I can't believe we didn't pursue Brady Hoke harder during the coaching search. Ball State is on their way to an undefeated season and a national championship that could have been ours...instead we are stuck with Rodriguez whose only accomplishment so far is making 50% of the plays we run on offense look like they are going to go the distance every single time starting next year and recruiting players that could probably run to Lloyds house and back and then score a touchdown without us ever knowing they left the stadium. And some were mad that Martin missed out on Miles.
Serious question though - almost half way through the season now, do you have any regrets that we didn't get Les Miles? I have mixed feelings - I prefer to run a pro style offense and believe that you can run a pro style offense that is really exciting and really liked the idea of a Michigan guy coaching. On the other hand, Rod is the exact opposite that Lloyd and Bo ran and it seems like it was time for that kind of change, and you cant argue with results. He is a young guy with nothing but success on his record and probably has nowhere else in the coaching world to go that is a real step up from Michigan (no spread in the NFL). I am worried that the record books will reflect that this is the start of a new era and that every single relevant and irrelevant Michigan streak will be broken this year, culminating in the bowl streak ending. Stupid examples - Illinois had their best game against us since 1929 and we are off to our worst start since 1967.
I'm not sure if I ever expressed any sort of "woo forget Miles" sort of sentiment during the Peanut Butter Jelly Time, but I don't think I did. I converted from Miles skeptic to full-on believer at the exact moment the full girth of his massive, game-theory-PhD-possessin' testicles became apparent. The Miles Profile In Heroism was highly positive, though that incident where he tried to call timeout to save time after a turnover lingered.
As far as regrets, let's break it down a bit. In Miles's corner: Michigan background, performance at the highest level, a (probably) less-harrowing transition year, a much less annoying summer, and the rock-hard certainty he was going nowhere.
In Rodriguez's corner: a potentially more explosive offensive system, his ability to take bleah recruiting classes and turn them into national contenders, and his relative youth—Rodriguez is nine years younger.
Which of those would you prefer? I prefer Miles, but the gap is small.
*The current Old Testament plague of fumbles is, of course, maddening, and perhaps even inexplicable (Cissoko, Shaw, and Threet are true freshmen, Grady and Minor are chronic coughers, but what gives with Trent and Matthews?) I wonder: Is there any evidence, statistical or anecdotal, that Rodriguez's WVU teams also had a propensity to lose the ball?
I've heard the arguments on the discussion boards about inexperience and overcompensating to the point of being reckless, but isn't such a breach of fundamentals (or at least miserable special teams play) actually a coaching issue, and, if so, a blind spot on Rodriguez's otherwise impressive resume?
Fumbles are rare events that can vary wildly, so to take a look at this we'd probably need the full Rodriguez dossier from West Virginia. Unfortunately, the NCAA is in the process of revamping its internet-accessible statistics and many years of data are currently offline. What data we do have is from CFBStats.com; I'm just focusing on the raw number of fumbles since study after study has declared fumble recovery to be pure luck. Drum roll:
There is some evidence that West Virginia was fumble-prone. But not much. 2007 was likely a monster outlier with those turnover-fest games against South Florida and Pitt. (FWIW, WVU was still #9 in TO margin last year.) And 2006 is the equivalent of two extra fumbles per year, one of which you'd expect to be lost. Not exactly an enormous (or statistically significant) difference.
Unfortunately, we don't have an actual fumble count for earlier years and can't even get a number for fumbles lost because the NCAA's site is wonky. I hope to revisit this later when there's more data available.
Oh, in case you were wondering: Michigan is dead last in fumbles this year with 20, eleven of which they've lost. Is this the fault of the coaches? Eh… I don't think so. There has been one fumble on a bad pitch to McGuffie; other than that the rest of them have been freshmen fumbling kickoffs or juniors fumbling handoffs or Threet just fumbling for no reason whatsoever. Even if you believe that coaches can affect a team's focus and preparation and make them carry it high and tight—and that there's any difference in coaching methods here—I think any effect would probably take longer than a few months.
