3&O: Just Mortals

Submitted by CRex on December 5th, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Okay, we'll do the disclaimers first.

  • Yes, this has spoilers.  If you haven't finished 3&O, close this tab now.
  • Yes, I realize 3&O has been out for awhile.  I wanted to sit on it for a bit and gain perspective though.  3&O carries a rather heavy emotional payload, so I read it.  Set it aside, watched us win 10 games, and then reread it.  I was less suicidal the second time I read it.  If you want to complain about this kind of diary reopening old wounds, close this tab now.  
  • I'm not going to cite things with page numbers or whatever.  If I miss use a quote, call me on it.  Consider 3&O to be a heavily cited work that gets the credit for most facts.
  • It's long and doesn't have any pictures.  I'm sorry.

Now then, why am I writing this.  Because we're not entirely over RR.  We have people who still are up in their caves, wearing their turbans and engaging in the Freep Jihad.  We have people who scour every word written on the blog's mainpage and ranting at anything that might be critical of Hoke.  We have people who take praise of Hoke to be an attack on RR.  So I want to talk about the three years of sadness.  If you feel an angry rant coming on, last chance to close the tab.

Right before Bo passed he said that once he died, we'd find out whole the real Michigan Men were.  We did and it was damn ugly.

In the wake of Bo passing and RR being hired, we had three major players in Michigan football.  Lloyd Carr, Bill Martin, and Rich Rodriguez.  It would expand to 4 after MSC got involved and later Dave Brandon would replace Martin.   However the tone of the era was set by the actions of the first three.  

Lloyd Carr is the engima here.  He was successful at Michigan.  The only two coaches who had his number, Tressel and Caroll, ended up fleeing to the NFL one step ahead of the NCAA sanctions committee.  He also won a NCAA title and 78% of his B1G games.  He never lost more than 3 B1G games in a season and only finished below 3rd in the conference once.  At the same time he took a lot of heat form the fans.  Claims that he only won his ring with Moeller's players.  Heat over his Rose Bowl issues and issues handling the spread.  I still remember walking into the stadium one game and seeing an anti-Carr fan holding a sign.  It read "Osama Bin-Lloyden is destroying Michigan football".  The dude had a megaphone and was ranting.  I just had to shake my head.  Every year Tressel took him down, the fanbase got bitchier.  

Since Carr has been silent (no comments in 3&O or anywhere else for the most part since he retired) it's hard to know what he felt at retirement.  The evidence suggest he was burned out in 2006, but Martin had no replacement plan so he stayed on.  The Horror happened and the heat on Carr was turned up.  At the end of the day the best insight I have into Carr's mind comes from Bacon, who writes that Carr wanted to name his successor.  

Here I'm going to make a leap.  Carr felt like he'd accomplished a lot here and he definitely had.  However the fanbase was pretty bitchy by this point and a lot of people were happy to see Carr retire.  Basically it was a "Thanks for your service, here's your award, door is to your left" kind of retirement.  No one exactly went into mourning when Carr hung it up.  I see a potential situation where Carr felt bitter, underappreciated and not properly compensated in terms of legacy for his work.  In 3&O, Carr tells Martin that someday a MAC team was going to beat us.  Basically saying college football was getting tougher, more parity, and yet Michigan fans want to see the 100-0 scores that we'd manage in the early 1900s and when we didn't, we got bitchy.  Carr did a lot for us and we photoshopped his face on Bin Laden's body.  I can understand why the man might be bitter.  Carr ends his career wanting DeBord or English to replace him, but after his last few seasons the fanbase would go nuclear if either of them did.  Martin wisely says no to that.  Carr's legacy ends him him kind of coming close to getting run out of town, despite his body of work.  We all laugh at Minnesota for firing Mason despite his body of work, but we were dicks to Carr desite his.  (As a side note I'm using we here because we're all part of the fanbase, even the retards).  

So Carr is retired.  Burned out, but not going since he was an Assoc. AD.  Martin comes forward and coaching search begins.  Miles is ruled out early (Carr says "Hell No" and MSC backs him on it, insert various rumors about why here).  Martin screws up on a bunch of offers, Miles kind of becomes a hail mary option, Martin goes sailing and can't work his damn phone.  Carr meanwhile reaches out to RR as kind of an end around on Miles and so he is kind of naming his own successor.  Suddenly we have one of the top offensive minds in the country, a guy who won BCS games with WVU (while we lost ours), and a hot, young name in coaching.  

We also have a problem.  Carr is going off the reservation here and making first contact and from Bacon's work it carries the implication Carr did so on his own, at at the behest of Martin or MSC.  In the Bo era if you went behind Bo's back, you paid.  We're now at the point where a future Assoc AD is sneaking around behind his boss's back.  

Martin's cluelessness with personnel decisions continued.  When he interviews RR he tries to tell RR he has to keep Lloyd's entire staff.  MSC though is now taking a role in the process (post Miles clusterfuck) and shuts him down.  I want to break this down a bit though.  Martin asks RR to keep the entire staff in a meeting with RR and MSC jumps on him.  This wasn't something that Martin and MSC privately talked about on the way to the meeting.  This was the President having to slap the AD down in front of a potential new employee.  Way to plan ahead for interviews...

