Mailbag! Comment Count

Brian October 10th, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Brian -

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; I'm just focusing on the raw number of fumbles since study after study has declared fumble recovery to be pure luck. Drum roll:

Year Fumbles/G Nat'l Avg
2007 2.15 1.67
2006 1.84 1.7

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.

Hi Brian,
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 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.

Hi Brian,

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.

Ben Osetek

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:

Brian -

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"?



October 10th, 2008 at 11:36 AM ^

RE:Starting QB next year.

Beaver is out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury (on which he'll likely have to have surgery). Rehab, etc. for that would likely set him back a bit, and he could start even a little further behind than expected.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 10th, 2008 at 11:44 AM ^

I just want to grind an axe with this "Kevin Grady is a chronic fumbler" meme. Since the second game of his freshman year, he has fumbled twice. Twice. People who have fumbled as many times, if not more, since the 2nd game of his freshman year:

Willis Barringer.

Matt Guittierez.

Antonio Bass.

Think about that, for a moment. Grady, in the last 173 touches of his career, has fumbled twice, or 1.1% of the time. During the past 173 touches, he has fumbled as often as a part-time safety, a guy who hasn't played for a year and half due to a cataclysmic knee injury, and a guy who has spent the last 1.5 seasons in the NFL, AND BARELY PLAYED WHEN HE WAS HERE.

Grady is not a bad fumbler.

The Squid

October 10th, 2008 at 12:40 PM ^

Thank you! Man, I'm sick of hearing this meme. And while Minor has had his problems so far this season, the Minor-is-a-fumbler meme existed before the 2008 ND during which time he had 3 fumbles in ~140 touches. That's not going to win him the Mike Hart Grip of Iron award, but certainly didn't warrant all the squawking about how he's too much of a risk to carry the ball.


October 10th, 2008 at 12:04 PM ^

Although it may seem like there are more injuries this year, I'm wondering if they seem more significant because they're hitting our starters, who just happen to be very, very young.

Injuries probably happen a lot to freshmen and sophomore, but it may not usually matter because A) they're not usually starting, and B) the depth chart is usually "fuller."

RichRod is working with a relatively thin and relatively young roster on offense.  And lo and behold, that is where the more "significant" injuries have happened.  It's possible that there is a connection.


October 10th, 2008 at 1:26 PM ^

I definitely think we would've had a very good shot at beating OSU if Hart and, especially, Henne were healthy. I'm not convinced that we beat Wisconsin at Camp Randall even if Hart & Henne had played, however.

West Texas Blue

October 10th, 2008 at 12:13 PM ^

Brady Hoke? Are you kidding me? He went 16-29 the last 4 years; his situation is playing out much like East Carolina: Senior laden team puts it all together for a successful season so far.

The bowl streak thing is ridiculous; what has it done for us? Will everyone be happy if we go to the Motor City Bowl and get smoked by Central Michigan? I don't buy the idea of "the bowl streak is tradition": why doesn't anyone bring up the losing streak against OSU? At the rate we are going, that will become a tradition also.

Why are people still bring up Les Miles? Who freakin cares, it's all in the past. We need to deal with what we have now, not what could've been this or that.  Give it up; Miles will never be Michigan's coach, so stop complaining about it.  It wouldn't have mattered who was the coach this year; a team with so much inexperience and attrition would have struggled no matter what.  


October 10th, 2008 at 12:27 PM ^

While being able to claim that UM went to a bowl is not all that important to me, I think the biggest aspect of it would be the extra practice time it would allow our team to have.  With such youth, we need as much practice as we can get.  That said, I think it would really benefit the team to make a bowl, not because of the streak but because of the extra practice time. 


