I have been an infrequent commenter but daily (often hourly) reader of MGoBlog since before Lloyd retired . (I was sold that Brian correctly told us, on Tuesday before the OSU game, that LC would retire on the forthcoming Monday morning, based on inside info he had. No one in the media had said that previously. It came to pass. I put my full faith and confidence in Brian at that point.)
I am in my 40s with kids, so I am not in a position to let the ups and downs of a college football team dictate my daily mood. If the team does horribly, I can't go around for a few minutes, much less days, acting all sullen. My daughters and wife expect me to be Daddy, not Angry-Against-Everything-Cuz-I'm-A-Michigan-Fan-Guy I actually want to be.
I lay this out as necessary background. I have reserved all judgment to this point. I have in fact defended RR from non-Michigan fans, who have bought into the media that has somehow painted RR as a bad guy. I knew patience is the most important thing to have as the management of a football team (see: Daniel Snyder). This season, even after 5-0, I knew we were facing losses against Sparty and Hawkeye Nation, so I told myself, do not make judgments until after the three-game PSU / U of I / PU stretch. Do not rush to a conclusion yet.
Had a mind change Saturday night. It hasn't gone away since, and now I'm crystal-clear about the future.
I hereby officially declare, as a multidecade U of M fan paying extremely close attention to all circumstances: It is time to replace RR and throw a ton of money at Jim Harbaugh.
It has been complained that people have ranted this weekend about changing coaches without a reasoned basis. I respectfully submit the facts are indisputable.
1. RR's teams are not Big Ten tough. The offense with smaller backs, smaller/fleeter O-line, etc. works great again mediocre and bad teams -- see, ND, UConn, Any MAC Team, Any FCS Team, etc. Against brawny Big Ten teams (meaning, not IU), no so much. While the style of offense has done well for some lesser-ran Big Ten teams to get spotty success (pretty much, Purdue with Drew Breeze and Northwestern), it's my conclusion this offense is not going to produce a consistent winner. But my comment about not being "Big Ten" tough is not limited to the defense. For that we turn to...
2. No excuses for this lack of defense. RR has been coach for 3 years, has had 2 1/2 of his own recruiting classes. The lack of talent in the front 7 is squarely on RR's shoulders, period. Big-name defensive recruits are pretty much not touching us there. There is really nothing in the pipeline, in terms of the underclassmen or incoming classes, that screams massive improvement is on the way. I can give a slight pass to RR for the DBs -- with five 4- or 5-star guys who might have been on this team, but aren't -- and clearly the extreme youth movement there MIGHT, in 2 or 3 years, produce something resembling competency. But, given the lack of Big Ten fight in the front seven, and the lack of hope I have there, the current situation squarely is RR's fault.
3. We aren't getting media love. This might not seem like a big thing, but enough people nationally and locally in the media seem to like dumping on RR -- this ultimately is somewhat like how folks in the Middle East view the USA, it kind of doesn't matter what reality is, it just matters what you hear over, and over, and over, that's all the people believe. This problem will generally serve to disintegrate national support and, thus, recruiting for our program. Ask Notre Dame about that. (BTW, I see sooooo many OSU decals on cars, and on sweatshirts, these days compared to 4-5 years ago -- and I live in Metro DC area. This isn't an accident. Public view of our program is NOT where is used to be a few years ago; the Bball problems clearly contributed to that of course.)
4. Harbaugh!!!! Dude, like, we are STARING at the obvious answer. If he wants to go to the NFL, so be it -- his bro is there, and obviously Jim was one reception away from the super bowl and might fancy another shot at it. But there have been enough indirect sources saying his heart is still in UM, and having been a Bo disciple, I don't question where his heart is. Stanford is no UM: he can't recruit like he wants too -- too many academic restrictions. Still he gets Top 20 classes there. But no way he can out-recruit Oregon or USC at Stanford, just nooo way. So I would guess, he won't be at Stanford long-term, he probably will be looking for the NFL or a B(C)S school where he can get top-notch talent. (I am on record predicting the USC job will open this winter. I could see him there, working with Pat Haden.)
What sells me is, Harbaugh's teams ARE TOUGH. Both on O and D. Did you watch that UCLA game? They smashed the Bruins in the face and laughed about it. They didn't have the athletic talent to stop Oregon, but then again, no one might this year. Otherwise, they are just one royally tough football team -- gee, just like Bo used to field!!!!
We have an obvious solution staring at us. Ask yourself this, if this Spring RR is coaching us and Jim Harbaugh is at another B(C)S school, HOW WILL YOU FEEL? My point exactly. (If he's in the NFL, well, nothing to be done about that.)
I'm all in. I don't need to see more. I know what is coming the last month of the season, so I don't need to say something like "barring a miracle" because there won't be any miracle. I am fully satisfied with the realization that...
The RR experiment has come to its end, and Dave Brandon needs to get Jim to COME HOME. Period.