It also means something even worse.  Think about what Martin said.  "We love your spread and shred offense and want to hire you, by the way we want to you to keep DeBord on staff as the OC."  Think about that for a minute.  Bang your head into your desk.  Later in the meeting when RR says it will take him awhile to install his system and Martin says that's not a problem, you really have to wonder if Martin had any clue what RR's system was.  If Martin had any clue what he was getting into.  

Martin of course then lowballs RR's assistants and fails to secure Casteel.  So we arguably whiff on the second most assistant of RR's machine (I'd argue since RR is offensively minded, DC is more important than OC.  Coordinators of course are clearly more important  than posistion coaches).  We also screw up the whole firing of Carr's staff.  RR makes them wait in the hall and people like Gittelson (30 years here) are fired.  

This is a failure for everyone.  For Carr, for RR, and for Martin.  Carr's about to become the Assoc AD for football operations.  If he's so worried about his assistants getting treated fairly he should take a greater role in the process.  Martin should be finding jobs for people like Gittelson (there has to be come kind of generic title we can give him, keep him on the Michigan payroll, and reward his loyalty.  Barwis is now the man for football, we have dozens of weightrooms on the campus, we could have found Gittelson a place.  Same with the others, stuff them in some AD job until they find coaching work.  We're Michigan, we're supposed to be loyal.).  RR of course really fails at handling the firings well.  Carr of course ends up unhappy, somewhat openly advocating transfers, and the whole RR-Carr relationship goes sour.  

We know how it goes from there.  Freep columnists are harsh on RR, Carr era players attack RR in the media.  Martin does nothing public,  Carr does nothing public.  RR says the wrong things, loses games, and finally Grobans himself out of a job.  Plus of course getting bombed in the bowl didn't help.  

My reason for rehashing this 3&O content was to show the actions of people and compare them to Bo.  There was no "The Team, The Team, The Team". No concern for the players.

First off Martin flushed his legacy with the RR hire.  The man put us in the black, he built a beautiful athletic campus.  He set us up with the stadium suites that generate an amazing amount of revenue.  We have the world's largest indoor practice facility because of him.  Crisler doesn't look like shit anymore because of him (DB did it with his revenue).  We could afford to offer Harbaugh 5 million a year because of him.  We could pry Mattison out of the pros because of him.  We have a massive bank account, a massive revenue stream, and top shelf facilities because of him.  We also had the NCAA investigate us and a civil war because of his poor personal management.  If we had a comptroller hall of fame, he goes in the first round.  As it stands though he is remembered for going boating during a coaching search with a cellphone he could not operate.

I love Carr and anyone who bothers to read my posts knows I'm in the Carr defender category.  Carr has done a lot for this University.  On the field and off the field (namely his fundraising for Motts is really his greatest achievement as a human being since sick kids are a million times more important than kicking around an inflated pig's bladder).  Yet when the time came he wasn't a Michigan Man.  RR's teams were loaded with Carr's recruits.  Yet he turned down 8 chances to speak to RR's teams.  It's fine if Carr wanted to dislike RR.  RR did fire all his friends and talk a lot in public, the antithesis of Carr.  However when our fanbase errupted into a civil war it was the players, the players that Carr recruited who suffered as the program was ripped apart.  Carr must have promised these kids B1G rings when he recruited them.  Yet he shut up and didn't do anything when the program collapsed around them.  It's almost as if he told them "transfer, because I'm cutting all ties and won't be around to help you after the Bowl".  Bo was known for walking into people's offices and telling them "You need to shut up".  Bo would have been defending the kids and the program.  Carr was silent.  At best he did nothing, at worst he was using his players and contacts to undermine RR instead of help him.  I have no idea what Carr did during those three years, but he wasn't a Michigan Man because he definitely wasn't using his power to support the team.    

I'm going to be brief on RR since we've dissecting him a million times on this board.  He made a lot of mistakes on the field in terms of the defense.  Off the field he really failed to win the political battle that comes with being the head coach at a name brand football school.  Yes the deck was stacked against him, but even so he tended to make things worse, not better.  For example RR played under Nehlen, a Bo assistant.  He learned about "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" from Nehlen and used it himself when he coached at Glenville State.  Yet he never told those stories despite the fact they instantly put him on the Bo tree and made him more acceptable.  More importantly is how quickly he broke down.  His locker room destroying rage, this "fuck you" ridden tirades over his headset when Tate made a bad play.  Yes it is projection, but you have to wonder if in year 4 or 5 he goes all Woody Hayes on a DB or Bob Knight on someone.  I don't believe RR as a person would ever do that, but people do snap.  At some level when you read how broken down RR was as Year 3 went from 5 and 0 to 2 and 5, you have to wonder if it was a mercy firing.  

