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 2:04 PM ^

I don't quite think it can be a tell-all book though, since a lot of the players involved are still, you know, on the team.  We might get some interesting stuff about guys who've gone on to the NFL though, especially those that have talked some shit after they left (Morgan Trent, Terrance Taylor, etc).

MI Expat NY

April 19th, 2011 at 1:22 PM ^


"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."

In my opinion, tradition mostly exists to serve the current team, the curren team does not exist to serve tradition.  

Surveillance Doe

April 19th, 2011 at 1:25 PM ^

Why does this fight need to continue?  I hope this blog eventually goes back to what it used to be.  Posts like these disappoint me.  We've read this same argument many times.  It's posted on the board at least once a day. 

I was a vocal RR supporter, and I thought it would have been crazy to not give him another year, even after the OSU game this past November.  In the following five or six weeks, my opinion changed, and it had nothing to do with RR's results, although different results probably would have helped strengthen my previous position. 

The reason for my change of opinion was 100% because I thought the fanbase had reached a point where it was too fractured for RR to ever really be successful.  And that, without question, sucked a lot.  My opinion was that it was just the sad reality.  Most fans I spoke to spent those five or six weeks discussing who the next coach would be.  They had already moved on.

The reality is that, in order for anyone to be successful here, they need the fans--including the alums--and the media to be behind them.  In my opinion, DB didn't fire RR because of his results (although, again, better results certainly would have helped), he fired him because DB had to fix the fractured fan base, and removing RR was a necessary step.  DB faced a larger crisis than losing to OSU too many times in a row; he needed to fix the perception of the program.

Now, we face a great opportunity.  DB made a hire that, in fact, did bring the fanbase to a point where it seems to be healing.  And it seems to be healing quickly and with enthusiasm.  Hell, the media is eating it up.  DB's job wasn't just to get a better coach, it was to fix things greater than that with a coach who would hopefully win.  And, from where I'm sitting, that's where we seem to be right now.

We have an opportunity here, and I don't understand why we're not embracing it.  Maybe we all need to collectively acknowledge that what happened sucked before we can move on.  I don't know.  But, after three years of being mad at alums the media for not being supportive enough, we should be joining in on the enthusiastic support now coming from both groups. 

This is all part of the healing process.  Things are getting better.  Can we please stop resisting it?

I like RR too.  I think he's a great guy.  But, now that he's gone, I'm okay with him being the scapegoat.  I've worked in enough settings to know that sometimes a scapegoat is necessary to get beyond a problem.  Is not scapegoating RR more important than healing the program to anyone here? 

350 alums coming back for the spring game is a great thing.  The media writing fluff pieces about the program again is a great thing.  The public perception that things are better is a great thing.  Let's just appreciate these things and move on.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:42 PM ^

Because the scapegoating of RR makes us look bad. And we should be above this. Why? Because ultimately Michigan is a great university and a great place, and always will be. It's also a symbol, of integrity and all that kind of stuff. We want things to turn around, but we want to do it with honor.

This sounds hokey but this is why I love Michigan. And I wouldn't love it as much if it became like Ohio (sensu Hoke) or one of those other schools down south.

Surveillance Doe

April 19th, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

In the world of college football, two things make you look bad: losing and cheating.  Almost no one cares about anything else. 

I agree with you that one thing that separates Michigan is that we do care about more.  We care about academics and integrity and our history and how we represent our university beyond winning football games. 

I agree with you that Michigan is special because it is different.  I absolutely love Michigan.  I'm very proud of the wall in my office that displays my three diplomas from Michigan, and I've been a season-ticketholder since the first year of my time as an undergraduate student at Michigan. 

So I think I do understand and appreciate where you are coming from in terms of wanting our alums to represent our institution with pride and honor. 

The reality is that RR was the rest of the world's scapegoat long before he was fired.  The Freep crucified him before he even got started.  Sparty and the Buckeye have been nervously laughing at us hoping there wouldn't be a breakthrough.  He was taking the shots long before our own began taking shots at him.

Again, I think it all sucked, and I wish it hadn't happened the way it did.  But the only people who think we look bad right now are a small contingent of our own fans.  Honestly, I've only heard this argument--the one in the OP--on this site or from my friends who I know read this site.  As far as I've read and heard, no one anywhere else is criticizing our alums for unfairly taking things out on RR.  If they are and I'm missing it, I stand corrected.

But I think that the less intimately people are connected with the program, the more likely they are to already believe that it was all because RR didn't get it, didn't stress tradition, didn't welcome former players, etc., whether that's fair or not.  We don't look bad to those people when a former player drops an "again" after commenting on how Ann Arbor feels like home.  Those people already think that's true anyway.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

I think we're coming from the same place .  And Hoke is coming from that place , and it's great that he talks so much about it. You're right that the outside world doesn't perceive it the way we do.  But I don't care about them, to be honest, I care about us. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard, because if we don't, then we are just arrogant. If we do, then we're Michigan fans: convinced of our greatness, but rightly so.

Surveillance Doe

April 19th, 2011 at 2:33 PM ^

I did not read RVB's comments as a display of loyalty to RR.  I read them as an emphasis on his loyalty to Michigan and an inquiry into where that same loyalty to the program from alums had been the last three years.  And it's absolutely a fair inquiry and one I would want to come from a vocal leader of the team.

