The New Phonebooks Will Save Us Comment Count

Brian 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 1:34 PM ^

To so accurately nail a hot-button topic like this is impressive.  A lot of people are losing their heads about the alumni, this had to be written and written it was.

Bando Calrissian

April 19th, 2011 at 1:36 PM ^

It's getting to the point for me where I just loathe every time Braylon's name pops up on here, because it's like a batsignal spotlight for everyone who still wants to turn this whole thing into some culture war over Rich Rodriguez and Lloyd Carr.

At what point do we stop arguing about this stuff and just talk about, you know, football?  At what point do we just close the book on RR and embrace the fact that it seems everyone is on board this time? 

st barth

April 19th, 2011 at 2:16 PM ^

...when highly visible people like Braylon Edwards keep saying inflammatory things it can not die.  If people want to move forward, then fine...but that needs to come from both sides.  If Braylon is going to keep publicly rubbing shit in people's faces then they are going to respond.

I know I'm in a minority, but at this point I would rather see the new regime of "tradition" totally fail so that in another two or three years the slate can be wiped clean and M football can begin to rebuild without the burden of all this Michigan Man BS.  Yeah, I admit that is f'ed up...but we are already in a pretty f'ed up place right now.


April 19th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

And I think a fairly large number waiting to pounce on "I told you so". But if you want overt examples, I hate to call out names, because that wasn't the point, but I know of one (and can think of some insinuations from others) who have said they'd root for Rich Rod's Clemson team vs. Brady Hoke's Michigan team (imaginary game).

Edit: And it wasn't me who neg'd you. I thought it was a fair question, thus the answer.


April 19th, 2011 at 4:55 PM ^

So, you want us to be like hmmmm, Boise State?  A team that really doesn't have any tradition at all except playing on a ridiculous blue fucking field?  

And what kind of fan of the University of Michigan actively wants their team to fail??  I think a fan like you is much worse than Braylon Edwards who may have said a few controversial things but still gave his sweat and blood to the University.

Magnum P.I.

April 19th, 2011 at 1:43 PM ^

I don't think anyone would argue that RR was treated unfairly here. That point is well-established. I'd honestly like to know what your goal is in continuing to belabor this.

Bando Calrissian

April 19th, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

And it's not even about "fair" or "unfair," both of which are rather unquantifiable terms.

Snyder and Rosenberg never missed a tackle.  Braylon never made Gerg run the 3-3-5.  At the end of the day, if RR is successful on the field, if Michigan beats, say, Toledo, if Michigan needs less than a basketball score to beat Illinois last season, if Mississippi State and Wisconsin don't completely jam it down our throats in the most merciless way possible, Rodriguez keeps his job. 

This was about wins and losses, and turning it into a flamewar about whether or not people were "fair" is just a red herring.  Things weren't working.  It didn't appear to many people, most notably the people making the decisions, that things were going to work.  Thus, new direction.

It's time to move on and quit rehashing "fair," "unfair," newspapers, alumni, etc.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:47 PM ^

Seriously let it go at this point RR haters and RR lovers.  One of you won.   One of you lost.  It's gotten frankly childish on both sides of the argument.  That's right, you're childish if you're still arguing that RR got shafted.  Ofcourse he did!  Now move on.  You're childish if you're still arguing that RR was the worst thing for Michigan football ever.  Ofcourse he was!  But he don't coach here.  The end.   

To top it all off there are people complaining about Brian posting a relevant and reasonable for discussion topic on the blog he owns.  If you don't like it don't read it.  There's plenty of other great information on this site thats  non controversial and it may even have video.  His only point here was that a portion of the alumni base did not support RR at any point in his coaching career.  This is well documented.  All the people clamouring for evidence of this have either very short memories or recieved a traumatic brain injury recently. 


April 19th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

Wow, Brian is sensitive about this, eh?

I've been a critic of his stance on all this, but he is getting more fair. I haven't seen anything that could be called "Hoke ripping" in a long time.

But he kind of has himself to blame for some of the mob mentality against him and that won't end until the season begins and we start really talking football. I found his appearance on WTKA the day after Hoke was hired to be jaw-droppingly arrogant and comments like "0.0 chance" and "we've ensured Denard's transfer" were flat-out irresponsible.



