Hello: Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson

Submitted by Brian on January 20th, 2009 at 1:46 PM

Greg Robinson-yelling Two reliable sources are reporting that Greg Robinson is indeed the guy at defensive coordinator; unless there's an unexpected derailment an official confirmation should come sometime soon. (Bonus, ethically dubious confirmation can be found at Maize 'n' Brew, which relays some goings-on at the premium sites.)

I've said my piece on Robinson already—in a word: yikes—and am pretty skeptical of the hire. However, I am not a football coach or even that familiar with Robinson's work except in a macro "holy God what happened to Syracuse?" sense. Rich Rodriguez is, and he's basically gambled his career on his future performance. All hail Gamblor!

Also: Michigan might not be done searching for coaches. LBs coach Jay Hopson is apparently searching for a job closer to home, further proving that nothing escapes Mississippi's inexplicable gravitational pull.

Yes, this would make it a seriously uphill battle to retain the services of either non-enrolled DT commit.

Commence panic?

Update: official.


chitownblue (not verified)

January 20th, 2009 at 2:58 PM ^

FWIW, as someone who drove the bus part of the way on the Robinson-hate here:

His resume makes me uneasy, as I think there is more bad than good.

That said, I know nothing of the techinical side of football, nor about filling out a coaching staff. I don't love this idea, but there's no reason to complain now - if he succeeds, my utter lack of football knowledge will only be confirmed. Lets hope it works.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:14 PM ^

"His resume makes me uneasy, as I think there is more bad than good."

I am also at unease, though I think his resume has more good than bad. He was not much of a HC at Syracuse, to be sure, but do I really need to remind Michigan fans of Moeller's tenure at Illinois? I'm not looking too deeply into the Syracuse portion of his record, especially because he is not moving into a HC position. At DC, he is more than competent; he is exceptional! I'm excited about this hire.

In general, approach uncertainty with confidence and optimism. At least, then, if everything goes to shit, you at least have some momentum in your favor. And if that fails, too, then at least you had something going for you for a little while, even if only in your own mind.


January 20th, 2009 at 2:58 PM ^

I would have thought as much!

"Thought what?" Oh brother and sisters, this you may ask.

I would have thought the 2007 and 2008 seasons would serve to humble this fickle, self-important fan base!

I would have thought that a slew of somber, sorrowful and disappointing experiences over the past few years would reduce our vapid sense of entitlement!

I would have thought these things ... if, and only if, I were a complete fool!

What do you want? So GR is not a "sexy" hire. He isn't going to have Herbstreit and Corso fondling themselves with glee, defiling what's left of their integrity on cable TV and inciting orgiastic self-pleasurement on a national scale. He does not bear the trappings of a flavor-of-the-year or a sure-bet in any dimension. "Oh, boo hoo hoo, he's not the Golden Calf I so desired," lament the cowards and the weaklings. Well I'll tell you folks, reconsider your priorities! The flavor of the year lasts only a year; similarly, going with the sure bet is the surest way to mediocrity. Such is not the nature of MEEECHIGAN! Remember yourselves, Wolverines! And cheer the fuck up!


January 20th, 2009 at 3:14 PM ^

I don't have issues with GR because he isn't sexy enough - he is a perfectly fine looking gentleman, and I'm sure an experienced and compassionate lover. Nor do I dislike him for not being a demigod - I have more than enough golden animals in my garage as it is, and finding animals for sacrifice to MGoGod is not as economical as it once was, what with the stock market the way it is.

My issue is with the fact that RR just hired a guy who just led a storied college team through its worst stretch ever, with one of the worst defenses in the nation over that stretch, and who also recently failed as a DC in the pros. Yes, he was a good DC while coaching a bunch of really good players in Denver and didn't screw up with players he inherited at Texas. GR was a great DC 8-9 years ago, but right now any rational fan has to question how much he has left in the tank, both as a coach and a recruiter. So if questioning a dubious hire makes me an entitled baby, then so be it.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:32 PM ^

One point is that everything in life is context-specific. Given little information by which to project his performance within the context of being DC at U of M, it is ultimately arbitrary whether we promote or condemn him. I won't move an inch toward condemning the man within this context until he has demonstrated consistent inability herein.

