Moon Disaster Comment Count

Brian January 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 PM

1/1/2010 – Michigan 14, Mississippi State 52 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten

Amongst the many many things posted over the weekend that could have been posted at any time in the last three years was one odd bit of history that's apropos: a letter drafted for Nixon to read in the event that Neal Armstrong and company were to die on the moon because the lander wouldn't leave.


Men in charge of things make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions even if they result in reading the thing William Safire wrote for you about two men watching at their oxygen gauges count down in an airless wasteland.

Back in the summer of 2008, when we were a happy-go-lucky band of mountain yodelers with flowers in our pockets and caviar dreams, I finished up that year's preview with that picture of Don Canham staring down a thicket of microphones as Bump Elliott searched for a sandwich and Bo exuded his Bo-like confidence. I've referred to it ever since, and here it is again:


Lives were not literally at stake above, but even so it's hard to imagine Nixon adopting an expression that more perfectly sums up the feeling of someone who's made a big decision and now has to watch someone else execute. At the end of that post this is what I said:

We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.

The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.

I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.

I don't think it has. A game somewhere around expectations would not have moved the needle enough for slight support for Rich Rodriguez to morph into a call for firing, but I turned the game off before the third quarter was over and when I felt remorse and turned it back on a few minutes later Mississippi State had put up another touchdown. It was not around expectations, except in the ways that it was by not being around expectations in a depressing direction. Before the season I thought 7-5 would do it but now at 7-6 with every loss a blowout and three of the wins last-drive nailbiters, Michigan's progress seems minimal at best. But for the opening week, this is the worst seven-win season imaginable.

If I'm slotting Rich Rodriguez into the picture above he's on the right, and it's time to look for the guy on the left again.

Coaching Bits

On the likelihood of a change. Still nothing definitive but everything that enters the inbox adds to the circumstantial pile of evidence suggesting we're done. If Harbaugh escapes Michigan's clutches Michigan is in a bad spot because of the "process" and how much time it's left them in the event they do not immediately transition to a new coach, but having no serious options other than Rodriguez is probably the only scenario in which we don't see a change.

As to when, Tom says he's hearing there's a team meeting tomorrow at 7 PM that was scheduled before the bowl game. If that's now be a wake we'll hear about it soon after. There are unconfirmed third hand reports about coaches saying goodbye, which could mean anything from the obvious canning of Greg Robinson to a wholesale broom.

Also, while some players have been publicly supportive, a lot of parents have jumped ship and have met with Brandon expressing frustration at goings-on on the defense. Some players may have been "lost" by the bowl debacle as well.

On recent Harbaugh panic. The Big Lead probably doesn't know shit and even if he turns out right he got lucky because he's just randomly saying things people email him without even a cursory check. However, Adam Schefter is serious business and this is foreboding:

Schefter on ESPN: "Now, there is a real feeling around the league (Harbaugh) would prefer be in the NFL."

On the other hand, "a real feeling" is far from definitive and Schefter was just reporting that Harbaugh was leaning towards Michigan with the same strength—coaching change stuff is "fluid," and by fluid people mean "batshit."

On Brady Hoke. "Not an option."

On Plan B. The Plan B name in the event Harbaugh escapes is probably Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald actually makes quite a bit of sense as a young guy with a spotless media profile who runs a spread offense Denard would feel at home in. He hasn't put together a monster team or anything but recovered from a shaky start in the aftermath of Randy Walker's death to go 9-4, 8-5, and 7-6. Not exactly Harbaugh and another guy who'd be leaving his alma mater for greener pastures, but Michigan is not in a great spot right now.



January 3rd, 2011 at 12:27 PM ^

Interesting name.  But I think we have many problems with that, too.  First, he is not a 'Michigan Man'...something I don't care about, but many do.  Second, he would not really add to the prestige of Michigan at this time, something we sorely need.  

I frankly don't think there is a realistic second option, unfortunately. 


January 3rd, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

My brother played for Randy Walker, and Fitzgerald was his position coach.  I asked him on saturday if he thought Fitz would leave if a better job came up, and he said that if he did it would never be for another Big Ten team or for Notre Dame.  He hates them too much.  He added that Fitzgerald's family and all of his buddies are in Chicagoland, and that he thinks Fitz wants to stay at NW for a really long time.  Things change and my brother's not close with him anymore, but just thought I'd pass it along.  

MI Expat NY

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

Northwestern has to be a tough place to coach at for a long time.  How often could you really put together a special team with such huge limitations?

Edit:  Obviously no offense to your brother.  Playing D1 football anywhere is pretty awesome.  


January 3rd, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

Another of my brother's comments was actually the most interesting to me.   He said that the only way he could see Fitz leave would be if the expectation for winning ever changed.  Not that he doesn't want to win every game, but he wouldn't want people to get pissed after an off year.  Maybe it's because he knows how rare a great season would be there, but that mindset doesn't really make sense to me.  

