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 1:02 PM ^

Whelp, on one hand the local media has long insinuated that Rodriguez made former players feel unwelcome.

On the other hand, Rodriguez publicly invited former players back, repeatedly. Former players worked out with Barwis. Former players came to practice, met with Rodriguez, and afterward gave quotes along the lines of "I didn't know what to expect but Rodriguez and his staff are good people and they really care about the players".

If you want to cast your lot with the Freep and the rest of the local media instead of LaMarr Woodley, that's your perogative.

yossarians tree

April 19th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

Not just former players, but many fans seem to conveniently ignore that the program was run pretty well into the ground quite nicely by a bunch of "Michigan Men." Well, no real problem as it has much to do with the fact that the south is experiencing a massive demographic and economic boom that is pumping heavy blood into those programs who already like to play loose with the "rules."

Michigan will never ascend to the image in the eye of some of these people. It is unattainable. Even in a good year, much less ever. Thus it is not at all surprising that they brought in an outsider, asked him to do the impossible, and then pronounced the program whole and sanitized as he was swept out the door.

In this way RR was kind of our anti-Messiah. He washed away all the sins of the world.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:06 PM ^

Would you have rather had the Maginot Line or the Sigfreid Line level of defense last year?  I submit that the Maginot Line would at least have given the ball back to the offense quicker, thereby decreasing the amount of time we had to watch the defense.  Discuss.



April 19th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

That was a very strong line: it probably would have kept the Germans out of France... except that it wasn't extended along the Luxemburg and Belgian borders. Hitler's armies didn't  go through this line, but swept around it.

The football analogy would be a team with great interior DTs and sure-tackling but slow linebackers, coupled with really poor CBs and safeties. The analogy to the German response would be to run sweeps, swing passes, etc to attack the edges.

Whereas last year, teams seemed to have good success going around, over, or through the Michigan defense. MSU in particular just dominated between the tackles. A key problem last year is that there was no Maginot line.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

Saying that Michigan was run into the ground by Lloyd Carr is even more ignorant than believing a "Michigan Man" is necessary to win at the University of Michigan. Sure, Lloyd had a bad final season (which also happened to be one win better than RR's best season) and had clearly lost his edge. However, the year before, we were literally a very questionable late-hit call away from playing for the National Championship.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

Like I said, I agree Carr that Carr lost his edge by the end. But declining as an in-game coach and torpedoing the program are two VERY different things. You seem to be forgetting the venue in which we were playing USC that year. Oh yea, it was the Rose Bowl. A bowl game we frequented during Carr's tenure.

By the way, you might also recall Mississippi State players talking about how they knew all of our plays in the Gator Bowl this year too.

coastal blue

April 19th, 2011 at 7:49 PM ^

Those three leaving is no one person's fault and only happened because of circumstance. 

If you are Manningham, why are you going to stay and either catch passes from Mallett - who, just from my own observations during games - he didn't seem to particularly like or Sheridan/Threet. Why are you going to hang around for one more year without Henne when you know you are going to be drafted in the top half of the draft, with very little chance hanging around will increase your stock?

Same goes for Arrington. Even if he would have been the number one wideout and possibly improved his NFL prospects, he just spent his career catching passes from Henne and will now move on to the already stated quarterbacks, who must learn a new offensive scheme, behind an entirely new offensive line. 

Mallett...From all accounts, it sounds like Rodriguez did what he could to get him to stay, but Mallett didn't think he would fit into the offense and had a case of homesickness. And all you have to do is put on film of WVU and you can see where he got the idea that he wasn't what Rodriguez was looking for, no matter how hard Rodriguez tried to convince him to stay. 

Boren obviously left because OSU offered him a pay raise and McGuffie was someone who should have been able to redshirt or seen minimal playing time, but was forced into the starting roll before he was ready. 


April 19th, 2011 at 12:59 PM ^

For some reason, I'm still wondering when the Braylon backlash will reach the level of Morgan Trent hatred.  So far I haven't seen it, even though Morgan Trent was limited to one or two statements in the media and zero run-ins with the law.

Yinka Double Dare

April 19th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

If Morgan Trent wanted the level of rope the fans have given Braylon he should have been better at football. 

Seriously, that's the only reason I can think of why Trent got the backlash while Braylon has not.  Trent was already a scapegoat of the fans, so when he opened his mouth it was pretty easy for people to jump on him, as they had been doing it plenty already.

Maize and Blue…

April 19th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

Braylon will always be remembered for his senior year performance instead of  the spoiled rotten brat kid routine he has maintained since turning pro.  Considering he has been a failure in the NFL for the most part maybe he should just shut his mouth.  Doubt it will happen, but it would be nice.

