A commentary on faith, and a question on where to find it

Submitted by Blazefire on January 2nd, 2011 at 12:51 AM

As I contemplated the results of the 2011 Gator Bowl earlier, and their implications, something I once heard occured to me and it seemed to have some relation to the state of the program and the jorney that lies ahead.

During a sermon, a pastor once said that when you ask God for something, there are three possible answers; Yes, No, and Wait. I couldn't argue with this statement. That's logical for a request made of anyone or any being. The requestee can either say "yes", and provide, say "no" and refuse to provide, or say "wait, maybe later", and put something off till a later time. The implication of all this was to help understand God's answers, so on and so forth. That isn't really the part that hit me as far as the game and the program are concerned. The part that hit me was in the answer "wait".

It occurs to me that this answer is only acceptable so long as the requester is convinced of the requestees ability to provide, should they so choose. A person with faith in a deity or spirit or supernatural power of whatever variety finds this answer acceptable because, in their view, that being is supremely capable of providing. Children accept this answer from their parents because they have no reason to question their parents' ability, even if the answer was actually provided simply as a way to delay the inevitable whining that goes along with "no". Accepting this answer is an act of faith. You cannot be okay with waiting unless you are convinced that waiting can possibly lead to a yes answer. Nobody would wait knowing that the later answer would be no.

As it relates to football, the question we are all asking, at the most basic level is, "Can the team achieve perpetuated success of X level?" 'X level' is a varying placeholder value depending on each person's own view. Some may see success as so many wins. Some may see it as Big Ten Championships. Others as National Championships. And so far, since the end of 2007, the answer we have been given is, "wait".

I have done my share of praying, as I'm sure many of you have, that we should achieve success as a team. But I know in all truth that no God or deity is going to intervene and effect the outcome of a college football game, leastways not for my entirely disconnected benefit. A supernatural being might provide the tools of the motivation to effect an outcome, but they're not going to reach down with a pillar of fire from a ten thousand foot bank of clouds to smite Jim Tressel where he stands. And so, we must turn to the next authority who can answer that question. The head coach.

And he, too, has been giving us the answer of wait.

I'm not going to tell you what to think about the future of the team, our coach, or any other coaches. I don't know any better than you. But it would serve us all, people on every side of the argument, to step back and ask themselves what they have faith in.

Do you have faith that Rich Rodriguez can still provide perpetuated success of "X level"?

Do you have faith that any other candidate can provide perpetuated success of "X level"?

How long are you prepared to hear "wait" and have faith that the answer could end up being yes this time?

As for myself, I'm deeply conflicted. My answer to the first question is now, finally, changed. I must now answer no. I have lost my faith. The trouble is, I also can't answer yes to the second question, and I have no idea how to address the third. And so, I am a fan without faith. The final question is, where shall I look for it?


Six Zero

January 2nd, 2011 at 7:44 AM ^

Bill Martin should hold some of the blame in all this.  It was his hire, his decision to embrace all of the sea change that would come by hiring a spread guy...  suddenly makes you wonder why he washed his hands of the whole thing so early on.

How long ago do you think Bill Martin 'lost faith' in RR?


January 2nd, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

At the time, everyone was saying that the coaching search was a catastrophe. Then we got Rodriguez, and most said that the final result actually exceeded expectations.

I can't help but think that the first view may in fact have been accurate.


January 2nd, 2011 at 2:38 AM ^

I know for a fact that MSU fans booed their team now and then during the Bobby Williams and JLS years.  You won't find a fanbase in the country that hasn't at some time.

Yes, we do have great fans.  Coming off two of the worst seasons in school history, in an absolutely wretched statewide economy, our fans still filled up the largest stadium in the country this year.  That's a great credit to us.  Many more successful programs couldn't fill up their (smaller) stadiums.  Speaking of MSU, they couldn't sell out their Senior Day during an 11-win season.


January 2nd, 2011 at 1:05 AM ^

I hope getting whipped like we did in the Gator Bowl never happens again. Though at least we did make a bowl game this year after two consecutive losing seasons!  Oh well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see, and hope for the best!


January 2nd, 2011 at 8:23 AM ^

I have faith that Michigan will still be Michigan for as long as I live (unless we hire a goat and A2 Torch & Pitchfork burns down the Big House).



January 2nd, 2011 at 1:27 AM ^

I am feeling like i am questioning religion rather than faith. I have faith in the block M, but perhaps the tenets, leadership and rituals have been shown to be flawed.


