Three And Out Takes: Carr, Rodriguez, Martin

Submitted by Brian on October 26th, 2011 at 2:14 PM

imageSo. It's out.

I'm impressed with the large numbers of people who seem to have already blazed their way through Three and Out. It took me a while. I stopped for a few days after "Honeymoon from Hell" because it was too depressing; every chapter featuring a game I knew they'd lose spectacularly required a little bit of willpower to start.

But I'm done and a large number of you are done. It is time to talk the turkey.

We've got this document. What does it say about major players in the saga? I was planning one part here but this got long, so today we'll cover Carr, Rodriguez, and Bill Martin, with various players with less prominent roles in the story covered in a post tomorrow.

Lloyd Carr


It says a few things about Lloyd Carr that are not nice, and implies more. Bacon's said he left a lot of things out that he could not get multiple sources on, which is both his responsibility as an actual journalist and horribly frustrating.

The main strikes:

  1. Informing his former players he would sign any transfer papers they wanted at his meeting with them after their bowl game, a marked contrast from the Bo-Bump transition.
  2. Telling Mallett he "needed to leave".
  3. Having zero control over his former players, or—worse—tacitly endorsing their behavior by not jumping down their throats.
  4. Offering something short of the fiery defense Bo would have launched once the program started taking fire.

That's aside from the state of the roster when Rodriguez took over, which wasn't specifically directed at the new man.

Those seem like major strikes. Screw it: those are major strikes, particularly #3. I find it inconceivable that Eric Mayes would made it thirty seconds into the embarrassing "we own this program" speech before Bo burst from his chest like a Xenomorph. Carr does nothing. Multiple former players trash Rodriguez in public. Carr does nothing. The 2009 golf outing that even guys like Chris Balas* come back from disgusted at, naming specific names of players (Marlin Jackson, Dhani Jones) who embarrassed themselves with their behavior. Is Carr even at it? It's worse if he is.

So, like, whatever. Carr doesn't owe anyone anything except the 400k a year he was pulling down as associate AD. But he's no program patriarch. He's just a guy who used to coach here. His loyalty is to an incredibly specific version of Michigan only. The difference between the Bo guys and the Carr guys is obvious. Bo guys organize a weird counterproductive rally for RR; Carr guys go on MNF and state they're from "Lloyd Carr's Michigan" or storm the AD's office to demand RR's firing after every loss**. There are exceptions, obviously. The trend is clear.

I have no sympathy for arguments the guy is being painted unfairly when he was offered the opportunity to tell his side a dozen times. If history is written by the losers here it's because the winners don't care what the public thinks. They can't be surprised when the public thinks they're not Bo.

Carr did a lot of things for the program but his legacy is significantly tarnished by the pit it found itself in immediately after his departure. It was his lack of a coaching tree, lack of serious coordinators, and lack of tolerance for Les Miles that caused Michigan to hire Rodriguez in the first place. It was his lack of a roster—seven scholarship OL!—and lack of support that provided Rodriguez with two strikes before he even coached a game. We can argue about how much is Carr's fault and how much is Rodriguez's, but figuring out the latter is pointless since RR is gone and everyone hates him. The former is "far too much."

*[By this I mean guys who work for publications for whom access is lifeblood. They're naturally more circumspect. The reaction on premium sites to this golf outing was unprecedented, with people moved to call actual former players out by name after years of dark mutterings.]

**[Not in the book; something I got from a good source.]

Rich Rodriguez

123110_SPT_Gator Bowl_MRM


If you left a goat in the locker room after a Michigan loss and then locked Rodriguez in it for five minutes, you would return to find the walls smeared with blood and feta. There would be no trace of the goat.

Rich Rodriguez was obviously not a stoic guy. His sideline tantrums proved that. The extent of his leg-gashing, table-throwing, goat-cheese-making post-loss hissies is probably the thing that Rodriguez is pissed about. They don't make him look like a stable dude. Neither does his descent into J. Edgar Hoover-esque paranoia, no matter how intent the university was on making that paranoia seems reasonable.

By the time I got through it, my reaction to Rodriguez's portrayal was different than that of the media reviewing the book. It doesn't paint Rodriguez as a guy I would want in charge of my football program. I can deal with one goat-annihilating postgame tantrum a year. Rodriguez seemed to have one after every loss.

