Mailbag!

Submitted by Brian on November 13th, 2008 at 1:31 PM
Brian,
 
While the season has not been a "success", so to speak, I guess I'm a bit surprised at the pessimism about our future seasons.  The bowl streak is over and the 2005 season sounds like a dream at this point, however, I think that there may be some hope for the future.
 
Other than the Notre Dame fumble fest, we've held a lead in every game thus far this season.  Also, other than the Utah and Toledo games, we've held substantial leads in the rest of the games (substantial = Lloyd's insurmountable 10 point margin).  It seems like after we get out to a quick start, teams adjust and we lose steam.  Ignoring any future gains in personnel and the growth of young players, it seems as if, given more time to install a few more wrinkles in the offense, this team, as it is, could be significantly improved next year.  As in, the biggest thing we lack is an ability to adjust to the other team's adjustment.
 
Am I blinded by optimism?  Is this all crazy talk?  I just find it hard to believe that we've put a scare into two top ten teams this year (Utah and PSU) and are realistically that far away from being "back".  While we're losing more games than I thought we would, I do see some reason for optimism ... in other words, while our final records may be the same, this is a better season than ND had in 2007.
 
Thanks,
Sam

I actually plan to tackle the "which season was worse, M 2008 or ND 2007?" question in shocking, horrific detail once Michigan's season clatters to a halt on November 22nd. I don't think you're totally off base with your optimism, but you are somewhat.

Let's definite "optimism," first. It's totally reasonable to expect significant improvement. Michigan returns 11 starters on offense and 5 on defense. The new coaching staff will have a year of experience with the players and the players will have a year of experience with the systems. There will be three reasonable quarterback options on campus instead of half of one. Michigan won't accidentally schedule a top ten team like Utah in the nonconference. A repeat of 3-9 or 4-8 would be a disaster. Even a pessimist has to expect 6-6. Optimism in this case is 9-3.

Is that reasonable? Maybe it is, for all the reasons mentioned above, and one more: the number 104. That's Michigan's ranking in turnover margin this season. TO margin is not entirely random but there is very little year-to-year correlation; Michigan is likely to improve radically next year. This argues for 7-5, 8-4, maybe even 9-3. Flukes have conspired to make Michigan look worse than it really is this year.

However, this is another number that is no fluke: –71. That's Michigan's deficit in total yards this year (ie, Michigan is averaging 71 fewer yards on offense than they give up on defense). That's a much harder statistic to improve, especially when Michigan probably won't have the luxury of playing a quarterback with a year's worth of hard knocks behind him. It's not like Jimmah(!) is ripping the world a new orifice, but Notre Dame's passing efficiency has gone from 113th to 54th largely because he's not the worst quarterback in the universe anymore.

At this point I think 2009 is going to be a pretty bleah year that ends in some December bowl game.

Mr. Brian,

As someone who’s in the tank for your perspective on the Rodriguez Administration, I’ve been trying not to get too worked up about this season; being out of state (NYC) that’s not too hard, since I don’t have any contact with local columnists and talk-radio, and the fellow fans I talk to here are relatively sane. The only nightmare I actually have about this season is that somehow Rodriguez will get forced out, and we’ll have to start over from scratch and hire someone named “Bowden.” I would consider that scenario incredibly far-fetched, except that you keep mentioning these anti-RR knuckleheads, which is making me paranoid that they actually are making some headway. Can you disabuse me of my paranoia? You’re not actually hearing rumblings from anyone who counts, right?

Also, I keep being frustrated by the feeling that RR and the athletic department are not getting to hear my/our side of the argument. Partly this is kind of a ludicrous fan daydreaming like, “I bet me and Mike Hart would be friends if we knew each other! Rich Rodriguez would shake my hand and thank me for my support if I ran into him in an airport and told him how I feel!” But there’s also a logical reason to worry about it, which is that it seems to me like the naysayers control the instruments of public-sentiment-conveyance that RR or Bill Martin would hear about. My sense is that younger fans and the students (based purely on my observation of the student section at the MSU game) are behind the new team—how can this be gotten across? Pro-Rodriguez chants at the last home game? Letter-writing campaigns? Sending “Hang in There” kitten posters to Bill Martin’s office?