What we see there are three people who aren't bad people.  Martin made us rich, Carr did a lot for the program and the school, RR wanted to make this his destination school and cared for his kids, and he did install the offense we hired him to install.  Yet everyone had their flaws.  Blindess with personnel hirings, a failure to support RR the way Bump supported Bo, and the inability to properly adopted Michigan mannerisms/fix the damn defense.  No one is the devil here or an incompetent, but no one is Bo either.

Then there is the fanbase, us.  That member of our fanbase who called a regent to complain that RR used "ain't" in a press conference (seriously, fuck you whoever that was).  The fanbase who the minute Bo died, demanded someone else become Bo.  Then when everyone showed they were mortal, not Bo, and could make mistakes we devolved into armed "Old Guard" and "New Guard" camps.  Communist football vs primitive saurian Llloydball.  We all agreed Martin was a moron who couldn't work a cell phone, picked a coach (RR or Carr) and tried to crown him as the new center of Michigan football.  We also didn't exactly cover ourselves in glory.

That's what we need to take away from the RR era.  Our dad died.  Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure.  Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a melt down.  Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel.  So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.  

As we enter the new era, 10-2, now willing to pay top dollar for top coordinators, with a guy who gets Michigan, and RR has a new job in a BCS conference, I think it may be time to let it go.  At the end of the day we don't have a good guy and we don't have a bad guy.  Martin, Carr, and RR all did a lot for this school and they all failed it.  Any debate where you try to annoint one guy as the devil and one guy as the angel in this era is just going to generate a flamefest because each side has plenty of material to cite.  The actors here were all humans who were successful in some areas, but unlike Bo they weren't successful in every area.  No one was bad, they just weren't Bo and that is fine because being Bo is a high standard to live up to.  As we go forward we need to stop looking for a new Bo.  Bo's dead.  But a new one will emerge.  Just as it flowed from Yost to Crisler to Bo.  Don't try and place someone on that throne by force though.

We should also remember how a house divided cannot stand against itself and more importantly how we hurt the players on the field with the whole civil war.  We owe people like Graham and Moundros something.  They gave it all on the field on Saturday while the fanbase was busy having a flamewar.  

Oh and always remember Sharp and Rosenberg suck.  

If we're going to keep one thing in our mind as we move forward, it should be that comment from Bo about how we'd find out who the real Michigan Men were when he died.  We did and we need to remember what that cost us.  It's up to us to keep it together now, because we won't have Bo to walk into our lives and tell us "You need to shut up now".  



December 5th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

Going on this theme, I hope Brady Hoke can become a father figure. I would never expect or even hope for someone to replace what Bo was to this program, but hopefully Brady's institutional momentum (former players, DB's guy, BCS bowl and #beatohio) can get everyone in line going forward and keep them there until Hoke needs to hand the reigns to someone else.

This bowl game and next year are going to be huge for him getting a few notches closer to where the Michigan HC should be, in terms of standing and stature.


December 5th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

I'll be honest - I had to stop reading 3&Out.  At least for a while.  I got about halfway through - I was enthralled with the information Bacon shares on the search and hiring process and the discussion on Bill Martin's legacy - but had to stop once I got into the second half of the 2009 season.  I choose to enjoy the rest of the season and pick it up sometime in mid-2012.  Reliving the start of the Brandon Era and firing of Rodriguez is not appealing to me right now.



December 9th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

I couldnt agree more.  As I did tear through the book in quite an enthusiastic fashion, I too also felt the middle of the book still recognized the enraging memories I had in the back of my head.  I could predict the the next page on several occasions as I vividly remember the agongy each of those games brought me. I will say Bacon did a great job with the book and brought a really accurate portrayal of RR that some didnt recognize (and others that refuse to).  It's a great read, that not only had me saying  "I knew it!"  but also left me wanting to beat the shit out of Martin for the Miles botch and nut-kick Rosenburg daily for the rest of his shit life.


December 6th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

Rodriguez recruited Koger and Demens. He also recruited Jake Fisher who has had a terrific year at Oregon and would have been able to replace Huyge if necessary. Heininger was a walk-on.

If your point is that he didn't recruit every single player who made significant contributions this year you should point to RVB, Hemingway, Mike Martin and possibly Woolfolk, along with Molk. And he did convince MM to stay after he flirted with ND. It's nice that there are still 3 recruited members of the class of 2007 who are still around providing leadership.

My point stands, while facing tremendous adversity, especially the deluge of crippling injuries, Rodriguez put together a winning team. He didn't fail the team or the school.


December 5th, 2011 at 3:42 PM ^

The actors here were all humans who were successful in some areas, but unlike Bo they weren't successful in every area. No one was bad, they just weren't Bo and that is fine because being Bo is a high standard to live up to.

We might want to keep in mind that Bo never had a tell-all "insider" book written about his coaching. I do recall an article in some men's magazine (GQ?) that painted an unflattering portrait of him.   It's a little silly that while we are coming to grips with the idea that Lloyd Carr was human, we're still romanticizing the Bo era.  Bo was a human being, too.