So why do most neutral accounts play up the Rodriguez sympathy angle? They do not take the truth that the local media is dominated by agenda-laden twits to be self-evident. When Mike Rosenberg—who comes off as a real winner—bombed Rodriguez with a bunch of half-truths and misrepresentations I bombed back, stating that it was obvious the buyout kerfuffle was university-directed. Surprise: it was university-directed as they tried to get out of their 2.5 million dollar hook. Similarly, Free Press Jihad is re-exposed as a bunch of half-truths at best run by a couple of guys who "had countable hours in there at some point" but had it edited out, no doubt because that's not at all important in a discussion about whether Michigan was more than doubling their allotted time on Sundays.

If you go into the book knowing Rosenberg and Snyder published an embarrassing hack-job and that a large part of the media firestorm surrounding Rodriguez was a combination of University incompetence and the tiny lizard brains of certain folk in the local media*, the main takeaway from the book in re: RR is the sheer height of the plumes his emotional volcano shoots up. I mean, Bacon spends pages and pages on Rodriguez playing up the traditions of Michigan to his players. That's an obvious reaction to the Michigan Man business. I assumed Rodriguez was not an idiot when it came to firing up his troops, I guess, and that stuff shot by me. Beating a bleating ungulate against the wall of the Notre Dame locker room until it bursts into a kaleidoscope of viscera… that stays with you.

I feel bad for the guy. I'm glad he's gone.

*[The rest a combo of Rodriguez never winning any games and his remarkable ability to stick his leg into the press conference bear trap.]

Bill Martin

University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin watches over Thursday afternoon, August 20th's football practice at the Michigan practice facility outside of Schembechler Hall. 
Lon Horwedel | Ann

Good Lord, man. I find it hard to believe that a guy who dragged Michigan kicking and screaming into massive financial success and smoothly hired John Beilein (admittedly after making a questionable hire in Tommy Amaker) was really as incompetent as… uh… I believed he was after the sailboat incident. That's Yogi Berra right there but it's also true.

Here's the the story of the post-Carr coaching search from the perspective of this site:

  1. Kirk Ferentz is reached out to and either is or is not offered; if offered he may have been given an offer that was a paycut. Ferentz fades but it seems like there was truth to the rumors.
  2. Flailing. Miles heavily discussed. ESPN reports Michigan contacts him after Ferentz falls through. They agree to wait until the SEC championship game is over. LSU boards buzz that Les has told his team he's out. I would be "surprised if it was not" Miles.
  3. Infamous ESPN report.
  4. Sailboat. "Have a great day." Sailboat.
  5. Conclusion reached in the aftermath is that M "essentially passed on Miles."
  6. Tedford and Schiano now start getting thrown around along with odder names like Grobe and Pinkel. Also some guy named Hoke. So much Hoke.
  7. Kirk Ferentz momentarily back. Then gone.
  8. Schiano talked to, offered, accepts, changes mind, offered again, says no.
  9. Sean Payton!
  10. Miles again! Seriously!
  11. Miles out again.
  12. Jim Grobe. Jim Grobe does not get an exclamation point.
  13. KC Keeler! Lane Kiffin! Seriously!
  14. Rodriguez out of nowhere.
  15. Sigh… Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

It seemed like a clown show, and behind the scenes… clown show. Martin wants Dungy, has no idea if Dungy—who is a broadcaster and can be contacted by anyone at any time for any reason—will take the job. Wants Ferentz, has no idea that the president of the university will stab him if he hires Ferentz. Wants Miles, has no idea that Lloyd Carr will stab him if he hires Miles. Somehow misses on Schiano, then has Rodriguez fall into his lap and grabs him before anyone can think about it, which sets up the whole buyout fiasco the media will spin for six months. The sailboat incident is even worse since Bacon asserts one of the main problems was Martin had a new cell phone and didn't know how to use it.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh /dies

Martin himself drops out of the story shortly thereafter, which is another indictment of the guy because what enters is a vast institutional incompetence that starts the Rodriguez media cockroach katamari rolling. Everything from the buyout to the Dorsey situation is mishandled not only by Rodriguez (sometimes not even by Rodriguez, as with the buyout) but by the people who should be telling him what is and is not possible. When Rodriguez went to bat for Dorsey with a guy in admissions the guy in admissions should have looked at the guy's transcript before saying yes, and then when he did look at the transcript he should have said no.

Instead we actually sign the guy—opening us up to the most cynical and loathsome of all the lizard-brain media attacks—only to find out he is nowhere near eligible. And don't get me started on the CARA forms, which was a special brand of idiocy all on its own. Martin did a lot of big picture stuff very well, but he was totally unprepared to fix a department that had started downhill long before he arrived.

