Being Dave Brandon

Submitted by Brian on November 29th, 2010 at 4:15 PM

From this point on I don't care about the following opinions on what Rich Rodriguez deserves after three years:

  • Mine
  • Yours, unless you are Dave Brandon (call me)

I also don't have anything that's definitive. We know that there is no McMahon-style "you're firrrrrrrred" press conference today, and given the way things work that means Rodriguez will be the coach through the bowl game. We know that the rumors were heavy enough for Dave Brandon to personally debunk them on the twitters. We can read the withering sarcasm between the lines of this from Brandon…

image

…and if it's not withering sarcasm* I don't want to know.

I've got some stuff in the inbox and from elsewhere. A bit of it says Rodriguez is getting fired, period, citing "impeccable sources." Another from before the OSU game reports second hand that Harbaugh "has an offer" while expressing skepticism at the nature of the information given its timing—what if Michigan had won Saturday? Some other stuff has filtered to me via talkative former players all saying "canned," as well.

The part I trust—the one that called Brandon as the likely new AD and tipped me off about the Alabama game—is far from certain except about one thing: anyone who says anything with certainty is full of it. Brandon keeps his own counsel and makes his own decisions. Since Brandon has a direct line to the obvious head coaching candidate there will be no search committee or consultants tapped or planning, cutting off virtually all of the usual leak sources. It's unlikely anyone has anything until hours before it breaks, at which point it will be everywhere.

I'm not inclined to put much in the widespread chatter that had RR out the door after the OSU game and seems to be continuing since its sourcing seems to be pissed-off-you-guys folk clearly unhappy with the state of the program taking small interactions and interpreting them as they desire. However, the vibe I'm getting from other people who seem to be on the fence about what to do—or at least close to it—also makes it seem unlikely Rodriguez is back. Emphasis on all the qualifying words in the previous sentence, please. I've got nothing solid because no one does.

In the event that happens, Harbaugh is the obvious #1 guy, with the main sticking point being Harbaugh's willingness to accept the imposition of a silly, off-putting buyout in case any NFL teams get ideas. It sounds like if the decision is made to pursue Harbaugh, something will be worked out and he will be introduced essentially immediately. They won't get rid of Rodriguez unless they know they have the next coach lined up.

So… that's what I've got. I'm uncertain about everything. I guess that's good from a program standpoint, but it's frustrating when the next month will see Michigan's future hang in the balance with nothing trustworthy to put a foot on.

*(Not specifically about Desmond, who tweeted a couple things about how he had faith in Brandon to make the decision. More the "Appreciate the passion & interest," random talk-radio raver.)

Comments

UMQuadz05

November 29th, 2010 at 4:38 PM ^

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the closest Brian has said to "I think RRod may be gone before next year"?  It's just a shitty choice all around- I can understand why people think enough is enough, but I just think it would be a mistake to fire the guy when almost all of the starters are returning.  I guess I'm just scared of becoming ND.  "You'll see, this time we hired our savior coach!  Srsly!"

Wolverine96

November 29th, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

The contradicting example to Notre Dame is Nebraska.  Tom Osborne recognized that they had to make a change and they hired a coach who had been part of the program before.  They were able to solidify the fanbase, boosters and alumni cutting out all the noise outside the program allowing them to focus on football.  I think all would agree (except Big 12 refs) that Pelini has gotten Nebraska back on solid ground challenging for Big 12 championships.

ADingwall

November 29th, 2010 at 5:16 PM ^

I'm married to a Cornhusker, the Callahan era drove her nuts.  When Osborne was brought on as AD you could feel the entire state become energized because they knew Dr. Tom would do the right thing.  We flew to Lincoln for Christmas right after he hired Pelini and there were "Welcome Bo" signs and t-shirts all over town. 

