Mailbag! Princeton! Comment Count

Brian February 23rd, 2011 at 12:35 PM


You are one of the few people I know who defends RR. I do as well. Do you think RR should have been fired? Do you think, if he should have been fired, that it should have happened after OSU game? Do you agree with me that if he had a vote of confidence before the season that RR would have hauled in a top ten class? Do you think with a new DC they would have been better next year with RR then with BH? Do you think DB treated RR poorly as I do? Seems to me that DB wanted RR out even before the season. I am so tired of hearing about toughness, as if that is something that can be taught and as if RR wouldn't teach it if it could be.

Peter from Horsham, PA

There are half-dozen posts discussing this but to reiterate: I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator, and never ran the 3-3-5 again unless that DC was Jeff Casteel, then rumored to be open to a move. It was a close thing.

The bowl debacle moved the needle for me to "should fire," but this was under the assumption that Michigan would introduce Jim Harbaugh at a press conference held thirty seconds after the last shovelful of dirt hit Rodriguez's grave. If Harbaugh didn't exist I probably would have gritted my teeth and said we should give Rodriguez one last chance. As you say, even with everything Rodriguez had locked up two five-star guys and was probably going to bring in a recruiting class on the edge of the top ten. The offense was a yardage/advanced metric juggernaut that seemed likely to start turning that into more points as it aged, cut down on the turnovers, added a five-star at the glaring weak spot, and hopefully got some more help from defense and special teams. The other two units were bound to improve from amazing low points, etc.

All the bad stuff is still there but that setup seems more likely to produce wins in 2011 than having Denard Robinson take snaps from under center so he can hand off to someone not named Demetrius Hart.

Does it matter, though? There's a large section of Michigan fandom that would read the above sentence and screech like pterodactyl. The national perception of the program was sinking and while the team figured to get better I'm not sure it was going to get better enough—beat OSU—to make a dent in that. What happens if you go 8-4 next year and lose to OSU by ten? Rodriguez gets pilloried and fired. Hoke gets a bag of popcorn to watch Rodriguez get pilloried. At some point Rodriguez's baggage takes him to the bottom of the sea no matter who tied it to his legs.

[As to the dead man walking meme: I heard it plenty before the bowl game, including from people I know and would have a good read on it, but didn't believe it. Since Michigan got obliterated we don't know. If they'd lost by misfortune or won and Rodriguez still got fired it would be different. IME, Rodriguez was gone. This is just based off Brandon's performance in the press conference.]

I'll admit my knowledge of APR is not very good, but does oversigning not negatively affect a school's APR?  If kids are leaving the program/school does that not affect the APR?


So we've overloaded the language here and "oversigning" now stands for two different things:

  • signing more kids than you can enroll by going over the 25 cap, and
  • signing more kids than you can pay for by going over the 85 cap.

In the former case, signing a kid to a LOI and then shipping him off to JUCO when he doesn't qualify does not affect your APR. Not that it should since you haven't had the chance to educate the player.

In the latter case, the answer is yes… hypothetically. In practice the NCAA has provided boatloads of waivers [scroll down]. They're plentiful enough that Kentucky basketball maintained a 979(!) APR despite having a graduation success rate* of 31%. Hypothetically, a school on the 925 borderline is graduating 60% of its players.

What are these waivers? Well, medical hardships, for one.


Those don't count against you because the player is still in school. It makes sense that they wouldn't… until someone starts beating the rules into profane shapes. There are plenty others that are less obvious but no one really knows what they are.

This invites questions about how the hell Michigan failed to take advantage of any of these when players started leaving the program left and right and Michigan put up an ugly 870-something. I don't know but assume it's a combination of Rodriguez failing to understand the gap between WVU and Michigan academics—though he did seem to emphasize it—and the massive attrition that went so far beyond even Alabama's rampant axe that Michigan couldn't get close to the 85 number. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think walk-ons count, so when Michigan's running around with 70 scholarship players and one of them flunks out that hurts way more than Alabama sending a guy in good-for-Alabama standing to South Georgia.

*[as opposed to the federal rate, the GSR does not count transfers in good standing/early entries against you.]

File under Rich Rodriguez will have a job by then and will pursue this kid with a force unknown to mankind:

The AD at Southfield is one of my closest friends and assures me that he has a freshman football player with what is perhaps the greatest name ever.  I give you Lion King Conaway!

And file under testimonial:

I’m a junior in high school, and I recently got my first semester grades. A while back in my Government class, I got an extra point on a study guide because I wrote “which, duh.” In my notes (I was talking about how being liberal/conservative affects voting dem/rep, and I guess my teacher thought it was funny), which is something that I picked up from reading mgoblog. I finished that class with a 93%, which is just barely an A, and I finished the semester with a 4.0. So, reading mgoblog may have been what pushed me from an A- to an A, giving me a 4.0.

Know that if I get into Princeton, I’m giving at least some of the credit to you and mgoblog.

Just don't send a bill.



February 23rd, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

dont equal points and wins. 