For all the crap I give Brandon about his failure on big picture stuff, he cleaned out the deadwood with alacrity.

TOMORROW: Players, reporters, me/us(!?).


San Diego Mick

October 27th, 2011 at 11:20 AM ^

Before i read about them sometimes, especially about this topic, it just makes me more anticipated of something i knew was gonna piss me off, you know, confirmation of what i already had suspected.


That damn fiasco was so pissing me off at the time, i was so incensed with that idiot Martin, argh!!!You're most important duty in that gig is the U-M Football coach, BY FAR!

I'm glad we got Hoke now and i think we're headed into a pretty cool era in M sports especially Football and B-Ball, Hockey, Softball, Swimming, Gymnastics, Wrestling, etc.


BTW Brian,  i have my issues with you on many topics, but that was an outstanding article by you sir, thank you for your efforts, very insightful.


Go Blue!!!


October 26th, 2011 at 2:31 PM ^

Speaking of this, to individuals who want to post Three and Out stuff in a thread (or start a topic), tag it please.  Something like:




Give those of us who haven't had time to speed read the book a chance to avert our eyes and avoid spoilers.


October 26th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

The last three yers have been such a soap opera I wouldn't be suprised to find out that RR wasn't fired.  We all just bumped our collective heads and are having a really really bad coma dream for the last 3 years.  ...Or that RR is still actually coaching the team.  we're all going to find out at the end of the season that RR has been wearing a Hoke costume this whole time.

Feat of Clay

October 26th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

That list has gotten big, jeez.  

I've bought my car using the special pricing plan, save 15% off our cellular bill, and regularly hit up Bagger Dave's & Plum Market for a price break.  National car rental has a substantial discount too.  I save a ton on hotels this summer using the alumni association discount, too. 

I also like the payroll deduction offered by Computer Showcase.  

It's good to work for the U.  People often ask me "Do you get free football tickets?"  After I wipe away the tears of laughter, I explain that there are other pretty good perks.


October 26th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

I like to read the tea leaves and think that Hoke is not as nearly as fond of Carr as he used to be. Hoke said that people dividing the program "pisses him off," he doesn't seem to ever talk about Carr unless prompted and he seems to go out of his way to point out that Moeller and Hanlon are the old coaches he communicates with and that it was Mo who brought him to Michigan.

Yost Ghost

October 27th, 2011 at 7:36 PM ^

I've had this same thought many times over the years. It didn't seem fair that Mo made one mistake and he's ridden out on a rail. I've never been able to find a source to confirm whether the key players on the 97' NC team were Mo's or Carr's. Who recruited Woodson? Considering the timing I'm guessing they were mostly Moeller's recruits. Carr's personality of being closed off and introverted probably didn't make him the strongest recruiter on staff. Be that as it may, one wonders what could have been had Mo been allowed to continue.


October 28th, 2011 at 10:27 AM ^

Carr was a great recruiter. Tom Lemming had him and the program as one of the top 3 in the country (with Bowden/FSU, and probably the coach du jour). Just because he was prickly with the media doesn't mean he wasn't charming in person, particularly with recruits and their families. There's a reason most of his players love him.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:04 PM ^

Bo pissed off a lot of people when he arrived, and if not for the OSU win (even with it his record in his first year was identical to Bump's last, and we had lost to a shitty MSU team) and a run of pretty much constant success (finished 1st or 2nd in the Big Ten throughout his first decade on the job) things may have been a lot tougher for him.  Brady has essentially gotten the free pass of unconditional support from all the people close to the program from the moment he arrived, thanks to his prior time here and his personality/attitude.  Like Bo, he was nicely set up for success by inheriting a talented team, but with the added benefit of having little/no expectations for the beginning of his tenure (expectations I'm sure he'll greatly exceed by season's end).

He also hires experienced, qualified coordinators to run his offense and defense for him, something Carr (and probably Bo as well) either weren't able to do (cheap ass athletic department refusing to pay high salaries) or were simply unwilling to do.  Coaching and play calling aren't going to make a team much better or worse than their talent/experience allows, but one has to imagine things would have gone differently if say in 2006 Carr had been able to hire guys like Borges and Mattison rather than English and DeBord (again). 



October 26th, 2011 at 3:20 PM ^

OK, so why didn't RR get the treatment that Bo got or at least something?  Why can't Lloyd get out in front and say hey...cut the guy some slack, new system...blah, blah, blah.  Why can't Martin come out and say the same...who had RR's back?  His boss, nope!

The "institution", the "Michigan Men", stayed silent, left him to flap in the breeze...while others attacked.

