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.


marco dane

January 16th, 2009 at 5:14 PM ^

...dosen't sound like the likely pick. I'm sure there has to be someone else R2 considering that hasn't leaked out.

Perhaps Pretty Ricky need R2's wizard hat also...


January 16th, 2009 at 5:18 PM ^

anyone gonna say that rr has already botched this decision?? he fired shaffer a month ago, said he was in no rush to hire a new dc, meanwhile let a couple of the bigger names goto other teams (read chivas at lsu), the college football season has been over for over a week (including the main part of it over since jan 1), for those who think hes waiting for a PRO coach (uhm..why...) thats only down to 4 teams.

what the hell is this man waiting for? and if it is true, if he really was waiting for Greg Robinson, that just seals the deal..this would be a godawful debaccle.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 16th, 2009 at 5:30 PM ^

Why would I judge what he's doing when I have not the slightest idea what he's doing. That is the definition of ignorance.

The condition of being uninformed or uneducated. Lacking knowledge or information.


January 16th, 2009 at 5:34 PM ^

then ignorance is exactly what we're doing with all this greg robinson shit. and all the recruiting shit. and beaver's decommit. and guessing how many games michinga is gonna win. if you're using that definition, we're all ignorant by going on this blog and and trying to figure out whats going on behind closed doors in schemb. hall

all im saying is it seems to me we should have had a dc before now. i gave rr the benefit of the doubt that he was waiting to the season over, now that it is, where is our dc? and if it is greg robinson, that would be just an absolute moronic hire, giving who he could have pursued and who else was out there.


January 16th, 2009 at 7:06 PM ^

i never said that the quicker the hire the better results. im merely speculating the longer this search goes on the worse it looks. he said he was going to wait until after the bowl season and take his time with this. fine. he's waited a month. the bowl season has been over for a week. and everyday it seems like new names keep getting put out there (hermann, heater, robinson etc)

you're right. you, me, brian, NO ONE HERE knows what is going on behind closed doors. but the bottom line is, the longer he keeps waiting, the more it will look like he does not have a grapple on the situation. it is one thing to go through thorough research about a choice, evaluate all the options, take your time etc. but the longer he keeps waiting the more it seems to border on the level of indecisiveness.

and this would be especially disastrous if, after a month or so of looking, he pulls out a meh choice.

but, this is after all, only my opinion, unfortunately for you, its just as right as your opinion. the wla, despite how funny you think your blog is, does not know anymore than anyone else on this site.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 16th, 2009 at 7:09 PM ^

I'm not claiming to know more than anyone else.

The difference, here, is that, based on the knowledge you don't have (nor do I), you're going to declare the search a failure. That's what makes you ignorant.

I'm going to wait to see the result of the search before I pass judgement on it. Cleary, if the choice is Robinson, my judgement is already made.


January 16th, 2009 at 5:39 PM ^

I do not get this choice if he ends up being our DC. It is not the fact he is bad or anything. I am sure he could be a great DC here at Michigan. My only thing is why choose him? Is there no better choice? He will never move onto being another HC somewhere because he failed so miserably, so this could end up being a long tenure DC or a firing after 1 or 2 years in my mind. We shall see which one it is. No better candidates is what surprises me. This guy will essentially be our second head coach.


January 16th, 2009 at 5:48 PM ^

RR got to play against GR's defenses for three seasons. At least I presume the Big East plays a round robin. So he's got an idea whether the deficiencies were scheme- or personnel-related. And if he concluded they were the latter, that's fine because he doesn't require his coordinators to do much recruiting.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 16th, 2009 at 6:19 PM ^

that's fine because he doesn't require his coordinators to do much recruiting.

Is that true? I mean, I know a few guys had Shafer as their main point of contact. I thought each assistant got a region of the country. Maybe they give the coordinators less importatnt ones..


January 16th, 2009 at 6:26 PM ^

with no players, Notre Stain coaching incompetence and maybe some "very good schemes" sprinkled in there.

The only positive I see with Robinson was early in the 1980s when he was part of Terry Donahue's staff at UCLA (asst coach and DL Coach and OC between 1982-1989). Anyone who remembers, those were some pretty damn good Bruin teams.
How much of the Bruin success in that era can be attrited to Robinson's efforts, I have my doubts. But Donahue was a great coach, and UCLA absolutely owned the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl and reg. season during that period.


January 16th, 2009 at 6:40 PM ^

Do ya think that all the brilliant minds here are the only ones to read, think of, research all the details of GRob? RR is no dummy. He knows his future here revolves around the success of this hire. He's not going to pick a coach whose "best" days are behind him. If his "best" days are a couple of seasons on a John Elway-led Bronco team surrounded by meh-terrible seasons everywhere else, he ain't the guy. Let me repeat, HE AIN'T THE GUY!

This pick has to be winner. Not from a popularity standpoint, but a Xs and Os, turn this defense around NOW standpoint. GRob maybe the smokescreen, decoy to throw everyone of the trail of the real guy. During this offseason I bet RR has had some time to think about the mistakes he has made along the way since that meeting in Toledo a year ago and what he would do differently. He will make sure he does this one right.

