time in the last three years was one odd bit of history that's apropos: a letter drafted for Nixon to read in the event that Neal Armstrong and company were to die on the moon because the lander wouldn't leave.


Men in charge of things make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions even if they result in reading the thing William Safire wrote for you about two men watching at their oxygen gauges count down in an airless wasteland.

Back in the summer of 2008, when we were a happy-go-lucky band of mountain yodelers with flowers in our pockets and caviar dreams, I finished up that year's preview with that picture of Don Canham staring down a thicket of microphones as Bump Elliott searched for a sandwich and Bo exuded his Bo-like confidence. I've referred to it ever since, and here it is again:


Lives were not literally at stake above, but even so it's hard to imagine Nixon adopting an expression that more perfectly sums up the feeling of someone who's made a big decision and now has to watch someone else execute. At the end of that post this is what I said:

We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.

The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.

I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.

I don't think it has. A game somewhere around expectations would not have moved the needle enough for slight support for Rich Rodriguez to morph into a call for firing, but I turned the game off before the third quarter was over and when I felt remorse and turned it back on a few minutes later Mississippi State had put up another touchdown. It was not around expectations, except in the ways that it was by not being around expectations in a depressing direction. Before the season I thought 7-5 would do it but now at 7-6 with every loss a blowout and three of the wins last-drive nailbiters, Michigan's progress seems minimal at best. But for the opening week, this is the worst seven-win season imaginable.

If I'm slotting Rich Rodriguez into the picture above he's on the right, and it's time to look for the guy on the left again.

Coaching Bits

On the likelihood of a change. Still nothing definitive but everything that enters the inbox adds to the circumstantial pile of evidence suggesting we're done. If Harbaugh escapes Michigan's clutches Michigan is in a bad spot because of the "process" and how much time it's left them in the event they do not immediately transition to a new coach, but having no serious options other than Rodriguez is probably the only scenario in which we don't see a change.

As to when, Tom says he's hearing there's a team meeting tomorrow at 7 PM that was scheduled before the bowl game. If that's now be a wake we'll hear about it soon after. There are unconfirmed third hand reports about coaches saying goodbye, which could mean anything from the obvious canning of Greg Robinson to a wholesale broom.

Also, while some players have been publicly supportive, a lot of parents have jumped ship and have met with Brandon expressing frustration at goings-on on the defense. Some players may have been "lost" by the bowl debacle as well.

On recent Harbaugh panic. The Big Lead probably doesn't know shit and even if he turns out right he got lucky because he's just randomly saying things people email him without even a cursory check. However, Adam Schefter is serious business and this is foreboding:

Schefter on ESPN: "Now, there is a real feeling around the league (Harbaugh) would prefer be in the NFL."

On the other hand, "a real feeling" is far from definitive and Schefter was just reporting that Harbaugh was leaning towards Michigan with the same strength—coaching change stuff is "fluid," and by fluid people mean "batshit."

On Brady Hoke. "Not an option."

On Plan B. The Plan B name in the event Harbaugh escapes is probably Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald actually makes quite a bit of sense as a young guy with a spotless media profile who runs a spread offense Denard would feel at home in. He hasn't put together a monster team or anything but recovered from a shaky start in the aftermath of Randy Walker's death to go 9-4, 8-5, and 7-6. Not exactly Harbaugh and another guy who'd be leaving his alma mater for greener pastures, but Michigan is not in a great spot right now.



January 3rd, 2011 at 1:57 PM ^

Bama did not show up, and every Bama fan said the same thing after that game. That was why Saban was so focused and whipped those guys for the MSU game. In fact he referred to the Utah game leading up to MSU. Both the Utah coach and Chris Peterson (after the OK BSU won) allowed that the BCS team perhaps took them lightly. That doesn't mean those non AQ teams are not worthy of respect, as TCU just showed. But those OK and Bama losses? 20 year old kids thinking they should walk over a smaller school, combined with marvelous coaching and effort by the Boise and Utah teams that everything to prove.


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

Was what a month long? We'll know by Wednesday/Thursday at the latest (crosses fingers).

DB's keeping it close is the right thing. No Hebbie fucking up the works, Coaching search firms. ect.ect.


January 4th, 2011 at 12:30 PM ^

With a healthy Touissaint and Shaw, both of which looked way faster than Smith, it was baffeling to me to see Smith get so many carries. And I thought we might come back after a three and out and a great punt return, but when we took and missed a field goal my support for Rodriguez finally evaporated.


January 3rd, 2011 at 2:16 PM ^

Maybe I knew deep down RR would have to go after the Penn St. loss, but I couldn't bring myself to admit it, and I was still in the "give him one more year" category at kickoff on Saturday.  But my mind had changed by the end of the third quarter.  This was Wisconsin/OSU all over again, but against a team with less talent than those two, and despite having a whole month to prepare. Inexcusable.

I just hope the "Dave Brandon Pimp Hand" is for real and not just another overdone MGoBlog meme...


January 3rd, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

... you got mad Photoshop skillz.

But RichRod is no longer in the picture.

And no, I don't think DB is dilatory if he doesn't have a deal in place.  He knows better than to do that before the Stanford-Va Tech game.  

But I do believe he has some parameters in place and one local Detroit sports guy reported this AM that DB and JH met in Fla in the last few days.

DB is handling an extremely difficult situation as best as he can.  The good news in all of this (via coverage on today's ESPN and major sports blogs): he has positioned Michigan as the only college option for the hottest coach anywhere, aka JH.

