The Tenuous Case For Keeping Rich Rodriguez

Submitted by Brian on November 2nd, 2010 at 2:55 PM

AATP copyWhere I'm at. The previous "when can we fire this guy" post?

(illustration via reader Brian Louwers)

I promised I wouldn't talk about Rich Rodriguez's job status until the season was over but apparently I'm going to. I blame everyone.

Three Questions

Too many posts in the Fire RR vein argue things no one is disputing. This one titled "The Buck Stops at Rodriguez," argues that a head coach is in charge of his program. This is not very enlightening. Neither is restating his record. We're all aware of Rich Rodriguez's record. We watched it. Saying "but this happened and I was sad" means you're answering the wrong question. You're answering the question "what will make me feel better?" Sometimes you're answering the question "who would have been the best choice for 2008?"

These are the questions I'm interested in:

  1. Which football coach will give Michigan the best record in 2011?
  2. What about 2012?
  3. What about 2015?

You hire a coach for the long term. I think you fire a coach for the short term, though, and the point at which you boot the last guy is when you think the next year isn't going to meet a reasonable minimum threshold of progress. I completely understand people who have hit that point. You can save your comments about how he needs to go—neither I nor anyone else cares to hear it for the one millionth time in the last three days. It's an understandable position. If Rich Rodriguez is cut loose after the season and Jim Harbaugh comes in I will not be in the streets with a bullhorn.

But I wouldn't endorse that move (at least not right now), because I think the answers to questions one and two are conditionally "Rich Rodriguez."

Upperclass Denard: How Does It Work?

denard-robinson-action-figure

Michigan has a unique talent on its hands in Denard Robinson, and they've acquired a mobile offensive line, slot receivers, and tailbacks to complement him. Some of these players can easily transition to another scheme. Stephen Hopkins can I-back with anyone. The outside receivers are just outside receivers. Taylor Lewan is going to hate donkeys in any scheme.

Others can't. The gaggle of tiny waterbug types—including Dee Hart, though he probably won't end up at M if there is a change—are going to be marginalized. I'm not sure how well the offensive line will hold up in an offense that prizes power over movement. Michigan isn't going to be able to materialize an excellent fullback and tight end depth out of nothing.

And then there's Denard. He could move to receiver or tailback, I guess, or more likely transfer, or you could bring in a spread guy, or you could try to keep Magee, or you could just ride with the guy who has already made Denard the all-time leading QB rusher in the Big Ten, will make him the all-time leading QB rusher in NCAA history, and turned Pat White into one of the best quarterbacks in college football before that. One of the "Smiths or MGoBlog" posts contains an argument I've made before:

For everyone that wants RR gone, I submit a short rebuttal.

1 Oregon 8 2488 2095 625 4583 7.3 572.9
2 Oklahoma State 8 1471 2747 615 4218 6.9 527.3
3 Nevada 8 2407 1754 584 4161 7.1 520.1
4 Michigan 8 2204 1943 563 4147 7.4 518.4
5 Boise State 7 1500 2111 473 3611 7.6 515.9

This team (could) return 22 of 24 starters next year.  The #4 offense in the country will return every skill position player except Martell Webb and the offensive line should improve even with losing S. Schilling.   The 2011 schedule is set up for a Big 10 Championship.   Rodriguez will finally have experience and depth at his disposal on offense.  No freshmen(even redshirt freshmen) save possibly Hart will see the field.  Don't you want to see what could become of this offense and the stars it could attract with stability up top?    If you broom RR then what?   If you bring in Harbaugh, Denard is either gone or a slot back.   I have no idea how much attrition you get but this offense has been molded by RR for 3 years,  it will not be as good.

I think that's indisputable: you will lose offensive firepower by making a change. Over the course of his career Rodriguez has established he is standard deviations above the mean as an offensive coordinator. Criticisms about the offense exist but are limited to suggesting that this group featuring two seniors and a sophomore quarterback isn't really the fourth-best offense in the nation because they're not scoring enough. That's true—Michigan is only 19th in scoring offense—but the blame for that rests largely with a defense that doesn't force turnovers (or punts) and the nation's worst kicker situation. If you adjust for all the vagaries that make straight yardage and scoring statistics unrepresentative, pile on a strength of schedule factor, and average it all out this is not, in fact, the fourth best offense in the country:

Michigan is still ranked #2 nationally in rushing and #3 overall in Points Above Normal but the game scores are coming down.