He'd take Hopson before GRob, right?!? God, I hope so.


January 16th, 2009 at 9:21 PM ^

If they make this guy here the d coordinator. Then I would say its a structural hire and adding to the facade. But I would say that Hopson then is the real coach. This may be a bridging move and or hire. Where you cannot go with Jay outright because of last season and Hopsons resume. So you bring in this guy who needs a paycheck, resonates some old school Michigan classy look, and then marry that to Hopson in the future. I'm just guessing


January 16th, 2009 at 10:23 PM ^

we don't? How can Brian, Chitown and most of us think this is a bad idea and there must be someone better, yet RR might see something completely differently?

I'm not bowing down to anyone on this blog, but are we missing something or is RR> If indeed, this story, or theory, or rumor is true, then what does GRob bring to the table that we don't know about. He's older, he's alledgedly not energetic, doesn't like swearing (WTF, with this staff?!?) and his record is not that great. SO, WTF? Is there no better all-around DC options out there? Did RR think he could get some NFL DC to come to college for less money?

Where's GSimms on this. He's our best Xs and Os guy and he seems to have a really strong grasp of what the M defense is trying to do. GSimms, what's your take on this Robinson guy????


January 16th, 2009 at 10:49 PM ^

From what I've heard, Hopson was offered but declined a few weeks ago. Apparently his wife wants to be back down south and they felt the DC position tied him into AA for too long.

Robinson seems to be a much better DC than HC. I think RR would know more than any of us with regards to choosing the coach.

Word is that UCLA is hot after Robinson too. G-Rob has been in AA for a few days now, control over the defense and some other issues are holding things up. Hopefully they can figure this out soon.

It seems that his career has gone like this:
When he has good players, he has a good defense (Denver, Texas)
When he has bad players, he has a bad defense (Chiefs, Syracuse).

Makes sense. Recrutiting shouldn't be a factor for the DC because we have obviously been successful recruiting without one. I just want a guy who can lead a tough, fundamental defense and help us win ballgames.


January 16th, 2009 at 11:47 PM ^

Unnamed sources are like butts - everyone's got one and only bad things usually come out them.

When someone with a name, someone close to either program who has some credibility states that Robinson is the new DC, then I'll start believing.


January 17th, 2009 at 9:21 AM ^

Lets all remember this before we go making a name plaque for GRod....The strongest opinion for our new HC was Les Miles. We were throwing a party and in rolled the big party cake. Then at just the right moment, out of the cake jumped our new HC. We were all ready to scream, "Welcome Les!" Then we took a look and saw the guy(IMO) who may lead head up the most dynamic change in offense at the major program, ever. Someone else refered to a "smokescreen" for the real DC candidate. Well, considering last years HC hire, I have to subscribe to the "smokescreen" theory. Not that Les was intended to serve as a smokescreen, just that most had assumed it was a "done deal."


January 17th, 2009 at 10:49 AM ^

apparently that is pushing hard to go back to the South. No inside info or anything, just the scuttlebutt from GBW with Saline ties. Along that line it was brought up that Hopson was offered it 3 weeks ago and turned it down because of the "staying in AA too long".

My take on that is, if the wife (and kids) want to go "home" that is going to carry a lot of weight with dad. If it's true he was offered and turned it down, the question has to come up for Rod as well as us, "how long are you going to stay and are you already looking back down South?" O.K. is was two questions, but you get the idea.

RR and staff are really doing a good job of keeping this quiet. All we have is two Bigfoot sightings at Schembechler Hall and ALOT of speculation. I hope RR has a true rabbit up his sleeve.


January 17th, 2009 at 12:38 PM ^

is this somebody who works for GBW who lives in Saline, or a poster on GBW who lives in the area? Big difference between the two.

Seems kind of odd that Hopson, who had no previous direct ties to RR, would move his family up to stinkin' damn Yankee territory if his wife wanted to remain in the south. Must have needed the job.


January 17th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

because he did need the job. And a year or two at UM is worth its weight in gold on a resume. He likely had no intention of staying long term but could sacrifice the comforts of the south for one or two years. If he were to become DC, that would require a multiyear commitment and maybe one he is just not ready (or willing) to give.

All the above is rampant speculation and I have no information whatsoever. Just throwing out a scenario


January 19th, 2009 at 9:41 AM ^

Former AA News UM football beat writer and Syracuse grad Jim Carty said on WTKA this am that he would be very concerned if Robinson was DC. He said straight out he thought Schafer would be preferable to Robinson. He did say that Robinson was a really nice man, though.

I'd rather have a hard-driving, obnoxious prick with a proven record of consistent success than some nice guy with as many black marks on his resume as gold stars.


January 19th, 2009 at 11:17 AM ^

his defense was actually really good, considering how pathetic their offense was. I think most of their failings recently have more to do with talent and Robinson being a terrible head coach.

I'd say this is a fairly good hire.