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…


…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.)



November 30th, 2010 at 12:31 AM ^

... but it was a veteran team.... the #2 team had lots of juniors and seniors and the 2007 had a senior Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, etc. Veterans at key positions. The 2007 team was expected to compete for a BCS championship, so beating Florida and all, we underachieved. The 2007 had no upside.

But what few, if any saw coming was how vulnerable we would be one the veterans left. So we were on our way down, we just didn't know it at the time, or were too blind to see. And the coaching change accelerated our "depletion" of talent. 

In contrast, the 2010 has lots of upside, if we are patient enough to reap the benefits of all these growing pains. In 2011, we should do better; and it will be a year where we can know, almost for certain if what plagues Michigan now is just the growing pains of a team that is maturing, or if it is simply coaching.

To me, it's a no-brainer. It is reasonable to expect that the team will make another leap, with more experience. I'm in favour for keeping RR for another year, but if a coaching change must be made, then let's make sure that the next coach can continue what RR has built so far, otherwise, it will be 2+ more years of rebuilding. Do we want to go through that again?

Greg McMurtry

November 30th, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^

and I'm not one of the "fire RR" guys, but I couldn't care less about the talking heads and whether or not they were "right."  Nobody knew what the outcome would be back in December 2007.  A couple more losses and RR probably would've already been fired.  And a couple of more wins and we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation.  The fact is that there are positives and negatives to RR and his coaching abilities aside from the 7-5 record in year three. 

The question in my mind is: can this current coaching staff lead the team to a Big Ten Championship in 2011?  My answer is no, not with the current defensive staff.  I believe changes need to be made on the defensive side of the ball.  IMO, there are only 2 options, replace the underperforming defensive coaches and keep RR for one more year, or fire the RR and start over.  I honestly think that making no changes will result in a failure in 2011.  Even looking at the 2011 roster and seeing the possibility of starting zero freshmen, I see a defensive staff that is not putting it's players in the best position to win.  The defense looks unprepared for what the opposing offense is trying to do and my concern is not a youth issue.  One of my main issues is with the D-Line/LBers who are not young.  The team consistently looks lost and out of position and I've seen zero improvement to tell me 2011 will be any different.


November 29th, 2010 at 8:55 PM ^

Watch how swiftly some readers will morph your qualified speculation (emphasis on both "qualified" and "speculation") into a news item. That's exactly what they did with, say, Wojo.. A prediction somehow becomes a "report." And boom.

Also, if you're speculating, so can any other writer. People only attack speculation selectively.

True Blue in CO

November 29th, 2010 at 9:05 PM ^

In one week we have seen a firestorm of conversation here on MGoBlog as well as nationally and we are so emotionally whacked right now that we have forgotten where this all started. We had our friends in the MSM start the RRod must go conversation. Then it jumped to an OSU alum who is a darling with ESPN who decided they could make a good story out of this. Then Matt Millen made this the big story of the game which mind you was against a team that had National Champion written all over it at the beginning of the season. So as our team tried but failed, this turned from oh we are losing to complete doom.

So what has happened. Do you all remember 9/11/2001? What happened that day? Yes the terrorists hit us hard and we became very vulnerable and scared. Then we changed our lives as a country and some would argue the terrorists have won as they have fundamentally changed our society.

So let me ask you this, what has the MSM done to us? I do not see a great deal of difference here. We have one of the best football players in the nation being recognized tonight. We have a high integrity team of players, and we have a coach who has made mistakes and is getting vilified because he lost to 3 of the best teams in the country and two others that played their best games of the year against us. With this and more we have let our terrorist like members of the media get the best of us because they have their view of how things should be. I want Michigan football to be great again and we started to see glimpses of this again. I would love for this to continue along it's current path and if that path changes, then I will be most sad that the change was started by our common enemy.


November 29th, 2010 at 10:06 PM ^

The problem is you're focusing on the things in life that don't really matter. When I was a kid I had hopes and dreams. We all did. But over time, the daily grind gets in the way and you miss the things that really matter, even though they are right in front of you, staring you in the face. I think the next time you should ask yourself "Am I on the right track here?". I don't mean to be rude but people like you I really pity. So maybe you could use the few brain cells you have and take advantage of the knowledge I have given you now. Good luck.

Eye of the Tiger

November 29th, 2010 at 10:24 PM ^


Thanks for the sensible, measured discussion of the hot topic, which addresses the key aspect of this speculation--it's all based on rumor and conjecture.  There are no hard facts at the moment, and only DB knows where we're headed--assuming he's actually made up his mind already.

That said, I'd like to bring up an aspect of the whole "is it RR or Harbaugh for 2011" discussion that no one seems to be addressing: would Harbaugh actually leave 11-1 Stanford before they play in what's likely to be a BCS bowl? Would he commit to Michigan while his team is still out there preparing for the biggest game in recent Stanford history?

Unfortunately, this is asking for more idle speculation.  But I'm asking for a reason: these questions highlight the fact that our coaching soap opera may be shaped by factors outside DB's control, and beyond the questions of whether DB wants Harbaugh and whether Harbaugh wants Michigan.  