January 2nd, 2011 at 1:32 AM ^

first and formost, we are going to have to have some faith, in our AD.  Before the OSU game this year, DB faith factor with the fanbase, was high.  He did bring us stadium lights, got us out of "stretch gate", a ND night game and Alabama 2012.  However, the coaching selection process has caused some to question their faith in DB.  Because he has been the new guy (<1 year), he has gotten some slack on the issues surrounding the program, due to the decisions and actions by his predecesors, that got us to where we are now.  However, depending on what decision he makes coming up next week, he may be chosing to put every decision made in the past, on his shoulders.  If he says RR stays, he is accepting all the "stuff" that has come about over the last 3 years, as reasonably  "acceptable", to continue on with the current path / plan.  From a "business man's" prespective, this path is lined with huge amounts of risk and personal responsibility, that I do not think DB wants to bear.

I am in the same boat as you brother.  The RR ship has just set sail for me.  I think the best case scenario for other people in the same boat as us, is for DB to hire a new coach to come in that has the "it" factor that we are not getting now from RR.  Each person has many individual criteria to determine what "it" is they are looking for in a coach.  Great recruiter, motivator, leader, teacher, role model, X's and O's guy, scheme's, Win's and losses, etc.  When that coach gets here and time goes by, we will each determine in our own unique way, if this new guy has "it".  If so, this will re-new our faith in the direction of the program, once again.  For all of this to come to pass, unfortunately the only way to see if these changes are what we really want and are helping the program, is to wait a just a little longer.....

Keep the faith, God bless and GO BLUE!!!


January 2nd, 2011 at 1:52 AM ^

Wow that is a loaded question. I most certainly have faith in The Trinity! That, however is for a different blogosphere. My faith in Michigan football is strong and bigger than any AD, coach or player! My faith is in the fall days of my youth playing footbal in the backyard or the street trying to be like some of my fav Wolverines. We will return to glory and I can be patient, althoug wolverine pride is like a religion it is not at the top of my list. God bless & Go Blue!


January 2nd, 2011 at 2:59 AM ^

right?  I have faith in the program, the University and the Block M.  My faith in RR is gone and my faith in DB hangs in the balance.  If he stays with RR, that faith is gone as well.  I am not smart enough to know all the answers or enough of a football guru to know which coach has the "it" factor to bring this program back to its glory. 

But, I do believe that Bo and Woody are sitting up in football's Valahalla with old man Ufer and all three are shaking their heads at was has happened to their universities and college football.  I am trying to convince myself that DB will make the right choice and bring in the right coach to return this proud program back to where it belongs.

Hopefully that day comes very very soon, like Thursday.

I always have faith in tomorrow.   GO BLUE


January 2nd, 2011 at 3:35 AM ^

Trying to conjure up faith doesn't end well. No matter how much you believe, or want to believe, in some things, the strength or fervor of your faith doesn't make them true. Some of us have been about like the cowardly lion, saying "I do believe in Rich, I do, I do, I do." I have been a staunch RR supporter, and would be happy to see him stay. But unless a miracle happens with the defense, it is going to drag the whole team down, along with Rich.

Problem is, I'm not convinced JH is going to lead us to the promised land.

My hope is that this is an example of things being darkest just before the dawn. I hope that somehow, RR remains, the team pulls things together, and we see huge improvement in the 2011 season. But this is now merely my HOPE, and not a prediction I put much stock in. I hoped, like Brian, that Michigan would win. We all saw how that went.


January 2nd, 2011 at 8:07 AM ^

and can tell all of you have a great measure of faith. The replies to the OP have been the most thought out, rational and positive of any of the threads I've read on this board to date.

I know "religion" is taboo on this blog, but man what a breath of fresh air.


January 2nd, 2011 at 8:37 AM ^

we have a product that can get the job done. Denard had some issues gettting the ball past the goal line when close to it but this is his first year as starter -not to mention the tremendous weight on his shoulders he felt to get the job done for his coach and teammates- and I have 'faith' he will improve next year, that the whole offense will improve.

I have faith Coach Rod is a smart man and will see the need to respect the defense more, whether here or elsewhere. I would like it to be here because I would like him to succeed and not fail. I have faith that if he were to remain as coach, and he made changes to the defense, we could have the success here at Michigan that we want.


January 2nd, 2011 at 9:47 AM ^

Thanks, Blaze.

There is no doubt in my mind that putting your faith in coaches, ADs, players and other people will not provide the answers you're seeking, (I'm sure your Good Reverend would agree). Maybe the problem is that we put too much stock in a the next coach, the next "hot" recruit, the next pronouncement of the AD?

Its been written here that faith is a gift, but it is also a journey. So, take the long view. Does a few seasons, in the 120-year span of Michigan Football, really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Most folks can't remember what football season was like before Bo, (some can't even remember at all a time when Bo coached). However, a check of the record book is pretty compelling: there were long stretches when Michigan was no longer "Michigan"; i.e. "dominant". We have all heard about Yost, Crisler, and Bo, and our minds' eyes gloss over the turbulence in between their tenures.