Flummoxed,

BML

For the very official record: no mention of discontent in the athletic department, credible or not, has reached my inbox. This is because the people in the athletic department are not complete idiots even if local sportswriters want them to be. I have heard that certain people high up fully understand how far behind the eight ball Rodriguez is because of the decision to pursue just Ryan Mallett over the course of two recruiting years. That led to a 2007 quarterback recruiting class of the Coner and drove Jason Forcier to Stanford. When Mallett transferred the instant Rodriguez was named head coach, it immediately subtracted three wins from this year's record and maybe a few more in 2009. That sequence of events more than any other is responsible for the dismal year we're enduring, and they know that inside the AD.

I'm torn between bemusement and white-hot rage at the way these things get constructed. Look at the amazing coverage of Rodriguez's buyout lawsuit, which was mentioned every week as an "embarrassment" and a "stain on the university" by columnists. Why was it "embarrassing"? Because columnists kept writing about it! They wrote columns citing some sort of furor over this meaningless lawsuit between one insanely rich party and another insanely rich party when that furor was entirely contained in stupid columns with lots of one-sentence paragraphs and West Virginia message boards.

You can see the Detroit columnists doing this again, by speaking darkly about the Impatient Michigan Fan and his horrible cruelty to Lloyd Carr, who voluntarily retired and could have kept his job and everyone still likes and respects even after losing to Ohio State six of seven years. Find another fanbase out there that would react like that. No doubt this vicious monster will turn on proven collegiate head coach because he had a terrible first year with 600 first year starters. But if they say it enough, it will seem true. See the "Rich Rodriguez is the devil" meme, which got started with one flatly dishonest "news" report about Rodriguez shredding WVU's Sacred Single Hard Copies and leaving the Mountaineers no idea who was even on the team. Columns started, then more columns got written because there were columns out there, and it turned into this enormous recursive circle jerk of stupidity.

All Rodriguez could say was a befuddled "I just changed jobs," because what else can you say to people who would abandon their current jobs in a nanosecond if you offered them a 60% pay raise and a spot at the New York Times but criticize you for doing the same thing? Other than "are you idiots serious about this?"

This is by way of warning you: yeah, I am probably going to write an angry fisk or three over the summer.

Anyway, as far as Action Items you can undertake: if you send an email to Bill Martin, someone will read it and it will probably be compiled into a report of general fan sentiment. This might be marginally helpful. Writing huge checks and promising more as long as Rodriguez is given a fair shake will probably do it, if you're Scrooge McDuck.

But these things are of marginal impact or expensive. I advise making the style of your fandom public. You know that PSA from a couple years ago where some businessmen are sitting at a table and Businessman A says something like "You know what about black people rabble rabble racist implication!" and Businessman B says something like "No, sir, I don't approve of your racist claptrap and give you this disappointed glare"?

Yeah, I think the way you change the culture of a place is by providing social disapproval of people who are acting poorly. Apparently I do this by chucking empty water bottles at booers and bitching them out; there are probably more elegant ways of doing this. Everyone has some group of fans they can influence. I advise telling people to chill out, and doing this as stridently as you have to when the person in question has lost his mind.

Brian,

I've noticed that the internets are void of Bo's "The Team" speech.  Are you aware of any video copies floating around?  I know of audio copies via youtube, but the speech goes from great to legendary with Bo's expressions.  Any help would be appreciated.

Cheers,
MGoBananaSlug

Does anyone out there have this? And can you put it on the tubes if you do?

Comments

GCS

November 13th, 2008 at 1:46 PM ^

I thought that it was only recorded in audio form by one of the assistant coaches, and no video exists.

Or was that other speeches that Bo made? I think I may be crossing parts of different stories in my head.

Enjoy Life

November 13th, 2008 at 1:57 PM ^

I can not pinpoint the exact year and am not even sure how long ago sports reporting turned from primarily positive to primarily negative. But, it did.

Most of the negativity is completely contrived (bogus, counterfeit, false, phony, specious, etc.) because some asshat somewhere decided negativity will sell papers or attract viewers.

And, yeah, it sucks.

readyourguard

November 13th, 2008 at 4:16 PM ^

I think the papers jumped the shark when Moeller took over.