While Michigan's performance over the last three games is not that good, it would still be top 25. If you're wantonly throwing that much data away to make that your conclusion you've just gone Nanking on math for little reward.

Whatever you lose had better be made up for by better play from special teams and defense, but if we're rebooting the defensive coaching staff what does it matter who's doing ninja stuff on the other side of the ball? Unless Anonymous New Coach, who we'll call "Jim Harbaugh" for simplicity's sake, brings in someone who can play instantly the only way that will happen is by bringing in a better defensive staff. Michigan can do that without disrupting something that looks like it's going very right on the other side of the ball.

The obvious argument against that is Scott Shafer, Jay Hopson, and Greg Robinson. That's why the conditional case for bringing RR back rests on either 1) grabbing Jeff Casteel, probably in the event of a Bill Stewart firing, or 2) clearing everyone (or almost everyone) out, bringing in a defensive coordinator with a track record of established recent success on the college level, and giving him carte blanche to bring in the people he wants to bring in. This will be expensive but I hereby volunteer a dollar from each Michigan season ticketholder to make it happen.

The Convincing Argument Against

JimHarbaugh
I AM SO PUMPED ABOUT THIS SMOOTHIE I'M THINKING OF
I AM TOTALLY GOING TO KICK THIS SMOOTHIE'S ASS
WHAT IS YOUR DEAL, BANANA AND WHEATGRASS?
i hope i'm not having an aneurysm—YEAH SMOOTHIES

Recruiting, basically. Rich Rodriguez is chased around by a horrendous narrative caused by a lot of losing and a lot of other stuff. Jim Harbaugh has to deal with a DUI and some self-serving statements about Michigan's academics—these don't live up. If Michigan goes 9-3 next year under Harbaugh, people are delighted. If Rodriguez does it there remain many, many grumbles. Michigan can throw away the last three years and start over.

Even if this reduces expectations short term, the narrative is totally different and recruits might be more amenable to jumping on board. Fuzzy Dunlop, who amazingly does not have a tennis ball avatar:

Many of those saying the defense is not Rodriguez's "fault" miss the essential point.  It doesn't matter whose fault it is.  What matters is who has the ability to rectify the situation.  And we are fast approaching the point where Rodriguez will no longer have that ability (if he ever had it).

The defense sucks.  Let's say it's not Rod's fault.  Fine.  So how does he fix it?  Get great defensive recruits?  If we lose out, or eke by Purdue, what makes anyone think the good defensive recruits will be rushing to come to Michigan this year?  Perception becomes reality -- our defense is perceived to be a joke, with terrible coaching -- this is not a situation talented players are going to rush into.

He gets a little more negative than I am but the point is valid. Unfortunately, at some point the baggage in your past becomes an active detriment to your future. Rodriguez is either already there or one season from it.

The Gibson Issue

Defensive backs coach Tony Gibson is a lightning rod for criticism because the secondary is a disaster zone and the internets have it that he and Rodriguez have a Clinton-Blair style "special relationship," with all the charges of cronyism that brings. Even Michael Rosenberg is making that argument after years of blithely ignoring the DerpBord era. (Q: What's the difference between a Free Press columnist and a message board poster? A: Editors.)

Unfortunately there's no statistic you can point to that definitively says he's good or bad but the vague outlines provided by the NCAA's site aren't exactly damning:

Stat 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
Pass Eff 114 126 116 107 121 116 99
Pass Eff Rk 28 63 30 20 45 47 8
Pass 189 243 201 198 260 214 137
Pass Rk 14 109 34 32 104 55 1
Sacks 3 2.4 2.4
Sack Rk 15 38 46

That's not great aside from the bizarre first year (West Virginia was terrible at run defense so teams just ran) but it's consistently above average. In six years Gibson had three players drafted, one of them (Ryan Mundy) a guy who transferred away from Michigan because he wasn't going to get playing time. That's about one per slot he was in charge of, assuming that the spur and bandit were not his responsibilities. The rest of WVU's team saw eight guys drafted across nineteen spots.