To your questions, I think the answer to the first is, "sadly, no." I really wanted RichRod to succeed here. I still do. Michigan Football had grown pretty stale under Lloyd Carr. While 2-4 losses per year sounds great now, (in light of the last three years) how long had it been since we'd won the B10 championship outright? Our fall from "dominance" had been a long time coming. I had hoped that Rich would bring modernity (and speed) in addition to the physical brutality that we could inflict on opponents. Unfortunately, it seems we've replaced that toughness with farce. I don't think that will change under Rich. Just look at the physical stature of his players compared to opponents. Our team is the one being brutalized on the field.

Your second question is tougher. Literally taken, "any other candidate" could imply that "anyone" could do a better job, but I don't think that was your intent. Assuming you meant, "Is there another candidate who could do a better job", I think there is. I wish I knew that candidate's name. Is it Harbaugh? I really have no idea. The truth is, we could be facing a long time in the wilderness, a la Notre Dame. Guh.

It seems to me that the answer to your third question, "How long are you prepared to wait" depends greatly on what it is you cheer for. If you're cheering first for the players on the field and their coaches, you're always looking for what's "hot", so your patience is probably already worn out. If, however, you cheer first for your University, for your traditions, and for the timelessness of what endures, you'll be better able to weather the storms.

Go Blue!

Twisted Martini

January 2nd, 2011 at 10:25 AM ^

Watching that team yesterday, it became apparent to me that we were Denard and a bunch of guys.  The faith that I had in RichRod dissipated yesterday because of that poor showing.  Yes, I think they would be better next year, but the damage has already been done.  It has been painful watching Wolverine Nation tear itself apart week after week.  I think he is a great coach who in retrospect was a bad fit and who was put in a tough position with poor support.  I know from personal experience that it happens.

I do have faith in Dave Brandon to get the right guy.  Yes, the last month has been irritating but based on his decisions so far, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  If he decides that Brady Hoke is the best choice, then so be it.  After all, how many "Downfall" videos by Auburn fans were made after they hired Gene Chizik?  

Keep the faith and Go Blue!


January 2nd, 2011 at 11:24 AM ^

I'm just numb at this point as far as Michigan sports are concerned. I'm sure it will get much better at some point, but I don't know when. You can't keep Michigan down forever.


January 2nd, 2011 at 12:07 PM ^

This is a great post, and I'll reiterate what others have said in acknowledging the quality of the responses.

First, I'd like to state my pre-Bowl game point of view on Rich Rod, which was basically your "wait." I did not believe that RR was up to my expectations for our program...but did believe he had it in him. It just had to be...drawn out, somehow.

Post-Bowl game? Hmm...Am I done waiting? I am myself an advocate of the "a coach cannot be judged on one game" mentality. There were plenty of things Rich Rod did wrong, from a coaching perspective. But were the dropped passes his fault? We easily could have scored 2 more TDs to make the game, well, seem less like a total blow out. But regardless of whose fault it is...am I still ready to wait?

Faith is a funny thing. Biblically speaking...people lose it all the time. Under pharoah, the Jews in Egypt felt "forsaken" by the God that did not hear their calls for help. When his life was on the line, Peter denied Jesus three times...because in a sense he did not have faith that his "faith" was enough to protect him, in this life or the next.

But faith, in and of itself, is not religious. There is just as much faith in Cubs fans who believe that, one day, the cure will be broken. Or in Red Sox fans who had their faith rewarded in a AL Series that one can only call miraculous. 

I do not know if RR can bring us the glory that I hope for. I do not know if JH can, either. But I know the answer to your third question: I am prepared to wait forever. Good golly, I hope it doesn't come to that. But I believe with all my heart that Michigan is my team, and that through years of darkness come years of light. As a child I weathered the 1-15 New England Patriots years...the disappointment, the desperation, the laughable badness...and on the other end watched the team rewarded with three super bowls. 

Three lean years of Michigan football can't kill that spirit that lives in us. It gives voice to our detractors, to which I say "bring. it. on." Having faith is about taking the good with the bad. Let the haters hate. I'm staying put right where I am, because I know our good days are coming.


January 2nd, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

Do you have faith that Rich Rodriguez can still provide perpetuated success of "X level"?

"Can", yes provided that he keeps his hands off the defense and lets the new DC call all the shots. I'm convinced that WV's defensive success is on Casteel, not RR. "Will", maybe. 

Do you have faith that any other candidate can provide perpetuated success of "X level"?

Again, "can", yes, "will", maybe. I don't think there is such a thing as a sure-thing hire, because even the best coaches make some questionable decisions and any coach can have a run of bad luck.

How long are you prepared to hear "wait" and have faith that the answer could end up being yes this time?

One more year, and I would keep RR conditional on the offense maintaining its yardage with fewer turnovers and the defense at least getting back to its mediocre 2008 level.