Let it go. The man deserved to be fired and he was. DB is a douchebag and deserves his initials. We all know this. Stop regurgitating old ass crap as mailbags (we already have GBMW for that).

03 Blue 07

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:59 PM ^

He was asked the question, has been asked the question repeatedly, and chose to publish it here, so there is no confusion regarding his stance, and so he can state it, definitively. I don't memorializing his "official statement" or whatever on it is a bad thing, especially when there can sometimes be confusion regarding what, precisely, Brian did/didn't think at the end of the RR era.  This is good because it sums it up succinctly and clearly.


February 23rd, 2011 at 12:53 PM ^

First, what two Five-Stars did we have "locked up"?

Demetrius Hart decomitted prior to the Bowl Game. If Brandon had done as you asked, and gritted his teeth when Harbaugh was a non-starter and gone one more year with Rodriguez, Hart was ALREADY gone.

I can't find another Five-Star we had "locked up". Zettel? Frost? Neither ever committed to us. I have a hard time calling that "locked up", unless we're talking with roughly the same level of certainty that people said Hoke was "not an option".

Second, re: Denard from under center. Denard spent his entire High School career under center. This won't be foreign. Also, am I the only person that has seen plenty of SDSU highlights that feature Ryan Lindley lined up in a shotgun? Like, seemingly more than half the time?

I'm also still shocked that people think that professional football coaches will fail to recognize that letting Denard run 15 times a game is a good thing.

david from wyoming

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:00 PM ^

This is the internet. Opinions > Facts. If you want to believe something, no matter what reality is, that is totally fine on the internet. Top ten class if RR stayed, SURE! Hoke is going to misuse Denard, OKAY! There are shadowy figures that run the football program but I can't come up with any names, SOUNDS GREAT! The government follows everything I do or think via the metal plate in my head, YOU BETCHA!

Tha Quiet Storm

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

Denard spent his H.S. career under center, but he also finished H.S. with about a 45% completion percentage. He's obviously progressed a ton since then, but if you were an opposing coach, which would you prefer to defend: Denard in shotgun or under center? If he has to drop back, he won't be able to survey the field as quickly, and being under center will probably kill those devastating "one-step forward then pull up and throw" play fakes.


February 23rd, 2011 at 6:36 PM ^

because honestly I think that statement is either unsupported or mostly wrong.

At the college level, it's certainly possible to run a bunch of shotgun plays in a pro-style offense, but I don't know that there's any site that actually keeps track of this enough to show that yes, they do run shotgun in X% of the plays and here's proof.

At the pro level, it depends what you mean by "as often as". In 2009*, NFL teams ran approximately 37% of plays from the shotgun: the extremes range from 51% (Patriots), 50% (Colts), and 49% (Eagles) to 15% (Panthers), 18% (Jets), and 19% (Texans).**

We can debate which of those teams run pro-style offenses, but at the next level, teams in general do not run out of a shotgun formation nearly as often as they do with a QB under center. (At this point, though, they should, given that NFL teams have generally been more successful from the gun.) A handful of teams do (the Bucs were 5th at just under 47%, and below that I don't think it's safe to say it's even), but most don't.

*source data is from the Football Outsiders game charting project; 2010 data won't become available until the summer, I think.

**numbers may differ from FO numbers because they don't specifically list % in shotgun for all teams, so I had to calculate this in Excel and guess at the filter they used to get their numbers.

His Dudeness

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

To say that Hart and Frost would not have come here had DB fully backed RR and solidified the coaching situation is as stupid as claiming there still could be WMDs in Iraq. Yea technically noone can prove you wrong, but it is an idiotic stance to take and if you believe that then you are faithful (patriotic) to the point of derangement.

His Dudeness

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:42 PM ^

That is factually what ended up happeing, but you are smart enough to realize that both of those may very well not have happened had the coaching situation been soldified by the AD. Like I wrote earlier I can't prove you wrong and you have the facts to prove me wrong as mine are situational, but I think with a viewpoint that is not biased to prove your point it is plain to see a situation in which both of those kids came to UofM. I believe that was Cooks point, which you were refuting.


February 23rd, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

Also, the whole "Denard handing off to someone other than Dee Hart is a bummer" idea is giving a HS senior way too much credit.  We have no idea if Hart could have beaten out any or all of Shaw/Smith/Hopkins/Toussaint/Cox/Hayes.  Sure, it'd be nice to have him, but penciling him into the starting lineup was going way overboard.


February 23rd, 2011 at 2:08 PM ^

I am also confused by this frequent insistence that Borges will shackle Denard to center. If you watch the beginning of the SDSU Utah game, on mgovideo no less, you will see SDSU come out running a very well coached no-huddle with Lindley exclusively in the shotgun. They even do a handoff with zone read action.

Utah were very screwed.