October 10th, 2008 at 12:32 PM ^

People are going to bitch about Miles. You need to deal with it. There are many who believe he should be the one standing on the sidelines at the Big House on Saturdays, not Rich Rod. What I think is unfair are the people who are taking out their frustration with Miles not being here on Rich Rod. If you have legitimate concern about RR and whether or not he's the right hire , such as I do, than that's one thing. It seems as though some people blame RR and hold it against him for Miles not being UM's coach. Their anger is misdirected. They should be pissed at Lloyd and some of his cronies for trashing Miles behind the scenes making it extremely diffficult for him to ever be hired. Of course, Martin was the one who made the final decision, so, he is ultimately responsible IF RR doesn't work out.

turbo cool

October 10th, 2008 at 12:29 PM ^

This dissapoints me. I understand that not all michigan fans are rationale but this is getting beyond acceptable. I've noticed the 'Let's fire RR' bandwagon pick up this week after we lost to Illinois but also since Franklin, the former O-coordinator who attempted to run the spread offense at Auburn was run out of town 6 games into the season (could be less)! How can you give a guy so little time to completely overhaul your offense and expect to be as successful as the previous year? You can't.

 Anyways, back to RichRod. Brady Hoke, really? Just because he is having 1 good season and his MAC team is ranked does not merit him being anywhere near a better coach than RR. Ball State will eventually lose and I guarantee all these idiots that think Hoke is the better candidate for the UofM position will dissapear. This season is really filtering out fans from bandwagon fans.

And Brian, I respectfully disagree with you about Les Miles (even though it's your opinion, whateva). Les was gift-wrapped his situation walking into LSU after Saban with depth of talent and he didn't have to change his scheme. And I know you understand that but it is because of that he hasn't had to overhaul really anything. I mean, here's a hypothetical situation. If RR wen't to LSU after Saban with all those players do you not think he would've had the same success? If not more? I definitely think he would've won at least 1 NC. I like Les Miles a lot, as he is a 'michigan man' but I still think he is a bit overrated as a coach. He is good, no doubt about it, but i'd put RR in any of those programs in the SEC and 4 out of 5 times i'd say he'd have the best program w/ respect as to how he utilizes his talent.

'tis all.


October 10th, 2008 at 12:38 PM ^

needs more carries in short yardage situations. He is a beast and is NOT a chronic fumbler as pointed out by by chitown. I would trade a win over OSU for a bowl appearance this year. We need to turn the tide against OSU in a big way before this rivalry becomes a joke.


October 10th, 2008 at 12:50 PM ^

Guys that didn't pick up on the Brady Hoke joke well good luck.

Miles vs Rodriguez is a wash.  People need to get past all the "Wacky Zany Ninja Spread Outerspace Offense"  Rodriguez is probably as much a Bo clone as Miles if you strip away the window dressing.  Rodriguez's offense has been 1 of the most dominant run offense in the country, he believes in toughness, conditioning isn't afraid to tell you what he thinks and is unflinching in his beliefs much like a young buck we had come up from Ohio 40 years ago.

The Threet angst is way overblown the key to this offense much like every other offense is blocking and execution.  The lineman need to get stronger and better they will all be back next year and many will be back for 2 more years.  At which time they will be much better or beaten out by better younger players.  The biggest threat to Threet's job is not his legs he has proven ok, the key will be improvement in accuarcy.  If he can't keep consistently hit the short passes to keep drives alive Rod will go with the legs to keep them alive.

Everyone proclaimed to be patient and being patient has proved difficult for most.  I am convinced barring devastating Bass like injuries to key players Michigan will arive fully 2010.  By then a Qb will have emerged from a quality battle and Rodriguez will have his program established.  From there it will be epic Tressel vs Rodriguez battles that may usher in a new Bo-Woody era. 



October 10th, 2008 at 12:58 PM ^

1. I know for a fact Miles would've kept his long-time friend Mike Gittleson as the S&C Director. So, do you like fat lineman and players getting SLOWER?