RockinLoud

November 30th, 2010 at 12:44 PM ^

It's true Pelini did wonders with the D, but the scheme change wasn't dramatic.  The more improtant aspect is that he kept the offensive coordinator from Callahan (Sean Watson) and thus had no hiccups on the offensive side.  I'd be ok with getting Harbaugh if he brought in a spread guy or was able to keep Mcgee, but having a nearly complete change in offensive scheme is going to be terrible for next season, especially considering we lose 1 consistent starter from offense next year.  I would really prefer to not have to go through all of that again.  Thus I still hold that RR should get a 4th year on the condition that he clean house on D.

VinnieMac25

November 29th, 2010 at 4:38 PM ^

for putting this up there.  Maybe, just maybe there will not be more threads created towards this topic.  Enlight of this mystery, cue the diary for a DB, RR, Gerg, JH, maybe even a henning or scum rat rosenberg internet chat.  I think we could all use a good laugh!

joeyb

November 29th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

I could see Dave Brandon doing a private coaching search and based on the results of that deciding what to do with RR. What I can't see happening is firing RR after the bowl game and doing a 1-3 week long coaching search, giving the new guy a matter of weeks to cement a recruiting class. Either RR has done enough to this point, or he hasn't.

mschol17

November 29th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

I've read a lot of people saying that Rodriguez has a good offense only because of one good player (Pat White, Denard, etc).  However, the same thing applies to Harbaugh; he didn't have a winning season at Stanford until Andrew Luck arrived. 

Harbaugh probably realizes that now is the time to move up, because Andrew Luck doesn't come around very often, and he's not going to go 11-1 without him. 

My prediction is that Harbaugh will be coaching in the NFL next year. 

HeismanPose

November 29th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

This is very straiht forward.  You either:

1) Fire RichRod and the whole staff and bring in Harbaugh,
2) Fire GERG and bring in a new DC, or
3) Keep both RichRod and GERG.

I prefer 2, but not matter what you think, waiting is the worst option here.  It will kill recruiting and keep the websites/newspapers/talk radio stations burning for a month.  Plus, if we are bringing in Harbaugh, he will need as much time as possible to put a staff together, deal with defections and recruit on his own.

I like Brandon, but we NEED a decision one way or the other over the next few days.  He must know this.  The fact that he hasn't said anything to support RichRod yet leads me to believe that he is talking to Harbaugh. 
 

HeismanPose

November 29th, 2010 at 5:19 PM ^

Again, I'm on the RichRod train.  I think he's a better coach than Harbaugh and gives us a better chance to win over the next 5-10 years.  BUT, if Brandon must feed the wolves and can him, I don't think there's any question that Harbaugh is the man to replace him. Real quick:

1) Michigan man who wants to be here.
2) Fantastic success at an almost dead program.  This success is further evidenced by the fact that a number of NFL teams are already knocking at his door.
3) Quick transition.  We could get this whole thing done in a few days which would minimize fallout.

I really can't believe it has come to this.  I think firing a coach after just 3 seasons, all while showing clear improvement each year, is a terrible precedent to set and dimishes the program.  RichRod uprooted his whole life to come here (he received death threats) and we owe him loyalty. 

I also hate the idea of going back to "calling rock".  Stanford is great but they have been slaughtered by Oregon for the past two seasons and aren't really serious contenders for a national championship (well...who knows).  That sounds a little bit like 2000-2007 Lloyd Carr to me.  I am woping for a Florida-style dynasty.  But he is a good coach.
 

jamiemac

November 29th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

Stanford is great but they have been slaughtered by Oregon for the past two seasons and aren't really serious contenders for a national championship (well...who knows).

 

Stanford beat Oregon 52-41 a year ago. And in 2008, lost on a last second TD by the Ducks. Hardly slaughtered

VAGenius

November 29th, 2010 at 4:53 PM ^

You don't want to end up in the same situation that they ended up in with Les Miles @ LSU where he's peppered with questions about whether he's going to take the Michigan job while he's preparing for the bowl game... I presume you delay the decision (or even any official discussion) until after Harbaugh's finished his bowl game because he's not going to want to leave prior to that.