January 2nd, 2011 at 6:33 PM ^

Living in exile (and SEC/ACC country) I am often facing my faith and expectations. I have faith that RR "can" win but in what amount of time? I have faith that another coach "can" win but in what amount of time and with how many lost scholarships if more players transfer and we drop below the APR line allowed for football.

My faith has been questioned in terms of what it takes to win in today's college game. I see teams in the ACC and SEC littered with arrests, sanctions, misuse of redshirts/grayshirts, over committing players and poor moral coaching decisions. I do not want Michigan to fall victim to the win at all costs paradigm that seems the norm elsewhere among the consistent BCS teams (VA Tech not included) but my faith tells me my expectations may need to be changed to expect national champions on a regular basis or even BCS births on a consistent level. Can we win with high morals, beliefs and courage? YES but I have lost faith that we can do it every year and can only do it when we have a special player or players at one time. I hope I am wrong but too often do I see what I believe to be morally bankrupt teams being praised for being great while not helping the college athlete (again see the SEC and tOSU).

I may be neg bombed for this point of view but while I agree with just about all the posts above I did not see the moral part of faith questioned. Also I up vote you +1000 points Blaze for starting such a great topic. Go Blue and keep having faith.

EDIT: I want to clarify that my lack of faith and changed expectations has as much to do with the lack of consistency and go for the bottom dollar of the NCAA as it does with the un-moral coaches who have taken the win at all costs approach.


January 2nd, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^


I've been one of RR's staunchest supporters from the start.  Through everything over the past 3 years, I've defended him with everything I've had.  Hell, over Christmas this year, I got in a shouting match at a dinner with friends and family (that we were all plastered probably contributed to the volume).

But I don't have any more ammunition.  There's no argument I can rationally make after 1/1/11 to support RR being retained due to the performance of his teams on the field.

I'll say this - I love what RR has brought to the coaching position as a person.  You can tell he loves his players as if they were his own children.  And his players love him right back.  You could see that on the field yesterday - those kids knew that they were playing for their coach's job and they were running on that field at 100%.  The character of the young men wearing the maize and blue is something a cut above what I saw when Lloyd was here.  That's not a rip on Carr, but rather a serious commendation of RR.  He's consistently put the welfare and future of his student-athletes ahead of his own career prospects.  He's a good man and he deserves better.  And wherever he ends up after his time here, I will root for him to succeed (unless he's playing against us of course!).

At the end, I feel as if RR's legacy won't be remembered for what it should be.  The blame for the current situation doesn't lie entirely on his shoulders.  He's been a victim of circumstance.  Yes, he's made a few mistakes.  His handling of the defense has been poor due to a lack of humility - after Shafer-gate, he should've sacked the entire defensive staff, brought in a respected coach who was able to choose his own assistants.

The bigger issue was the division of us as fans.  The xenophobic fraction of our fanbase, who never wanted RR to begin with, immediately put their efforts and energies into breaking the man instead of the supporting the program.  They had their in with practicegate, which the freep so happily prostituted itself out for in exchange for the revenue and the extra year or so of print circulation.  They've filled the airwaves with rumor, discord and doubt.  And now it seems that they have won.  They sold their souls for this.  They've beaten and broken a good man.  I hope it was worth it.


January 2nd, 2011 at 8:00 PM ^

I really enjoyed your analogy.  

What frustrates me is that I feel like we haven't truly heard the answer.  I know a lot of people feel that we have, and it's very easy to understand that perspective.  The record is what it is.  But it seems that when a coach is brought in and implements the type of system change that RR did, the answer is given in the fourth year.  

Again, I understand people who think the answer has been given.  I just don't feel that way.  What hurts even more, is since I don't feel that way, I feel like we would be unjust in obtaining another coach since due process hasn't played out.  It makes me feel like we are selling our souls, so to speak, to pick up what is "in" right now.

That's just how I'm feeling at this moment. I don't claim any of it to be right.  Regardless of who the coach is next, I'll still support our team. 


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:04 AM ^

1) No, unfortunately. The level of success I expect for UM is very high, though: frequent B1G championships, occassional Nat'l championships, always competitive against the top teams in the country and winning most of those games, and most importantly -- integrity. Perhaps that is too much to ask. I truly hoped RR would succeed here but I can no longer defend his performance -- our players are simply not prepared to compete against their peers. So someone else will have to try their luck.

2) Yes. To determine who that is, we must trust in DB.

3) As long as it takes.

4) This is the most interesting question posed. Your title of "where to find" it is not quite the same as "where to look for it." My answer to the latter would be: In searching one has already begun the creation of success. Those who seek shall find. And the process -- the search, the journey itself -- is the most important thing; and significant changes along the way are usually a critical component in success, so stubbornness should be avoided to expedite the process (and not confused with faith itself). Seek the transcendent values -- such as honor, integrity, loyalty -- and your faith will remain strong; seek that which is objective and transient, and your path will be unstable. In matters of faith, direction trumps position.