Greg Robinson, Come On Down?

Submitted by Brian on January 16th, 2009 at 3:07 PM

greg-robinson-fail greg-robinson-fail2 greg-robinson-fail3

Another name for DC has been unleashed into the wild, and it's, uh, well. Well, it's this guy:

- Former Syracuse University head football coach Greg Robinson may be headed to the University of Michigan to serve as defensive coordinator. One source said it's a done deal. Another source said they thought Robinson might be involved with UCLA.

This probably won't come as a surprise to those of you reading the diaries or the message boards, but up until now it's just been speculation: "done deal" is another level entirely.

I admit a sense of foreboding at this news. While Robinson is a man with much experience at both the NFL and college level, the results of that experience have been decidedly mixed. My impression of the man has been heavily influenced by Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician. The site's proprietor, as you might imagine, is not a fan:

Wow, Michigan fans.  I know we don't know each other all that well but you might want to pray that God will make you a bird so that you can fly far, far away from here.

TNIAAM's burning hatred for a man who went 10-37 may obscure rationality, but then again: 10-37 at a school that had gone 107-59-1 under Paul Pasqualoni with just one losing sesaon. Greg Robinson is a stunningly incompetent head coach.

(This is somewhat amazing to me: I actually watched the first game of Robinson's tenure at Syracuse, which also happened to be the first game of Pat White's career. It was a sleepy early-season game in a half-empty Carrier Dome between two nondescript Big East teams that I had no real opinions about. The only reason I watched it was because it was that giddy time at the beginning of the year when you're so excited to watch football that things like Mississippi State-South Carolina seem like a fantastic way to spend three and a half hours.

If you had stepped out of a time machine and told me that in four years Pat White would be governor of West Virginia, Rich Rodriguez would be head coach at Michigan, and Greg Robinson would win 25% of his games and then be under serious consideration for DC under Rodriguez, I would have punched you and stolen your time machine. But on the way towards a nondescript house in Mentor, Ohio, where Jim Tressel would conceived in approximately an hour, I would think to myself "wow, that's pretty far out."

Oh, yeah: West Virginia puttered along for a bit before getting some huge runs out of White and won handily; I thought to myself that gimmick offense will never work long-term.)

Anyway: being a stunningly incompetent head coach does not necessarily mean one is a stunningly incompetent coordinator. Numbers will have to make that case. Go, numbers, go!

Year Team PassEff Rush Scoring Total
2008 Syracuse 101 101 101 101
2007 Syracuse 109 108 104 111
2006 Syracuse 81 110 72 107
2005 Syracuse 37 97 67 57
2004 Texas 31 16 18 23



I'm a little stressed out by that. Robinson walked into a good situation at Texas* and managed not to screw that up, then went to Syracuse, where he had an average defense on a horrid team (1-10), which he then proceeded to crater for the next three years. Before his brief, star-making turn at Texas—again, for doing nothing more than treading water—he presided over one of the worst defenses in the NFL, getting fired after three years. The last actual success you can plausibly attribute to Greg Robinson came during his tenure as the Denver Broncos' DC, when his defenses were top ten in the NFL and a significant aid in Denver's back-to-back championships. Since then it's been abject failure save the one year in Texas.

But but but but… is there a but somewhere in here? I don't think so. Robinson was a horrendous, horrendous recruiter. This year a kid decommitted from Syracuse to go to Central Michigan. He is old and his energy level will only dip. Rumor is that he doesn't swear and looks down on those who do, which, like… that whole "fit" thing mentioned earlier, right?

Maybe the abject failure at Syracuse was one of recruiting, motivation, and roster assembly, and not schemes, but since Rodriguez doesn't coach the defense at all he's really hiring someone to be head coach of half his team. In that context, Greg Robinson seems like a horrible choice. (Also in all other ones.)

*(The 2003 Texas defense was 32nd in scoring D and 25th in yardage.)

Elsewhere: New M blog Those Who Stay runs down the Robinson resume and comes out the other side not covered in sewage.



January 16th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

First.... to say WTF! This is really the best we could do? Very frustrating after this long wait. Recruiting is important on the D-side, although we have others who seem to be doing pretty well at it. Those Denver defenses seemed pretty good anyway, and I agree with treading water at Texas. I mean, they don't play defense well in the Big12 anyway except for a few scattered teams in scattered years. Oy......


January 16th, 2009 at 3:24 PM ^

Last December was a dark dark time for the Michigan program and mgoblog. Let's try not to repeat. I better not see any references to FAA flight schedules in the coming days.

STW P. Brabbs

January 16th, 2009 at 3:54 PM ^

Kirk Ferentz is an average coach who a few years ago was well-regarded by those in the NFL. Iowa has been pretty mediocre-to-bad lately, and it's been the haven for a wide variety of Fulmer-cup and rape-type shenanigans lately.

I hope we dodge the Robinson bullet like we dodged the Ferentz bullet, though obviously the situation is not as dire with a DC hire as a HC hire.


January 16th, 2009 at 4:13 PM ^

A few things:

1. It's f&$king Iowa. Not exactly a hotbed for recruiting. What he has done there has been pretty damn good with all things being considered.

2. Ferentz could have an NFL HC gig TOMORROW if he wanted it. He could've had the Cleveland job. He can have the Chiefs job if he's ready to move on from Iowa.

3. Pointing at off the field issues within a program and trying to lay it all at the feet of the head coach is ridiculous. Do we really think we should sit there in judgement of other schools and coaches for the off the field shenanigans committed by some players when our very own program has had more than its fair share of problems in that department over the past 10-15 years?

STW P. Brabbs

January 16th, 2009 at 4:43 PM ^

I dunno, the directive to scrub the crime scene of an alleged rape strikes me as more than just lack of oversight on St. Kirk's part. And, while our shenanigans are cheeky and fun, Iowa's are tragic and cruel - evil shenanigans. We did have a bit of an uptick in shenanigans the last few years under Lloyd, which as much as anything else was an indicator the he'd perhaps lost his edge a bit. A coach can't be omnipresent or omnipotent, but the swell of trouble that has beset Iowa in recent years seems to betray a coach who is either unable or not fully committed to shenanigans-repression.

Oh, and I can massive bullshit on your No. 2 - what are your sources for these statements?


January 16th, 2009 at 5:19 PM ^

Uh, read a paper. Ferentz was offered the chance to interview for the Browns job. Pioli was just hired in KC. He and Ferentz are tight. Pioli would give him the job in a heartbeat if he wanted it.

Shonte Peoples, Marlon Jackson, Larry Harrison, David Terrell, James Whitley and a number of other players' off the field issues were anything but "cheeky & fun" there, bud.

STW P. Brabbs

January 16th, 2009 at 8:49 PM ^

'Chance to interview' not the same as 'could have the job if he wanted it', right? Also, even granting the idea that Pioli might give the job to his boy at the drop of a hat, does this alleged nepotism prove that Kirk is a billybadass coach?

Finally, while my shenanigans trope was a quote, I stand behind three things: 1) the aforementioned M shenanigans are not as bad as the Iowa ones; 2)I can't recall any DT shenanigans other than those of the "WHO GOT THE BOMBASS DICK" persuasion; 2b)if that's wrong, I don't wanna be right; and 3) it might make me a bad person, but the Larry "The Masturbating Bear" Harrison incident(s) always kinda makes me laugh.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 16th, 2009 at 3:50 PM ^

7 of the past 8 years of his career have been unadulterated failure. Hermann doesn't even come close to that.

The BlackHand

January 16th, 2009 at 3:49 PM ^

This whole idea of GR is just a mixed bagoshit! I agree with samsoccer..Is this the best we can do? Remember when it was time to choose sides for a team and you needed one more person on your team...but there was one kid left to pick and you felt that kid sucked (at whatever) ..this is that same feeling.

Dan Man

January 16th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

His failures have almost entirely come as a head coach. There have been many great coordinators who's talents didn't translate at all to being head coach (Weiss is one example). Maybe he'll do well here (please God, please...).


January 16th, 2009 at 3:55 PM ^

So will Brian queue the crying children? Or will he roll with crying kittens? Or perhaps crying children holding crying kittens?

I had a pretty bad week all considered, and came to the site to hopefully have a laugh. Then I was greeted with this. It was like being kicked in the nuts with a Congressional Mandate.


January 16th, 2009 at 3:58 PM ^

Can we swap Robinson for the new Lions coach Schwartz? I mean, the Lions are gonna suck anyway, but I'd love to have Schwartz as our new D-coordinator. That would rock.


January 16th, 2009 at 4:13 PM ^

If I'm RR I would be feeling the pressure of going 3-9 and ending a lot of "streaks", so I would be wanting to make a great hire and hiring a guy that took a once proud Syracuse program and ran it into the ground is not a smart decision.

I often ask myself what makes a guy like Muschamp or Van Gorder come seemingly out of no where to being the next big thing as a coordinator? Somebody along the way had to recognize that these guys were bright, motivated, and destined to become great coaches. I would much rather find the next Muschamp out of someone who may not be a household name than give a guy like Robinson the job. A guy like Robinson could probably do the job, but he probably doesn't have the same fire or dedication that a young up and coming coach would have. As far as recruiting, Robinson has proven he can't get it done with recruits and coffee is for closers.

Some might say Shafer was a young and up and coming coach and that didn't work out too well, but I believe that Shafer will be a good coordinator. I won't pretend to know more about the situation at UM than I do, but you've got a bunch of defensive coaches that are RR's croanies and you bring in an outsider to run it all. Not the recipe for success I would choose and it could very well be repeated unless RR hires/promotes somebody who he knows can work with him and his coaches.

