The New Phonebooks Will Save Us

Submitted by Brian on April 19th, 2011 at 12:31 PM


If this was an editorial cartoon, Steve Martin would have "Michigan" written all over him and the phonebooks would say "alumni." Also it would be terrible.

You know, my immediate reaction to this headline…

Former receiver Braylon Edwards impressed by one Michigan coach, down on another following busy Friday

…was "great, more people talking crap about Rodriguez." Turns out Edwards was just talking crap about Mike Hart. Well played, Bigelow. It's good to know that we've stopped taking hardly veiled shots at Rodriguez and are ready to move on

“Just more about the tradition,” Edwards said of Hoke’s message. “And he appreciates the alums, and he definitely wants to get us involved and do everything we can to educate the players who play there now.

“Because it’s sad to say, a lot of them don’t know the tradition at Michigan. Back in the day, players knew the former players. They knew the countdowns, the titles, Hail to the Victors. I’m sure if you ask some of the kids on the team now, I guarantee there’s a couple of kids that don’t know all of the words in full.”

Son of a bitch. People are talking crap about Rodriguez not respecting Michigan's tradition at the alumni flag football game he started. In related news, this year's Tunnel Of Victors will feature a special version of the MGoBlue banner that says "F.U. RICHROD."

Meanwhile… Braylon Edwards. He should probably stop talking and doing things. When you punch some dude or say your DUI for blowing twice the legal limit was because of tinted windows or that Cleveland "has nothing" while you have a "New York-type essence" or that your teammates quit and the starting quarterback should be different and your OC is bad or that people on the football team don't know the fight song, that doesn't reflect well on yourself or "Lloyd Carr's" University of Michigan. It's one thing to take swipes at current players who might not be great at football collectively. It's another when they're awesome dudes and you're someone people euphemistically dub "controversial" or "outspoken." Because bitching about Charlie Frye makes you Malcolm X.

Mike Hart also said some things about how Rodriguez didn't value the tradition but prefaced that with a statement about how he always felt welcome back; Breaston dismissed the "he wasn't accepted" bit and focuses on winning games; meanwhile, Ron Bellamy:

“We are ecstatic,” Bellamy said. “We know it’s a process. You can’t build up the program in a year or two. You have to give him a chance to bring his guys in the right way and play football in this conference the way it is supposed to be played.”

Edwards before last year:

"He has to make it work," Edwards said. "If he can't -- me being one of the alumni guys -- I want someone that can make it work. We've been patient. If it doesn't go right this year, we'll have to find a guy that can make it work with that winged helmet."


Since Michigan's tradition quickly became "screw you, Rich Rodriguez," I can't imagine why there was a disconnect there.

Who cares? We just watched a bunch of guys who essentially never beat OSU and/or quit en masse once they didn't like the head coach blame Rodriguez for the program's decline. Yeah, it declined. Yeah, Rodriguez had a lot to do with it. So did they. Jim Brandstatter of all people:

"He had a lot of strikes against him when he walked in the door and that was sad," Brandstatter said.

Whatever Rodriguez's failings were they were amplified by a culture that immediately rejected him. There was a rebellion the seniors on this year's team are pointing to as a Bad Idea. Someone sold him out to the Free Press. He was treated like garbage at alumni outings.

Meanwhile, the complainers were the reason Michigan had to go outside the family. The Great Tradition of Michigan had recently devolved into a 1-6 record against OSU and The Horror. The Great Tradition had produced zero plausible head coaching candidates to continue it. The Tradition is blaming it all on a scapegoat instead of manning up and looking in the mirror. They are collectively Edwards blaming his 0.16 BAC on tinted windows.

That's not a good way to run anything. Without a serious analysis of what you did wrong other than "hire that outsider," with how your culture is messed up, you become Notre Dame. Some guys were willing to be active with the program over the last few years and plenty more didn't sell it out publicly; the decision not to speaks to the player, not Rodriguez. stonum-doom

Carr's former players aren't the program. A subset of them think it's about them, but it's about Denard and Molk and Martin and Kovacs, the ones who stayed and worked hard and were emphatically not champions thanks in some small part to people like Edwards. Van Bergen:

"You know, it's just kind of unsettling that there's … it's great that they're back, but it's kind of, where have they been the last two or three years?" Van Bergen said. "We've still been wearing the same helmets since they were here."

Despite what they think, the alumni are just fans now. It's hard to imagine a big chunk weren't the loathsome sort glorying in a season-ending blowout.

So you'll have to excuse the rest of us who stood in those stands during the Fandom Endurance III game and are terribly sad about how the last three years worked out: we've got a phonebook to care about instead of Braylon Edwards's glorious return to the program.