None of this is definitive but it's at least an indication that Gibson isn't the anchor certain FFFFFUUUUUUU sorts make him out to be. The debacle here could be a coaching issue, but Occam's razor suggest it's talent (and attrition). Cbuswolverine put up a diary looking at the experience of the top five and bottom five secondaries in the country with the expected results—everyone but LSU averages at least 3.5 years on campus, and LSU is at 2.75. It is possible that Tony Gibson is a huge problem, but even if he was we wouldn't know. His reputation as a great recruiter is commonly stated, but we have even less data on that.

I put in a Mathlete request for a fancy math version of the above statistics that would adjust for schedule strength and maybe parse out the sacks in the three years they're available.

The Most Insane Thing Ever Said About Me

It's days like this that I envy Brian.

What I'd Do At 7-5 Or 6-6, Probably—I Mean If We Lose By A Billion In Three Games, Probably Not, But Let's Just Say If The Season Plays Out Like It Looks It Will

I'd fire Robinson. Then I'd bring in Casteel if he's available post Stewart firing or broom most of the defensive staff and bring in someone making SEC dollars along with two other established position coaches, and then I'd give Rodriguez 2011 and hope like hell. Michigan's in a bad spot either way, but at least Ivan Maisel's with me.

Yeah, that's right: Ivan Maisel.

qed

Other bits: for folks complaining about the O/D coaching breakdown, Touch The Banner surveys the Big Ten and finds that literally every team in the league has four defensive assistants and all but one (Purdue, which has a dedicated ST coach) has five offensive assistants, or would if they hadn't fired their head coach already. Maize And Go Blue is here:

RichRodOmeter-copy2

Wojo on matters:

Rich Rodriguez didn't fire or demote his defensive coordinator Monday, and to some, that's a sad surprise. Frankly, I'm not sure it makes a big difference.

Greg Robinson has done a poor job, and his position certainly should be in jeopardy. But full accountability sits where it always sits, where it now shifts uncomfortably — on the coach.

Comments

dahblue

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

So, you say Dee Hart is going to leave if there's a coaching change?  Let's go to Dee for his response:

"I liked Michigan either way and if he were to leave it wouldn't affect me because I think I can play in any offensive system," Hart said. "So it really wasn't my concern."

Hawkeye State

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

(1) You're absolutely right on the offense, both as it currently stands and on how it would disintegrate under Harbaugh or basically anyone else.  Michigan is far better off for the next 3 years on offense by keeping Rodriguez in place.

(2) This situation, with so much youth and so little production on one side of the ball, is like a half-Zook circa 2009.  Change the defensive coordinator (and forget how Rodriguez has shown about as much interest in defense as Coach Taylor on FNL), splash out some money on a staff that knows the sort of bland 4-3 that's so effective in the conference (because defense is reactive; I'm not a traditionalist on offense, despite my team's leanings, but when you play half your games against pro-style, run-between-the-tackles types, a new-wavey defensive scheme built to combat speed more than power isn't going to be effective regardless of its new-waveness), and profit.

(3) Absolutely none of this is written in the hopes that you'll keep your own Bill Callahan for longer than you should.  Nope, none at all.

Bando Calrissian

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:38 PM ^

Frankly, I don't care if Michigan's offense is ranked 1st or 51st, because at the end of the day, Michigan football is based on the idea that you win with defense, not with an offense you hope can outscore whatever your defense gives up.  The offense should not have to score 31+ to win every Saturday, especially against FCS and mid-major opponents.  Period.  So for me the "we have an incredible, high-powered offense!  YAY Denard!" argument only goes so far.  He's one player, a guy who is only here for two more years.  We can't justify the employment of a coach based on one player, a guy who is clearly a special talent, but has yet to prove he can make it through an entire game without getting banged up.  Love me some Denard, but remember, "no player is bigger than the team."  Just like "no coach is bigger than the team."

So as far as defense is concerned, Rich Rodriguez waltzing into his presser this week and saying that defensive schemes are "way, way overrated" seems to indicate a coach that clearly has his priorities out of whack.  Special teams has clearly suffered as well, never being appreciably good at any point in his tenure.  Michigan football needs to prove that it can beat Big 10 teams that aren't Indiana, and show that it's a program that doesn't need to consistently rely on insane comebacks in the 2nd half to be in position to win games.  So far, neither of these items have gotten appreciably better.  

At what point do we cut bait and admit this experiment simply isn't working out?  Or is our fanbase too attached to wanting Rich Rodriguez to have been a successful choice to look rationally and objectively at the situation?  

Bando Calrissian

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:58 PM ^

Your chances of winning and being successful, however, seem to me to be more likely if you're depending on your offense to win with 3-4 scores (or less) than 5-6 scores.  Thus, you're putting yourself in a much better position to be successful by putting an emphasis on defense.  Being successful at stopping your opponent from scoring means even a middling offense, or having an offense that is normally high-powered but sputtering in a given matchup, means more W's.  

It has nothing to do with liking the team more or less, it's just pointing out that it shouldn't come to excusing bad defensive performances because your offense has a propensity to score.  You shouldn't have to have a top-5 offense to win games.

M-Wolverine

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

The important one IS who will make us better in 2015?  Not next year, or the year after that.  Because if the goal is to have a couple of fun years with Denard, never win anything  because the defense sucks, but wow, look at all the shootouts!....then crash and burn when he graduates, then Rich should go today.  I want to see good Michigan football, not Denard.  I hope Denard can be a part of good Michigan football...but it's not contest which is more important.

The season's not done, so the answer to the question could change.  But if you don't think Rich is going to make us better in 2015, in the long term...then he has to go. Even if it means we're going to not be a couple of games better next year.  I'd rather win 7 next year, and be winning championships by 2015, than win 9 next year, and maybe 10 the year after...then crash back to 6 after that. 

I'm glad everyone is so excited by fancy offense...its' so new! It's so fun!  But other than "well, they'll be older", there's been no evidence that there's any other reason they'll be GOOD on defense.  Things like talent. Coaching.  On the side of the ball that has you win.  Because, I don't understand all the people who would rather have a pretty game, and lose, than have Lloyd ball, and win. It's all about the wins.  And unless you think, and can show, that those will be coming...fancy offense be damned.

The best way to do that is start winning NOW.  But if that's not going to happen, fix it, right after the season ends.

vigo the carpathian

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:44 PM ^

if you're primarily concerned about the next year or two, no one would ever change coaches. even if there are too many coaching changes now, this would take us way too far in the other direction.

i've also been thinking about how, exactly, to define the rodriguez question. in general, i agree that you look forward, not backward, but i'm not sure it's quite so absolute. do you run out a legendary coach the moment that your expected wins from an alternate coach exceed your expected wins from your current coach? maybe, but there's something nice and charming about the distinctly NCAA tendency to keep legends around. in my view, these past three years are a legitimate consideration, albeit a small one, beyond just how they affect predictions for the future.

Woodson2

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:11 PM ^

I don't think you have to win with defense. Just because a lot of fans are attached to the past philosophies of the coaches doesn't mean that Michigan has to be considered a defensive team to win games. That being said RR is capable of fielding more than an adequate defense. He has done so in the past and he can do so again given the proper talent.

Nick Saban would not have success with this defensive personnel. It's just not very good right now because of the attrition. It's not getting better because freshman and sophomores don't magically improve over the course of a season. It takes time for them to mature and become comfortable playing at this level. We saw how much Denard improved in one off season, this is the type of progression we can expect from defensive players when they have time to grow.

Firing a coach when he hasn't even had a senior class is a poor operational move. You don't cut bait with an experiment when you haven't even given the experiment time to get all of the ingredients needed to run the experiment. It would be a completely crazy and reactionary move to fire RR before he even has players to field a fully functional team.

lager86

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

Why can't freshmen and sophmores improve over the season?  That's a ridiculous statement.  Our offense is stacked with redshirt freshmen and sophmores.  I don't see RR coming to the podium and saying that the offense can't work with underclassmen.  We have no consistent defensive philosophy and coming out each week and saying that nobody could coach these kids is getting old.  The fact that 8 games into this season we're making wholesale changes to personel is also less than comforting.

Woodson2

November 2nd, 2010 at 7:20 PM ^

Not ridiculous at all! Many underclassmen thrust into starting roles struggle when they are immediately thrown into the fire of competition when they are not mature enough to do so. It even happens all the time at the NFL level. Denard is a great example. Think of his progression over the year last year. He didn't improve at all during the season but in fact became less of a factor as the season went along despite an injury to Tate. The off season is when most improvement comes. Think about it, during the season if you are lost and confused the coaches don't have as much time to spend on teaching when they are busy during the week installing gameplans and watching film.

Improvements always occur between seasons. This is especially true when it comes to young players who don't have as much confident at this level of play.  During a season problems compound and effect the confidence level of players who are in over their heads. This is why upperclassmen fill out the rosters of most serious contending teams. Relying on freshman is not a good situation.

Of course personnel changes 8 games into the season are not comforting but the coaches are stuck between a rock and a hard place on defense. They are trying anything to find a combination of players that gives the team a spark. The players are not good enough yet so it's no surprise that the changes aren't working. You can blame the coaches all you want but there is no coach would not make this defense good. Look at them tackle! You blame the coahces on that? Did you even play football? Poor execution is on the players.

The only way this defense will improve is to get older and allow the talented freshman and sophomores time to develop. Sure we might improve if they token fire GERG but that will be more of a result of the players having a whole offseason to develop rather than a new coach. The schemes were fine against PSU, plenty of times we could have gotten off the field with a tackle but the players couldn't execute.

BlueVoix

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:39 PM ^

If we get completely and totally pantsed by Illinois this week, while watching our offense struggle to score more than a TD and field goal in the first half, are we seriously going to keep trotting out the "but our offense is so good" line?  Denard is good.  Our o-line is good.  But against any defense with a pulse, our offense is prone to turnovers, penalties, and all the errors we thought were just youth and inexperience last year.

I would really get the offense is too good argument if we were keeping pace during games with competent teams.  MSU, Iowa, and Penn State have all wrecked our defense, but also stifled our offense until late in the 3rd quarter.  I'm getting pretty tired of seeing 31-10 and you better believe most non-mgoblog reading alumns are too.

funkywolve

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

I'm tired of hearing about how great this offense is only to see it bumble and stumble in the first half of games.  For whatever reason in the last 3 weeks, this offense hasn't done much until UM has found themselves in a deep hole.

For someone who didn't know better, Iowa (38-28) and PSU (41-31) might look like they were shootouts but the reality is UM was down big and had to fight their way back to make the scores look respectable.

umchicago

November 2nd, 2010 at 7:39 PM ^

i believe we got within a TD in both games at some point during the 4Q.  we had more than a few opportunities to get a defensive stop on 3rd down to give the O a chance at tying the game in both games, but the D never stepped up.

To blame the O for anything is ridiculous.  No O scores on every possession, well, unless they're going against our D.

KinesiologyNerd

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:39 PM ^

So, is Harbaugh who you would want as the replacement, Brian? Or like me, do you just say Harbaugh because he's the most recognizable name. My top 3 would be Gary Patterson, Dan Mullen, or Harbaugh in that order.

Johnnybee123

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

Great blog, Brian.  But you shouldn't alienate your readers like you just did.  Your tone is a little too condesending to people who read your blog religiously.  Also, taking your point:

"You hire a coach for the long term. I think you fire a coach for the short term, though, and the point at which you boot the last guy is when you think the next year isn't going to meet a reasonable minimum threshold of progress. I completely understand people who have hit that point. You can save your comments about how he needs to go—neither I nor anyone else cares to hear it for the one millionth time in the last three days. It's an understandable position"

When Rodriguez was hired in 2008, what were his long term expectations?  If I remember correctly, you yourself expect our team to be rebuilt by 2010, and later contracted that statement saying that we would be ready much later. Call me crazy, but I think three seasons is a reasonable amount of time to gauge long term expectations.  I'm not accusing you of this, but I for one don't want my expecations to continuously shift based on our current performance.  If we gave Rich Rod three years back in 2008 to show us some mojo, that expectation should not change three years down the line based on the current status of the team.

Again, great blog and keep up the good work.  But you have to watch your tone with your core audience, I think.

BlueVoix

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:50 PM ^

You make a good point.  You could go back and look through these here pages and find that most if not all thought we'd be contending for MNCs in 2010.  Instead, we're just looking to stay above water.

Fine, kids have left the program and fine, we've had some bad luck, but if you keep changing the rules of the game, you're going to keep seeing the same results.

umchicago

November 2nd, 2010 at 7:50 PM ^

any reasonable person will change expectations given new information.  if our D was putting up these #s with junior and senior-laden players, i would be first to lead the charge with the pitchforks.  but that's not what we have.  i've never heard of a D return 8-9 starters one year then 9-10 the next year (2011).

that said, i think good coaches could get a little more out of this D.  as pointed out by many, it wouldn't take much for some of these Ls to translate into Ws.

We're avg about 30 pts a game in big 10 play.  The D gives up 37.  i don't think it unreasonable to think the D could save at least a TD next year given all the returning starters.  and the O should be even better.  logic would say we will outscore the opponents next year in big 10 play, which will translate into at least a 4-4 record.

i'm willing to give RR that chance.

Bando Calrissian

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:06 PM ^

I think it would be really interesting to go back to the comments many here were making after the hire was made.  I'm remembering stuff like predicting Big 10 championships and BCS berths in year 2 or 3, and it wasn't just a few people saying it.  I think many are still deluded that they were only a couple years off, that it isn't out of the question that 2011 is -the year-.  I just wonder where the line is at what we can put on coaching, and what we can put on the "lack of talent," and just how appreciably better that talent can get in a single offseason.

 

Will every November turn into "well, let's give him another year!"?

J. Lichty

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

He just said he is sick of hearing the same thing over and over for the 3 millionth time in the past three days (and even says its understandable).  What he is doing is trying refocus the conversation from FIRE DICK ROD - to stating ok - we all understand where the results are - where will they be in 1 year - and 3 years from now if FIRE DICK ROD happens.

But regardless of your comprehension of Brian's point, if you don't like it, you are absolutely free to stop reading this free site.

Johnnybee123

November 2nd, 2010 at 6:25 PM ^

My beef isn't with Brian not wanting to hear the "Fire DickRod" comments.  The majority of the people on this site aren't those "Fire DickRod" people.  My beef is that Brian is saying, he doesn't want to hear rational complaints from loyal readers simply because he's heard them before or because they have been said a million times.  If those comments have been said a million times, shouldn't that give you a feel for how a significant portion of the blog feels?

The contributors to the MGoBoard are what keep most readers coming back every single day, multiple times a day.  At least, that's the case for me.  And Brian's commentary, in general, is awesome.  But to tell us to stop commenting on a frustrating situation never seen before in Michigan football history and to just listen to his point of view?  Seems a little draconian to me. 

I'm not going to leave the site just yet, I'm just saying, Mgoblog's success is attributed just as much to the readers and commentators as it is to Brian, and it's certainly ok for us to say our opinion, even if it is for the millionth time.

warlock1944

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

This is a well reasoned piece. Jumping off the building before looking where the ground is can hurt. The problem on defense is not simple and I do not think there is a magic button to fix it. A new coordinator would probably help but not as much as the "fire everyone camp" thinks.

For sure new coach = lost recruits and another couple of rebuilding years. David Brandon should nudge RichRod into making smart changes in the defensive staff and management sytem where required.

The fans need to cool their jets some, the constant roar helps nothing. If David Molk is an example then RichRod is doing something right. There is no one thing that will fix this problem. We need more talent. experiance, better game plan, more consistant offense and .............  This is just like the Lions, the holes are many and time is needed.

bringthewood

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:53 PM ^

Brian - nice work.  The comparison should not be RR vs perfection, but RR vs reasonable alternatives.  The question is do you believe the reasonable alternatives (Harbaugh or someone else) will be better in the near term?  I don't.

I believe the best indicator of future performance is track record and as much as RR has sucked so far he does have a better record of success that many of the alternatives.  As pissed and depressed as I am about where we are I think canning RR this year would be a knee jerk reaction that might take many years to overcome.

I vote for reason over emotion. 

Sobinator

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:10 PM ^

This site exploded because of the Carr retirement and the coaching search that followed. Everyone was so excited at the opportunity for Michigan Football to jump into this century. Hire an innovative and energetic coach who would come in and return a tired and worn Michigan, to the prominence it deserves. 

How many of you would feel the same way, if at the end of the year, we are looking at another coaching search?

In 2008, Michigan went out and got arguably the best available and proven coach.  The only risk we thought was: Can his offense work in the Big Ten? What I don't think it really crossed anyone's mind is: Can his defense work here? Spread and shread! Awesome! The defense will be fine, and yet here we are. an up and coming offense paired with a horrendous defense.

Although I have always been a little concerned with the style of offense, as I would prefer a Peyton Manning style spread over a running QB centric spread, I have supported RR's development of the program.  Last Saturday nights game was extremely painful, and has really shaken me as to how I feel about the progress. I read everything on here, I understand the personel issues and all that, but man was that tough to watch.  My team looked feeble, and incapable of competing.  I was angry, frustrated, sad, you name the emotion and I was there. For the first time, my faith in this regime is shaken.

So what! So what now?

A wise man once said: "The more emotion the less reason"

This team is playing hard. This team is improving. This program IS moving forward. Wins and Losses ultimately will determine the future of this coaching staff, but at this point should not be the major factor in determining it's immediate future.

Unless the the team unravels and gets blown out the last four games, he stays for year 4.

jmblue

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:43 PM ^

How are we improving?  Yes, the offense is entertaining.  But just like the last two years, we can't hang with good teams.  And after the last three years, how can you arbitrarily conclude that "the defense will be fine"? 

M-Dog

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

we'll never know what was behind Door #3.

I'm willing to risk two more years of Michigan football in the shitter to see what a Senior Denard & Company offense looks like.

As for the D, I already know there is nothing behind Door #3.  They can't recruit and develop fast enough In two years to really make a substantial difference.

But that's worth waiting to see too.  Can the O be good enough to still win with a D that will (hopefully) be merely dismal? 

Stick around folks.  There's still more show left.  You've already paid to see it, you might as well see how it ends.

Bando Calrissian

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:20 PM ^

But what does Michigan football look like the morning after Denard uses his eligibility?  Is it worth holding out for two more years because you want to see how one player develops?  Why should you be OK with the defense being completely terrible just because Denard is good? 

M-Wolverine

November 2nd, 2010 at 10:03 PM ^

1. Is obviously true. But the question should be "will Denard and/or next running quarterback be enough to be consistently good".

2. I think there's a lot of evidence that the defense will not be REAL good anytime soon. It's gotten worse every year. And other than aging, which will admittedly bring some improvement, in all the other category of improvements - talent, recruiting, coaching...we've been sorely lacking.

M-Wolverine

November 2nd, 2010 at 9:56 PM ^

And jump theaters to see a much better flick, why would I wait through the bad one?

If the defense is going to be dismal, why wait two years to start fixing it, and then spend two+ more years fixing it? Either it can be fixed by the current staff, and you stay the course, or you get someone to start fixing it NOW so you don't prolong the agony.

Right now my ticket pays for a sex comedy, it looks good, shows some boobs, but at the end left me with nothing and wasn't all that entertaining or memorable. I'd rather jump theaters and see the Oscar picture that's not quite as exciting, but has a great ending.

arod

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

"Michigan should go 8-5 or 7-6 at worst or RR should be fired" idea is dead.

Every year in RR's tenure there has been a new math. First year most predicted what, 7-5 or 6-6 plus or minus a bowl game that's too hard to predict? Then it came out that 3 wins = 7 wins for that team. The second year most predicted 7-5 or 6-6 again, plus or minus a bowl game, right? Then we found out that 5 wins = 7 wins. And now this season started with predictions of 7 to 8 wins, only to find out that now 6 wins = 7 wins.

It looks like RR might actually win 7 games next season, so if we just keep our expectations at the same level we have for the last 3 years, he might finally live up to them.

Of course, a number of people around here are talking about Michigan winning a national title next year. So suppose it's likely that predictions for next season will be 11 to 12 wins. And then at the end of next season we'll find out that 7 wins = 12 wins.

But who knows what could happen in 2015. We could win the Superbowl then.

Woodson2

November 2nd, 2010 at 7:30 PM ^

Who cares what fans predict? Fans are often going to think their team is better than they really are.  That makes predictions far too optimistic especially in Michigan's case.  Rich Rod had a considerable task in rebuilding this team. He now has an offense but needs more time to get players for his defense. Expectations should be realistic based on circumstances rather than guessing 3 years down the road what the state of the program should be in.

Dave Brandon will recognize the decimated defense and see that it was not Rich Rod's fault. Sure there were probably a few bad choices but it's not all on Rich Rod that his defense has been decimated. Attrition happens, it just so happens that it happend to a program that had little room for error when Rich Rod took over. People need to temper the expectations based on the defensive personnel.

umchicago

November 2nd, 2010 at 8:04 PM ^

and it all seemed to happen in the worst area DBs.  heck, if we lost an ezeh, van bergen and/or banks instead of a warren, woolfolk and turner, the D would be better. but we were stuck with crossing our fingers with every position in the DBs.  has any team ever endured such a situation (save that early 70s marshall team).

CRex

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:37 PM ^

I'd like to take a moment to point out the following fun fact:

2002-2007: Bruce Tall was the Safeties Coach at WVU.  Today he is the d-line coach.

Gibson was listed as "Secondary" coach and recruiting guy at WVU.

Ryan Mundy was listed as a the Free Safety at WVU and is a safety on the Steelers today.

So Tall not Gibson appears to have been Mundy's primary coach.

skunk bear

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:38 PM ^

Rich Rodriguez is an outstanding offensive coordinator. But, the price for having that coordinator (that he gets to be head coach) is just too great. The defense is the worst in memory and the special teams are , too.

contra mundum

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

A couple of things.

 

1. At a certain point, when asking these players to sweat and sacrafice, but the goal of winning isn't achieved, you'll lose them. Only the players can say at this point if they are tired of the "work you arse off" mantra when they've gotten minimal gain from it. Ask yourself, how hard would you work for your boss, if you were getting the same result as these players are.

2. If a coach who runs the spread or a version of the spread comes on board, I doubt the offensive drop off would be great..if there was dropoff at all. Now, moving from the spread and shread to more traditional offenses (or spreads designed to throw) would be disaster.

3. Something I've been thinking about. If Michigan does jettison Rodriguez, and brings Harbaugh in (btw, I think Harbaugh's Stanford offense would translate very well to Michigan)..and he went 9-3 next year, what a nice clean break that would be for Michigan. The losing past would be behind us..the bright future ahead (by evidence of JH's winning season)..the bitter taste of the recent past could be washed away.

J. Lichty

November 2nd, 2010 at 6:36 PM ^

looks like give current personnel.

DT's T. Talbott - R. Ash - Q.Washington* (5th Yr Sr)

DE - Roh (possibly moves to the RVB spot); Paskorz, K. Wilkins, J. Black, Beyer, Rock

LB - Demens (5th yr Sr), Mike Jones, Roh (?), Isaiah Bell, Kellen Jones, Jake Ryan, Antionio Kinnard

CB - Floyd, Christian Talbott, Avery, Hollowell, Greg Brown,

Strong Safeties-Hybrids - Kovacs, Simmons, C. Gordon, T Gordon, Hawthorne, Furman, Marvin Robinson, Carvin Johnson

FS - Vinopal, Carvin Johnson

While there is certainly a lot more depth there, it is still a bit scary in terms of deep safety and DT- but this certainly looks a lot different than the team today and would certainly not appear to be an "excuse"

J. Lichty

November 2nd, 2010 at 8:36 PM ^

so far - no DT or safety commits in this class.  Kellen Jones is only LB. 

Those non-existent recruits still will only be either sophs or RS freshmen in 2 years, so not likely to be great help.

There is no question that the depth chart at D overall looks better than today in terms of POTENTIAL help i.e. older and in greater numbers, but still could be glaring holes in defense two years from now, even if coaching improves, development happens and attrition is minimal.

M-Wolverine

November 2nd, 2010 at 9:46 PM ^

That the projected defensive line up isn't filled with that many players who look super talented and are potentially great. I think our bigger worry isn't just that the D is inexperienced...but that Rich has refilled it from attrition with players that just aren't that good. People used to complain about us underachieving with all that talent, but now it seems we're still underachieving...just with a lot less talent. And our recruiting classes don't seem to be reaching back to past levels. It's been "well, it's because we're losing"...but if we never stop losing, how do we get that to change...and if we don't get the talent, how do we stop losing?