Another point is that if this hire were not dubious in some regard, it would be penultimate cowardice and a step further down the road to mediocrity.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

While I see the point you are making (context is everything - success/failure at one stop does not necessarily portend the same somewhere else), I counter that to ignore the past and presume that everything will be perfect until proven otherwise will lead to a fair bit of heartache and false starts, which can be disastrous when trying to build cohesiveness on a football team.

I'm not trying to bury GR - he might simply be a victim of a bad situation at SU, a sinking ship that nobody could have patched up. That said, I don't find it unreasonable to consider all of the evidence available, extrapolate some recent trends (both positive and negative), and make an observation based on those facts. Listen, the irrational fan in me believes that UM can do no wrong, that GR's age and experience will allow him to stand up to RR when needed, install an attractive pro-style system, and mold the raw talent he has on that side of the ball into a dominant D. But the rational side of me can't completely overlook KC and SU, nor can it imagine 2001 was yesterday.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:03 PM ^

A friend of mine (who played DE under Robinson at Syracuse) and I have been trading emails today because we're likely going to hire GRob and the 'Cuse is apparently taking a close look at Shafer (ironic, huh).

Anyway, his views on Robinson as DC are quite favorable. He thinks GR is "brilliant" as a defensive strategist but didn't have good qualities as an HC (namely: delegating authority, setting a strong organizational structure for a program). He attributes a lot of their defensive lapses to a lack of quality athletes at SU. In regards to the hire, he thinks a lot may have to do with RR's problems against SU. He said they usually played WVU pretty well early in the games but eventually WVU's athletes would take over becasue the Orange just didn't have the kind of guys they could put out there for 60 minutes to match up against a team like WVU. In many ways, it's the most sincere form of flattery for Rodriguez to get a guy he has X-and-O'd from across the field. He has game experience against GRob so I would imagine he thought pretty highly of the guy's ability to scheme.

I'm stil getting some more anecdotal information from him, but I think it's pretty positive when a former player (who played for him for 5 years and only went to one bowl game) has glowing reviews on the hire.

Again, he stresses the difference between Robinson the HC and DC. We're not asking him to revive a program, but we're asking him to give some direction to a defense that routinely was outcoached. I think Robinson might be able to provide the kind of balance our defense needs and could be a good hire. He definitely doesn't have the star power of a Will Muschamp or Charlie Strong, but he may very well be a guy who can coax fundamentally strong play and good results...


January 20th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

that's encouraging...Also, FWIW, the Chiefs teams Robinson coached had almost zero talent on the defensive side of the ball. Everyone good they had under Schottenheimer had gotten old and retired...Robinson's track record in the NFL seems a lot like Marvin Lewis's: when he has talent he does well and when he doesn't his defenses stink.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 20th, 2009 at 3:27 PM ^

Good players = good results.
Bad players = bad results.

Go figure.

As simple as the point is, it's true. If Michigan gets good players and coaches them how to play correctly, the defense will be successful, no matter what the scheme or front.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:35 PM ^

...but my point was that Marvin Lewis, or so I think, is held in high esteem by most people as a defensive guy and even his defenses fail when their best player is Justin Smith. Thus Robinson shouldn't be tarred for his time w/ the Chiefs.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:33 PM ^

"a former player (who played for him for 5 years and only went to one bowl game) has glowing reviews on the hire."

??? Robinson coached at Syracuse for 4 years, and they didn't go to any bowl games. Your friend must have been at 'Cuse for PP's last season.

I would have preferred a DC from a smaller school with a better recent resume. What RR needed to do was hire a DC version of the Brian Kelly who was still at CMU.

If this goes down as Rivals is saying, then RR must have a tremendous amount of confidence in GR. There's plenty of alumni disquiet due to RR's first season that's bubbling just under the surface, and this hire will do nothing to quiet that, at least until we start winning games next season. If the defensive struggles continue, then the alumni and booster grumbling will get a whole lot louder.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

All this talk about wanting and hoping for a spalshy hire? Who exactly is splashy? I just dont get it....most folks here cant even tell you all the DC's in the Big 10, but we're supposed to freak out because this is not splashy enough and means UM is no longer a destination? Just because people dont want to leave their own DC jobs for a lateral move means nothing.

Oh.My.Gawd. We blow because Charlie Strong does not want to leave Florida or Bud Foster wont leave Blacksburgh.


I feel the folks freaking out with this logic, would be screaming lack of experience if we had indeed gone the splashy up and comer route.

But, again, who is/was that candidate exactly?