Kilgore Trout

November 29th, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

I think you're leaving out one possibility.  What if he's found out through back channels that Harbaugh wants the job, but insists on coaching his bowl game?  So then the decision becomes whether Brandon thinks he's better off with one of the Rodriguez options or if he thinks they'd be better off making the move after the bowl game and immediately snapping up Harbaugh.  Sure, getting Harbaugh right now seems better than getting him on January 2, but maybe the debate is whether it's better to get Harbaugh January 2 or keep Rodriguez?  Just saying, maybe it isn't so simple. 

HeismanPose

November 29th, 2010 at 5:22 PM ^

I guess that's a possibility, but I think it's pretty standard for a coach to leave (or at least annouch he is leaving) before a bowl game.  And if Brandon is talking to Harbaugh, this should not be negotiable.  If he wants the job, he must announce now.  It's pretty much a given that he is leaving Stanford within the next year, anyway - NFL rumors have been swirling for months. 

But it goes back to my original point - if we're hearing nothing we have to assume that they are talking to someone, right?

stubob

November 29th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

I'd like to put a litte F-You to Matt Millen for shamelessly going on and on about RichRod during the game.  If I get to UFR the game, I'll be sure to plus/minus the "Fire RichRod" comments out of his stupid mouth.

The commentary seemed like it was either inane, inaccurate comments about the team, or inane, inaccurate comments about the coaches.

FilliamHMuffman94

November 29th, 2010 at 5:05 PM ^

I'd like to make it a big F-you.  I totally reject any football "analysis"  from someone who has very arguably made more horrendously bad management and draft decisions than anyone else in the history of professional football.  And how has no one commented on the fact that he was wearing a scarlet and gray tie for the broadcast of The Game??!!  At least I'm 95% sure--my Dad's standard-def TV is pretty awful...

michfan4borw

November 29th, 2010 at 4:51 PM ^

(. . . thus I truly apologize for the length of this comment.)

Remember Realistically the Past, Fellow Michigan Fans

For context, I grew up in MI and graduated from the University in 2001.  I love Michigan unconditionally as I suspect many of you do also.  I therefore provide the same support for Coach Rich Rodriguez as I did for Coach Lloyd Carr.  

During his time as Coach, Lloyd Carr provided me numerous memories I appreciate still today.  I supported and defended him with all my energy despite many of my fellow Michigan fans complaining about his perceived inadequacies (read: lack of a national championship since 1997).  These allegations of Carr’s “weaknesses” usually manifested themselves after his losses, because Michigan fans inevitably seem to gripe most after a loss.  Michigan is slower than its non-conference opponents.  Michigan’s offense has no creativity.  Michigan always plays down to its opponent.  Michigan’s defense cannot stop the pass or a mobile quarterback.  Surprise, surprise that Michigan fans have a stereotype (usually based on an event happening more often than not) generally of expecting perfection at all times and will complain even when the program, such as under Carr, fields very good—but not great—teams.

To remember what inadequacies we as Michigan fans seem to forget, I “googled” Coach Carr’s worst losses and only came up with one result: the freep.com.  Pretty fitting, huh? 

Anyway, before summarizing his reported failures, due respect compels me to highlight his career fairly.  Here are his better accomplishments according to Wikipedia:

“Under Carr, the Wolverinescompiled a record of 122–40 and won or shared five Big Ten Conferencetitles (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2004). Carr's 1997 teamwas declared the national championby the Associated Press. Carr's record coaching against top ten-ranked opponents was 19–8. . . . Michigan was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for all but nine of its games under Carr (all occurring in 1998, 2005, and 2007). Only once during his tenure did Michigan end its season unranked (2005). Carr became the first Wolverine coach to win four straight bowl games, beating Auburn, 31–28, on New Year's Day at the 2001 Florida Citrus Bowl, after leading Michigan to victories in the 1998 Rose Bowl, 1999 Florida Citrus Bowl, and the 2000 Orange Bowl. (emphasis added) . . . Carr posted a .500 or better record against two of Michigan's three top rivals, going 5–4 against Notre Dameand 10–3 against Michigan State. Carr also recorded a 9–2 record against Penn State.” 