Look, I think for many reasons it didn't/wasn't going to work but damn, you hired the guy at least give him some support.  RR had many problems, but in the end most were style, tradition knowledge, player transitions etc..again no help. 

Hell Rita said it MSC, "Do you want us here?"  Sure, just don't tell the Regents I offered to pay $2.5M of your buyout.

His Dudeness

October 26th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

I always laught at the "tradition knowledge" thing.

RR let the #1 jersey into a few spring practices... by accident.

Hoke (or DB) allowed the HOME JERSEY AND HELMET to be changed and the away jerseys (meh) and the helmet for the entire year (completely on Hoke).

Who is the one who allowed tradition with regards to the jerseys go completely off the tracks? It certainly wasn't the coach who "didn't know the tradition."


October 26th, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

DB seemed pretty determined to mess with the jersey, and while there are many issues to go to your boss and fall on your sword about that isn;t one of them(no matter how much the jerseys suck).  I still think the helmet numbers thing is weird but there is a historical precedent for it and so if that falls under Hoke so be it. 


October 26th, 2011 at 3:52 PM ^

It is interesting how you always see Brandon rolling around with Mo at his side, but rarely Carr.  Carr is on campus reasonably often (he speaks at SPH and the hospital) and still active in some Mott's fundraising, but a rare sight on the Athletic Campus.  Too bad we won't be getting a book on the politics of Brandon's leadership at some point.  

His Dudeness

October 26th, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

The jerseys I will agree with you, but the choice o wear the helmet all year was a choice Hoke let the players have alone. It was his choice. He said so himself. Now I am not saying this as a "I hate Hoke" thing because i don't hate the guy. I am just saying that Hoke made a choice, knowing the tradition, that changed the jerseys far more than RR ever did.

Enjoy Life

October 26th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

If RR had even gone 6-6 that first season and kept the bowl streak alive, things would have been much different. After 3-9, only a miracle was going to save him (and by miracle I mean winning seasons and beating MSU and osu).

In the end, winning is all that matters. If Hoke does not put up the numbers he will not last very long either.


October 26th, 2011 at 11:34 PM ^

I agree that people are playing up the political angle like that's all there was.  Maybe his job was made unnecessarily unpleasant by people who wanted him gone, but he could've made things difficult for them by winning.  I really don't understand why Carr was expected to defend RR.  He was pretty obviously burned out and couldn't care less about Michigan by the time he resigned, anyway.  And I refuse to accept the excuse that people being mean to RR kept him from doing his job.  I've been in situations where I was set up for failure and called everything under the sun while working insane hours.  OK, I quit that job (after three years, in fact), but I wasn't making seven figures either.

That said, I disagree that "after 3-9, only a miracle was going to save him."  First off, EVERYONE (at least on the outside looking in) said it was going to take around 3 years, and while I'm not connected to the inside, the reality is that's what he was given.  If the insiders were calling for him to be fired after every loss, well. . . he wasn't.  He did an awful lot of losing at Michigan.  Second, beating MSU and OSU by your third year isn't a miracle; it's a goddamn expectation at Michigan.  Everyone who knows anything about Michigan knows that; RR can't claim to have been surprised about that.

The political drama is fascinating and all, but don't make me rub salt in old wounds by doing a blow-by-blow of the scores dropped on Michigan last year.  RR was NOT fired after losing to MSU and OSU, even twice in a row.  He was NOT fired after a 3-9 season.  He was fired only after a defensive implosion so spectacular and historic that you'd have to be stark-raving mad to expect him to be back.  NO coach would've survived such a humiliating failure, not even the reincarnation of Bo himself.

Regardless of how mean people were to him, RR had his chances.


October 27th, 2011 at 4:07 PM ^

so my interpretation of the second-hand accounts may be incorrect.

If I understand correctly, however, RR might have had more chances but for the treachery inside the AD. On one of the reviews I thought I saw an excerpt suggesting that the preparation for the 2009 MSU game, which was very close, was chewed up by meetings mandated by the Rosenberg hit piece, itself a result of spies and backstabbers inside the AD. Would more actual coaching rather than damage repair for a hit job provoked by sabotage in the AD have turned the outcome of the MSU game? The season would have been on a whole different trajectory for the equally close Iowa game the next week.