[ROTE DISCLAIMER THAT WILL BE IGNORED: This is not a defense of Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez should have been fired. It is not a criticism of Brady Hoke. I wrote a big long post about how Hoke's three non-MAC coordinator hires constitute a real reason for optimism. Early indications are this staff is taking advantage of the opportunities placed before them in this year's recruiting class, and with what's going on at OSU the hypothetical ceiling on the program could blow off.

I look forward to this being interpreted as an attack on Hoke in the comments. Bring it, reading comprehension failures of America.]



April 19th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

From everything I've read, it sounds like RR didn't immediately dive into maintaining connections to alums (naturally, he was busy trying to get the program back on track), and so people who alreadu questioned him as an outsider received "validation" that he was a jerk who didn't get them.  Then the Freep Jihad rolled around and the negative alumni had all the ammo they needed.  As for the boosters/rich guys in the suites, it sounded like RR never knew how to handle those situations well (to be fair, my guess is that they are not as prevalent at WVU), and so ruffled a couple of feathers there as well.

All that said, Carr wasn't some warm-and-fuzzy guy - he just got away with being a bit of a crank by talking about Bo and the Michigan Way and, btw, winning a bunch of games early on.  Alumni, especially football alumni, seem to be in two camps - those who love the school for the school and those who love the school WHEN IT WINS.  Braylon is definitely in the second category, and most of the vocal critics fell into the "my teammates are making fun of me because UM is losing and I don't like that" group.


April 19th, 2011 at 6:02 PM ^

Lloyd started out his head coaching tenure with 2 back to back 4-loss seasons (following 2 back to back Moeller 4-loss seasons).

He was on the hot seat in 1997.  Then he won a national championship, and the cranky suite denizens, blue haired down in fronts et al loved him.

But make no mistake, his job was in jeopardy in 1997. 


April 19th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

Why does everyone seem to think RR should have had a close personal relationship with Braylon from day 1? He was a little busy building relationships with people who still had, you know, eligibility.

If Braylon really wanted to have a buddy in RR, he should have initiated it instead of waiting for an engraved invitation. RR was hired to run a football team, not an alumni social club.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

Rodriguez failed at successfully integrating into the culture and rallying support for his cause. I personally beleive that was impossible goal short of "making it work." He didn't do that.

The aggravating part is that way too many people--the vast majority it seems--want to act like it was all good right up until Rodriguez came to town. Moreover, they act like mentioning that fact is in some way untoward regarding Lloyd Carr...tragically oblivious to reality. Furthesover, they criticize Rodriguez for embarrassing M while they do the same. Disappointment and Frustration can be expressed without being a petulant jerk; Braylon Edwards, and many like him, suck at that.

We clutch onto past greatness so vigorously that we squeeze it through our fingers.

Michigan Football has a long, tough, row to hoe before it's "back" and, seeing how Hoke inherits a reigning B1GOPY/ Heisman Hopeful / commander of a statistically elite offense, he will need every bit as much patience Rodriquez needed...then receive it.


April 19th, 2011 at 5:29 PM ^

Yes, the team that lost to Appy State returned seniors Henne, Hart, and Long from a team that fell 3 pts short of the national championship game the year before.  A team that some predicted to win the national championship lost to a D1AA team for the first time EVER, and it was solely due to a lack of preparation.  The team that went 3-9 had one returning offensive starter, was undergoing a massive change in offensive philosophy, and was probably one of the least talented teams ever.

Also, Lloyd's teams lost the first 4 of the 7 straight to OSU.

STW P. Brabbs

April 20th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

First of all, do you really think you're reminding me that, oh yeah, Rodriguez wasn't here for 8 years?  Of course Lloyd's teams lost the first four in that streak. 

And yeah, I know that we had a much more talented team against ASU than we did the following year.  And I couldn't even watch the end of the game, and I went on a run and swore that I'd never watch sports again - that this shit was too much fucking anxiety and aggravation and rage, and that it wasn't worth it.  Appy State sucked.

But it was still just one fucking game.  And even if you tack on the shitshow that was the Oregon game, that's two games - in a season that ended up with a thumping of the Tebow Gators.  To me, what's even worse than the searing rage and humiliation of the ASU game is the fact that I've simply gotten used to Michigan getting it's ass kicked up and down the field in the past three years.  Some of that is on Carr's recruiting, beyond doubt, and the point of my comment really wasn't a Carr vs. Rodriguez throwdown.  My point is that even with a cool nickname, The Horror has been way fucking overblown on this site, and the 15-22 record of the past three years, which includes getting stomped into a fucking mudhole by OSU recently, is way harder for me to take. 

