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.


Section 1

September 21st, 2011 at 7:25 PM ^

You really need to learn how to read better.  If you've got an example -- an equivalent example of me saying something like this: "I've heard from several 'insiders' that RR rolled into A2 arrogantly, placing his own importance over that of the program,"  you should feel free to point it out.  I dare ya.  Get to work on it.

Fuck you, with your attacks on me.  I did not do what you allege.


September 21st, 2011 at 9:39 PM ^

Oh...Oh...Let me!  Let me!

First, the biggest difference is that I actually received my info from people with first hand knowledge.  You just make shit up and don't even pretend to source it:


When Michigan fired Shaefer after '08, my clear understanding (I don't think there is much dispute about this) is that Rodriguez immediately went back to Casteel to again offer him the job.

In summary, Casteel seems to have been courted, seriously, three times:

  1. When Rodriguez was first hired in '07, and Casteel said that he would join Rodriguez in Ann Arbor, but changed his mind... 
  2. When Shaefer was fired after '08, and Rodriguez asked again... 
  3. When, after the '10 season...Rodriguez's own precarious position made it impossible to tempt Casteel, despite Brandon's realization that Coordinator-pay had been a very big problem at Michigan in the past.

Sources = 0.  Then, you lay out this doozy:

...there was a cadre of people led (or at least exemplified) by James Stapleton, who wanted Ron English installed as HC.  And when that didn't happen, they were pissed off and sought to undermine Rodriguez.  

At least with that one you give the disclaimer that "this is not reporting on my part".  Well, good for you.  Frankly, it wouldn't even have been worth scrolling up to copy your yammerings, but you're so fucking sanctimonious about all this stuff.  Get over it.

Section 1

September 21st, 2011 at 11:31 PM ^

Do you think that Jeff Casteel was NOT offered the job on those three occasions?  Let's bet on it, okay?

As for that last paragraph, I didn't offer just one disclaimer that it was not "reporting" on my part -- I said it twice, so that even the lowest-grade idiots like you wouldn't miss it.  I didn't claim to have insider friends who told me so...

So really, you and your people can go fuck themselves.  You have underwhelmed me. 


September 22nd, 2011 at 3:00 PM ^

But since dahblue used the entire section JUST IN THIS THREAD, I don't really have a lot to add.  This part, however, I'll highlight:


my clear understanding (I don't think there is much dispute about this) is that Rodriguez immediately went back to Casteel to again offer him the job.

You present something as pretty much indisputable fact (including the parts time and time again that we low balled him a number of times and thats the only reason he never came), and while well within the realm of possibility (which makes it NO different than what dahblue posted) you NEVER post anything that actually backs it up. Forget documentation or something (which I'm sure you'd demand from the Freep), but just "who told you"...which is what you're pretty much asking from dahblue, but completely unwilling to provide for your claims.  So, yeah, I didn't even have to leave the page to make the point...and it was so obvious I wasn't the only one thinking it.

But I do love it when you go from your "above it all" attitude and reduce yourself to four letter insults. It means you've really lost the argument.


September 23rd, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

Don't take my name in vain.  I don't care about the content of what you wrote.  I have not declined a bet with you.  I don't even know what the hell you're talking about.

You do nothing but endlessly rant without factual backup.  On this thread alone, you launched a couple of doozies (from imagined sources) while simultaneously complaining that others (aka me) didn't reveal the names of actual albeit confidential sources.  You've been called out and all you offer in return is "go fuck yourself" and "fuck you".  

I'd say, "Have a good day," but I don't think that's possible for you.  You're probably four pages into today Free Press Entertainment section looking for typos in a story about "Dancing with the Stars" and writing a letter to the editor about "how dare they".  So instead, I'll just say, "Try not to be too unhinged today". 


September 20th, 2011 at 11:41 AM ^

Practices?   Bacon has seen a lot of Michigan practices over the years.   Were RR's so different from previous ones?

Bo?  Bacon obviously knew Bo very well.   What would Bo thought of RR?   Did Bo agree with how Carr was running things?

I always got the impression when Bo was alive he wasn't 100% on board with how Lloyd went about things.   He loved Lloyd and let him do his thing but it always felt like he felt like the team was too soft and the defense was not up to snuff.   Kinda the grumpy old guy syndrome.   "Back in my day...etc." 