February 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

But this myth that won't die is particularly heinous. I mean, I love how so many are basically ready to call Frost a flat out liar when he says "I always wanted to go to parents wanted me to go to Michigan", even after he committed elsewhere BEFORE anything had gone done. Wasn't even willing to wait a week (a month and a half before signing day) to commit to a school that had to make room for him.  Or ignores the bi-weekly giant thread meltdown on the boards when DH would change his mind, and school, AGAIN.  Yeah, he seemed like a lock...(but was it to Michigan? Auburn? Alabama?).

But the unsaid problem with all this is it fails to take into account what all these "locks" thought of going to a school that had another mediocre season, and was KILLED in it's last three games. It's like limping to 7-6 instead of doing better had nothing to do with a recruit's perception or interest.  Or the fact that it was so bad would automatically make the coach one on the hot seat, so unless people are advocating a "word of confidence" endorsing Rich as coach for the next two years, at least, I'm not sure how saying "he will be back" convinces a lot of recruits that "he'll be your coach for your whole career". To ignore that a lot of these recruits started wavering when we started getting our ass kicked on  a weekly basis is burying the headline.

And the whole "we're going to take every snap from under center" meme is just as stupid as every single "The Spread/Rich can't do this/that" meme that idiots used to throw out and were railed against here. The damage to credibility of continually saying that really lowers the believability to MLive levels of anything else that is said.


February 23rd, 2011 at 12:54 PM ^

Great read. Brian as always makes a compelling case even on things where might totally disagree with him. They don't come any sharper.

The move became reasonable and therefore understandable because:

There was just a lot of hope and numbers extrapolation leading our short and long term future direction as a program.  There wasn't enough substance in the way of meaningful results to lead a reasonable decision maker to believe the actual results would be any different.   Michigan football has never sustained itself on hope and stat sheets telling us that things will automatically get better.  So they made a move. 

Maybe the results were part of the arc of the direction that Rodriguez was taking the program and Michigan just didn't have the fortitude to see it through? Maybe it was the dumbest, hastiest move in the history of the program?  We'll never know.   


February 23rd, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

"I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator"

We don't know (any may never know) if RR would have accepted this option. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would fire his friends, even to keep his own job.


February 23rd, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

I know this is hypocritical to post, but as an ardent RR supporter, I really am ready to move on to Hoke. What made me ready? As much as I loved our offense, I did not expect our D to improve enough to beat OSU or win the Big Ten without nuking the staff . And while we may never know whether Rod was willing to nuke the staff, and while he didn't have any leverage to reject such a directive from Brandon ("them...or you and them") he did seem very loyal to his staff. Additionally, all his comments post-firing don't indicate that he saw any decided schematic disadvantage with the D that we ran - which lead me to believe that he wasn't willing to make those changes. And if he wasn't willing, well I'd rather take a step back on O and a great Mattison-sized leap forward on D than give Rod another year.


February 23rd, 2011 at 2:16 PM ^

"I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator . . . ."

Tell me why, in god's name, would this hypothetical great defensive coordinator sign on at Michigan when his two predecessors have been fired and scapegoated, and the head coach's seat is on fire? 

And by the way, Shafer was an "actual defensive coordinator."

His Dudeness

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

Peter basically holds the same opinion as I do and so does brian in this passage

"but this was under the assumption that Michigan would introduce Jim Harbaugh at a press conference held thirty seconds after the last shovelful of dirt hit Rodriguez's grave."

I don't wish the program to fail as I have been a die-hard M fan my whole life and busted my ass to actually go to the school when I could have chosen one closer and less costly.

I believe RR was treated poorly by the University I love and I am beginning to see that the fans I once saw yself as a part of are a group that I don't want to be associated with. If you can't admit that the general fanbase was completely unfair and close minded to the new coach then I would rather watch and be a fan from a dinstance rather than be seen as a part of the mob.


February 23rd, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

If you can't admit that the general fanbase was completely unfair and close minded to the new coach then I would rather watch and be a fan from a dinstance rather than be seen as a part of the mob.

I'm not going to argue the merits of what you're saying with you, because I do happen to think Rodriguez was treated badly.

I also think he ultimately did a bad job.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

But if you want to "distance yourself", why don't you DO it, and stop threatening it?

His Dudeness

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:19 PM ^

Can I not post in an online message board? Is that not distancing myself? I already refrained from getting season tickets as I planned to this year. I will watch from home.

You have a Fidel Castro avatar and are actually trying to tell me what is right for me to do. That is hilarious. Normally you are really smart and on topic with your comments, but your anger makes you senseless sometimes.

His Dudeness

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

I want to disassociate from the pople who I once thought were like me, yes. I always thought people that went to UofM were progressive thinkers who were open to different people and ideas, but the football fanbase are seemingly just mouthbreathing inbreds.

You do have a point, but I meant disassociate myself from the active "go to the games" type of fan. I will no longer be one of those, sadly.

His Dudeness

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

Thanks for the advice, but that's not who I am. I stand up for all things meaningless or not. I was once yelled at for sitting on a new couch (I paid for) with dirty clothes on. I never sat on that couch again. Not for watching tv or for family pictures or any other reason. I never sat on that couch, never will.