If we have a group of players on the team who feel that their loyalty rests with RR and that they have to defend that loyalty, we've got bigger problems.  Like it or not, RR is no longer formally affiliated with this university.  Similar loyalty issues seem to be precisely the problem we faced three years ago.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

But when you do, BAM, truth. You encapsulated the whole situation perfectly. Which I think a lot of people miss...I'd say a majority weren't anti-Rich from day one, or even that anti-Rich now. Not everyone is in the Braylon crowd. But I think a silent majority realized after OSU, then the hub bub over the Senior dinner, and then the bowl game massacre...we had hit a point of, if not no return, an incredibly difficult return. I for one wouldn't have screamed if they had brought back Rich. But it would have been 9 months of horrible press and perception, Not sure that would have been fair to the kids, the program, or frankly, to Rich.

Section 1

April 19th, 2011 at 5:46 PM ^

I gotta give it up for this fantastically direct and completely perverse statement.  Who knows, it might even reflect public opinion.  This is so awesomely awful, I almost don't know what to say:

I like RR too.  I think he's a great guy.  But, now that he's gone, I'm okay with him being the scapegoat.  I've worked in enough settings to know that sometimes a scapegoat is necessary to get beyond a problem.  Is not scapegoating RR more important than healing the program to anyone here? 

Uh, no.  It's not okay, if it isn't true.  This is like the old Russian proverb.  As the new leader is taking office, he is told to look in the top right-hand drawer of the executive desk.  There are two numbered envelopes, and he is told that when things get bad, to open the first envelope.  Only if things continue to get really bad, should he open the second envelope.  Sure enough, things get bad.  The leader opens the first envelope, which contains a simple note; "Blame your predecessor."  But things continued to get bad, because blaming the predecessor didn't work.  So the leader opened the second envelope.  The note inside said, "Prepare two envelopes..." 

STW P. Brabbs

April 20th, 2011 at 11:59 AM ^

Yes, most agree that it was the two-envelope practice of blaming the predecessor that made the USSR kind of a nasty system.   Good thing American politicians don't do anything like that.  Or politicians anywhere else in the world.

Clearly, when Stalin came to power and blamed everything on Lenin ... well, that was a watershed moment, in retrospect.*


*Note: this did not actually happen.



April 19th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

Are there any facts to prove that RR wasn't supported at Michigan?  Was the Home game attendence down?  Wasn't he the highest paid coach ever in the history of Michigan athletics?  I have facts that prove he was supported.  Show me the facts baby!

Bando Calrissian

April 19th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

The fans booed Lloyd plenty of times.  If Michigan got the ball back with bad field position and less than two minutes to go in the first half, you knew it was coming.  And don't even get me started on what our fanbase did to John Navarre.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:24 PM ^


He was good at beating teams that had less talent than his. He deserves credit for being a solid recruiter most of his career.

Care to name some games against equal or better talent you thought we won because of a brilliant game plan by Carr and his staff? Aside from his last game where he went against every fiber of his being (with the exception of our final series), I can't think of any off-hand. Please don't say OSU in '95 and '96. We just played good games against teams that choked.


Bando Calrissian

April 19th, 2011 at 2:30 PM ^

Your mind is already made up about Lloyd Carr.  Anything I post will not convince you otherwise.  If you truly think he was such a terrible coach, choose to judge him by things that are completely unquantifiable (like "in-game coaching"), and want to reduce some of his best wins to the other team "choking," that's your right. 

I just look at a stack of Big 10 championship rings and a National Championship,  and choose to think you're wrong. 

03 Blue 07

April 19th, 2011 at 9:39 PM ^

One thing that IS quantifiable: using expected outcomes, Lloyd punted way too much when past his own 40 yard line. This has been discussed on this site, using stats adjusting to cull the data out so it is only analyzed in situations where the game is still "in doubt." Lloyd consistently made the wrong choice in these situations, and likely cost himself and team a few wins over his career in doing so. Also the idea of playing low-variance football until trailing in the fourth quarter. These are the things people didn't like about Lloyd's in-game coaching (of those who had complaints), for the most part.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

How about responding to the substance of the post --you know, the stuff Brian put a lot of thought into, rather than a tag, which is just about meaningless?

As a sde note, it's become impossible to like or support Braylon Edwards for me, and that's sad. He thinks he's representing the University well but he's so wrong. I wish he'd just stop talking.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

I don't have anything meaningful to say on the topic that hasn't been rehashed 50,000 times previously by others.  I'm not opposed to defenses of Rich Rod and I don't particularly care if this is one, I just thought it was funny that the tag says it's a defense of the coach and then the post explicitly denies it.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

From the many of us who supported the team under Lloyd, supported the team under Rodriguez, support the team under Hoke, and will support the team under the next regime whether it's in three years or twenty-three years.  And from the many of us who can see shades of distinction and nuances (different tints, if you will, Braylon).


Please continue to do thoughtful and occasional battle against the seemingly tireless forces of asshattery who are so giddy that their malevolent wishes seem to have aided in the self-fulfillment of the prophecy of The Downfall of the Tradition-Wrecking Hick.  One can only hope that karma manifests itself in their life in some potent form, and soon.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

and it's a mistake to reduce it to that. It's about us. Michigan alumni and alumnae, fans, and so on. We should be better than this. We shouldn't need to scapegoat RR or anyone else, to denigrate one person to elevate another. We shouldn't need to blame anyone or anything. We're MICHIGAN! We're above this kind of crap, or we should be, anyway. That's what I got out of Brian's post, anyway.

LSA Superstar

April 19th, 2011 at 1:34 PM ^

I don't claim that this is an original comment because I've seen others in this comment thread voice the same sentiment, and I pray you listen, Mr. Cook:

You're totally right, Brian. It is now time to move on.

You are thinking like an engineer or a lawyer about an emotional issue. You are applying rational review to something people feel passionately about. You will never win and you will draw out the conflict by continuing to make posts like this.

Leave it alone. Let the wound heal.