While everyone doubted RR when he came I thought he was closer to Bo than anything we have ever had.  RR's beliefs were

Simple schemes

Execute those schemes flawlessly


Play tough swarm to the ball.

Run the ball.

This is essentially what Bo lived by.

Obviously RR did not execute or come close to living up to Bo's shadow, but I'm saying philosophically it felt RR was closer to Bo's ways than Lloyd's.   Save the comments about how Bo was the greatest and RR was a bum.  We all know how it turned out that's not what I am asking.



September 20th, 2011 at 4:08 PM ^

Simple schemes?  I mean, I'm no Smart Football dude or anything, but several players from that 2008 offense might be a little-bit peeved about calling Rodriguez's offense "simple."

(So might Tate and Denard, who never really fully got the zone-read play down like Pat White, let alone venturing into option land.)


September 20th, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

Please ask him the origin of Lloyd's effectively staying away.  My contacts tell me Lloyd says RR asked him to stay away.  I don't buy it, and I think that doomed RR from the outset.

Blue Durham

September 20th, 2011 at 11:46 AM ^

What did RR do with the missing blocking sleds????


The above is obviously just a joke, but it touches upon something else that I have noticed since the season began.  I have not seen ONE instance of sympathy for the man expressed by ANYONE in the media, (or the program or University).  That is, announcers/analysts of all types have almost universally taken shots at Rodriguez.  These are people well outside of the department whose career/powebase is not threatened in the least. 

With his win total increasing every year (not a quick as most hoped or expected) what is it about RR that alienates so many?  Any stories circulating that helps explain the animosity?  It has to go well beyond the record/performance.



September 20th, 2011 at 11:47 AM ^

1.  On a scale of 9.9 to 10 how stupid was it to have an AD with a foot out the door hire a football coach and saddle the next AD with his choice?  Was there any thought/attempt to have Carr stay until an AD could be found who could then choose the successor?  What kind of leadership/effort did Bill Marting bring to support RR?

2.  Who else needs to be fired?

3.  Does Bacon agree with Brandon's assertion that you need some roots in the area to be successful at recruiting.? (Recall he cited a study at the press conference introducing Hoke.) How much was RR lacking in Ohio contacts/roots?


September 20th, 2011 at 11:58 AM ^

The catholic league schools were not visited by UM hardly at all during the three years.  Ohio schools were also in the same.  RR was not reviled by the high school system until they were ignored...........meanwhile Dantonio's staff and OSU's staff are in the schools monthly and some cases weekly if there is a top recuit.  I know for a fact that a certain prospect was never contacted by UM while RR was at UM and was visited 2x a month since the recruits freshman year.  

This is the stuff that turned me against RR more than the defense.  This is why Zettel never came (he is not the kid above) as well as other top kids in the state that left or went sparty.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:22 PM ^

So who was your kid that you felt deserved an offer and was ignored?  

These kind of BS stories just kill me.   We got most of our players from Ohio in the RR era.   Did we not recruit BWC, Fischer, Gordon, Gordon, etc...?   Did these kids break into Michigan when RR wasn't looking because he was too busy in Florida?

All coaches hear the same bs stories.  Lloyd was attacked in the same way.  They didn't offer soon enough, they are getting outworked, Lloyd didn't cater enough to the high level recruits..

The facts are that when RR did not have the cloud of firing over his head the 1st full year, they recruited very well.  After that you can't even make a decent guess on their recruiting because to the negativity and NCAA cloud over their head. 





September 20th, 2011 at 3:01 PM ^

The coaches you deal with.   Do you deal with the Cass Tech coach?  The Traverse City coach?   The Trotwood coach?

All coaches that have players they think should be recruited and are not think they are getting slighted.   That is my point.  So what % of the 1,000 or so Ohio and Michigan high school football coaches do you work with?

My facts are the roster.

Shaw, Roundtree, Koger, Ryan, Vinopal etc.  Where are these guys coming from?