April 19th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

I think it's entirely possible to be totally pro-Hoke and yet be anti-all-the-things-that-made-the-Hoke-hire-possible/so-celebrated.

I want Hoke to win, because I want Denard to win, and Molk, and Martin, and everybody who wears the winged helmet.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:56 PM ^

You're absolutely right about all of this. Let's see how the season plays out. Maybe things have changed, maybe not.

At the end of the day it is not the goal of this institution to have a football team that wins national championships. The Big Ten and more specifically tsio is it. Hopefully we at least get back to that and people shut up a bit.


April 19th, 2011 at 1:57 PM ^

I supported Lloyd Carr.  I supported Rich Rod.  I support Brady Hoke.  I support the players who played for all of those coaches and wish them well.  It would be great if there weren't people who undermined other people (no names needed, insert your own as you like). Unfortunately this is not always the case.


Moving forward, I will continue to support our coach and our players.  Everything else is just stupid. Nice post, Brian.


Go Blue!


April 19th, 2011 at 2:00 PM ^

Here is my issue with Brian's view on the former players:

If it were 1 or 2 players who made comments that could be interpreted as anti-RR, it would be easy to dismiss it.  But, there have been many players who have made comments of this ilk.  As the number of players start to pile up, you have to ask whether this is all on the players or if there was something that RR did to piss these guys - who all undeniably love Michigan - off.  Sure, some probably duid not like RR just because he was an outsider.  But, I also believe that RR did not embrace the M traditions as much as many of the former players - and many alum and fans - would have liked.

On another note, I don't really like the whole trashing Braylon because he expressed an opinion that can be construed as anti-RR.  Braylon played for Michigan, and played damn well.  He has shown a love of all things Michigan, and haseven put his money where his mouth was with his #1 Jersey endowment.  (disclaimer:  Braylon is far from perfect.  I know that).

I just don't understand the constant defense of RR on the "traditions" / "former players" issues.  These guys have far more access to the program than any of us.  If they feel that RR didn't really embrace the traditions and the former players, then I tend to believe them.



April 19th, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

You want to know who I tend to believe? People like Ryan VanBergen. People who were ACTUALLY AROUND THE PROGRAM during the three years of RR's tenure. Not people who bitched from a distance. I believe the players that stuck around even when things weren't going right (Stonum, Martin, etc), the alums like Rick Leach, LaMarr Woodley, etc  who were actively around the program and came to games whenever they could, the players who actually came back and worked out with Barwis (Foote, etc). These are the people I tend to believe.

The countless players who flat out said, "Rodriguez always made it easy for any former player to come but I just CHOSE not to,"  These are former players who put the onus on themselves, even at the risk of damaging their own "Michigan Man" reputation, to state the truth. These not-interested parties are the ones I believe. They aligned themselves in support of Rodriguez when there wasn't any real benefit to doing so other than stating the truth.


April 19th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

Braylon says RR made him feel unwelcome. Mike Hart says the opposite. RVB says "where the hell have you been?" Why should we take Braylon's words as truth just because some other guys also have a bad opinion of RR?

It's all personal, and all of these guys have egos, most of them large. Personally, I prefer to listen to the guy who has been a team player in the NFL and never prefaced the name of the University of Michigan with the possessive form of an individual's name.


April 19th, 2011 at 4:56 PM ^

It's easy to "love" Michigan when it's winning.  Just say'n. Oh I deny they "ALL undeniably LOVE Michigan."  Some do, such as Mike Hart and Rick Leach who return and support the program unconditionally, even if they disagree with decisions (that was Hoke's message right?).  But "All the players" you refer to?  They may think they love Michigan.  They probably love themselves more.  So much so they stay away when there isn't enough winning. 

mad magician

April 19th, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

Here's mine. This was the problem with Rodriguez at Michigan:

Rodriguez wanted out of West Virginia and understandably so. His stated desire was to go to a national program where he would have the resources and support to win national championships without the inherent limitations of WVU. Thing is, though, he was happy to go to any program that offered him this; in '06 he came thisclose to Alabama before a last-minute change of heart. The next year, once relations with his WVU superiors had irrevocably broken down, he was ready to capitalize on his blue-chip status as the hot up-and-coming coach in college football, and the biggest job available just happened to be Michigan, and Michigan just happened to be in desperate need of a new head coach after Bill Martin's bungled search. It was, and I think I am paraphrasing Doctor Saturday here, like two drunks meeting at a wedding and deciding to get married themselves. 