I think it's likely that the power struggles discussed in the book are common on college campuses. What puts them to rest is winning. Losing spawns dissention.


December 5th, 2011 at 3:49 PM ^

Do you think that it is better to have a sealed camp or one that grants access on a limited basis to certain individuals?  I'm not sure I know . . . I think I'm grateful to Rodriguez for giving Bacon the access so we could read his book, if only to learn more about the innerworkings of a big-time college football program generally.  Of course, the reactions to Rodriguez being so open was generally negative (see, e.g., his missteps) but I think I enjoyed hearing more information than less.  But I know not everyone feels this way and liked the camp to be close-lipped like the days of Bo and Lloyd.  What say you?


December 5th, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

I wish we could be open like RR was, but I think the RR proved that's a near suicidal path to walk.  I feel almost like we had a chance to prove we could be adults when dad was gone and we screwed it up royally.  So back to Fort Schembechler and Hoke telling us reflective stories about his high school coaches to avoid delicate questions.  


December 9th, 2011 at 9:29 AM ^

Given that Rodriguez ultimately did not put his stamp of approval on Bacon's book, I think he may have second thoughts on granting Bacon-like access to his programs in the future.  My opinion, while peeling back the curtain is fascinating and enticing, I think no good ultimately comes from the openness that Rodriguez allowed while at Michigan.  Where Bacon's book illustrates fair and responsible use of that access, Rosenberg and Synder illustrate the irresponsible and unethical use of it.  I think the bad far outweighs the good.


December 5th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

As I read 3&O, aside from seething anger and contempt for Rosenberg and co., I felt two other dominant emotions: an innocence-lost type of sadness, and a martyrish sense of pride in the students who'd played for the team.  I think we're all quite familiar with the latter.  Seeing RVB, MM, Molk, and co finally break thru has helped to assauge those feelings.  However, the sadness remains.  I'll explain why below.


As with many other posters on this blog, I had my formative football years during the nineties and early 2000s.  The vast majority of Michigan teams that I watched were coached by Carr.  And to us, he was our messiah.  He'd brought us a national championship.  He never got in trouble.  We had tons of NFL players.  We went New Years day bowls with regularity.  And more often than not, we won them.  Sure, there were moments of frustration (e.g. the Brady-Henson shuffle, Illinois 1999, mobile QBs), but we accepted those as the bad that comes with the good.  Lloyd Carr could really do no wrong.  We'd built up an image for the man that focused entirely on the positives, and glossed over the negatives.  Moreover, we assumed that he would be Bo.  We assumed he would join Yost, Crisler, and Bo as a Michigan immortal.


During the RR years, we hoped that Carr might do something, ANYTHING, to help this new man out.  At least he could've publicly put his support behind RR.  It's what Bo would've done right?  At the very least, he would've told dissenting players and alums to suck it up and live with it.  Bo definitely did that.  He was famous for doing that.  So when 3&O came out, it was shocking to see that Carr not only did little to none of those things, but there were instances where he actively worked against RR.  He wasn't the immortal we'd hoped and assumed he would be, but rather was exposed as being extremely, exceedingly human.


For years, we'd thought the spread, option quarterbacks, and an ultra-conservative coaching scheme had been and would be Lloyd Carr's kryptonite.  It turns out he wasn't superman at all.


December 5th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

It's what Bo would've done right? At the very least, he would've told dissenting players and alums to suck it up and live with it. Bo definitely did that.

When did Bo do this? Carr had public spats with Ty Law and Amani Toomer, as well as with Drew Sharp, and I don't remember Bo doing anything to intervene.  Bo obviously was unable (and quite probably unwilling) to mediate the rift between Carr and Miles. 


December 5th, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^

If you remember properly, those players were all but ostracized from the program (by their own doing).  Bo didn't have to intervene.  The issue was with Toomer and Law, independently and exclusively, not the program.


And what if players had gone to Bo after he retired complaining about Mo?


It's really about keeping the program together.  If a couple yahoos decide to do their own thing, whatever.  But Carr was the one person, post-Bo, who could've put a stop to all the nonsense with a few simple words.  Its something Bo did regularly for him and Mo.  Carr utterly failed to do the same for RR.


Moreover, Carr failed to follow the one tenet Bo preached over all else:  Do the right thing.  That in itself is probably the most damning accusation anyone can level.


December 5th, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

I find the notion that Carr could have "said the magic words" and made everyone settle down to be naive.  We went 15-22 from 2008-10.  You cannot underperform by that much without making a lot of people upset.  And you really can't compare any of this to what Bo did from 1990-2006, because we never went through a comparable stretch then.

Bo did not run the program after his retirement.  People are ascribing him powers he did not have.  Personally, I don't think his staying alive would have prevented the December 2007 scramble.  We still wouldn't have had a clear candidate, since Bo didn't like Miles any more than Carr did.  I think it was a coincidence that the program collapsed after Bo died.  I don't think the latter led to the former. 