September 20th, 2011 at 4:51 PM ^

that we would normally have on our roster except Koger.  I am sick of the argument that RR recruited the Midwest well because of the makeup of the roster.  The talent level is down.  If you can't see this then you are so obtuse that there is not much hope for you to understand the game of football.

Here is who I talk to:  Catholic Central, OLSM, WDL, FH, BBR, and several others that put out talent to DIV1 schools in Ohio.

All have something in common.............  UM virtually dissappeared from being a regular at the school.   All of this has changed since Hoke took over.

You got me on the Traverse City coach.............No Mas!

You do realize that Cass Tech is an alumnus............BTW how have those players worked out for us.



September 20th, 2011 at 11:48 AM ^

BH has become the Fort. I for one am very happy he choose that path. Giving a "journalist" complete access usually leads to trouble down the line.

Imagine, RR somehow stayed as HC and then a scandalous book comes out. That would have been worse.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:17 PM ^

I agree in part, but its an interesting predicament/situation.  If you look at the AD like a corporation (kind of how Brandon seems to view it), then the shareholders of said corporation have a right to inspect the corporate books and records.  Obviously, individual donors to the AD have almost no insider access (except those with deep pockets) so, in a way, this Bacon book is exactly what donors want and deserve.  Like a corporation, there arguably should be annual "shareholder" meetings with internal information discussed by the major officers.  But that obviously does not happen.  I think what Rodriguez agreed to in this expose is admirable but it was on a collision course with Trouble.  But maybe it will be good for the AD in the long run . . .



September 20th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

Brandon really has the best of both worlds.  He may perceive it as like a corporation and run it as such, but in fact it isn't.  As long as things are running smoothly (i.e. we are winning) his accountability is limited, presumably to the President and Regents.  Donors may provide money but they really get no explicit rights in return...other than the right to turn off the spigot.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:25 PM ^

From the moment I heard about this way back when I was amazed RR gave him that level of access - no idea what he was thinking, or if in fact he was thinking much about it at all.  Possibly further evidence he really had no idea what he was getting into.


September 20th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

1-Prior to being contacted by the UM AD, did Rich Rodriguez have any kind of opinions regarding the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan, or UofM football?  What were those opinions?


2-Did Bill Martin and RR have any kind of an agreement regarding on-field expectations in the first few years?  What did RR expect? What did Martin expect?  Did RR receive some kind of "ok" to lose in year one?


3-When Brandon was hired did he give RR any kind of ultimatum regarding on field progress?


4-When RR did the Groban thing, was he somehow trying to force the athletic department to terminate his employment?  Would he have welcomed that result at that time?




September 20th, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^

RR played and coached under Don Nehlen, who coached under Bo before he took over at WVU. He told RR what a great place Michigan was and that's why RR  was able to walk away from WVU whe Michigan came calling, but not when Alabama wanted him the year before.

And, yes, that means RR is at the same level of Bo's coaching tree as Hoke.


September 20th, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

Yeah I knew about the Bo - Nehlen - RR connection.  Is your statement

[Nehlen] told RR what a great place Michigan was and that's why RR  was able to walk away from WVU whe Michigan came calling 

A fact or conjecture?  I can't recall seeing any evidence or stories that RR had some kind of well developed positive opinion of UM prior to taking the job.


Also Bo-Moeller-Hoke is closely equivalent to Bo-Nehlen-RR except for two things.  One, Hoke worked here.  Two, Hoke says he has had a well developed positive opinion of UM for his whole life.  Kind of like how Meyer supposedly had the buyout clause for OSU, UM, and ND.  Without any direct (or even indirect?) connection to UM/UM football, Meyer still has a well developed positive opinion about Michigan.



September 20th, 2011 at 2:03 PM ^

RR mentioned it in one of his interviews, which is what caused me to look it up on wikipedia in the first place. You are correct with everything you say, but the interview I saw made it seem like Nehlen had given RR that well-developed, positive opinion of Michigan. Maybe the first-hand opinion makes a difference, though.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^

Supposedly RR phoned Pryor to tell him he's taken the UM job even before he met with his WVU team to tell them (from his WVU-issued cellphone).  Pryor seemed to be a major pillar in RR's gameplan to remake Michigan's offense.  Would love to have some inside info on those 3 months from the hire to Pryor's OSU announcement, and RR's private reaction following the announcement.