Back when Bo was coach, incidents were handled "in house." Rarely did you hear of an incident involving a player, much less read about it. But when Bo left, I think it became open season. Bo could intimidate a reporter/paper. Mo.....not so much.

Shonte People's test firing his pistol to see if he could hit the moon comes immediately to mind.

spartyNO

November 13th, 2008 at 2:17 PM ^

Honestly, if I was Rodriguez I'd be pretty frickin' pissed with the way I've been treated by the media this past year. I've consciously been avoiding reading Sharp, who I'm sure has been writing some pretty stellar stuff so far on the season. Rosenberg has been absolutely terrible; somebody tell him that Bo is dead and college football has evolved in the past 20 years. Hopefully Rodriguez doesn't have subscription to the Free Press.

Enjoy Life

November 13th, 2008 at 5:11 PM ^

Wandered around in the Google.

One theory is that the negative sports reporting is ESPN's fault -- no, really!

Before ESPN, sports reporters and commentators could be highly successful just "reporting" the games because readers were interested in the facts, game summaries, statistics, etc.

After ESPN, everyone has been saturated with the facts, game summary, statistics before the reporters/commentators get their shot.

So, they go negative to attract readers.

tomhagan

November 14th, 2008 at 6:48 PM ^

Good summation Brian of what the hell is/has been going on in the media since the hiring of RR. Rosenberg, for example does a complete 180 from his "Michigan hired a GREAT coach!!!" run off in December...to his current "Rich Rod is scUM" approach. Its enough to piss a guy off.

BTW.. Bo's Team Speech audio is on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnSOwvj24M0

The video has been shown from time to time on the networks duing Michigan games, but seems to have disappeared on the net.

jim48315

November 15th, 2008 at 10:24 AM ^

I understand that fans WANT RR to be wonderful. I even understand some resentment of people who say he is not. But what I don't understand is the amoral attitude. If what happened here had happened elsewhere (cf Nick Saban) I have to believe half the contributors would be attacking him as a fickle fraud.

I know the QB situation recruiting didn't result in 12 guys from whom to choose. When has it ever? When Henson defected, M had to make the best of it with John Navarre. But while he was learning how to play, the Defense didn't become silly bad, like it was against Toledo (yes, I DO mean Toledo) and Purdue.

As far as embarrassing everyone involved with the search, what? It is only embarrassing if columnists write of it? Whatever happened to a sense of shame? Bill Martin had a year to find a coach and he could make no progress until the last month of the season? Oh, well. No doubt Martin is a whiz, just like the guys at Bear Sterns, Lehman Bros, and Cerberus.

chitownblue (not verified)

November 15th, 2008 at 10:46 AM ^

"But what I don't understand is the amoral attitude."

This make literally no sense.

"I know the QB situation recruiting didn't result in 12 guys from whom to choose. When has it ever? When Henson defected, M had to make the best of it with John Navarre."

John Navarre was in his 3rd year in the program, and had started 4 games in his career. This year, we had a single player with a career pass attempt, and that was David Cone, and he had one. To pretend that Brian's argument also just boils down to the QB is reductive, and building straw men.

"But while he was learning how to play, the Defense didn't become silly bad, like it was against Toledo (yes, I DO mean Toledo) and Purdue."

Correct - so you acknowledge that this is a completely different situation that bears no comparison to Navarre in 2001. To illustrate, 2001's defense had:

-Larry Foote, who was the Big 10 defensive player of the year that season, 2-time all-Big Ten (including that year), All-American (that season) and multi-year NFL starter.
-Victor Hobson, Michigan's 9th all time tackler, 2-time all-Big Ten (including that year) and 2nd round NFL draft pick.
-Marlin Jackson, 2-time All-American (including 2001, in which he was the Freshman of the year), 2-time all-Big Ten (including that year), and multi-year NFL starter.
-Cato June, 1-time All-Big Ten, and multi-year NFL starter.
-Shante Orr and Dan Rumishek were both 2nd team All-Big 10 that year.

How many All-Big Ten (first or second team) perfomers do we have this year? One - Brandon Graham.

"Whatever happened to a sense of shame?"