Rich Rodriguez didn't pursue the Michigan job because he dreamed of leading the winged helmets out of the tunnel and under the banner to play Ohio State or MSU or Notre Dame, of singing The Victors in the locker room after clinching a Big Ten Championship; Rodriguez took the Michigan job because it fit his own personal criteria. It could've been any other elite job; it just so happened to be Michigan. This, I think, is the subtext of what many of our former players (and alumni and fans) mean when they say things like "he doesn't get our tradition." Maybe the sentiment could have been articulated better, but there was truth in it. The perception among many was that Rodriguez was something of a mercenary hire--and it's not that he was an outsider, it's that he was an outsider with no particular affinity with Michigan. And when he got here, he was very much the lone wolf. Once the shit started hitting the fan with the Freep investigation, it became him against the world, no matter how hard the Brandon-led Athletic Department fought to clear his name. Rodriguez gave himself no margin for error at Michigan. It was always going to be win or get out. 

Identity matters in athletics, and yes it matters more at a places like Michigan. It's what Bo called upon to resurrect the program in 1969, it's what Hoke is doing in 2011.   



April 19th, 2011 at 2:28 PM ^

The entire premise of your argument and the subsequent points that follow, that RR only came here b/c it was a big time job in need of a big time coach, is one big assumption. Until you can prove that reasonably (and I personally don't think you can), the entire argument is moot.

As for the inherent limitations of WVU, apparently you missed the fact that WVU was closer to getting to the NC game than UM has been in years ('06 not withstanding - we got killed by USC and would've gotten killed by UF, and frankly OSU too had they not turned the ball over unforced 3 times- Overrated). His WVU program and the Big East was an easy ticket to the NC game. You want to talk limitations, come to the Big Ten.


mad magician

April 19th, 2011 at 2:56 PM ^

Prove to me that Rodriguez wanted to be the Head Coach of Michigan, rather than the Head Coach at Michigan that he sought it for reasons beyond it was simply a better job than the one he had. According to wikipedia,

"Some insight into the discontent between Rodriguez and WVU is evidenced in a compendium of emails that were released to the Associated Press on January 23, 2008.[17] An Associated Press story indicated that Rodriguez's agent Mike Brown was threatening to take his client elsewhere early in the 2007 season."

And yes, while WVU came close to a national championship appearance (once), for a Big East team to reach the national championship game, they not only have to go undefeated, but hope that teams from stronger conferences (the Big Ten among them) falter.   Michigan offered Rodriguez better recruiting capabilities, better facilities and resources (in a word, money). It was simply, like Alabama the year before, a better job. 


April 19th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

You already gave me all we needed to know: He could have easily taken the Alabama job. A team down South with a fan base obsessed with the school, resources galore, SEC team...yet he didn't take it. Why? All of the WVU people he wanted to get away from were there at that time, too. The same issues he was not content with were there for a long time...these issues weren't new in 2007.

Of course we also have his explicit statement about why he chose Michigan above all of the other places he could've gone and how special Michigan is. Yes I'm aware he has to say things like that, so his own statement about why he took the job is not proof enough, but it can't be ignored either.

Anyone getting a job needs an opportunity to go there. He seized the Michigan job because he wanted the Michigan job. Citing him wanting to get out of WVU does not prove that this was the reason he chose Michigan any moreso than him saying Michigan is special makes him sincere about that statement. The countless other things he did to embrace the Michigan tradition and everything he did after he became head coach at Michigan proved to me that he desperately wanted to be a part of the tradition at UM.

mad magician

April 19th, 2011 at 3:26 PM ^

"All of the WVU people he wanted to get away from were there at that time, too. The same issues he was not content with were there for a long time...these issues weren't new in 2007."

Michael Garrison became WVU president in October 2007. He and Rodriguez did not get along and their frayed relationship was the final straw for Rodriguez at WVU. 


From this article:…

-  "Garrison also revealed he had a testy exchange with sports agent Mike Brown in the summer, before he'd assumed the presidency, in which Brown vowed to "shop, as he put it, Product Rodriguez on the open market.""

- "Rodriguez had unresolved demands involving assistant coaches, a personal Web site, free passes for high school coaches and other matters. He says Garrison unequivocally refused to meet them."