Returning to speculation, I have a hard time seeing Harbaugh leave his team before the bowl game.  So as much as I WANT TO KNOW NOW(!!!), I feel like, if Harbaugh is the man, we're not going to hear anything definitive until January anyways.  I HOPE--again, if Harbaugh is the man--this means that RR keeps recruiting yet also finds himself another job, because despite all the failures of the past 3 years, I like the guy and hope he has success wherever he is next year.  But that, at least the first part, seems like naive hope.  

If Harbaugh isn't interested--either because he's staying at Stanford or jumping to the NFL--I hope we get this out of the way quickly so RR has the vote of confidence.  I assume this is what DB is ascertaining at the moment... 


November 29th, 2010 at 11:24 PM ^

Lloyd's indifference to recruiting.

In the Big Ten and other major conferences, the games are played by 5th year seniors, 4th year juniors and seniors, with a light seasoning of a few underclassmen here and there.  Any player on this year's team who is more than a sophomore is Lloyd's.  How many All-Big Ten players does Michigan have this year?  Molk, Martin and Mouton.  How many upperclassmen total did Michigan have this year in the two-deep?  Four on offense, six or so on defense?

That is how you get your ass beat in the Big Ten.  You wind up improvising like a mad fool trying to get under-aged, under-sized, under-developed, and under-skilled guys to perform at a high level.

If Rich gets fired, get Lloyd to pay off the balance of his contract.  He left no players, players with attitudes lousy enough to leave (one starting guard, one NFL wideout, another practice squad wideout, one tall project of a quarterback), and, worst of all, no assistant prepared to take over.  Nice work over your decade and a half, Lloyd.


November 29th, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

It's not Carr's fault that Mallet, Boren, Threet, Warren and others bolted.  I blame Martin who ignored the coaching tree, spent the year notice Carr gave him twiddling his thumbs and then landed on a coach whose offensive scheme would require a roster that would further stress a thin depth chart.


November 30th, 2010 at 8:15 AM ^

"presided" - as an absentee AD, at least as perceived by many - over a public s**t storm of a coaching search that involved a ton of negative press over the buyout, the lawsuit over the same, the not-very-subtle undertone of conflict among alumni, etc.  Perhaps some of these things were outside of Martin's control; on the other hand, there seemed to be no firm grip on where the program was going.

This is one of my concerns with Brandon's semi-silent approach, although it's possible that he is operating more clearly behind the scenes to insure that we don't go through another float in the toilet.

Just need to repeat on a regular basis, "It's only college football."


November 29th, 2010 at 11:38 PM ^

I think Brandon is in a tough spot.  I'm guessing he really wanted Rodriguez to show him why he should be the Michigan football coach for years and years to come.  I'm guessing he wanted to end the season thinking about a contract extension.   Instead he's left with a lot of questions and unhappy financial backers.  I think the last thing he wants to say is the only thing he can say right now (if Rodriguez is retained) and that is, he's going to give him another year. 


November 30th, 2010 at 1:16 AM ^

it comes down to can RR build a top 5 program? Not, oh the progress isn't fast enough for us. DB has to ask himself: In 2-3 years, will this team be a top calibur program competing for BCS games.

I think the answer to that question is yes. I've been on the fence and have been pissed off just as every else and am sick of the excuses, but I really think he's getting the shaft here.


November 30th, 2010 at 1:19 AM ^

My thought is that the decision came after the IA homecoming loss.  I think RR and his replacement have known about decision for weeks.

If DB wanted RR he would have stated so after the OSU vs UM game so as not too harm recruiting. I would like to give RR a few extra years, since I would expect it would take that long for the defense to become serviceable.  But the deep pocket pressure may have won out with dumping RR!  I'm sure RR will land with another top program, may be even his old team at WVU and will do a great job.

The delay is due to other team bowl games, may be on both ends?  May be I'm completely wrong but the signs all point to RR not being the HC after early January.

I will support DB decision.

Durham Blue

November 30th, 2010 at 1:49 AM ^

causing RR a slow death in the eyes of David Brandon has to be PSU.  They have been one of the better B10 teams over the past few seasons.  They were ripe for the picking and we didn't take advantage, even after the bye week.  An 8-4 season with a win against PSU on the road looks better than 7-5 with no wins against the B10's top five.  Even though I have been a staunch supporter of RR, I am on the fence right now as far as giving RR another year.  That said, I hope Michigan draws a top 25 ranked opponent in the bowl.  Getting a quality bowl win may be RR's only shot at another year.


November 30th, 2010 at 1:57 AM ^

Losing the way we did to PSU may have solidified  DB decision.

I guess we will know for sure after the bowl game but it sucks for recruiting with all these rumors.  If RR was going to stay DB would have said so today!  I don't think the bowl game will make a difference.  May be if DB number one HC candidate says no, then RR may stay?


November 30th, 2010 at 10:37 AM ^

PSU was a team in turmoil when Michigan headed to Happy Valley, a walk-on sophmore QB and an underachieving Evan Royster had Dick Rod setup for the signature win that he so desperately needed in his third year. Instead he got his ass handed to him by the fossil Joe Pa. This was the straw that set the current chain of events in motion.  