I really think there is a good Plan B not named Hoke or Fitzgerald. DB is not an "all-in" guy for anything, no CEO who thinks strategically ever is.  He is also keeping his own counsel.  Something tells me that few (if any) in Schembechler Hall know what he is thinking.  And if any of them who do leak to the media, I guarantee you he will throw them out the door and into Canham's pool.


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

But I don't understand. Just a couple games ago, Brian was scoffing at RR critics and describing our O as an "elegant" and deadly machine. So what happened?


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:53 PM ^

It apparently became less worth having said elegant and deadly offensive machine as the bodies that continued to pile up were not our opponents, but rather our defense, special teams, fans, alumni, and reputation. 


I don't know what we should do to make this all better. What sucks the most is that it pains me that the program in is a position where I can't even think that I know what we should do to make it better. 


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

machine. Against ranked opponents (read: teams with defenses), we have only 21 pts per game average on the 6 losses, 16pts the last 3 games. We have an impressive elegant offense - if we were in the Big East.

In Michigan's six losses this season — all with the exception of Penn State were ranked opponents - the Wolverines were outscored 250-125. They lost their final three games — to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Mississippi State — by a combined score of 137-49.


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

Nautical Disaster by The Tragically Hip

I had this dream where I relished
The fray and the screaming that filled my head all day
It was as though I'd been spit there, settled in , into a pocket
Of a lighthouse off some rocky socket,
Off the coast of France, Dear

One afternoon, four thousand men died in the water here
Five hundred more were thrashing madly as parasites might in your blood
Now I was in lifeboat designed for ten and ten and only,
Anything that systematic would get you hated.
It's not a deal nor a test nor a love of something fated.
The selection was quick, the crew was picked and
those left in the water got kicked off our pant leg and we headed for home.

Then the dream ends when the phone rings
You doing alright he said it's out there ,most days and nights
But only a fool would complain
Anyway Susan if you like our conversation is as faint as the sound in my memory
As those fingernails scratching on the hull


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

I love Fitz. As a Northwestern defender on these boards, I love what he brings to the table

The question is what role is he playing from this Dec 2007 reprise

We have Harbaugh as Miles, Hoke as Hoke is Fitz the Ferentz or Schiano candidate from 2007?

Also, with Fitz, we would beat Iowa every year. Hey-O!!!


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:44 PM ^

Direct moves from one conference team to another are tremendously rare; when intra-conference moves do occur, they're far more likely to involve an interim stint at some other team or program, like Spurrier (UF to the Redskins to SC) or Saban (LSU to the Dolphins to Alabama). Factor in that Fitzgerald would be leaving his alma mater to immediately coach against the very same players he was telling not long ago that he'd be their coach for their college career, and it ain't gonna happen.


January 3rd, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

BRCE, you may be somebody who can be bought for the right amount of money; that's your prerogative. However, there are people in this world for whom the amount of money isn't everything. Bo Schembechler, for one. Go read TV's post about his brother who played for PF. Sounds to me that if PF can be induced away from NW by money alone, it won't be a Big Ten school. I think he'll stay put myself.


January 3rd, 2011 at 1:31 PM ^

at San Diego, Harbaugh wasn't considered a seasoned head coach (was less then Hoke is presently)  when he was given an opportunity by Stanford and he ended up being something special.  Why couldn't Hoke as well?


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

Brian - I find it hard to believe that this isn't a done deal already.  You are highly connected and on the inside here, and yet I get the feeling that you really don't know.  That scares me.  Is there some sort info stream you are getting but just can't say anything?

As someone who is the CEO of a company, there is no way that I would not have my guy in place before the firing, no way.  I don't believe that in a situation like this you could possibly risk an actual coaching search, that possibly could result in another fiasco like the last one. The lack of noise on this though would say that a deal is indeed not done.  This makes no sense to me.  In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to go through this process without some leaks, and yet here we are with no leaks.

This is why this is so difficult to process.  Is Dave Brandon so good that he can get this done with no noise at all? Not likely. So where are we? Are we really going to have a coching search in Mid-January? I certainly hope not, and can''t possibly imagine such a thing. If so, I have clearly overestimated Brandon as a savy leader.

If there is a firing, I expect an immediate hiring. Whomever it is, I believe will be the right and longterm choice. If not Harbaugh, please do not panic.

Kilgore Trout

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

1, "Is Dave Brandon so good that he can get this done with no noise at all? Not likely." I've said this before (it's my only claim even remotely like an insider), but I have a good friend who worked closely with Brandon at Domino's and he repeatedly has said that Brandon is quick and decisive when he does something, and he is his own inner circle.  So that could explain the lack of noise. 

2.  "Whomever it is, I believe will be the right and longterm choice. If not Harbaugh, please do not panic."  I agree 100%.  I don't have a clue how this is going to go, but it's going to happen, and it's going to be long term.  I have a strong faith that Brandon will get this right, whether it appears that way at first or not.


January 3rd, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

It really IS that nobody around knows.  Except maybe DB.  Now, you can say he's either really that good at keeping things on the down low, or you can say he has no clue and is bumbling around in the dark....we'll probably know by the end of the week which. But Brian's not hearing anything because there aren't very many people to hear anything from. And they're not talking.

Kilgore Trout

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:02 PM ^

but I remember a point in the second half (I believe the second time we got into the red zone and didn't score) where the camera flashed to Denard talking to Rodriguez and it looked like Denard was actually kind of flipping out and yelling at Rodriguez, who was trying to calm him donw.  It was about 3 seconds of clip, but it caught my attention as something completely out of character from what we've seen of Denard so far.