MI Expat NY

April 20th, 2011 at 10:08 AM ^

I understand why the last three years probably should be more embarrassing than losing to a very good Appalachian State team, but they're not.  We have been god awful, bad and finally mediocre in the last three seasons.  It sucked, but a stretch like that happens, even to great programs.  What doesn't happen, is a top 5 team and Big Ten favorite, with a roster littered with NFL draft picks, losing at home, in the first game of the season to a team from a lower division.  That's what led to youtube videos showing up of Big Ten stadiums erupting when the final score was announced, that's what led to rival coaches taking pot-shots at our football program, that's the game that will always be remembered and brought up any time biggest college football upsets are discussed.  Hell, Indiana fans were making fun of us that day.  Yes, The Horror will (hopefully) always be the most embarrassing moment for the Michigan football program.

On a related note, the 39-7 curb stomping by Oregon the very next week was every bit as bad, if not worse, than any loss the last three years.

STW P. Brabbs

April 20th, 2011 at 11:34 AM ^

First, these scores are worse than the Oregon game.  I don't see how you can even argue that as a Michigan fan.

Here's the thing, when ASU happened we were so enraged because our standards were still so high - we expected to contend for the national championship that year.  Now, fans say, 'well, we went 15-22 the last three years, but I really think we have a realistic shot at winning 9 games this year, which would make me really happy.'  That's hard to take.  That's mediocrity. That's worse than one historic upset.

MI Expat NY

April 20th, 2011 at 12:14 PM ^

Well one of them was a worse score than the Oregon game, yes.  But considering we were down 32-7 at half, at HOME, to Oregon, down 39-7 at the end of the third and gave up over 600 yards of offense, I'd say that was as thorough a beating as any game in the last three seasons.

It's not a question of what was worse, the last three years have been in order "the worst thing ever", horrible, and not good.  But, for sheer embarrassment, it doesn't hold a candle to losing to Appalachian State.  Our world exploded that day.  A tour of Michigan websites (and every other college football blog for that matter) that day told the story.  This site was dedicated to kittens, I believe.  Mzone compared it to the Hindenburg.  It was a disaster.  The single most embarrassing day as a Michigan fan.  


STW P. Brabbs

April 20th, 2011 at 12:47 PM ^

That's exactly my point.  If we'd lost to UMass last year, would the blogosphere have been on fire?  No.  People would have been pissed, sure, but not "world-exploding" pissed.  People sure wouldn't have been shocked, or even necessarily surprised.  Not because of Appy State, at least not primarily -because of 3-9 and 5-7. 

To me, that's the real story, and it's a hard one to swallow.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. With all these former players coming out of the woods, I think something really was missing with Rich Rod. I believe 100% that Brady Hoke is better at advancing the tradition of Michigan football, locally, nationally, through recruiting, and to rich alumni. His long long connection with the program just makes it natural for him I bet, and former players would be able to see that difference between Hoke and RR.

That being said, I don't think RR was purposely trying to snuff out the tradition of Michigan football either. He reached out in every way he could, starting alumni football games, bringing in old players to Barwis up,  but for some people so ingrained in the way things were, it could never be enough for them. People reminisce for where they came from, and it's always hard to let go and say "well, things just ain't how they used to be." But now that things are the way they used to be, they're having a field day with the atmosphere, and sending subtle jabs at Rich Rod whether he deserves them or not. (He doesn't.)


April 19th, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

Does anyone have a link showing where it was stated that Rich came up with the Alumni Game? Because people like Brian allude to it, but I can't remember actually seeing statement/evidence to that fact.  I'm not saying it WASN'T the case. Just curious if someone had seen "Rich tells AD to organize Alumni Game at Spring Game".  Because really, when Rich came in, the Athletic Dept. instituted a lot of new "traditions" that Rich had nothing to do with other than they thought they could do some changes when they were making the big change, some good (like the Victors Walk, that I KNOW department guys planned), and some bad (like RAWK music, which came in when Rich did, and Rich gets blamed for, even though he had very little to do with it).


April 19th, 2011 at 4:35 PM ^

"To prepare for his first open-to-the-public spring game, Rodriguez has worked with the Athletic Department to make the festivities more fan friendly. Part of that is the first annual alumni flag football game, slated to take place before the 100-play intrasquad scrimmage."