Yard Dog

November 30th, 2010 at 9:34 AM ^

I think a lot of us are on the fence.  I fully supported the RR hiring, as I wanted something new and exciting in Ann Arbor.  I got what I hoped for on offense (for the most part), but everything else has been an unmitigated disaster.  RR's record speaks for itself, and I'm starting to wonder if the Big 10 job was too big for RR. 

My tipping point is RR's contention that he understands big rivalries like OSU vs. UM because he lived through WVU vs. Pitt.  C'mon, really?

As a passionate fan and alum, I don't like instability and would have preferred RR to be the man and have established himself as such.  However, college football is a results oreinted business, and he just isn't getting it done, whatever the underlying reasons.  I'm personally tired of the upper half of the Big 10 having their way with my beloved Maize and Blue.  After a 6-18 conference record, I find that unacceptable.  And I also refuse to keep pummelling Lloyd Carr for his deficiencies at the end of his tenure.  Lloyd did a great job, and stayed too long, but some of that is on Bill "Sailboat" Martin.

I also buy into the idea that Dave Brandon will do what is absolutely best for the university, the alumni, the fans and the program.  If he decides to keep RR, I'm on board.  Make a switch?  I'm on board.

Go Blue.


November 30th, 2010 at 11:20 AM ^

Yes, the cubpoard was less full at the end of LC's tenure than usual, but it was by no means empty.  Much of the empty cupboard resulted from players transfering out after RR came. 

Transfers accompany any coaching change, but the amount that we had were excessive.  Had RR maintained some of that talent (Boren is a first team all B10 player, Mallett is a highly rater NFL prospect, even Toney Clemens would have been helpful during 2008), then the transition would have been smoother. 


November 30th, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

I trust Dave Brandon and will back his decision either way. The heart says if RR upgrades talent, gets his scheme working and somehow teaches fundamentals again, that will be measurable improvement because it should equate to quality wins. No reason for having the special teams and defensive performance this team put out every week. If we see the same thing next season, then all bets are off.

But the head says, hire Harbaugh if he wants the job.


November 30th, 2010 at 11:30 AM ^

I wish more people were not so polorized about this topic.  I think most of the fans want to see Michigan succeed.  However, I think less and less of us are willing to be as supportive as you.  I couldn't agree more with the statement about being on board either way and trusting Brandon to do whatever he sees best.

This is a true Michigan fan


November 30th, 2010 at 10:00 AM ^

I keep hearing from various fans that RichRod's contract is structured so that the buyout is less expensive after the 1st of the year than before it. 

Does anyone know if this is true or not?


November 30th, 2010 at 10:15 AM ^

Brandon was hired to make the tough decisions.  I am sure that the decision on the coach has already been played.  The only reason it hasn't been announced because it won't be done until the new coach's schedule is clear.  Harbaugh must want to coach the bowl game, or it would already be done. 


November 30th, 2010 at 10:37 AM ^

No matter what Dave  Brandon is a good AD...I mean he brought back slippery rock, added lights to the big house and we have a NIGHT GAME! I think he knows what he is doing so no matter what decision is made on rich rod. I put my faith in Dave  Brandon because he is a Michigan man and what ever he decides I believe will be the best decision for the program. 


November 30th, 2010 at 10:41 AM ^

DB just rying to get a deal done with JH, hell maybe it's already done. The consolation prize is if it can't get done then RR comes back for another year which he probably deserves anyway. DB has put himself in a win-win situation.

The only drawback is this:  If RR returns, then my God, what person in his right mind takes over this defense?  Whoever that shall be would have to snuggle next to RR on the hot-seat. And getting a top-notch guy to do that would truly be unbelievable.


November 30th, 2010 at 10:48 AM ^

he's not making any deal at all and has already made his decision to keep Rod around at least next year and maybe until the end of his contract.  Or perhaps he's delighted with the progress the team is making thus far and has decided to give Rod an extension and a raise, and is just waiting for the emotional fervor of the season to die down.

Point is, nobody knows except Dave Brandon.  Speculating that his silence to this point means anything is silly.  We'll find out soon enough.


November 30th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

I agree, if RR was going to stay then DB could come out and say so and help recruiting and the like. I think he is testing out the market to see if he has a replacement lined up before he would let RR go (I guess that is fairly obvious). If he can't get a name dropper then RR stays regardless of what happens in the bowl game. I think DB is playing this pretty well. 


November 30th, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^

Brandon is going to earn his paycheck this month. I gotta believe he has already made his decision. I hope that coah Rod gets another year, new DC  and a traditional 4/3 scheme and I would think any UofM fan is happy with that.


December 1st, 2010 at 9:20 PM ^

Great Harbaugh and three yards and a cloud of dust without the top notch talent we used to have sounds AWESOME!  I mean I knew that spread stuff only worked in the Big East,SEC, Big12 and Pac 10. I am AMAZED by the amount of people who think this is a good idea. The worst part is Harbaugh comes into a great situation with a team that is about to blow up anyway and then people think he''s brilliant. Coach Rod if you do leave you have to promise to not coach in the big 10 because I cannot take you kicking our ass every year.