A WR wearing #21 won the Heisman not someone wearing #1.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:19 PM ^

I think Braylon is far from a failure in the NFL.  I don't know that he's lived up to being a #3 pick, but he's still a pretty good receiver.

Regardless, I just think it's sad that fans treat players different based on whether they could play football or not.  We all get down on teachers, community members, police, etc. for treating star athletes differently than everyone else...but fans are just as guilty, if not more so.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

Trent was actually on the team when Rodriguez got here, and it now seems pretty clear he was one of those seniors that the current players are talking about who rebelled against the new coach.  Also, he specifically accused Rodriguez of deliberately sabotaging his pro prospects, without any apparent evidence for this charge.  Braylon, on the other hand, has been much more passive-aggressive in his lack of support during the Rodriguez years -- is there any doubt, for instance, that he would have been back on board and bragging about his Michigan background if the team had been winning?


April 19th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

I think people have better memories of Braylon being a huge part of the offense  - Trent was a good DB but not like the force-of-nature Braylon was as WR.  It is hard to square what he did at UM with the jerk he apparently is/became in the pros.

Also, I don't think the pro-Braylon sentiment is very strong here and other places - he's certainly not my favorite former Wolverine and most knowledgeable UM fans are down on his post-UM career trajectory and his outspoken nature.

Blue in Seattle

April 19th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

But he was a jerk while he was at Michigan.  He started on day 1 with a sense of entitlement because he was a legacy player.  Maybe Lloyd Carr didn't have the strength to teach Braylon, or maybe he did what he could while Braylon was under his control, but now that Braylon is on his own, he has not matured in the way that many, many, many of his peers have matured.

I wish Brian would give up tilting at this windmill, but then again, it is what he does.  My favorite part of the post is the disclaimer.  If you have read Brian for a while, you know that some things just set him off, and he produces a post that has the quality flaw that he points out in other blogger.  But, whether as a follow up post or (in this case) inside the post, he usually states that he just needed to have an emotional outburst to keep his head from asploding.

The key thing to watch was the statement from Ryan Van Bergen, and for some context here is the quote from the DetNews article;

"Michigan Receivers Like New Offense"

(I Know! but that's the title of the article, scroll down for the RVB quote)

Where were they?

Much was made of Hoke's "team meeting" with approximately 250 former players last Friday. He spoke to them about Michigan's tradition and explained he knows there are things he does they won't agree with, but he will do them to better the program. Defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen was asked if the current team feels more comfortable knowing Hoke has taken steps to help repair a fractured Michigan "family" the last few years. "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. "It's good to have them back but at the same time, it's new all of a sudden, which is a good thing. It's good to have alumni back supporting us." [email protected]

So My interepretation of this event, is that Hoke (motivated by David Brandon's guidance to prevent what happened before with the previous staff) Had a direct meeting with former players that was NOT attended by the present players and he laid out how he will run the team, and I am completely guessing that he stated, "this will be my team, your pleasant support is greatly welcomed, but your critique of things going forward is neither required NOR desired, thanks for coming today"

The players version is what RVB is quoted as saying.  I'm very hopeful for this team, since I think they are going to grab their own destiny with both hands and claim it as theirs alone.

Hopefully for better than for worse, but then again, Life's a Bitch, and then you die.






April 19th, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

this is the kind of stuff being discussed in the thread ( yesterday.


its not an indictment on the coaches or the program, but rather on the alums.  while the rest of us were cheering for the program without fail, many of the alums didn't, because they held petty grudges and prejudices against the new regime.


it is, as brian said, disheartening.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

This is exactly what i've been arguing with my housemate during this entire coaching change; rich rod never had a chance to become a michigan man the day he was hired. BUt now that that's in the past (besides the aggravating comments in the media by Braylon and whoever else) i'm realy starting to get excited for Brady Hoke's regime.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:02 PM ^

I have no doubt that there were those who hated the idea of going outside of Michigan.  But Brian, and many others, seem to believe that al of these former players disliked RR only because he had no Michigan pedigree.


There have been others that have filled in the missing blanks.  Over on Scout, it has been laid out in a couple of posts that RR was brutal on the upper classmen when he came in, and was not complimentary about the way things had been run previously.  The phrase "Bull in a China shop" has been thrown around.


Now, you can dismiss those reports and say they are second hand.  You can continue to believe that RR was blameless, and that all these former UM players had it in for him the moment he was  hired.

But Occam's Razor suggests otherwise.  You can dismiss a couple of players (Boren and Clemons), you can call some of the guys bitter (Morgan Trent), you can suggest that some of the alumni are to loyal to Carr (Braylon and Mike Hart).  But I find it more likely that RR rubbed a lot of people the wrong way when he came in, which led to many problems.