MI Expat NY

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:40 PM ^

People's expectations of what is "normal" seems to change very quickly these days.  For instance, would you be surprised if there are any Sparty fans calling for Dantonio's head if they slip back to 6-6/5-7 next year?  Northwestern has had a decent run the last few years.  Nothing special, but competitive, yet to an outsider, it wouldn't be shocking to see them slip towards 4-8/3-9 next year.  An insider might see that and think, "huh, we had a whole lot of freshman contributing on a 7-6 team last year, how'd we miss a bowl game this year?"  Suddenly there's pressure on the head coach the following season.


January 3rd, 2011 at 2:36 PM ^

Living in the Chicago area, I would be shocked if Fitzgerald left Northwestern.   Say what you will about coaches who seem to love their school and then move on without a second thought, but Fitzgerald seem wholly committed to being a Wildcat. 

Not saying that it couldn't happen, but he would definitely be one of the few guys in CFB that would be really surprising to see move on to another place..

James Burrill Angell

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^



I admit anythign less than James is going be tough to sell until they hit the field in September but............... I wonder if it were to come down to a "Non-Michigan Man" like a Fitzgerald (at least he's a Big Ten Man) or a Patterson, I wonder if you can couple with some "Michigan Man" position coaches or coordinators to make it more palatable.


January 3rd, 2011 at 1:07 PM ^

I don't thinking Brian is just pulling Fitzgerald's name out of his ass. So let's take it seriously.

I'm always kind of amazed at how competitive Northwestern is against teams with far better athletes. How many blue-chip recruits even consider Northwestern? Yet they probably would have beaten us this year. Plus, they're O system is productive, exciting, and Denard-friendly. And Fitzgerald seems like a guy who, given M's reach, would be a good recruiter.

The main question, as ever, would be the D (even though Fitzgerald himself played D). What do the experts say about Fitzgerald's potential in that department? 


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

Pat Fitzgerald is a name I would support, if only because he's young (fire in the belly) and he runs a spread. 

Also, he took NU to a bowl game for the first time since I believe even my parents were born. 

Kilgore Trout

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:31 PM ^

I think it's pretty clear that Beavis was saying that Fitzgerald got NW to a bowl game for the first time in however long in the 1995 season.  Barnett was the coach of that team, but Fitzgerald was definitely the face of the team.  Beavis has been commenting way too long and comes off as way too knowledgable for him to not be aware that NW had been to bowl games in "recent" history before Fitzgerald took over as coach. 

True Blue in CO

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

that Dave Brandon has not been thinking about this since the PSU or the Whisky loss but has been contemplating this issue since the day of his arrival.  My guess is that the only distraction was the spring and summer hours spent on the NCAA infractions.  That may have provided him reason enough to create a plan of attack to deal with the prospects of the coaching change.

His Dudeness

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^

The Big Lead probably doesn't know shit and even if he turns out right he got lucky because he's just randomly saying things people email him without even a cursory check.


The Plan B name in the event Harbaugh escapes is probably Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald.

Also, LOL

His Dudeness

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

I wasn't being facetious.

The Big Lead is a giant piece of shit.

Pat Fitzgerald is funny because:

A) he would never leave NW

B) he would not be an upgrade over RR (I don't think anybody would be at this point assuming the criteria for upgrade is what is best for the 2011 Michigan Football team, honestly)


January 3rd, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

That can't even tell the difference between "The Big Lead" and "MGoLeader"?  You know, unless he was really calling Brian "a giant piece of shit" on his own blog.

Watch out Brian, they're headed to Ann Arbor Pitchfork and Torches, and now that they feel you've turned traitor to the cause, they're coming after you! 



January 3rd, 2011 at 12:39 PM ^

Why is no one discussing scouring the ranks of Div -2 for the next Jim Tressel?

Option 2 should be that or to make Kyle Whittingham, Chris Peterson, Gary Patterson an offer that they cannot refuse.

Option 3- Coordinators. By now we should be making sure that the head coach is primarily defensive oriented, such as Alabama's Kirby Smart...


January 3rd, 2011 at 1:22 PM ^

Don't come here with that Alabama "didn't show up" BS. Because throughout the entire pre-game and week leading up to the game, analysts were discussing how focused Alabama was, how much they wanted to show they were back and win the big game in the Sugar Bowl. Furthermore, Alabama had a lineman at the coin flip tell a Utah player "I'm going to kill you."

Alabama wanted to win that game. Utah beat them. This whole "Alabama didn't show up" BS is just a convenient excuse thrown out by BCS supporters who can't believe that a non-AQ team could run over one of their beloved babies.