December 5th, 2011 at 6:13 PM ^

Re: Bo's death was minor and did not lead to the program turning on itself:

Jim Harbaugh bashed Michigan's academics for athletes in 2007, only a few months after Bo had died. Given that he had been in coaching since 1994 and a head coach at the collegiate level since 2004, he had plenty of time to say something while he was in coaching before Bo died. To me, that, combined with Bo himself acknowledging that "real Michigan Men" would reveal themselves after he died, makes it seem like it's too convenient for it to truly be a coincidence. Perhaps not the strongest factor in the collapse of the program, but it's hard for me to see how having Bo around wouldn't have helped the media firestorm surrounding the program during Rodriguez's tenure. Believe what you want while acknowledging an opposing opinion has some merit.

Also, it bothers me when people cite Rodriguez's overall record as the reason why he underachieved, primarily because a coach's standard for a successful season (in the win/loss column) changes from season to season and 15-22 does not define the win-loss spread that Rodriguez was expected to achieve. Personally, I'd say losing 6 winnable games in his last 3 years (2008 Toledo, 2008 Purdue, 2008 Northwestern, 2009 Illinois, 2009 Purdue, and 2010 Penn State) led Rodriguez to falling below the expected spread of 21-16 that his teams could have achieved. However, this had little to do with why he lost his job.


December 5th, 2011 at 7:37 PM ^

Another possibility, of course, is that 2007 was the first time that Harbaugh had a logical reason to bash Michigan's academics.  He was hired by Stanford in Dec 2006, so, in fall 2007, when Harbaugh made the remarks, criticizing Michigan allowed Harbaugh to do two things. 

1. It allowed him to present Stanford to top recruits (like Andrew Luck!) as a place where academics wouldn't take a back seat to athletics. He could, of course, have done this by saying something akin to "I learned at Michigan that success in the classroom and success on the field are not mutually exclusive." But maybe because he was bitter with his Michigan experience, maybe because it provided him competitive advantage in potentially recruiting against Michigan, Harbaugh expressed it as something unique to Stanford. He would have had little reason to do this at any previous stop, since it was unlikely he was competing for recruits with Michigan at USD.

2. It allowed Harbaugh to present himself to the AD, and more importantly, to the faculty, as someone who "got it" about the secondary place of athletics in the broader university community, and the unique nature of Stanford (not saying it is unique, but the touting of uniqueness was valuable as a way to present himself to those people.)

So there is a logical argument to suppose that it had nothing to do with Bo's absence, and everything to do with Harbaugh's new coaching job.


December 6th, 2011 at 6:01 AM ^

While Luck was a 4* quarterback he was hardly a sure fire could not miss prospect.  He had offers from:


Stanford, Northwestern, Rice, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Virginia.  


It's not like he was recruiting against Michigan for Andrew Luck his comments were completely because Bo died and he was just trying to get into the spotlight.  


December 5th, 2011 at 8:18 PM ^

At the lowest hours, when the press was dogging Rodriguez to the bone. Carr could have come out and said something. Even if he didn't want to publically support Rich, he could have reminded people to support the team. I personally think he should have done both, and reminded people to have patience, and it would have gone a long way to stopping much of the blood shed.


December 5th, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^


I'd say Bo to Mo to Carr is a bad analog for Carr to RR.  Rather look at the comments Bo has about Bump.  Bo says that Bump could have made it hard (and even impossible) for him to find success here, but he didn't and he was always thankful about what Bump did for that.  In private Bump told his players "Bo is the man now, stop coming to me to bitch about how tough he is" and in public he supported Bo.  

Moeller and Carr automatically got Bo's protective mantle since they were Bo's assistants, thus comparing the Bo > Moeller > Carr line isn't really a good analog for Carr to RR.  Law, Sharp, and Toomer were just annoying insects.  Bo's vote was the only vote that mattered and he made it clear he was being Mo and Carr.   

Perhaps I shouldn't say Carr failed to act like Bo, so much as he didn't act like Bump.  


December 5th, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

Three and Out is an interesting book. Not ideal but probably as close we can expect short of a tell-all by RR or Lloyd Carr (don't hold your breath on either one). Your summary is excellent and hits most of the major points.

Most interesting are what the little details implied:

1. As you note - MSC open rejection of Martin's stipulation to RR about keeping the existing coaching staff showed that she understood better how these coaching changes are done - not great but better than Martin. It is rare for the past group of assistants to be kept on en masse.

2. In the book when asked to list who would be a good future UM coach, Martin's first choice was Tony Dungy. While, Dungy is clearly an admirable figure in football and very successful in the NFL as well as coming from Michigan, there has never been any indication that he wanted to return to coaching let alone college football. This is another example that Martin really had only a faint feel for what was happening in college football over the past 10-15 years. It reminds me of the scene in the Simpsons when Montgomery Burns tries to create a team of ringers to win a softball game. ("Homer at Bat": Burns wants Honus Wagner on third, Cap Anson on first and 'Three Fingers' Brown at his lead pitcher - all long dead)

3. The athletic department is pretty much run as a nearly independent entity so long as there is no trouble. There is a lot of free reign given to it - probably a legacy of Bo's tenure as AD. When the president had to step in, it was a very bad sign of how messed up things were.