January 20th, 2009 at 3:15 PM ^

coming here. When in the recent history of high profile DC or OC's have we had one? Herrmann and English were not high profile, nor are most of the B10 coordinator's. Those wring their hands over M's attractiveness to big names are missing the point. What we COULD have had however, based on the money we spend, was an intriguing choice from a different school, someone a DC at a smaller school or a position coach under a top DC. I would have felt better if that were the case vs getting GR.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:16 PM ^

Another thought of mine:

Anyone associated with the Oakland Raiders the last 5 years gets a pass from me relative to how they fared.

I feel the same about Syracuse.

Yes, Robinson was the coach who led most of the disaster, but it had been heading that way before he got there. Syracuse 2001-2004 was not the same as the 1980s or 1990s. Not by a long shot. Just like you could see Nebraska heading downhill before it happened, you could say the same for the Orange.

They had been mired in the rut and with new teams like USF and Rutgers in the fold, they were passed.

Robinson was not the best choice at the time for Syracuse as he is a career #2 guy and hardly a program builder. They need a Greg Schiano type and went the other way. I never thought GR would have any success at Sryacuse and he's a better coach now that he's back doing what he does best.

Korean Wolverine20

January 20th, 2009 at 3:19 PM ^

I've talked to some Texas fans and a lot of them liked GR and felt that he was a hell of a better DC than a HC. They said he made some weird decisions but it all worked out. Some said that if not for Will Muschamp, they would've like GR back. So even some of us may feel uneasy, we just got to wait it out and see what happens during the season.

Now if Hopson goes, we're effed in my opinion on the recruiting trail. The biggest flaw on Robinson was his inability to recruit so although we might have Gibson to help us there, we're screwed recruiting wise. Coaching wise, I think he can be replaced okayly.

One suggestion to replace Hopson, if he goes, is Steve Morrison. He's the DC for Western Michigan, is a Michigan man, and his resume isn't bad at all.

My 2 cents


January 20th, 2009 at 3:50 PM ^

As a Texas alumni who was in school during the GR era, I couldn't agree more. He was a good DC, and a good recruiter in Texas. I think this is a great hire, and without Muschamp, I'd be asking for him as well.

Pair this with the fact that he has now has some recruiting knowledge of the NE (although of questionable quality with the talent he brought into 'cuse), and more importantly some recruiting knowledge of the South, he looks like a pretty good pickup. He'll be looking to earn his stripes back, and is a good coach.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

Remember when Kurt Warner was washed up? When Pete Carroll was an NFL retread? When Chauncy Billups was a lottery pick bust?

I'm not saying it's definitely going to work. But without $1 Million to spend on coordinators, this hire comes straight out of the Joe Dumars playbook. For a discount price, take a chance on a former superstar w/ a chip on his shoulders and see if he works harder than ever to restore his reputation.

Let's hope it works.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:26 PM ^

from the most email from a former Cuse player:

"head coach is more of a political figure than a DC... has to deal with more personalities and more power... he couldn't do both

in his first year the first 5 games of the season we had one of the top 25 defenses in the country... until the horrific offense finally caught up to us and defense started to get warn (sic) out... he prepares very well and his gameplans work"

Sounds like Robinson is a one-trick pony, but it doesn't really matter for us as long as it's only on the defensive side of the ball.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:28 PM ^

Here is another emotional argument that I think isnt that reflective of history: He was an abject failure as a head coach, so what the fawk are we doing hiring him as a DC!!!!

His abject failure as a head coach means absolutely nothing towards his ability to be a DC.

Ted Roof was awful at Duke and Cutliffe improved the program in his frst year. However, Roof helped lead a big improvement in Minnesota's defense this season in his first year as DC.

Dont forget folks, Gary Moeller went 6-24-3--an abject failure--at the Univeristy of Illinois. He ended up being an excellent OC for Michigan. Mike Debord was an abject failure as HC at CMU, but as OC for UM led the team to a national title and almost directed a second offense to another unbeaten season.

I'm not a DeBord fan, but if Robinson's work as DC falls somewhere in between Moeller and Debord as OC, then he will be doing well.

And, there are tons of other folks who failed as a HC, but excelled again in the coordinator role once they went back to that sort of job.


