Finally Letting Go/End Of An Idea

Submitted by EZMIKEP on January 3rd, 2011 at 3:54 AM

While I was in Fort Lauderdale in December 2005 I had spent an hour looking for a decent sports bar that had the Alamo Bowl. My hotel room's television decided that it wasn't going to cooperate with this one simple request of mine and forced me out the door. I hadn't missed a Bowl game since I was a child and this wasn't going to be the first.

I finally found one and it had a few Nebraska fans huddled around the only screen showing the game. I was by myself and the next few hours weren't much fun. It wasn't just the loss. I listened to these guys tell me how we were no longer relevant and how we were headed into obscurity just like they were. They kept saying the same thing a lot of Michigan fans had been saying for quite some time. We need a change. Fresh air. Someone with more motivational skill and to quit relying on the We Are Michigan arrogance. That our name and history will only get us so far. One quote stood out because it was as if I was having a deja vu moment with someone from back home. "Lloyd Carr is a good coach. A good man from what it seems. But good coaches will always get beat by great coaches."

These guys weren't being dicks. They were fans rooting for their team and being honest when we started talking football during the game. They even bought me drinks. What made the time suck was that they were right. I knew they were right. I had been denying this for awhile because I always looked at things like they were cyclical and in the back of my head always thought, "Oh we'll turn it around.."

But it was deeper than that. We had gotten behind and truly lost ourselves in that aura of arrogance as a fanbase. Michigan as a football program was living off of old money and not making investments in the future. I could see the trainwreck coming. I never envisioned or predicted it to get to this place, but I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. So I just lied to myself .

Then 2006 came and it played tricks on my heart. One last hurrah before the mighty fall. We all had a chance to watch and witness 11 weeks of what I still feel is the greatest college football team ever to have never won anything. Our football teams equivalent of the Fab 5. They beat team after team after team. All leading up to the biggest game on the national stage against our rival ever. 

On November 13th I had bought tickets off of ebay, the most I had ever spent to go to any sporting event in my life so I could make the trip to Columbus and be a part of Michigan history first hand. On November 17th I received my tickets, just shy of an hour after hearing about Bo's death. 

The next 4 games said it all. Out coached. Unprepared. Underachievers. Lagging behind even further from the pack of college football's elite. 

Lloyd was burned out way before this and we had no plan. Greg Schiano turned us down twice. Greg fucking Schiano. Nobody with any credentials wanted the pressure of the job it seemed. We took our name for granted. But we all wanted change. Ohio State was kicking our ass. The rest of relevant college football outside of our little Big 10 world was also kicking our ass.

Beating MSU for most of a decade and winning a lot of Big 10 games made us content that we were still as successful as the rest of the elite but it was all an illusion. We were falling behind. 1997 was a long way away. Many fans knew this and were asking for change. Some of us were craving it! Then along comes Rich Rodriguez. Smart, football genius, young, but a bit wet behind the ears in his knowledge of the school he contacted about a job. 

He came to bring us into another era. The same way other innovators and motivators had done before at Michigan. You had been asking for this for so many years now and Rich Rodriguez came in to be the one to give it to us. 

Except when he got here a circus ensued instead. An outright debacle in the grandest fashion. People from within the very university we cheer for, its own alumni started something out of nothing before a game was ever played under the new regime. The seed planted. The media played it up. Our rivals relished it all. The michigan fan base ate it up. The masses rolled with every punch and instead of football you got WWE theatre. 

I am not going to beat on too many dead horses here. They are all blood and mashed guts now. After reading this site for the last 4+ years it's probably just liquid. Most all of it has been said by every blogger on MGO in a million different ways. But I will rehash a few obvious points that have brought me to some conclusions about this whole state of affairs. 

Rich Rodriguez is a good coach. He will be a good coach when he leaves here. He will win big somewhere else. But here it isn't going to work, ever. Here are some caps -EVER EVER- The ship sailed on that in September 2008. I just didn't realize it until this past few days.

When you want something. Especially when someone is trying to give it to you when nobody else will, smile and say thanks even if you didn't get it neatly packaged or exactly the way you wanted it. Don't screw it up by complaining about the trivial shit. 

Rich Rodriguez deserved better than what was given to him. A big portion of the Michigan Football fanbase got what they deserved. I think that karma always has a way of showing its ugly head in every aspect in life and looking back at it all I can't say that this isn't one of those examples.

In all reality, did anyone of you that rooted against this guy ever expect him to succeed? How can you win with a giant cloud of shit hanging over your head every second of the day for 3 years? How can you succeed when recruiting, the lifeblood of any major program is impacted the way Michigan Football's has. How do you get to the next level when you have a hole the size of a moon crater in talent and bad luck as long as I-94 tagging along for the ride saddled with all that negative unnecessary bullshit created by some the very people you are trying to work for? 