4. As a fan and not a rabid one (I wouldn't go out of my way to go to a M-club meeting or to hear the HC speak at lunch) it was still surprising to hear that RR didn't reach out to the super fans until literally the 11th hour. Many other fans probably assumed as I did that he was making the rounds and just didn't click.

5. There is strangely little said about the weaknesses on defense. What did RR really thick was happening? What did he do with Greg Robinson to help improve things? There is very little discussion about this key aspect of his time here. ? Does Bacon's silence on this matter reflect a lack of information, that it was thought too dry and technical, or was it aimed at the players. There is a sense that Bacon feels badly for RR as a person who got what we wanted in life and found that rather than being a dream it was a nightmare. The other sense was that he felt a lot sympathy for the players who were often just as likely to the target of the same vitriol aimed at RR.

An interesting book and worth your time.


December 5th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

I think he cut it to keep the book length down.  The book was just about the right length, add in 50 pages or even 25 on the GREG and Gibson failures and you'd have people killing themselves at the 2/3rds mark from depression.  Also the failures of the defense could be considered common knowledge for the target audience of this book.  Every sports outlet in the world covered our defensive problems in depth.

It could definitely hurt the book though in say 20 years when say I encourage my kids to read it.  They won't understand the total soul crushing agony that was our defensive scheme under GREG and how the failure to give up on the 3-3-5 compounded it.

lexus larry

December 5th, 2011 at 4:50 PM ^

Actually, can't remember the date (prior to the start of the 2008 season), but RR was at an Alumni Club function in Dearborn...my son, Gameboy, got Rich to autograph a Wolverine box of Wheaties and appeared on the edge of the frame on the evening news, standing in front of Rich and Miss Rita...  Bill Martin introduced him, Rich went over generic commentary, same stuff we've all heard/read about being patient, etc.

And at the end of Rich's speech, he sang "The Victors" (as did Miss Rita) along with the rest of us.  (Can't say he "led" us, it could have been BM, don't remember...)

Unless I misunderstood this point...which "super fans" are super?


December 5th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

There is this thing called the "M Club" that means Friday for lunch in Ann Arbor.  Since Bo (or perhaps earlier, don't have the book handy to reference) the coaches have regularly attended those meetings.  Bacon implies that unless the coach was headed out on a road trip or recruiting trip, he was at that lunch.  RR's first appearance at the club was near the end of his third year.  He was very well treated though when he did appear and their news letter item on him was complimentary.  

The idea Bacon advances is that a lot of the M Club members where very active in PR and willing to do a lot of legwork for the team.  So RR should have reached out them earlier and gotten them actively in his corner.   It's one of many missed chances he cites.  They're like an alumni group, but fanatical enough to meet every Friday at Webers.

Their website: http://uofmclubofannarbor.com/


December 5th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

Here are my two cents...

When Carr took over, I thought the team became a bit soft at first, and I heard how after practices he gave the players ice-pops or ice cream, and I thought that was very un-tough.  But then he manned the ship at the program direst hour, and was a champ for ten years.

Then, when he began to lose consistently to Tressel, I thought he should have voluntarily stepped down, but he did not. So be it. Maybe there wasn't a better option at the time.

And I was quite livid that he spurned both Miles, and Harbaugh.  But the thing that stands out to me so much, and this really defends him in alot of the above, is a clip I once saw, in a press conference, of a smug Bill Martin, and this really really rubbed me the wrong way, and I watched Carr's demeanor during it, and thought that this is very bad for the program.... Martin was speaking as if he was a deity, and goes on and says in a very Jerry Jones smug way something akin to "Lloyd, now YOU will be working for ME "   and I saw a very abiding subordinate Coach Carr going along with what his boss wanted. And I thought that Martin didn't earn this subordination, AD or not, and I abhored that smugness. Maybe I'm sensitive about supression, however that press conference by Martin doesn't leave my thoughts when I think of the criticism Carr gets.  For instance, people say Carr called RR but then sabotaged him later. Well, surely Carr was told to call RR by Martin, and doing his job, and then later, as the styles were so drastically different, that Carr would rather not interfere, and he didn't.


December 5th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

you know i tended to stay out of discussions on 3 and out and rr.  i grew to like rr and defended him to the bitter end.  i still like him and i love hoke too.  i was one of the few people who thought rr deserved another year all the way past the bowl game, but sort of had some feeling for hoke to come back.  and i do not know hoke well enough, i just saw his interaction on the pointsettia bowl.  he acts the same way today as he did that day, which made me like him.  he got down on one knee and caoched the dline and took his oders from long, mind you he was the coach. 

to like one is not to hate the other, i like both guys.  i was one of the people that defended caoch rod on the eve of the gator bowl that he would not send devin in just to spite dave brandon and one person in particular thought that he would. 

i will always feel like the blame is part losing and part freep that did him in.  they created an atmosphere that made winning extra hard.  how about lloyd, you say.  i cant blame him for something i do not know.  i am not going to speculate on what he did and did not do.  full disclosure, i was one of the people who wanted to see him go.  i always like lloyd as a person but could not stand his conservative coaching.  i hated that our teams underperformed.  i wanted him gone after the horror and oregon.  after he left, i thought he represented the school in a great way. 

i enjoyed the book, but i have some troubles reconciling some parts of the book.