Shame for WHAT?

"Bill Martin had a year to find a coach and he could make no progress until the last month of the season?"

Ie he supposed to conduct a coaching search before Carr resigned? Are you joking? I'm sure that would never reach the press...
And, yeah - every other school that hired a coach got their coach in the same time frame.

"No doubt Martin is a whiz, just like the guys at Bear Sterns, Lehman Bros, and Cerberus."

Now I will sprinkle in a completely non-sensical, current-events reference that bears absolutely no relation to the issue at hand. Did Martin issue sub-prime mortgages? Did he create C.D.O.'s to issue MORE debt based on short selling?

You, sir, are an idiot. Don't post again.

jim48315

November 16th, 2008 at 6:48 PM ^

I apologize. I forgot. Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman did the right thing. RR and The University paid W Va $Ms due to what tax law calls "detached and disinterested generosity." And I forgot winning now transcends morality.

I was foolish to fail to understand that due diligence could not have commenced before BM went Snark hunting. Of course the press didn't notice by September that LC had negotiated and gotten a contract modification to the effect he would be paid part of his salary as an administrator. Nor did anyone notice LC negotiated 2 year deals for all his assistants. Naw, not until the formal announcement did anyone, especially people in the business, think Michigan might be thinking of a new head football coach. And there was never anywhere else to look but to high profile coaches with games to play and contracts their institutions might seek to enforce. And RR was especially scandal-proof, his year-old use of the hint of defection to Alabama to sweeten his deal at W Va having become ancient history.

The Navarre reference was weak. Let me try Chad Henne stepping in when Gutierrez was hurt. How much program time had he at the time?

I, too, saw the defense over the last several years and in my ignorance opined that their coverage and tackling skills were not always what I would want them to be. I thought a new masterly football coach might be able to help them improve. My bad. They must be, as you imply, so infected by the LC tenure as to be incapable of instruction, even by the greatest of coaches.

Sarcasm aside, I know RR is what we have, and I know that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. I also know that 18-22 year old young men can use all the confidence they can get, and encouraging them may well work better than exclaiming that their careers are in the hands of a man who will exalt his interests over theirs. If you think me harsh, try some of the posts to the Detroit News and Ann Arbor News.

http://www.mlive.com/wolverines/football/index.ssf/2008/11/dubious distinction michigan l.html

As for the current events non-sequitur, I apologize. I thought that a reference to disaster caused by short-sighted pursuit of immediate gratification had some pertinence. RR was well known; there would be no "Bo, who?" headline for BM to overcome, and BM wanted to dazzle (or, at least, baffle) the alums. And BM is not going to admit error, or even allow rumors that he has any doubts; he knows well the Hank the Deuce aphorism.

For the sake of Michigan football, the student athletes who work hard to get themselves and their teammates ready to play, the Michigan Marching Band members who work even (perhaps) harder still to make the game experience great, the students who on Saturdays walk with that Band from Vines Field to the Big House, the many, many who love it, and even the crazies who obsess about it, I hope I am wrong. Or that RR will learn well from the harsh lesson of 2008. Because those student athletes, band musicians, students, fans, and even crazies, deserve better than what they have this year suffered.

Who knows? Maybe RR can produce a second coming of the Mad Magicians.

Blue Durham

November 16th, 2008 at 9:49 PM ^

I was foolish to fail to understand that due diligence could not have commenced before BM went Snark hunting.

Do you mean snipe hunting?

Of course the press didn't notice by September that LC had negotiated and gotten a contract modification to the effect he would be paid part of his salary as an administrator. Nor did anyone notice LC negotiated 2 year deals for all his assistants. Naw, not until the formal announcement did anyone, especially people in the business, think Michigan might be thinking of a new head football coach.

You are obviously new and very, very ignorant of this web site. This was discussed ad nauseum at the time and was taken as proof that Lloyd Carr was undoubtedly retiring at the end of the year. There was no doubt; look at the archives and the fact that Brian broke this expectant story.

Mgoblog is not "the press". It is far better than that.

"If you think me harsh, try some of the posts to the Detroit News and Ann Arbor News."

No thanks, rather have a glass shard enema. Would be equally enlightening and intellectual.