I chalk this up to the usual: the universe's specific desire to cause me pain.
I had a quick question for you with regards to injuries. Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of guys are dinged up week in and week out? Every week, I see something like this....
On when freshman Martavious Odoms hurt his shoulder against Illinois: "He went back in the game, but he was feeling it for the rest of the game. We obviously held him out. We're going to try to do some things with him today but he'll be questionable for Saturday. We'll see what happens."
On other injuries: "Austin Panter is out with a shoulder, Brandon Graham is questionable with a leg infection, Junior Hemingway is out, Carlos Brown is out still. Perry Dorrestein should be able to go."
Is this a function of conditioning? I KNOW that Barwis is a stud, i KNOW he will kill every man, woman, and child who crosses him, and i KNOW these boys are in shape, but, doesn't it seem a little weird that every week there is another key player that goes down?
I just don't remember this many injuries when Lloyd was coach, and I am well aware that this could be because Lloyd didn't give any info, ever! I was just wondering what your two pennies was on this....it just seems odd to me. Obviously, injuries hapen, however I just don't remember this many, week in a week out in the past.
thanks and keep up the good work.
chris (last name withheld so Barwis doesn't eat me)
It does seem like there are slightly more people banged up than usual but not by an alarming amount. I mean, have you seen UCLA's quarterback situation? There are worse fates than Michigan's current injury docket.
Obviously, the "pre-hab" that featured in a few of the eeee Barwis articles hasn't turned Michigan players into the X-Men sort of Wolverine; it was probably a little overblown. Barwis can't prevent ankle sprains or mono or thigh bruises. He can only prevent communism from taking over the world. And puppies from flying off into space.
You're right to point out the perception effects: Rodriguez, when asked, says "this guy is injured in this way." Lloyd would never do that. A player could limp by trailing a bloody stump and someone could ask him about it while standing on the very trail of viscera and he would claim the guy was "tremendously questionable." I specifically remember the woe during the Year of Infinite Pain that resulted in the "Angry Michigan Safety Hating God" coinage; this is not new.
If you had to guess, one year from today (week between Illinois and Toledo) who do you think the Starting Quarterback will be? After weeks 1 and two I would have said Tate Forcier will come in and start next year, then Notre Dame and Wisconsin happened, and Threet looked like he had the potential to continue as the starter next year. Then Illinois happened, and after watching Juice run a similar system I became convinced that Shavodrick Beaver will get the nod. Watching Juice just made me realize that w/o the constant threat of a run by the quarterback this offense is only about 50% effective no matter how good the other 10 offensive players are. It seems like teams are not containing Threet, but why should they care? besides the Wisconsin 58 yard Scamper, he hasn't really burned a team for more than 10 yards. And I think most coaches would think that's a fair trade off for completely shutting down the running game.
I have no faith in this prediction, but: Threet. Watching Shavodrick Beaver scramble around like a maniac during his high school game was pretty impressive but that guy is like 180 pounds and needs some additional arm strength. I bet he's headed for a redshirt.
Forcier, meanwhile, will press Threet but he'll have a full year under Rodriguez to his credit and he hasn't been completely clueless so far. I think it'll be a battle; at the moment I give Threet a 40-35 edge with Beaver picking up the remaining 25%.
I don't think anyone's going to be able to help this gentlemen but on the off chance:
Where can I get one of those alumni cheerleader maize sweaters with the big block M? I have searched high and low all over the internet, eBay, MDen, random Michigan shops wherever I see them, etc. Short of persuading my grandmother to knit me a maize sweater and then attach a large M to the front of it, any idea where I could find one of those things? I can't think of anything cooler to rock at a future "Maize Out" when the weather turns cool.
Keith aka "WolverineKeith"
Anyone have any ideas other than "bounty hunting"?