You don't. He hasn't. You cannot make a marriage work if the other person isn't willing to work too. You can't even correct small mistakes if you aren't given an straightforward shot at it. You can say everything you want to about his epic fail, but if we are honest and really look in the mirror we all know that these are not ordinary circumstances and to judge fairly you have to critique with the entire story in mind. This isn't just X's & O's, execution and on field coaching ability. 

Ignorance. Nepotism. Cronyism. They all found a way into Michigan football in a way that has left a black eye on us. If you don't think so then I believe you to be foolish and as many outside of our own fanbase perceive-arrogant. But regardless of how I feel about Rich, I no longer want him as the coach of Michigan.

 My support for Rich Rodriguez is no longer there. I want him gone. Yesterday. It is time to move on and I think the writing is and has been on the wall that he will be within the next few days. I used to think that he should get a 4th year no matter what. But even that is gone from my mind. What is a 4th year going to do. Even if he wins 10 games it won't be considered real success to the majority. Because the Majority of the Michigan fanbase doesn't like him and never will. Rich needs to move on for the betterment of his family, his future success and simply because he is wasting his time here.

So I think it is time to do something to save Michigan Football before we become completely irrelevant. I sure hope Jim Harbaugh is coming here. Because I think he is the only guy that can make this work right now. Because sadly if Jim Harbaugh comes to town unlike Rich Rodriguez he'll be treated like a god. The press will praise him. The average fans will all shut up whining. The dirty cloud of negativity will magically lift and he can do the job without this raging storm right outside his window. 

I never thought Jim Harbaugh was a bad coach or that he would fail at Michigan. I just thought we already had a good coach and it wasn't fair that we didn't give our full support to the him. But since things are what they are, as a fan of gigantic proportions I am all about anything that betters the football team I have been watching my entire life. In my heart I now know Rodriguez is not that guy. But if Jim Harbaugh isn't available it doesn't matter who coaches in my opinion, the tables will be stacked against them. Hello spiral.. I hope if we get lucky and Harbaugh is announced as Michigan's next head football coach this week that he has us in mind for the long term because he is going to have to do what Bo did in the late 60's. Take a floundering/fractured program and build it back up. And that is going to take awhile. Hopefully by that time if Michigan hires outside of it's own we have learned our lessons and give the next man who comes from outside the support they need. Going through this once was enough. 

Lastly I will say that I did learn something from this experience. I think as a fan I am a better one than I was pre-2008. I learned a lot about life through this. Through football. I'll always support the team and the school forever. But I lost respect for a very large chunk of the people who call themselves fans of Michigan football. 

Hopefully time and some magical wins heal all.

Go Blue Forever

Comments

profitgoblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 10:40 AM ^

I think your expectation for a Big 10 championship is definitely reasonable and something that I expect in the next few years (next year if Rodriguez stays?).  But if a change is made, I'll have to tamper that expectation and hope for another winning season.  I can't help think that another change is going to be painful the next two years.

The national championship expectation is definitely something I always had, year after year, until 2008.  2008 and 2009 were watershed years for me and changed how I view college football entirely.  Sounds like you had the same experience.  +1 to you, sir.

raleighwood

January 3rd, 2011 at 10:25 AM ^

Michigan and Ohio are very similar geographically and economically.  Ohio has a larger high school talent pool than Michigan but the Wolverines have always been able to tap into that pipeline (Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson come to mind).

There's no reason that Michigan cannot compete with OSU on a consistent basis.  This is the same OSU team that has won the Big Ten six years in a row and seemingly plays in a BCS game every year.

Yes, OSU has had some issues winning big games OOC, but they still have the ability to draw Top 10 recruiting classes.  Michigan should have that same ability.

Now, I must admit that I'm a little jealous of your Honolulu trip....

StephenRKass

January 3rd, 2011 at 10:38 AM ^

I feel angry and sick. It is not fair to RR, nor to Barwis, nor to the current team. Michigan is getting what it deserves. And I wouldn't be surprised if it is a long time before we see success again. We took success for granted, and it doesn't work like this.

My praise to the OP for this well thought out commentary. I'm so frustrated I'm not even checking here as often. It really bugs me that the smug, arrogant, liberal, judgemental alumni won out.