J. Lichty

September 20th, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

How could RR possibly want the top dual threat qb recruit when he had Mallett, Threet and Sheridan to run his spread offense?  The nerve of that guy. 

People seem to forget that RR was hired in December.  The pickings at QB were slim that year and especially at that time of year.  He attempted to recruit other dual threat qb's, including USF's starting QB BJ Daniels, whose reps reportedly went all Cecil Newton and demanded compensation.  RR did not ignore other QB's for Pryor, although he, along with OSU and PSU certainly wanted Pryor (who would have been great in RR's offense by the way).

The very next year, RR got commits from Newsome, Beaver (both of who later decommitted and have done nothing since), Forcier (a 4 star dual threat qb - who ran the offense pretty well as a freshman and was a great backup last year) and then he got the top dual threat in Gardner the following year.

Michigan Arrogance

September 20th, 2011 at 7:13 PM ^

I heard that UM may have offered similar deals to TP and Sarniack as what OSU was offering. I wonder how much the staff felt they needed TP back in Dec 07. were they devestated?


Also, did RR and the staff feel comfortable with the talent they were getting (esp on D) or were they surprised at how tough it was to recruit big time talent to M?




September 20th, 2011 at 11:59 AM ^

This is all I can think of... CEOs like David need to stay in their boardrooms and stay out of pressers re college games.  He was better off making bucks for PE funds than running Michigan athletics. I cannot stand this, this calcified stump of a human masquerading around M sports.


September 20th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

Sorry mods, flamebait or whatever you want to describe the post, I was generous with Brandon as his unilateral inclusion of himself to pressers and other areas wherein an AD politely stays to the side, is a bit worrisome. Working with PE portfolio CEOs, they are many times, as a poster noted above, frat boys who go along to get along. Sorry to go off-topic and borrow from Carl Icahn's rant that Corporate CEOs are stocked with frat men, but it serves us well to examine Brandon's prior work experience and understand his general approach to work.  During The Process, or whatever Orwell-speak Davey Boy used, we had to be subjected to wrenching delays, subterfuge and other "Kirk Herbstreit says it's Harbaugh" comments.  Brandon continues to be a sore topic of conversation. Go ahead, hit me "Troll -1", Brandon would.


September 20th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

The only thing I was worried about was whether or not we would see improvements with the football and basketball programs under DB.  I think he has done a good job since he has been here.  I was worried because Dominos Pizza has been the same shitty pizza before during and after DB was the CEO.  We knew he could bring in the $, the question was, could he improve the quality of the product. 

Space Coyote

September 20th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

But I really wish this was released during the off season when there isn't much else to talk about.  I don't know, maybe there will be enough stuff in it that will be good to be swept under the rug.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:11 PM ^

1. What was/is Lloyd Carr's role in the Athletic Department, and how much of a role did he play?

2. What was Harbaugh's real position during all of this? As far as I'm aware, he never indicated interest in the HC position, but that didn't stop countless articles being written that he was. Did that effect any of the decisions that got made leading up to RichRod's hiring or firing?

3. Who were the most influential boosters during all this, and how much influence did they have? If someone like Stephen Ross can donate an entire building, I would imagine that kind of influence on the Athletic Department would be enought to force some changes.


September 20th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

Sometimes the truth hurts.  But its good knowing in the long run.  I think we all had eye-opening experiences the past 3 years and learned lots about the program that we never would have knowing without the coaching change.  Maybe that's one positive to come out of the whole debacle . . . a greater understanding of Michigan football politics, etc.


Gulo Blue

September 20th, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^


...but the truth hurting is a fair thing to be disappointed about.  You're right in that finding out about problems and fixing them is better than letting the problems persist, but coming from the place where you didn't even think the problems existed, it's a step down and a disappointment.


September 20th, 2011 at 2:04 PM ^

If you and others who idolize Carr find what you dread, I am very anxious to see what the reaction will be.

Will it be "Well, Rich was worse than I thought and I would have tried to screw him too"? Will it be "It's not true. How would Bacon even know that? I don't believe it"? Or will it be "Shit. Maybe Lloyd didn't love Michigan as much as I thought he did"?