April 20th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

That doesn't say he came up with the idea, or created it. Just that he worked with them. Which is true of anything they do. If Rich (or any coach) had said "Victors Walk? That's stupid, I want my players doing X and Y before the game", there wouldn't be any Victors Walk. And he wanted a more lively environment in the Stadium, and probably made a song track selection or two....but I don't think he decided to be playing "Sweet Caroline". So he was involved with it all. I just haven't seen anything official that said "I want all the Alumni to come back...let's hold an Alumni Game at the Spring Game!" vs. "An Alumni game? That seems like a really good idea...let's run with it". But you read it in posts, and it was all his doing.

But good find nonetheless. 


April 20th, 2011 at 4:04 PM ^

I get your point that we'll never know for certain if RR came up with the idea or if someone in the Ath Dept did and RR just OK'd it.  Likely, it was a team effort. The important point is for a football programs, if a head coach doesn't want to do something, generally it doesn't happen.

When RR was the head coach, that's when the alumni game started.  There wasn't a new AD at the time (this was pre-Brandon), so it's likely this change in having an alumni game occured b/c the change occured at the head coach.  Additionally, all his public comments,  like in the Daily story above, indicate he was all aboard on the idea.  It seems appropriate to give him credit for reaching out to alums by starting the alumni game.



April 19th, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

that our D and special teams sucked balls and hiring GERG (and RR keeping WVU staff while not allowing new DC to hire his own) was a dumb move that could have/ should have been avoided. It really comes down to those 2 errors for me.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

I think we're all (even Brian as he states in his disclaimer) pretty much in agreement on those points, or at least recognizes that that's a valid position to take - nobody thought 2010 was good enough.

Pretty much the only argument at this point is whether RR was ever given the environment he needed to succeed in the first place, and that's admittedly an academic argument but one that will become non-academic if we ever have to hire outside the family again.


April 19th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

In a vacuum, maybe. With this sort of attitude around the program, not sure it would have worked even if he won - there'd still be those out for his head.

Plus that defense really was awful - would have taken a total reset to fix it.



April 19th, 2011 at 12:50 PM ^

Loved Braylon when he was a Wolverine player, not happy with his history since leaving UM.  His "Lloyd Carr's Michigan" statements, DUIs and lousy attitude in the NFL have left a bad taste in my mouth.

coastal blue

April 19th, 2011 at 12:51 PM ^

stating that this is not an attack on Hoke and a defense of Rodriguez does not disqualify the fact that this is an attack on Hoke and a defense of Rodriguez.

That being said, well-written piece.

-Larry David.

El Jeffe

April 19th, 2011 at 2:08 PM ^

I got it, and I gave you a token fake +1 that doesn't count because it isn't real.

I guess the wound is a little raw for your attempt, but I appreciate the Custer-like stand for wise-ass comments in the face of the onslaught. You are an American hero.


April 19th, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

Always made me laugh.  I have never loved a player so much and then hated him so much as I have with Braylon Edwards (except LeFuckface I guess).  I blindly defended Braylon during his entire time in Cleveland.  I planned on buying his jersey when he was traded, I said stuff like, "Just wait, he's going to spend the rest of his career sticking this to the Cleveland fans that just hated him because he went to Michigan, I hope he comes back and has 3 TDs against us."  I had to finally face it that Braylon is simply an asshole that drops more balls than he should and blames everyone for every single problem he's ever had except himself.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:03 PM ^

Since I've been coming on this board I always find this kind of stuff amusing.  People from Cleveland and Detroit are the same.  We get pissed off at outside perceptions of our cities being bullshit (when some of them are true) because you're not from here, you don't know, F you.  There are nice spots in both towns that only local people know about.  Then we hurl the same insults at each other about both towns.  Detroit, at least we're not Cleveland, while Clevelanders say at least we're not Detroit.  Lets face it, neither town is exactly on the rise, and both of us are fine with that, because it's our town and screw you.  The only difference really is people from Detroit can at least fall back on the Red Wings, and in Cleveland it's just blind hope that when one of our teams finally wins a championship the satisfaction will be worth all of the misery.


April 19th, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

You have to when you live in Cleveland.  As an outsider  being on this site ( meaning as a clevelander, obviously I'm a Michigan fan), it was just funny to me to see how similar we are.  For what it's worth, I do think people from Detroit have more of a complex when it comes to pissing on Cleveland then the reverse, but that's just my opinion.  I'm sure Ohio State blogs probably spew just as much baseless crap about Detroit.

Space Coyote

April 19th, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

And actually enjoyed it and thought there was a decent amount of things to do.  I agree with the comment above mine.

That being said, Ohio still sucks, but for being in Ohio and all, it isn't so bad.