Carr had many good wins no doubt.

But Coach Carr also had a losing record to OSU amongst his bad losses.  Here are his “10 worst losses (according to and quoted from the Freep.com)” re-organized and categorized by me as “weaknesses” of Coach Carr (some games repeat—which I’ve tried to note for purposes of fairness—for different criticisms of Carr) for which he endured criticism during his days as head coach.  Before listing the ten losses, remember that Coach Carr had more losses than these and many more wins overall as noted above:

(1) Lack of Speed:

(a)Sept. 12, 1998, Syracuse 38, U-M 28.

(b)Jan. 1, 2002, Tennessee 45, U-M 17.

(c)Sept. 8, 2007, Oregon 39, U-M 7.

[note: losses to USC and Texas in part due to speed during the better Michigan seasons]

(2) Boring/Predictable/Uncreative Offense:

(a)Oct. 7, 2000, Purdue 32, U-M 31. The Wolverines blew a 28-10 lead at halftime to the Boilermakers, turning conservative in the second half.

(b)Sept. 8, 2007 (repeat-game cite): Oregon 39, U-M 7.

(c)Nov. 17, 2007: Ohio State 14, U-M 3 Michigan had just 91 yards on offense.

(3) Playing Down to the Opponent’s Level:

(a)Sept. 12, 1998 (repeat-game cite): [8-4] Syracuse 38, U-M 28. At the time, it was just a disappointing 0-2 start following a national championship year.

(b)Oct. 7, 2000 (repeat-game cite): No. 6 Michigan lost to the unranked Boilermakers, 32-31.

(c)Nov. 24, 2001, [unranked] Ohio State 26, U-M 20.

(d)Nov. 20, 2004, Ohio State 37, U-M 21. The unranked 6-4 Buckeyes scored 27 points in a row to defeat the No.7 Wolverines.

(e)Oct. 8, 2005, Minnesota 23, U-M 20.  The Golden Gophers were led by backup quarterback Tony Mortensen.

(f)Sept. 1, 2007, App. State 34, U-M 32. A Football Championship Subdivision team beat the No.5 Wolverines at the Big House.

(4) Broken or Bad Traditions:

(a)Sept. 12, 1998 (repeat-game cite): [8-4] Syracuse 38, U-M 28.  The first time the Wolverines and Carr were dismantled by a mobile quarterback.

(b)Nov. 24, 2001 (repeat-game cite): Ohio State 26, U-M 20. [T]he unranked Buckeyes . . . won [its] first game in Ann Arbor since 1987.  This started a trend in the Sweater Vest-Lloyd Carr series.

(c)Jan. 1, 2002 (repeat-game cite): Tennessee 45, U-M 17. The Citrus Bowl was U-M’s worst bowl loss ever. The Wolverines . . . finished the season with four losses for the first time since 1996.

(d)Nov. 20, 2004 (repeat-game cite): Ohio State 37, U-M 21. U-M’s first back-to-back losses at Columbus to the Buckeyes since 1984.

(e)Oct. 8, 2005(repeat-game cite): Minnesota 23, U-M 20. The Wolverines surrendered the Little Brown Jug for the first time in 19 years. Their 3-3 start was the worst since 1990.

(f)Sept. 1, 2007 (repeat-game cite): App. State 34, U-M 32. A Football Championship Subdivision team beat the No.5 Wolverines at the Big House in one of the biggest upsets ever. [emphasis added]

(5) Uncompetitive Defense or Secondary:

(a)Sept. 12, 1998 (repeat-game cite): [8-4] Syracuse 38, U-M 28. Donovan McNabb shredded the Wolverines while Carr rotated his QBs, Tom Brady and Drew Henson.