January 20th, 2009 at 4:51 PM ^

my worry is the complete lack of evidence that he can recruit. As others have said, some guys flame out as HC's (Marinelli is another) but are acknowledged a excellent coaches. He is likely one. But since he could not recruit-- at all--at Syracuse, that is my big worry.


January 20th, 2009 at 6:21 PM ^

Could you please explain how you arrived at the conclusion that Dews, Gibson & Tall are "great recruiters?" I'm asking this because it seems like virtually every defensive player that has verballed to us usually mentions Jay Hopson as being an integral part of their recruitment. Unfortunately, that's the guy who probably won't be around much longer.

West Texas Blue

January 20th, 2009 at 6:41 PM ^

Sorry I meant to type Rod Smith instead of Tall; accidental mix-up of names.

Anyways, info to back up my claim:

Gibson works Western PA and Ohio, in which we have 3 commits, including stud CB JT Turner. OSU pretty much locked down Western PA and Ohio a few months after '09 signing day, but we'll have much better results for the '10 class (Derrick Bryant, Cullen Christian)

Rod Smith works Florida, in which we have 6 commits, we are probably going to land Lo Wood, and we have the interest of many top '10 Florida prospects.

Tony Dews has landed our last 6 commits (per Scout mods)

Hopson has landed Graves and DeQuinta Jones, both of whom are our most wavering commits. So I'm not sure where you got the idea that Hopson is a great recruiter.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 20th, 2009 at 3:29 PM ^

I'm not a fan of this, but at the end of the day, if we recruit good players, and teach them proper fundamentals, we'll have a good defense. Really.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 20th, 2009 at 3:42 PM ^

Eh. I think Robinson is thoroughly mediocre. So was Ron English, but he "succeeded" when he had good players. If we get good players and teach them to play correctly (ie, wipe out the horrendous tackling and mental mistakes), I think we can put out a perfectly fine defense.

In other words - my opinion of Robinson is unchanged - I think he isn't very good. I'm just not sure how important it is that he be a tactical genius. If we recruit like woah, we'll be fine.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:57 PM ^

Jay Hopson is probably our best recruiter out of anyone on the defensive staff. If he leaves, don't you think that our recruiting could potentially suffer on the defensive side of the ball? One could argue that it is already down, especially since it looks like Jones & Graves are both likely to decommit.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:46 PM ^

for all of us, doesn't it?

The greatest achievement of Greg Robinson happened back in 1997 and 1998 as DC of the Denver Broncos. Ironic that such success was around the same time of UM's national championship with then DC Jim Herrmann.

Maybe Greg Robinson, who is 57, has some fantastic years ahead of him as the new Michigan DC.

Rich Rodriguez and Pete Carroll (Robinson's good friend) must both know something about how well Robinson can coach the defense.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

I don't have much to add other than he's probably much better than a hiring a n00b or an "up and comer".

Also, that picture is awesome. Wonder what that dude did wrong? I must imagine that Robinson was like that in many many 'Cuse games. He has to swear, I mean, look at that face.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:44 PM ^

and God speed to you as you try to go forward. Hopefully since he is not the one in charge it will work out. Our condolences to you and yours from the Syracuse Blogisphere.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:45 PM ^

not bothered by this one bit. especially when you consider that RR wanted someone to coordinate the input of the defensive staff rather than "run" the defense. not sure that RR could have gotten any better candidate under those terms.


January 20th, 2009 at 4:56 PM ^

Perhaps Schafer's problem was that he wanted to do things HIS WAY and HIS WAY ONLY. Clearly RichRod's defensive assistants have had success developing players by working together (see Pacman Jones, Ryan Mundy (?!) to name a couple) Maybe if GR can work well with the assistants that are there, and all he has to do is the X's & O's, they will be successful. Besides, X's & O's is a very small part of being a football coach. Some guys can be very good at that part, and suck at everything else (Fat Bastard Weis) but if you make it so he only has to do the one thing he's good at, he'll be successful. We'll see.


January 20th, 2009 at 3:58 PM ^

I went to BYU undergrad and suffered through Gary Crowton as head coach. Crowton looks similar to GR, except on the offensive side: fairly successful college OC, not-so-impressive NFL OC, dismal head coach. He took a pretty decent BYU team and ran it into the ground. After getting fired, he was OC at Oregon and did great. He is currently at LSU, doing some good stuff there too. Maybe some dudes just can't be head coaches and need the right fit. Maybe GR will flourish at U-Mich.