Doesn't excuse the behavior of some of the alumni (I know people will ignore this part as well), but I think a fuller picture here would explain a lot of the reactions, rather than just the formula we seem to get, which is Not a Michigan Man = Hate by former Michigan players.  It seems deeper than that



April 19th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

Valued his seniors, and didn't just push them aside for "his guys", and in fact, they were some of his most treasured players. Which, if you're going to accept that the post you're responding to may be true (since you're likening it to Bo), he posits that it was not the case this time.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

Nonsense.  The Carr guys who could play, played.  I don't remember Donovan Warren, Morgan Trent and many others riding the pine.  The only "RR guys" played instead of Carr guys were Sam McGuffie and Kevin Koger.  Probably b/c Carson Butler sucked, Brandon Minor was seriously hurt and Carlos Brown had just encountered a light fall breeze and fell down.


April 19th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

If the people who stuck around are doing the same thing.

And half might be a bit of an overstatement, but it was a different time, where you could recruit replacements willy-nilly, and your roster could lose a quarter of it's players and still field a team with more guys than you can now with a full roster.

But the thought was, that if you accept that Rich favored his own guys over the guys he was left with, (and that's debatable) which the responder to the OP must to say "just like Bo did", then his idea that Bo favored his own guys over the guys he had when he got there is just patently a false assertion. He didn't give them anything. But he didn't penalize them just because he didn't recruit them. 

If you want to argue that Rich never did that either, fine. But that was never the point of the discussion.


April 19th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

DCWolverine invoked "Occam's Razor" to suggest that Rodriguez must have been mostly to blame for the rough transition, simply because of the sheer number of players who complained.  Maize then pointed out that there also were a lot of complaints and disgruntled players when a certain legendary coach came to town.  You next made the (seemingly tangential) point that, from all evidence (of which there is very little, one way or the other), Bo treated everyone the same, whether inherited players or players he brought in.

My response to all this:  the almighty Wikipedia (and other sources) suggests that only about 75 of 140 players survived Bo's first training camp.  That sounds like a pretty rough transition to me, with plenty of complaints and disgruntled players to undermine the new guy (if the world worked that way back then, which thankfully it didn't).  Yes, some of the inherited players stuck it out and supported Bo, but that was also true of Rodriguez (BG comes to mind).  So, in summary, I think Maize's Bo comparison was apt, and that was the "point of the discussion" as I saw it.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:31 PM ^

I don't disagree with anything you are saying about RR being down on the older players, but that might be a little selective bias going on in the media and the portrayal of older player/alum issues.  Brandon Graham seemed to be a fan, Zoltan never complained, and there were a number of alums who spoke well of RR.  But when trying to write a story, the squeaky wheels and complainers are what draw in eyeballs, so we receive a disproportionate number of them compared to the whole. 

I do think RR made a number of political follies while at UM, but I also think that a couple of high-profile guys complaining might not represent the entire group, especially considering some of them (looking at you Braylon and Boren) have proven to be more bitter/dumb than first thought.


April 19th, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

I've posted this opinion before, and I'll continue to post it. Look at this situation from a business perspective. When companies bring in new leadership (from retirement to mergers to "changes in direction"), they don't often keep the old leaders around. New leadership usually has the same core values that the company follows, but does things in a different way. When employees bitch and compain that the old ways were better, what does a strong leader do? They don't say, "Well, clearly you're right. Lets just do everything exactly how we used to." They do say, "I'm glad that worked for you in the past, but now we're going to do things this way because we believe it's the best  way. I'm sorry if this inconveniences you for the near future, but in the long run we believe this will make you more productive" Yes, there are usually growing pains when learning to do things different, but eventually productivity returns to (or exceeds) previous levels.

Football is a tough game, played by tough men. Coddling doesn't get anyone very far, especially when trying to change established traditions. Coaches saying things like "That's not good enough anymore!" is the business equivalent of saying, "I'm glad that worked for you in the past, but now we're going to do things this way because we believe it's the best  way. I'm sorry if this inconveniences you for the near future, but in the long run we believe this will make you more productive." Some people will take offense to this and long for the good ole days. Others will embrace the change. What's going on right now is those who took offense to change (or thought they did from what they heard from others) are still longing for the good ole days, and they think we're back in them with Hoke as the head coach.


April 19th, 2011 at 5:24 PM ^

RR not coddling those players is quite similar to Hoke telling all the alums last week that they may not like the decisions he will make, but he makes them b/c he thinks they're good for the program. 

Those that hate on RR can't seem to climb out of the pile of dung that is their contradiction or hypocrisy.