(b)Oct. 7, 2000 (repeat-game cite): Drew Brees threw for 286 yards and two TDs as Purdue claimed a Rose Bowl berth.

(c)Nov. 4, 2000, [8-4, 6-2] N’western 54, U-M 51. The Michigan defense gave up 654 yards to the Wildcats’ offense. The Wolverines had a chance to ice the game, but Anthony Thomas fumbled the ball with about a minute left.

(d)Nov. 24, 2001 (repeat-game cite): Ohio State 26, U-M 20. [T]he John Navarre-led Wolverines f[e]ll behind 23-0 to the unranked Buckeyes.

(e)Jan. 1, 2002 (repeat-game cite): Tennessee 45, U-M 17. The Wolverines fell behind 17-0 early . . ..

(f)Sept. 1, 2007 (repeat-game cite): App. State 34, U-M 32. A Football Championship Subdivision team beat the No.5 Wolverines at the Big House  . . . Once again, the Wolverines looked like they had never seen a mobile QB.

(g)Sept. 8, 2007 (repeat-game cite): Oregon 39, U-M 7. One week after Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards torched U-M’s defense, Oregon’s Dennis Dixon gave a Heisman-esque performance on the road with 292 yards passing, 76 rushing and four total touchdowns. All 39 Ducks points were scored by the third quarter.

(h)Nov. 17, 2007 (repeat-game cite): Ohio State 14, U-M 3 Michigan gave up 222 yards to [OSU] sophomore RB Chris Wells.

More from Wikipedia: “Also, Michigan lost five of its six bowl games between the 2001–2006 seasons. And largely due to an ongoing problem with losing road openers (Carr's Wolverines dropped six in a row at one point), he only had his program in the late-season hunt for the BCS Championship Game once (in 2006) and never reached the game although 11 other college football programs have since its inception in 1998.”  I pause here to remind you that Carr had great teams in he was a great coach in my eyes. 

In defense of Coach Rodriguez though, let’s remind ourselves that Carr’s teams also broke many traditions/streaks and also had serious defensive or meltdown issues.  Remember that Carr also inherited the players that created “the more than famous” 1997 defense in which Woodson covered half the field.  That team was much—but certainly not all—of Carr’s doing and recruiting.  In my opinion, I always felt Coach Carr, to Michigan’s detriment, consistently developed only one star player at a time in a relatively weak secondary.  That’s in part why so many fans dubbed Marlin Jackson or Donovan Warren the next Woodson-like corner that purportedly can— and will at the time—shut down half the field. 

In contrast, Coach Rodriguez has only had three years to not only rebuild a program but also restructure it (different offense fundamentally and philosophically, for one, and different speed/conditioning program, for another).  To be fair, Coach Rodriguez has won all his early games the last two seasons thus keeping unreasonable hopes alive for a team that didn’t have near the talent or experience or stability that so many of Coach Carr’s teams—which lost early in the season—had.  Notwithstanding Michigan fans’ stereotype to expect perfection, they also have the stereotype of intelligence—arguably a fan base that sets the bar in that respect.  I expect 3-9, 5-7, 7-5 to exemplify improvement to Michigan’s reasonable fan base. 

Use your reasoning to understand that only fools invest substantial time, money and effort in a project—with no guarantees ever—only to give up just before they can actually reap some benefits.  From where we began with Rich Rodriguez, I see improvement.  And if any fans of other schools—particularly MSU, OSU or Notre Dame—see the similar improvement, please don’t unreasonably expect them to share such related concerns with Michigan fans.  Keeping us divided and undecided on Coach Rodriguez (or the Michigan coaching situation in general) only serves fans of the “enemy” programs—of which Michigan has many.