If this sabotage of the coach's working environment was the margin of loss in the MSU game, then the victim wasn't just RR; it was the team, the fans, the season and the tradition.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

I think Rich Rodriguez did a fantastic job under adverse circumstances rebuilding a program that by the time he coached his first game was broken.  For all the bitching and moaning that recruiting had slipped and attrition would kill the team indefinitely and OMG he's totally ignoring defensive recruiting, we are watching a team made up almost entirely of Rodriguez recruits/signings that is deep, talented, still relatively young, ranked in the top 20 nationally, with an offense that is scoring nearly 35 points per game, and a defense that is giving up less than 15 per game.  A team that is a 4th and inches away from being undefeated.  Yet people still go on hateful tirades any time something positive is said about the guy because they were unfairly forced to watch their favorite team lose a couple of games.

It would be nice if at this point people would just say "Thank you" and move on but even that just isn't going to happen because an outsider came in and Michigan football wasn't as good as people wanted/remembered and they couldn't handle that, for even a brief period of time. 

Luckily we were able to replace one great coach with another, and the loudmouthed idiots seem to like this one.  Unfortunately those idiots will continue to think that this team is magically better because different guys are running practices and calling plays.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

It's not like Rich wanted to fail. Or sabotaged Michigan. I don't get why people hate him. If I ever have the chance to meet him again, I'll shake his hand, say I'm sorry it didn't work out, thanks for everything you did for Michigan and good luck wherever you go. On Saturday's I'll cheer on Brady just as hard, and once Brady's done I'll support the next guy.

If I ever meet Lloyd again I'll do the same. Shake his hand, and say "Thanks for everything you've done for Michigan" without a hint of sarcasm.

Yes, we're fans, we want the team to win. I don't remember which player tweeted it, it's our entertainment, their LIVES. These men gave their all to Michigan. The least we can do is thank them.


October 26th, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^

I always thought RR should be given four to five years to turn the program around. I'm not sure if he would have?  I was frustrated in the DC and other defensive coaches. There was no improvement in the defense between '09 and '10. When Brandon made the change, I was not too upset. RR was not the complete coach while here at Michigan.  May be at his next coaching gig he will learn from his mistakes here and be able assemble a complete and competent coaching staff.

So far, coach Hoke is doing a great job. I hope that he and his staff won't let the team falter into a collapse. I think they have a chance to win 3 or more of their last 5 games. Even two wins out of the last 5 would put him at 8 wins for his first season, which is not too bad.


October 26th, 2011 at 4:15 PM ^

I think the refusal to completely clean house on the defensive side and the mere shuffling of chairs (fire Schafer, hire GERG, fire Hopson, etc) really made a 4th year moot.  

We were what, #4 in offense yards in RR's third year.  Even if we went to #1 it wasn't going to offset the defensive problems and his staff wasn't going to fix the D.  Year 4 would have been "We're awesome on offseason and I drink heavily whenever we're on D".  

Maybe if we'd had decisive action right after the regular season regarding a new DC and staff then he'd have survived.  By mid Decemeber when the cream of the available coordinators and the like had already been grabbed I think it became clear we were cleaning house and bringing in a HC who'd bring a full staff with him.  

His Dudeness

October 26th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

Yes, but we just did a full scale clean house on D and we moved from 108 to 8 in scoring D.

So if RR had just changed DC to somebody capable we would have been very very formittable this year IMO.

PS.  I am not sure if what I wrote here is agreeing with you or not.


October 27th, 2011 at 4:39 PM ^

remember he was only working with a fraction of the ~$650,000 being paid to Mattison to shore up the Hoke hire. 

RR was working with a salary level far below average in trying to recruit a DC and was therefore limited to up and comers like shafer that wanted the exposure, or a come and gone like GERG. I don't think he really had the ability to hire a top-notch DC, especially when you add in that his tenure was in question from almost day 1. 

What elite/upper-level DC would willingly look at that as a good career move?

Also factor in the depleted talent-base and that is a recipe for career disaster.  


October 28th, 2011 at 8:42 AM ^

Are you sure that "fantastic" isn't too strong a word for Rich Rod's performance?

Perhaps "admirable"? "Good", maybe?

His record is awful. His Big Ten record is even worse. He set all sorts of records for futility. I don't see how that could be construed as "fantastic".

Why would we say we've moved from one great coach to another when we haven't? That's not what happened at all.

I also disagree with the notion that the program was broken. I was a huge Carr supporter, but even I wanted him out after the Appalachian State game. It was time for him to move on. Does that mean the program was broken? A program that was coming off of a 9-4 season and a bowl win? With Mallett, Boren, and (possibly) Manningham and Arrington back to a system they were familar with? I don't think so. The program broke the minute they decided to go outside for a successor.