December 5th, 2011 at 4:27 PM ^

Personally I've been over him since 5-0 turned into 7-5.  I wrote this more because as I was reading end of the year review threads for 2011, I saw the Hoke vs RR stuff coming back.  I'm sure we all know the regulars who push those lines and I'm not going to call anyone out.  My major hope was to keep it from spreading and show the pointless nature of it as both sides have bullets they can load into their gun.  I'd rather not spend the entire offseason picking "Flamebait", "Trolling" and "Offtopic" off our moderation menu.

I'm likely deluding myself though and we'll see it off and on all offseason and it will get worse if RR has a fast start with 'Zona.  



December 5th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

Hey OP,

As a Turban wearing, Michigan Alum and Football fan, I take offense to your racist language. There was no need to bring that into the equation.


December 5th, 2011 at 4:29 PM ^

>> Heat over his Rose Bowl issues and issues handling the spread. 

This is why I cringed every time I heard someone say "the spread won't work in the Big Ten".

ORLY?  how quickly people forgot the App State / Oregon dual spread catastrophe.

We went from Michigan can't handle the spread, to the spread wont work in the Big Ten, to "Borges isn't using Denard right" which IMO was code for "let's bring back the spread!".

Makes my head explode.


Section 1

December 5th, 2011 at 4:40 PM ^

1.  Schembechler played the media game really well.  He courted the favor of some critical people: J.P. McCarthy (WJR radio), Joe Falls (Detroit Free Press) and later Mitch Albom (Detroit Free Press).

2.  You allude to the part where Carr makes the call to Rodriguez.  The details are a little disputed, but only a little.  Rosenberg claims it is an error in the book.  Rosenberg points out that Rodriguez's agent testified in the WVU litigation that HE called Michigan.  But those two stories are not mutually exclusive.  It may be that Carr called Rodriguez personally, AND that Rodriguez's agent called Martin.  An easy explanation is that Martin knew that his meeting records, interviews, etc., were subject to Open Meetings laws and FOIA exposure.   And so Martin made Carr his informal agent for that (first) call.

3.  You call yourself a loyal defender of Carr.  I don't mind that at all.  For all of the inflammatory things I have written on the subject of Coach Rodriguez's defense, I am about the last person to criticize Carr.  But this is my end position:  If Coach Carr has something to say, he should say it.  Write his own book if he wishes.  Clear the air.  All that I ask of Carr is that he answer questions the way that John U. Bacon has.

4.  Carr, and the Carr-era players, are entitled to their own opinions on the Michigan football program.  Who could deny them that?  What I expected from the 'Carrtel' at a minimum, however, was a full-throated defense of the football program from the depredations of the Free Press.  It's one thing to argue about the merits of the spread-option or the 3-3-5, or certain recruits.  It is another thing altogether, to let Rosenberg and Snyder do what they did without protest.  But the protestors were so few and far between!  There was Brian Cook, and Jon Chait, and Frank Beckmann.  Later there was Rick Leach, who was nearly ridiculed for his loyalty.  But where were all the others? 

Some people seem to want more unanimity and a togetherness of purpose within the Michigan football family.  One very good starting point, two years ago, would have been a united front against the Free Press.  One very good way to close the door on this part of Michigan history would be to agree that the Free Press and its columnists who still swim on the underside of of the Athletic Department like Remoras, remain unaccounted, and unaccountable.

It does cheer me, that almost regardless of anyone's opinion about Rodriguez here among the cognoscenti of MGoBlog, there is near-universal agreement on the basic initial depravity of the August 30 2009 Freep story.


December 5th, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

Sadly that's about all we can do.  If Brandon pulls press passes, Sharp and Rosenberg will scream bloody murder about "freedom of the press" and shit like that.  Honestly they'd love it if we did that, because they could play the victim card.  We'd just enter another Freep fueled shitstorm.

I think the "death glare" that Brandon shot Sharp and Hoke's response to Sharp's questions at his intro presser shows where Sharp stands.  We know he's a hostile and he is treated as such (and we'd let campus security shoot him if we legally could).  Sharp is reduced to writing troll columns (see today's Univerified Voracity) and seems to have lost all his internal sources.    Brandon's made it clear that the Freepers are persons non grata and that's about all he can do.  Short of suing the paper and odds are we lose that (and it just opens old wounds).  

Unless of course you're a super rich alum.  Then it would be awesome if you bought out the Freep, hired an outside firm to fact check Sharp, when said firm concludes he is full of shit fire him with a massive front page editorial where you apologize for Sharp being a scumbag and announce you are firing him.  