I say go Vanderlinden and tell Hopson and the rest of them to adjust to him and we'll be back in the top 10 in defense in 2 years.


January 16th, 2009 at 4:19 PM ^

In the pros you get to choose from select talent and draft people that HAVE to come to your team. Recruiting star talent is a must to have a successful D. How many big recruits come from NY? I guess he's a better choice than than a awesome recruiter (Heater) in a no talent state like Florida (sarcasm a little thick here). I hope absolutely wanting that 3 man line doesn't bite us...


January 16th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

I suggest that RichRod pitch him thusly:

"Look, sure as sh*t, we need a DC and sure as sh*t, you need a fu**in job so let's saddle this b**tch and ride off into the sunset! Tally ho motherfu**ers!"


January 16th, 2009 at 4:37 PM ^

Apparently, Miles expressed interest in having GRob take the LSU DC job. Miles is known for hiring "the best person available" (not necessarily his buddies). I'm hoping Neuheisel "snake oils" Robinson to UCLA....


January 16th, 2009 at 4:41 PM ^

I'm hoping that all this Robinson rumormongering is nothing more than that, but if for some mysterious reason RR hires him, that does not bode well. You're only as good a HC as your assistants, and there's very little in Robinson's resume to recommend him as one of the two main positions under RR.

I don't think the no-swearing thing is irrelevant. I can't see GR happily standing by grinning while Barwis or RR is filling the air with F-#@$&**%$#@#^^-ing God-^%$#&^%$#-amn Pu-$%$#@$-ies" every other minute.

While I've never been hugely impressed by how WVU has done with him as DC, I'd much rather have Casteel. Hell, I'd rather have Herrmann.


January 16th, 2009 at 4:52 PM ^

where there were always two results when choosing new assistant coaches and they were seldom mutually exclusive:

1.) someone Lloyd knew and trusted


2.) someone unknown and completely incompetent

The greatest Michigan defensive coordinator ever might have been Bill McCartney, and even he wasn't particularly great (see any Michigan Rose Bowl for evidence). I don't know how well McCartney got along with Bo, since McCartney soon became a born again Christian and Bo...well, Bo swore like a trucker.

Rodriguez comes across as someone who hires people he trusts first and foremost. So even if Ken Norton Jr. wanted to come spend the rest of his days in Ann Arbor as DC for the Wolverines, Rodriguez might instead select the guy he trusts and who will meld in best with the rest of the coaching staff(following the lessons learned from Schafer experience), rather than the "outsider" guy who might very well overachieve to given objectives.

I don't know.

Common sense tells you that good hiring is critical to success. RR really can't afford to f around with mediocrity with the DC position. I hope he won't.


January 16th, 2009 at 5:14 PM ^

Your evidence on bad recruiting consists of:

"But but but but… is there a but somewhere in here? I don't think so. Robinson was a horrendous, horrendous recruiter. This year a kid decommitted from Syracuse to go to Central Michigan."

Ummm...UM had a kid decommit and go to Tulsa and I dare to say that RR is a pretty good recruiter. Crap happens.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 16th, 2009 at 5:19 PM ^

Robinson: parade of 2-star recruits
Rodriguez: #8 to #12 class in the nation.

People want to complain that winning at Syracuse is this impossible task. If you look at Syracuse's all time win % ranking through Robinson's arrival, they were the 23rd most successful program in the history of college football. For the 20 seasons leading up to Robinson's hire, they were the 20th most successful. For the 10 years leading up, they were the 31st most successful. This was a perrenial fringe top-25 team.

With Robinson? 112th.


January 16th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

at WVU. So what's your point? Give Robinson a bigger stage and maybe he recruits a higher class of athlete. I don't know.

And for the record, I am not saying Robinson is anywhere near the recruiter RR is. My only point is just because someone decommits to go to what is perceived as a lesser school does not equal terrible recruiter. There can be other reasons.

Also, isn't it possible that UM does not need a knock out recruiter at DC anyway? Sure it's nice but at this point I would be happen with a solid x's and o's guy. By all accounts the assistants already on staff are very good recruiters.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 16th, 2009 at 5:33 PM ^

No, the fact that he lost one player to CMU doesn't make him a bad recruit. The fact that he hasn't recruited a good player in 3 years makes him a bad recruiter.

And what indication do we have that a guy who coached more bad defenses than good in the NFL, and presided over one of the worst 5 defenses in the NCAA for the past 3 years is "a good x's and o's guy"?


January 16th, 2009 at 5:47 PM ^

I have no idea if Robinson is a good x's and o's guy. What I am saying is of all the traits that I would like to see in the new DC, knowledge of the game is at the top. Recruiting is not as big of a concern from me.