  Remember that Michigan went 8-4 in 1996 and 2001 under Coach Carr while going 7-5 in 2005.  The current team under Coach Rodriguez is 7-5 with a chance to still go 8-5. Michigan went 9-4 in 1995 and 2007 under Carr while going 9-3 in 2000 and 2004.  Improving on this team’s ultimate record—worst-case scenario being 7-6—next year, (and likely beyond) which fits the upward trend the program has shown during the last three years, Rodriguez’s 2011 team will be 8-5 or 9-4 or 10-3.  Michigan is evolving and improving.  If Michigan stops improving under Rodriguez, then I think he hasn’t, at that point, done enough to keep this demanding job as its head coach.  We must remember though that we almost universally say that the win is all that matters at the end of the day.  At the end of the day, Michigan under Coach Rodriguez is improving. Let’s be reasonable and let this improvement unfold and play itself out. It might turn out to have a perfect national-championship ending but probably not.

   To Coach Rodriguez’s fault: I think he focused on the offense perhaps too much (to the detriment of the defense and special teams) so that he’d have something to sell this far into his campaign; I think this focus caused him to lose at least Mallet and Boren—both big Carr guys who paid their “dues” and also presumably did not want to change or earn their roles.  Add the changes toward developing speed (read: Barwis workouts), and it made sense that players left.  I hope and pray Michigan—at the time it hired Coach Rodriguez—had the sense to see these possible consequences when making such a change in football philosophy.

I don’t claim that Rodriguez will win us national championships, but I believe he has the ability to win us conference titles if we humble ourselves enough to provide him the patience he needs to succeed.  He has (though admittedly I have no research in support) put up it seems consistently improving offensive numbers on all the big ten teams with each season he’s coached for Michigan.  Better execution, which comes with Denard Robinson’s (and the rest of the offense's) learning curve, will lead to even better numbers in this respect. 

Coach Rodriguez developed Brandon Graham.  He is currently helping Mike Martin and Craig Roh develop.  He has Woolfolk and Floyd coming back next year with a growing secondary.  Remember also the situation that the Mealer family experienced and that Coach Rodriguez tried to make somewhat better for them.  Remember the amazing support he seemingly has had from his current players.

Hell, make note of the NFL players that currently want to train at Michigan in the offseason because of the training Barwis provides.  Carr’s program never had such a particular reputation.  I know Dave Brandon knows these things.  I feel even better hoping that Dave Brandon knows, through his extensive experience, much more than the media about this team, the program, business, and football generally to recognize which things Coach Rodriguez can properly be blamed for. 

I don’t ask for doubtless support of Coach Rodriguez.  I only ask for unconditional love for Michigan which must, at least by my terms, mean sincere support for the current coach of the program (which incidentally is the very thing we demand from our players) until the Athletic Director says otherwise.  Let’s be fair in how we criticize our coach because, by now, we should know to not expect such fairness from the media—which roasted Carr (see freep.com above) too whenever it had the chance.  Remind yourselves that attention at any costs remains the primary—and often only—motivation for sports “journalists” these days.  Remember our past and that we at least implicitly asked for Coach Rodriguez or his football philosophy.  To abandon him now means only to abandon Michigan—because we would be abandoning the very thing we previously wished upon Michigan when Carr acted as the coach. 

To many in the Michigan fan base, those are now the “good old days.”  Try to remember: did you support Coach Carr back then or did you take his wins for granted and his losses even worse?  Did you listen to and believe the criticisms of Carr reported by the media?  If all you do is criticize Michigan until it delivers you the perfect season of 1997, you should seriously consider whether you support Michigan at all.  If you do support Michigan, then you likely believe, as I do, that the following statement applies during times of hardship at least as much as during times of championship contention: “Those who stay will be champions.”  Go Blue!!!     

michfan4borw

November 29th, 2010 at 9:10 PM ^

that my comment is ridiculously long.  That's why I opened with an apology and brief explanation. 

Anyway, having never posted a diary or thread (I just met the threshold of points today), does anyone mind giving advice on whether reposting my essay as a thread or diary has value or would simply be poor form or in bad taste due to redundancy? 

Incidentally, thanks for the feedback that was either positive or constructive.