(So I hope Stephen J. Ross reads this board.)


December 5th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

Bacon won't go out and say it in the book, but reading between the lines you can see that Carr was ultimately the person who brought Rodriguez to Michigan for a variety of reasons over Miles.

It's not hard to speculate on who leaked the phone calls back in 07, that was almost definitely Lloyd Carr.  Of all of the 4 principals, he's the only one who had anything to gain by having a media storm brew up in Baton Rouge.  The only other option is a bumbling Bill Martin, but that most definitely doesn't seem to be the case, he had wised up to the importance of the situation by then.  Couple that with the phone call to RR and the suggestions, you would have to believe it was Carr.

Then... I don't know what happened.  Bacon said that even he didn't get the connection between all of this until February of this year after multiple people had mentioned the Carr thing in passing to him.  Lloyd's role just doesn't add up.  Sometime between his recommendation to MSC/Martin and when Rich Rod got to campus he soured on Rodriguez and we will probably never know why.

I say this and still really like Lloyd, the hometown guy from Downriver who does lots of charity work.  After reading the book, the only real emotion that I get out of it is that "I has a sad".  That and my opinion of Dave Brandon has moved from "pimp hand" to "kind of a dick", which are probably one and the same thing.


December 5th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

"I don't know what happened." 

The only thing that makes sense to me if Bacon's account is accurate, given the timeline he presents, is that Lloyd was tremendously (!) pissed off at RichRod's treatment of his coaches. And if he did really keep them waiting for hours in the hallway, only to summarily fire them, that's a fairly good indication that RichRod didn't enter the job with as much grace as might have been desirable. And you could understand how support staff, who had been with the program for years, as well as Carr who had employed them, would feel about that treatment. 

Compare the accounts we've heard of his treatment of the coaches and support staff (assistant strength coaches, etc) at Michigan and at Arizona, via Andy Staples account, where he sat down, told them some of them would lose their jobs, but that he wanted to talk to them and gather information before he made those decisions. It seems fairly clear that he's learned that those guys can make or break the reception of an outsider coming into a program.

03 Blue 07

December 5th, 2011 at 11:10 PM ^

See, I read the book and thought that Lloyd hated the concept of Miles coaching here that he had to have an alternative, and RR came about, and Lloyd thought "I may not even know this guy/what I know of him, I don't like, but he cannot possibly a worse person to lead this program than Leslie Miles," and made the only play he could to make sure he stopped the Miles- to- M train, which included him telling MSC that he'd "never say no to MIchigan" and to talk to him after his bowl game. So that was a definite possibility. And it wasn't that LC loved RR; it's that he hated LM. He must despise that man in some serious way. And then, perhaps he talked to some people, people talked to him, and everyone that he respected told him RR was bad news....plus he didn't like the way RR treated his people, plus...highly possible there's something we don't know here.


December 5th, 2011 at 11:17 PM ^

LM got Mo fired.  It destroyed Mo.  LC could NEVER forgive LM.  So LC had to get behind someone or something.  He had to act fast so he found the quickest and easiest girl on the block to date.

Then when she danced with someone else at the party and started doing her own thing, LC got made and when home.  He called her every name in the book and posted mean things about her on facebook.

LC just could not get over how RR fired his guys.  What an ungrateful son of a bitch.  LC turned on RR like Charlie Sheen after he does up a whore.


December 5th, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

Really well-said and spot on, IMO.

What you said should really serve as the final word on this matter, because it sums everything up.

From here, onwards.  Hail to the victors, Beat Ohio, and Hoke uber alles.

Drew Sharp

December 5th, 2011 at 8:30 PM ^

Hoke does show all of the qualities we look for in a  father-figure for the program.  I am not naming him that at all, but at the same time, no-one can.  He will have to simply become that.  At some point we will realize that somebody (be it Hoke or someone else) is that person we look to who defines the program like Bo used to do.  I hope Hoke is that person, as he certainly seems to be headed that way.  Only time will tell.


December 5th, 2011 at 9:39 PM ^

such as having the former assistants line up and wait to be fired, or the silence from alumni of the program during media frenzies, still rankle me to this day.  I am amazed that things behind the scenes were in some ways worse than the product on the field at times.  The weakness of the B10 dilutes Hoke's accomplishments this year somewhat but in an age of increasing parity between programs 10 wins is still 10 wins.

Reading through the book without razor blades was an accomplishment, and I'm glad we can all put this time behind us, slowly but surely.  I for one picked up a few management and communication lessons thanks to Bacon's narrative.


December 5th, 2011 at 9:41 PM ^

The firing procedure sounds painful. Is it not true, though, that Lloyd (a year earlier) got all those guys an extra year of salary? It's not like they were completely left out in the cold.


December 5th, 2011 at 10:48 PM ^

That's a good point and kind of sums up how this went down.  We made sure they were paid, but we were rather poor at planning the exit interviews.  It kind of goes with the whole idea that no one was evil, but no one covered themselves in glory.