I'm so irritated part of me wants Michigan to suffer. In the best of/worst of all possible worlds, RR lands at a school that supports him, and he thrashes Michigan repeatedly and wins the MNC more than once. Best of all worlds because I love RR & want him to succeed, and show the naysayers what can happen. Worst of all worlds because I love Michigan. I strongly believe RR is a good man, and a great coach, but in the end, that wasn't enough.

I wonder what Carr's take on all this is. I wonder if he was worn down by the unrealistic expectations. I wonder if he knew that RR was never going to succeed because of all this nonsense. Or, if behind the scenes, he caused it to happen. Well, in the end, who cares. What matters now is that RR got a raw deal, made some mistakes, and now the football program is a train wreck.

One interesting side note out there, on the culture thing. A nephew who just graduated from tOSU and played ball before a career ending knee injury made this observation. In at least some quarters, Michigan is viewed as being so tough academically that at least some recruits CHOOSE to go to a lesser school where they can succeed, i.e., Alabama, Florida, Auburn, USC, tOSU. Those of you who love to brag about Michigan and it's academic rigor, and how much better it is than those other schools, be careful what you wish for. We could become the "Harvard of the West" in BOTH academics AND football, an outcome you might not want.

profitgoblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 10:43 AM ^

I'm posting way too much this morning but couldn't help comment on your point about academics.  I always wanted to go to Michigan and did.  But I had a funny adjustment in law school when I realized that kids from teeny, almost unknown colleges were in the same class as me.  I was around kids from Indiana University of PA, Dickenson, Washington & Jefferson, and others.  Sure, they were the top 5 in their graduating classes and I was not.  But its still interesting nonetheless to think that I could have gone to a worse school academically and maybe have gotten better grades and attended an even better law school?  This sounds like what the athlete that you mention expressed.

trueblueintexas

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:17 PM ^

I'm not sure if your intention was to imply that small schools are less academically credible than big schools, but if it was, this is a mistake and representative of some of the allusions to arrogance made in some of the other posts.  There are many great small institutions across America which provide an equal, if not better education than many of the larger schools, including
Michigan

jblaze

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

1) Why wouldn't a "liberal" alumni want Coach Rod? I would think it's the old school, conservative alum who wouldn't want the "non-traditional" O and D that RR brings.

2) As an alum, I don't want to be OSU (even in football). I don't want to have crappy academic standards. Stanford just went 11-1, Duke is arguably a better school than M and has an awesome basketball team, same for UNC (and UNC's football team is doing really well with Butch Davis). Let OSU have guys like Pryor that can't complete a sentence and I'll take the guys that want a good education at Michigan. That's our difference.

StephenRKass

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:55 AM ^

Regarding the use fo the term "liberal." This is indeed a notoriously slippery word. I was mostly thinking of Rosenberg & the media, and assuming they were liberal. I was also thinking of cultural elitism. It seems to me sometimes that culturally, there is a liberal, elitist ethos at Michigan. However, your use of the term is also permissible. And my criticism of Rosenberg & the general Michigan ethos is an unsubstantiated claim.

Regarding academic prowess and comparing Michigan to other schools:  I believe that Michigan is still accessible, albeit, operating at a high academic plain. I would agree with you that I don't want Michigan to have crappy academic standards. But conversely, I don't want Michigan to become Northwestern, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Chicago. I like Michigan right where it is at the current time.

caliblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 8:24 PM ^

The only public U consistantly ranked above us is Cal, which to me seems to be the MSU of the Pac 10: every year bravado and false hope dissolving into a mass of lopsided defeats in rare years where it looks like the team is firing on all cylinders earlier in the schedule. But I do get your point.I think. We want people who can do more that sign their name when they are done with college ( note I did NOT say graduate since the SEC can hardly be mentioned in  the same sentence as graduation )

caliblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 8:24 PM ^

The only public U consistantly ranked above us is Cal, which to me seems to be the MSU of the Pac 10: every year bravado and false hope dissolving into a mass of lopsided defeats in rare years where it looks like the team is firing on all cylinders earlier in the schedule. But I do get your point.I think. We want people who can do more that sign their name when they are done with college ( note I did NOT say graduate since the SEC can hardly be mentioned in  the same sentence as graduation )

jmblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 5:37 PM ^

I feel angry and sick. It is not fair to RR, nor to Barwis, nor to the current team.

Know what?  When coaches started making millions of dollars to coach a child's game, the rules changed.  RR bailed on his alma mater to come here.  Was that fair to them?  After he's fired, he will have earned $10 million ($2.5 per, plus the buyout) for 37 months of work.  If only we could all be so unlucky.

As for this being unfair to the team, that assumes that they're all huge RR guys.  Brian's recent update suggests otherwise:

Also, while some players have been publicly supportive, a lot of parents have jumped ship and have met with Brandon expressing frustration at goings-on on the defense. Some players may have been "lost" by the bowl debacle as well.

.

HAIL 2 VICTORS

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:49 AM ^

RR did not deserve this treatment.  Other then Harbaugh no other choice in his first year seems better then RR in his 4th year but the fan base might make that impossible to see on the field. 

Rasmus

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

I agree with most of what you wrote, but I think you're missing one important factor -- for right or wrong, better or worse, Rich is not willing to fire any of the people he brought with him from WVU. Basically, the only person he is willing to fire is his defensive coordinator. Been there, done that.

The parameters of Brandon's decision seem pretty clear. Michigan needs to hire at least three new defensive coaches (Tall is the only defensive coach worth keeping, in my opinion). Rodriguez's closest friend, Gibson, has to go -- given the problems on special teams and in the secondary (his specific areas of responsibility), that's not a negotiable point. If Rich can't do that, then Rich has to go.

MGoNukeE

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

Coach Rodriguez fired his linebackers coach after the 2009 season, when the two players Hopson was coaching regressed and the two recruits Hopson was responsible for (both defensive tackles) decommitted on signing day, forcing Michigan to withdraw from the state of Mississippi entirely.

Rasmus

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

There was no news about a firing. Hopson left to become defensive coordinator at Memphis. But even if there were a behind-the-scenes firing, Hopson didn't come with Rodriguez from WVU. He had never worked with Rodriguez before Michigan.

ish

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:12 PM ^

deserving of more than merely a plus one.  i think you captured the sentiments of many of us.  i too think RR can succeed...but anywhere but here.

IronDMK

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:05 PM ^

There seem to be a few of these really well-written pieces today.  This may have been the best.  I have always been a fan of Rich Rodriguez as well.  I really thought he could do well, get the best talent available, and coach a winning football team.  I thought it would be this year that the tide would come in for us... but I suppose not.  I was more than willing to have him coach next year.  I wanted it, in fact.  But I don't see how he could succeed with all the negativity surrounding the program.  The "fans" of Michigan football do not support their own team?!  Perhaps they aren't really fans of the team, they are fans of winning.  And I think those can be mutually exclusive. 

I feel very sad for Rich Rodriguez and I wish I could tell him this myself.  I'm sure it's been quite difficult for he and his family in their time in Ann Arbor.  No matter what success he may have had in the future, it would always come with an asterisk.  "Fans" would always be looking for the next excuse to start opening calling for RR's head.  Winning a national title would only shut people up for an offseason likely.  I actually thought that Florida would end up hiring Rich Rod and winning 4 national titles within 15 years.  Now he may just do that same thing somewhere else.  Who knows?  Wherever Rich Rod coaches next year, I wish him luck and happiness... I'm sure another fanbase would welcome him with open arms.

Rufus X

January 3rd, 2011 at 4:37 PM ^

and a huge fan, alumnus, letter winner, whatever.  I have never and will never "not support (my) own team" because of RR or any other coach.  I would have loved for RR to be 9-3 this year and getting an extension, because that would have meant our defense was marginal and our special teams were passable.   But they got worse, and not by a little bit; by a TON. 

This is big-boy football, and he gets paid a great deal of money, with a potential for nearly unmatched fame and adoration, if he's into that.  But with great reward comes great responsibility. 

mackbru

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

People discount the whole "cultural" aspect to this miss -- the fact that RR didn't "fit" in AA. That's somewhat true, but only up to a point. If he'd been successful, he would have fit fine, believe me. But his poor performance, coupled with a somewhat odd fit, is what killed him. You can't fail and be a misfit. And get probation. That won't fly. And shouldn't.

WolverBean

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:50 PM ^

Very well written, EZMIKEP, and from the comments it seems like a lot of folks agree with you.  I'm not sure I agree 100%, and I'm deathly afraid of the consequences of you being right, as that seems to condemn us to an ND- or Nebraska-like wander in the wilderness for a long time to come.

But I am sure that the more times people argue what you've argued here, the more true it becomes.  "RR is a good coach but he just can't succeed at Michigan" is a dangerous, poisonous idea.  If you believe it, that's fine, and I won't tell you not to express your opinion (especially when you express it so eloquently).  But the more our fanbase becomes convinced of this idea, the more factual it becomes.  And as an engineer, "facts" like this really bother me, because they're based on hazy ideas like "cultural fit" that I don't have any way to quantify.  If we say "he has/has not brought in x four-star recruits" or "the offense/defense has put up/given up y yards per game in the 4th quarter" and keep to those arguments, I can understand coming to the conclusion that we do/do not have a good coach.  But "doesn't fit the culture?"  Which culture?  The culture that wants an exciting offense, or the culture that wants 1970's smashmouth?  The culture that understands the significance of winning the Big Twelveleventen, or the culture that cares only whether we're competing for (mythical) National Championships?  The culture that thinks we should have gone after Demar Dorsey, or the culture that thinks we shouldn't have?  I'd argue there isn't a single, monolithic Michigan fan culture, and that may be part of why it's impossible for RichRod to be a good "cultural fit."  But if this is true, then the problem isn't Rodriguez; the problem is us.  And if the problem is us, what good is firing the coach going to do?  And how are you going to decide what coach would "fit the culture" when there's no single culture to fit?  Yet "he's not a good fit culturally" is persuasive, appeals to the visceral, the emotions, and so people buy that argument without questioning whether it's a meaningful argument to make.  And pretty soon, everyone believes it and it becomes true and we fire RichRod, and maybe Harbaugh goes to the 49ers, and now we're Notre Dame.  Again, I'm not saying you're wrong, but I am saying I'm very uncomfortable with using this type of argument as the basis for a decision, particularly when quantifiable metrics are also available.

Rufus X

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

To the "engineer" in you (I am BSME '96, btw):

It's almost a given that he had more talent on D than he had on O when he took over (even with mallet and boren inthe fold).  RR has stacked the offense with "his guys" and had incredible success.  Why has there been such regression on D and specials?  I agree with you - results speak louder than LSA wishy washy crap.  Apart from great progress on offense, what measurables can you give me in support of guy?

Now to the practical side of you:

All great, longstanding organizations have a certain culture ingrained in them.  General Electric, Apple, The US Government, The Catholic Church.  Choosing a leader of those organization without considering the culture is idiotic.  Jack Welch leading Apple or Steve Jobs leading GE would be equally catestropnic for each organization - both men are considered geniuses in their own right.  Rich Rod will succeed somewhere, but pretending that a coach from one program can be plugged into another without any consideration of the "fit" is naive at best and stubborn at worst.  This isn't UCF or Northwestern, where the football tradition is nonexistant an needs to be constructed from the bottom up.

This is why he failed - he didn't respect the tradition, and didn't act like he cared that we cared.  This doesn't make him a bad leader - that would be a great attribute in someone taking over Indiana or SMU.  But it makes him a bad choice for Michigan.  Most RR supporters want to blame the "arrogant alumni" or "Bo disciples" for their "backstabbing".  Instead of wishing that UMFB was a bastion of impartiality and unified support of the future instead of the past, Bill Martin should have acknowledged the REALITY of the organization he was hiring into and chosen a candidate appropriately based on many factors - Xs and Os, History of Success, penchant for innovation and *gasp* respect for the traditions of the university.  RR had three of those four.  We need a clean sweep.

I'm tired of people saying that RR's failure at UM is a symptom of some intrinsic defect in UMs culture.  We're still the greatest football program ever.  Until that changes, I would like a coach that respects that tradition as well as can coach like a mutha'.  Godspeed David Brandon.  Godspeed

WolverBean

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

All great, longstanding organizations have a certain culture ingrained in them.  General Electric, Apple, The US Government, The Catholic Church.  Choosing a leader of those organization without considering the culture is idiotic.

To run with your analogy, it would be as though GE, after decades of success, had seen its stock price slowly slipping, and that some of the stakeholders felt this was because in the modern business climate, the old Welch way wasn't working anymore, and that the Steve Jobs approach, while dramatically different, was what would be required to bring GE back to success.  Meanwhile, many other GE stakeholders felt that only a Welch disciple could run the organization Welch had built, and were appalled that a software guy with bad taste in suits would be brought in to run an industrial giant like GE.  GE then brings in Jobs, sees the company release a promising new line of high end jet engines and sign an industry-record contract with Boeing, but then suffers a huge and embarrassing recall on its line of washing machines, shaking (destroying?) public confidence in the company.  The stock price drops, then rises but very slowly, and with different indicators telling contradictory stories about whether the price will return to its Welch-era value.  So, does GE fire Jobs?  If the next CEO is a Welch disciple, is that fact enough to boost PR enough to overcome the washing machine debacle?  How much of the failure in the home product line is Jobs' fault?  Some will argue he spend too much time hiring top notch jet engine people, and neglected to develop the home product line of the business, while others say no, that line was already failing, Jobs has a proven track record, he can fix it given time.  And for the sake of satisfying investors, does it matter how much was his fault?  Or does Jobs need to be a fall guy to restore investor confidence?  It's just a silly hypothetical,  but perhaps an instructive one.

Fantasy aside, the difficult part here is that it seems that at the time of Lloyd Carr's retirement, some subset of the fanbase wanted a culture change.  Remember, App State and all that -- a lot of people thought the problems ran pretty deep.  Remember the cult of celebrity that grew up around Mike Barwis.  Some people thought a clean sweep was necessary, and were happy it was taking place, even as others thought trying to put such a venerable institution through a radical change in culture was, in your words, "idiotic."  And as we've seen, if not enough people are on board, a disaster will ensue.

Rufus X

January 3rd, 2011 at 4:18 PM ^

And your response is likewise great. 

I guess my point of the GE analogy is to point out that Bill Martin is the guy who hired RR, essentially as a last resort before absolute armageddon (a.k.a Mike Debord), and appears to have disregarded the "Michigan Culture" aspect to the detriment of all.   

Or more succinctly than I previously posted - UM has factions and politicking, just like every large, old, successful organization.  If RR had been sensitive to and respectful of the factions he would have probably survived, but he seemed, through it all, to not give a damn. 

Thanks for the great analysis - keep it coming!

JMK

January 3rd, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

Really?  14.5 years later and you're still talking like this?  I hope this was at least somewhat sarcastic but, since that's all I heard from engineers for four years (BA Pol Sci '96), forgive me if my detector is off.  It's this kind of infighting that annoys me about my alma mater.  We have arguably the best public university in the country (if not the world) and arguably the best football tradition in the country, yet all we seem to do is take shots at each other.  May the pro- and anti-RR crowds--and the engineers and liberal artists--be reunited under the Pax Harbaugh-a.

Rufus X

January 3rd, 2011 at 7:28 PM ^

I was using it mostly as a literary device... he mentioned in his post that he was and engineer and wants data, so I was appealing to that side of him, while also notiing that it can't be all about data. 

No angst intended towards my MLB, Angell Hall, and Frieze (sp?) Building brothers in arms...  Go blue.

Ernis

January 3rd, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

Cultural fit, I'd argue, is more relevant as an internal consideration. How do RR and his staff interact with the rest of the Athletic dept? Or with newcomers to their coaching staff? Which is still unquantifiable, and that is where guys like DB come in.

CEOs don't need to be rocket scientists. But they do need to make difficult decisions in the midst of ambiguity. People who can consistently make winning decisions given a great deal of unknowns are the best leaders  around, and i think weve got at least one on our side.

Tater

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

I'm not letting go until the rope breaks.

The Big Ten's performance on New Year's Day is exactly why Michigan needs to continue their modernization.  Since the BCS "championship" was instituted in 1998, the conferences winning it are as follows:

SEC    6

ACC    2

Big 12   2

Pac Ten   1

Big Ten   1

As Wiscy showed against TCU (TC-bleeping U?  Puh-leeze), the traditional Big Ten way of doing things doesn't win Rose Bowls, other BCS bowls, or National Championships.  All it does is produce two or three dominant teams in the Big Ten every year that get blown out when they run into teams from other conferences who they can't push around because their players are as big and strong as those on the BT team, and who utilize faster players in more imaginative offenses. 

MIchigan especially needed to be modernized because the coaching tree was more of a coaching reed.  There were no new ideas coming in, and the coaching staff reacted to the game's evolution by doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  A return to the same good ol' boys who directly and later indrectly produced an entire decade of mediocrity will only bring more decades of mediocrity until the situation is corrected.

DB has an opportunity to continue correcting a decade of mistakes.  Or he can start another decade of mistakes.  I hope he makes the right choice.

 

WolverBean

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

 the traditional Big Ten way of doing things doesn't win Rose Bowls, other BCS bowls, or National Championships.  

I know this isn't what you meant, but when I read this sentence, I couldn't help but interpret it as an argument against caring about academics and for oversigning.

El Jeffe

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

Great point, this. I basically agree with Tater, but I'm not sure it boils down to scheme as much as he seems to claim. If Michigan and OSU had the equivalent of an extra recruiting class every four years, and were willing to dump underperformers, then I think the playing field, and hence the number of BCS championships, would be much more even.

EZMIKEP

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

Thanks everybody for them.

Tater - I wanna shake your hand. Because as a fan you deserve a lot of credit for standing firm. I think I have been broken finally and we just have a difference on how close to the ledge we are. I like what you said a whole lot though. Because I can understand that feeling. That was me. Even just a few days ago.  

There are so many other great comments on here that I would like to respond to-just have to get stuff done.. Hopefully I get a chance later because some of them added insight and that is why I love this blog so much. 

For every snarky/asshat poster on here who muck of the forum and have pushed me to limits of near rant like outbursts from 4 years of stupidity, there are 2 more who have lots of great things to share and bring me back for more. Thanks guys

SFBlue

January 3rd, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

One observation that may allay some of the dark thoughts (correctly) raised by your post: the Michigan job, if open, is less of a pressure-cooker after the 2008-10 seasons than it was in December of 2007.  (I still think bringing RR back is preferable to an open search by a factor of 10.)

jmblue

January 3rd, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

Rich Rodriguez's problems can be summed up thusly:

15-22 overall (worst winning percentage in school history)

6-18 in the Big Ten (worst winning percentage in school history)

0-3 vs. OSU

0-3 vs. MSU

0-3 vs. PSU

I won't pain you by listing the numerous defensive futility records we've set.

None of these had anything to do with culture.  The man did a poor job for three years.  That is the alpha and omega of it.

EZMIKEP

January 3rd, 2011 at 9:00 PM ^

Am I positive that Rich Rodriguez would have been successful here? Dominant? No. But I think his track record and some of what he actually did accomplish showed me that he could have done better. 

Our culture sure as hell did have something to do with the overall effect on the program. Who is anyone kidding? The man had a website dedicated to his firing before the 2008 season was barely underway. He hadn't had time to do enough damage for people to hate him as much as they did by that time. 

Its just denial if anyone says that the overall state of the program underneath him wasn't  affected by all of this shit. 

On ESPN when A.T. was yapping on 1st take about the number 1 jersey I felt like I wanted to reach through the TV and slap the shit out of him and Skip Bayless. How is this or anything like this really an issue? Was this man brought here to coach football or to learn every fucking little tradition we had and make sure  he kissed ass not to piss off every whiny oversensitive faction when he made his transition? It wasn't like he just didn't give a shit. He was new and learning. Yet  Amani Toomer is on national TV saying thats when "it started" for him.

 

What the fuck is "IT"?

 

He an many others from the programs past just keep on piling the bullshit on. Toomer was really looking stupid on TV today. Some of the quotes were just ridiculous and inexcusable for someone trying to be taken seriously. But what he said taday is an overall reflection of of a very large majority of people who follow the University of Michigan. Here are many of the quotes and you tell me we don't have a culture/image/ass backwards perception issue here that affects and will continue to affect our program. -- 

"Michigan would rather lose Michigans's way than win the wrong way."

"I think right now if you keep Rich Rod here your going to end up winning, but in the wrong way"

 

Skip Bayless- "So he comes in and it's a disaster because he doesn't fit.
He doesn't look michigan.
He doesn't sound michigan."
 
More Toomer: "You know what really bothered me about this season?
When they won that game against illinois to get into a bowl game and everybody's on the sideline cheering, michigan he's going to bowl games."
"That's not special."
"To see them drop down to them being happy to just go to a bowl game, I was a little upset."

"They've lost that tradition."  

 

coastal blue

January 3rd, 2011 at 9:02 PM ^

Great post, but I have one question: How could those Nebraska fans make the claim that Michigan was as irrelevant as themselves??

2003: Rose Bowl loss to a USC team that should have been playing for a national title.

2004: Rose Bowl loss by a single point to next year's national champions Texas (led by Vince Young).

2005: Suicide. Two bullets to the head.

and then....

2006: A Crable PF from the ball down 4 in the 4th quarter to OSU and a bid in the national championship game. Rose Bowl loss to USC.

2007: 2 Terrible losses to open the season. Right the ship and win 8 straight. Probably split the Big Ten with OSU or win outright if Henne and Hart had been remotely healthy for the last two games against Wisconsin and OSU (would have been a lot like Virginia Tech this season). Win the Capitol One Bowl 41-35 while leaving 14 points off the board, handing Tim Tebow his only loss to a non-conference opponent.

Other than 2005, that's a pretty good stretch 5 year stretch of football. To say we were as irrelevant as Nebraska, who in that stretch went: 10-3, 5-6, 9-4, 9-5, 5-7 with no BCS bowls is ridiculous.

trueblueintexas

January 4th, 2011 at 12:03 AM ^

As I was reading through many of the well written posts and replies in this thread the following thoughts came to mind:

- I grew up in the midwest.  I understand the midwestern mentality.  I like it.  I have it.  What I'll never understand is the thought that as long as ones favorite team beats the teams in their conference or in the immediate vicinity a season has been a success, even if the team had no hope of winning a NC.  Winning it all is everything in sports.  Simply beating all the other similar schools gives you bragging rites as you drive around town.

- As the name suggests, I now live in Texas (Austin). The attitude here is different.  Fans are not simply happy with winning the Big 12 (errr, now 10, oh wait, that's taken). If there is not a legitimate chance of winning a NC going into a season, fans are dissapointed before the season even begins.  Not saying I applaud this mentality, just pointing out it is different. I get the feeling this attitude is true throughout the SEC also. 

- My Dad was a college administrator at the highest level.  His biggest problems always came from the athletic department.  Why? The culture of athletic departments.  Athletics often attracts arrogant personalities.  You find them quirky and entertaining when a team is winning, when a team is losing, it's not pretty or pleasant to put up with.

- I now work for a large fortune 500 company that is headquartered in the midwest.  After decades of CEO's groomed from within, the board wanted to bring in a CEO from the outside.  The first attempt did not work out so well.  Many layed off emplyees later and the CEO was gone.  The next hire was another outsider even further away from the companies culture.  Desipte what investors would consider success, internally many employees are still disgruntled the current CEO doesn't respect the culture that has been successful.  The point is, change is needed to be successful, even if the culture doesn't like it. It takes strong leadership to stick with it.

- Finally, everyone wants change until they are forced to change.  I believe this culmination of thoughts, inspired by your postings, leads me to believe the culture of the Michigan program has had a major impact on the team.  People like facts, but there is one thing in sports that makes a bigger difference than anything, chemistry.  There is no way to factually explain chemistry.  Les Miles passed up a chance to coach at Michigan and many fans thought he would have been the perfect fit.  Chemistry? Who knows. I do know Coach Rod has tried to build chemistry despite those who have worked against him on this.  Something to think about for whoever the choach is tomorrow, next week, or ten years from now.

MIdocHI

January 4th, 2011 at 2:06 AM ^

I did not have any pre-conceived notions of RR when he was hired.  I was surprised that Martin would hire him, but I thought he made a bold decision in a desparate situation.  I was tired of Lloyd's offense.  My wife could predict the plays.  I thought it might be what we needed; however, many of RR's problems were of his own makng.  If he would have won, all the talk of fit, Michigan Man, etc. would not exist.

This is not Glenville St or WVU.  3-9 is not acceptable.  He totally blew the honeymoon and left himself no room for error or bad luck. But both ensued. Some were not his fault, but all or us are victims of fate at times.  His stubborness that first year really never gave him  a chance.  He needed to embrace tradition and play to his personnel and transition to his scheme. 

Also, I agree with a poster above who stated you need great assistants.  He does not have any.  Maybe he could manage everything at WVU (plus he had Casteel), but UM is too big for one guy to be Head Coach and offensive coordinator.  Our team is POORLY coached.  We have atrocious defense and special teams.  We are out of position with poor schemes.  We make turnovers and have questionable personnel decisions.  These are all signs of poor coaching.  We are not a discplined, efficient team.  This lies squarely on the coaches. I disagree that RR will win big elsewhere.  Unless he learns from this experience, he will never be great with his disregard for defense and special teams.

Our offense reminds me of the good Nebraska teams of Osbourne.  When they were rolling, they were unstoppable.  When they got behind, they looked inept.  We just do it from the shotgun spread instead of the power I-formation.

RR was done in by his lack of winning and the poor coaching by his staff.  We only appeared to improve because the bar was set so low the first season- the WORST record in 100+ seasons. We are the winningest program in history.  His record is not good enough.

Coach D

January 4th, 2011 at 5:36 AM ^


In honesty I will say, before the bowl game, I was probably the only one who didn't even think Greg Robinson deserved to take the fall.  But after seeing the game, my gut feeling is they probably all should go.  Even with a month to prepare, M looked sloppy and poorly prepared, slow, and not very physical.  Things that should have been fixed, haven't been.  In a single word: embarassing.  

That said, coaches, like QBs, get too much credit and take too much blame for things beyond their control.  I think whoever the DC was this year would have been screwed by the inexperience and overmatched talent on the field, which comes down to recruiting and other issues prior to his arrival.  How much RR's meddling with the defense, how practice is structured, etc. may or may not be considerations.

After the 1st Quarter in the Gator Bowl, as in so many bigger games this season, it was the offense that slowed down.  In spite of all the Barwis mania 3 years ago, Michigan generally did not play well in the 2nd half.

Wistert_Bros

January 4th, 2011 at 5:58 AM ^

for posting this.  I think you summed it up beautifully.

I believe RR deserved much better than he received here.

I'll support whom ever is next to take over the headset but I will always be an RR fan where ever he ends up and I wish him all the success in the world.  He's a good man and a good football coach.