2. Again, he's NINE YEARS older. The downside to needing to get a new coach in about 8 years cannot be overstated!

3. Once LSU was slated to be in the MNC game (as long as they beat TN in the SEC Title game) he was NO LONGER AN OPTION.  Read that again until it sinks in. The only way Les Miles comes to M was if his team was out of the running for the MNC.



October 10th, 2008 at 1:23 PM ^

I'm trying not to laugh at the fact that you're worried that UM potentially would've had to hire another head coach 8 YEARS FROM NOW if Miles were hired. That's a freakin eternity of time in sports these days. Also, what guarantee do you have that Rich Rod will be around 8 years from now? As far as Gittleson goes, I understand some of you swing from the nutsack of Mike Barwis, but, don't you think that the Barwis hype has gone way too far? Did UM look slow and fat against Florida last year? I'm not saying that the S&C program didn't need some spicing up, but, for god's sake some of you thought that Barwis alone would propel UM to 8 wins or more because all of our athletes would be turned into Superman under his tutelage.

Obviously, the fact that LSU was playing in the MNC title game made it extremely difficult to pull the Miles hire off, however, the leaks that were (allegedly) coming from people in the anti-Miles crowd  when Miles was talking with Martin and Co. made it impossible to leave LSU semi-cleanly. The one thing that seems to be consistent from people who had some idea on what was going on during the coaching search was that the false report by Herbstreit and all of the media leaks killed any chance of a Miles hire.

Emil Faber

October 10th, 2008 at 1:22 PM ^

I havae always wanted one of those varsity letter jackets--you know, the ones with leather sleaves and a big block M.  It should be ideal to wear both to homecoming and cold weather games.  Let me know if you can find a source for the cheerleader sweaters so I can check to see if I can buy a varsity letter jacket there.  Thanks.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 10th, 2008 at 1:07 PM ^

Long story short - Grady has a role on this team. He is the best short-yardage runner we have, and doesn't not have a distinct fumbling problem. That is, without a doubt, a large departure from the 5-star all-everything we thought he'd be. But it's still functional.


October 10th, 2008 at 1:45 PM ^

To clarify, I'm much more anti-Gittleson than being pro-Barwis, per se. Gittleson's program was terribly out-moded. The Cap One Bowl was an example of a highly motivated and emotional team versus an over-confident team just going through the motions.

Even through the 1st 5 games, 2005 was more injured-riddled than this year.

Also: OSU has pushed us around and ran by, around, and over us the last 4 years. There's some S&C aspect to that occurring.


October 10th, 2008 at 2:11 PM ^

RR is like Phil Ivey

 Les is Chris Moneymaker

 Yes, one did win a world series of poker and then got pretty damn far the enxt year......but, c'mon, who is the better pure poker player.

RR had a collosal failure vs Pitt last year, but so has Les, however he is basking in the glow of about six straight high risk, high reward gambles that all bounced his way. So, he looks like Lombardi right now.



October 10th, 2008 at 2:45 PM ^

Nice analogy. I agree with you, Leslie is on a real nice run of cards right now.

And I know this is irrational and petty, but a positive about RR for me is that he isn't from Ohio.  I just get very irritated when OSU fans say, incorrectly, that all of our best coaches and players are/were from Ohio. That's when I reply:

Yost, Crisler, Carr, Wheatley, Biakabatuka, Hart, Thomas, Perry, Morris, Woolfolk, Harmon, Leach, Griese, Brady, Collins, Harbaugh, Carter, Edwards, Terrell, Walker, Alexander, Toomer, Messner, Woodley, Steele, Branch, Sword, Gold, MacKensie, Law, Hall, Mallory, Dierdorf, Long, Hutchinson, Jansen, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, YOU CAN GO FUCK OFF NOW.

But sure, HBO makes some dipshit "documentary" where, magically, "all" of our best players and coaches come from Ohio?  Why, because they cherry-picked Bo, Grbac, Howard, Woodson, Manningham, and John-fucking-Kolesar??  What a fucking crock.

Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening.