Three And Out: The Questioning

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2011 at 10:32 AM


So Rich Rodriguez did a deeply bizarre thing. Captain Renault, yes, yes. GERG, yes. 3-3-5 addiction, yes. Groban, yes. Right. I'll start again.

Amongst the many deeply bizarre things that Rich Rodriguez did was allowing John Bacon virtually unfettered access to his program for three years. He didn't know it at the time, but these happened to be the only three years of his program.

I received an advanced copy of the book that resulted and… man. If you are a Michigan fan the result is a must read. Hate Rodriguez, love Rodriguez, have deeply conflicted relationship with Carr, love Carr—doesn't matter. This is not another book where ex-jocks tell jovial stories about the slightly dangerous things that happened to them.

This is a book that immediately makes everyone in it mad as hell except the guy who did Never Forget. This is close to literally true.  Bacon's been banished to the Drew Sharp area of the press box, Michael Rosenberg is livid, Rodriguez himself is apparently hugely pissed. And while I can't confirm this like the above, I can't help but think that Lloyd Carr hates this book more than anything he's ever hated.

I know Bacon a bit and have pressed upon him an opportunity for MGoBlog: to badger him with questions. I would like to crowdsource these questions because these are important. I want to cover all the bases, ask the things clarify a lot of the debates fans have argued endlessly about for the last four years.

So: what would you ask someone who spent the last three years embedded in Operation Spread Ann Arbor? I'll cull the best ones and pose them to Bacon. He'll answer, and maybe we'll get some clarity.

Before you get to asking, some context:

  • While the book documents Rodriguez's increasingly desperate behavior it does seem to have a pro-RR editorial POV. Hard questions will be about the things he did wrong.
  • It does not really address the DC fiascoes, which I'll already be asking about.
  • The Free Press stuff comes in for a thorough treatment; if you want to be pointed the Qs there should be Devil's Advocate type things.
  • It's clear Bacon could not get anything solid on the Great Stapleton/English Conspiracy Theory, though he tried. Wouldn't bother there.
  • The Rodriguez coaching search went down essentially like we expected: Ferentz, panic, Les Miles boat incident, panic, Schiano, panic, Rodriguez.
  • I'm not going to ask a guy who spent three years of his life with unprecedented access to a major college football program why he decided to write a book about it. Figure it out yourself.

Along with a severe grilling of Bacon, we'll be running an excerpt from the book around the time of its publication, which is scheduled for October 25th.



September 20th, 2011 at 12:05 PM ^

No problem.   *disclaimer - I make no statement as to whether they left "because they were always going to leave" or because of the coaching change or the coach himself.  Only that these four players were on the roster at the time of the change and that all four went to the NFL.

Matthews (not sure if he's currently on a roster or not).


September 20th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

If I am off in my timing of which players, on the roster at the time of the RR hire, went on to sign NFL contracts, then I humbly apologize.  It is the most terrible error in the history of the universe.  I typed "Matthews" when I should have typed "Mannigham".  

The main point, however, remains entirely intact - there were more than 2 "plates" on the offense alone.  There's a forest; not just trees.


September 20th, 2011 at 3:26 PM ^

If you include every player you mentioned in the "talent still on the team when RichRod was hired" category, you still don't have as many players drafted in RR's entire 3 years as you do in Lloyd's last 2 years. Your point is still horrible, even if you continue to make it over and over. And so you know, it doesn't get any better when you keep including drafted players because they were "technically still on the team" when RR was hired


September 20th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

Scroll up...then read...and realize that the conversation you're entering began with this comment from Mongoose with regard to "bare cupboard":

There was two good plates and and a mug.  The mug stayed and the plates transferred

No one is talking about players drafted during X years.  Just talking about the quantity of plates.  Relax. 


September 20th, 2011 at 9:06 PM ^

Ha.  Yes, because when talking about a bare cupboard and the quality of players RR inherited, it is ridiculous to look at how many players were drafted. Plus, my whole point is that your quantity of plates isn't correct. You can keep saying that you don't want to argue about why and when they left, just that they were on the team when he was hired, but that is the whole point. That is the argument about the quantity of plates. I count 1 player on offense drafted since Lloyd left. You count players that were drafted and/or left the team before he coached a game. When you reference players with eligibility left but chose to get drafted, you are bringing up your argument that RichRod could have kept them.  You basically said, "look, I don't want to argue about the reasoning behind my post, but here is why I am right and you are wrong."


September 20th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

Mug:  Graham

plates:  boren/ mallet

I don't consider manningham and AA part of anything because they left early.  I also don't consider 7th rounders and practice squad players worthy of mention when they were never all B1G players or even 2nd team All B1G type players.

Not many freshman or sophomores in that cabinet.


September 20th, 2011 at 2:16 PM ^

So, it doesn't matter if they were on the roster at the time of the RR hire because "they left early". They could have been in the cupboard but you choose not to count them.  We don't know who would have stayed or left; so it's not fair to the cupboard or the dishes to make such assumptions.  We don't know if the coach was a factor in anyone's decision to leave, but you make assumptions.

It's best to just stick with facts.  There were a number of NFL players on the team at the time of the hire.  That's the cupboard.  Period.  Maybe an earthquake shook some dishes loose.  We just don't know. 


September 20th, 2011 at 3:39 PM ^

No.  Let me try one more time...

I don't assume that they would leave.  I don't assume they would stay.  I'm simply looking at the roster at the time of the hire.  Period.  Would they have stayed with a different coach?  We don't know.  Would they have stayed in RR made an effort to retain them?  We don't know (nor do we know what effort was made).  The only known is that they were on the roster at the time of the hire.


September 20th, 2011 at 9:17 PM ^

Well this is ridiculous.  What does it matter if he had a full cupboard when he was hired (as you say every time this argument is brought up) if he didn't actually get to coach a game with that full cupboard? Since you don't want to debate about why the kids left, then why would we be referencing a time when they could still chose to leave?


September 20th, 2011 at 12:10 PM ^

are Mallett, Boren (on Balitmore's practice squad), Arrington and Manningham. Those are guys in the NFL who had eligibility but left after Rodriguez was signed, although, Mallett, Arrington and Manningham may have left even if Carr had stayed.

Since then Michigan also got Brandon Graham (the mug I assume), Tim Jamison, Zoltan Mesko, Brandon Minor, Jonas Mouton, Stevie Brown (now cut I believe), Steve Schilling, Morgan  Trent, Donovan Warren in the NFL


September 20th, 2011 at 10:47 AM ^

I have to assume that the whole U-M administration was on board with allowing Bacon unfettered access to the program. What were they thinking? How did Bacon manage to keep a poker face for three years, knowing (as he must have known) what he was going to write?


September 20th, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

I don't think he did know what he was going to write.  I think I recall it was only supposed to be a single year with the program before writing the book.  But as things went wrong he kept at it.  The feeling before the 2008 season was that RR would build a truely elite program and I think this was supposed to be an inside look at that.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:30 PM ^

Your point might be fitting if I said "what's he going to do now that they won't let him teach a class at U-M anymore".  But I doubt people will be beating down his door to write a book on the Bears, and he seems to have been writing books about Michigan more for the love than as a cash cow.  And I'll go out on a limb and say that's not happening again.

Voltron Blue

September 20th, 2011 at 1:59 PM ^

...was very much along these lines.  But not so much "do you regret it?" but more "how much internal struggle did you feel publishing the book knowing it would wreak havoc with those individuals and also potentially distract the program?"  On the one hand, we know Bacon to be a Michigan die-hard, and on the other, also a real journalist with integrity / a stand up guy in general (yes, that's a Freep swipe).  Those dynamics seem to be in conflict here.  It would seem that John went down the "integrity" route (while also creating a more interesting book that will probably make him more money, yes)...but just wondering how difficult that was for him, if at all.  Or maybe he truly didn't expect backlash, though - without having read the book - that seems unlikely.

Note:  I haven't yet read through all the responses, so apologies if this ends up being a duplication.

Thanks, Brian!  Can't wait to get my hands on the book...

Transatlantic Flight

September 20th, 2011 at 12:24 PM ^

I once had a chance to see Bacon speak at a small event, and he discussed the time he spent with Bo when working on that book. Interestingly enough, he had no definitive subject or even a contract for the book, he just put the time in because he thought it would be worthwhile and eventually it was.

I would imagine he had the same attitude this time around.


September 20th, 2011 at 10:47 AM ^

Regarding the commitment of Demar Dorsey, could John have figured out that he would be rejected by UM admissions before he came to Michigan? Did Rodriguez know of this risk before his pursuit of Dorsey?

What did Rodriguez do for athletes that were thinking about transferring? Did he work hard to keep some/most/all of possible transfers? Was he more successful at keeping athletes from transferring than it appeared from the outside?


September 20th, 2011 at 10:52 AM ^

When Hoke was hired there was suddenly mentions of disagreements between ex-Bo factions and ex-Mo/Lloyd factions that had been cannibalizing the program, culminated by Hoke's under-appreciated quote "How dare us?"

I'd like to know whether and exactly how RichRod's tenure was undermined by the infighting.

EDIT: beaten to it by Hobbes.


September 20th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

It seems like Brian should interview and request questions after we can all read the book.  I feel like many questions asked could be answered in the book and much more pointed questions could be asked after everyone reads it.

Red Wing Mike

September 20th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

I would like to find out if there was any animosity between RR and Admissions and, if so, when did it start.  I am specifically thinking of the Demar Dorsey situation but it could certainly be asked in a more general way.

Section 1

September 20th, 2011 at 3:07 PM ^

I don't think I knew enough about Dorsey to make a determination, or to substitute my judgment for the University's.

I think that what this Board objected to was the scandalous coverage that the press devoted to Dorsey.  And not so much grades or alternative classes or ACT scores.  If that were the case, I'd really like to have a look at a lot of schools.  No -- the Dorsey story, such as it was, was all about his reputed criminal record.  And whether he was a person of questionable character, not a marginal student.

Whether he ever becomes a Michigan student-athlete or not, I will be rooting for Demar Dorsey to succeed, just to piss off the sportswriters who attacked him.


Feat of Clay

September 20th, 2011 at 8:31 PM ^

Yes, they harrassed admissions over it.  The admissions officer who coordinates with the athletic department was named here as well.

Few postings gave OUA  the benefit of doubt.  That was the most disheartening thing to me--I felt like this board really slipped in its commitment to healthy skepticism and insistence on facts before conclusions.  It was a bad week.


September 20th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

What did the coaching staff do to make him stop considering us.? If I remember correctly, Gholston himself referred to something in particular that the staff did that he did not like, saying something along the lines of "They know what they did".