Litmus Paper

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on August 23rd, 2010 at 3:11 PM

I have been on the MGoSidelines for an extended while, too shellshocked by the current state of Michigan football to participate much or even complete my McBean Rating System. Yet, I return on the eve of the season because I think a point need be made. Assuredly, it’s been made before, but perhaps not with this emphasis.

I am somewhat hesitant to post this, and some will say I was not hesitant enough. I am going to the UConn game overflowing with optimism, but the optimism comes with a catch, which, because it is cathartic, will now pollute MGoBlog.

Absolutely nothing, in my opinion, now stands or can stand between the results we see on the field and a verdict on this coaching staff.  We are at a moment of refreshing purity where a simple answer to a simple question now awaits the spiritually hungry:

  • Can the current staff of football coaches actually recruit and coach?

In previous Rodriguez campaigns, muddy waters divided the Michigan faithful; one side, with justification, pointed at coordinator changes, mismatched personnel, attrition, distractions, and injuries, while the other side declared that, despite all these high-quality excuses, no serviceable coaching staff could ever lead a Michigan team to 3-13 against Big 10 teams over two years. (Can this actually be true? Pinch me. A 3-13 record against the Big 10? Hit me.)

The debate is thankfully over. Almost like the nauseating propaganda that precedes an election, this confusion now ends in Election Day: eleven votes are to be cast that will answer many questions, but one in particular:

  • Can the current staff of football coaches actually recruit and coach?

Reading scrimmage notes prompted me to post this; in particular, I detected a faint odor of excuse wafting from comments about the secondary and the marginal tackling performance.

No more excuses, no matter how tempting. If our entire team transferrs tomorrow, no excuses. If we’ve had the bad fortune to overrate every linebacker on the planet since David Harris, no excuses.

Last year after the Indiana game, I posted on how other coaches are doing more with less. Allow me to quote myself:

The Iowa defense is younger than ours overall and features a less-experienced secondary that averages 5.3 for a Rivals Rating, or a middle range two-star. Brian says about Michigan, “There is exactly one junior and no seniors at both safety and cornerback.” Iowa has less experience. Yet my gut tells me – with absolute certainty – Darryl Clark will have a far better day against our secondary. Who wants to take me up on that bet?

In general, their players are more lowly rated at every position (possible exception of one LB), often significantly so, with players converted from the offensive side of the ball (a TE turned DL) and one playing out of position.

And:

Occam’s Razor makes it difficult to accept that our stud HS talent was pretty much collectively overrated, and Iowa’s meh HS talent was pretty much vastly underrated. Ferentz would have given a kidney to have Cissoko or Warren or Graham or Brown or Mouton or Martin. He doesn’t have enough organs to bargain with the devil to get those types of players with mega-hype coming out of HS, yet he easily is fielding a better defense that probably would have consumed Indiana whole without any sauce.

As for the “new system” argument – that switching from Shafer to Robinson has resulted in our guys being at the start of a new learning curve – I accept some of that, but not all. Now, I will defer to Sharik or gsimms to tell me whether a new system can transform studs into non-studs, but it would seem to me that stopping Eastern in the first half or stopping Indiana at all would frequently be possible with raw stud talent playing by instinct.

I backed down last year. New DC I was told. New system, fool. Well, it’s not new anymore. No one in today’s game gets a decade to establish a system. If Appalachian State can manage Mannigham, Arrington, Matthews and Butler with walk-ons, we can manage better than last year with our secondary. If Michigan State can dominate most of a football game with putrid DBs, so can we. If Iowa can mold nasty defensive lineman out of corn oil, tight-ends and spare body parts, then our row of premium four-stars is ready to be twice as nasty…if the coaches are competent.

  • Bad tackling will be on them.
  • Bad coverage schemes will be on them.
  • Safeties futilely chasing TD runs from behind will be on them.
  • Turnovers will be on them.
  • Weather will be on them.
  • Injuries will be on them (speaking of which, whatever happened to the Barwis dividend? If being turned into supermen doesn't help you tackle and stay healthy, then he’s more overrated than Heaven’s Gate).

I look at the Michigan football team, and I don’t see players, I see red litmus paper hovering over a solution know as UConn, that, if basic Michigan coaching is present, will turn that paper Blue.

(FWIW, I feel the paper will turn Blue. I think we shall catch a glimpse of WVU-style offensive firepower against Oklahoma come September 4th en route to an 8-4 season.)

Comments

dahblue

August 23rd, 2010 at 7:19 PM ^

My strategy, in short, is to put confidence in Dave Brandon's insight into a coaching search.  I think he's done well to lead the athletic department and trust he'll know what he's doing in searching for a new coach.  In terms of a more specific trait required of any new coach - flexibility.  There are not only two offenses in football.  If you don't have all your pieces, adjust your plan.  

That being said, let's dig into your specific coaching comparisons.

-Dave Wannstedt [Pitt]:  First, let's keep in mind that you're talking about a team with only one conference title (granted, since 1990) in the lowly Big East which contains no equivalent of OSU, PSU, Wisc, or pre-RR Michigan.  Anyway, he took an 8-4 team to 5-6.  Not good, but I know a guy who did a lot worse.  RR took a 9-4 team with 42 conference titles to 3-9, their worst season ever.  A program without so much recent success can be a bit more patient.  Further, Dave brought no sanctions to Pitt.  Next.

-Ty W [ND]:  Year 1, he went 10-3.  Year 2, he went 5-7 (terrible, but not so bad for RR).  Year 3, 6-6 (bad but no losses to Toledo or Illinois).  Dude, I can't argue anything about ND.  I hate them with a passion.  Charlie Weiss is a giant fat sack of shit whose knees can't even stand him.  Let me just say this...hiring a coach as an offensive guru (RichRod or Weiss) is a bad idea.  

I don't know that our next coach (if need be) won't flame out like Weiss at ND.  I think that Dave Brandon has earned my trust (where RR has not), and I hope he makes the right move.  I'd rather roll the (loaded) dice, however, than stick with something that isn't working.  We'll see soon if the RR experiment is working.  As much as I think RR has failed, I'm still hoping he turns it around this season.

MCalibur

August 23rd, 2010 at 7:44 PM ^

Looks like you're the one into spewing excuses now. Interesting. My point was that keeping Wandstedt when guys like you were calling for his head was the right call. Firing Willingham didn't cure ND, we don't even know if keeping Willingham around wouldn't have panned out. Instead ND went through a regime change just as Willingham's was taking hold and 5 years later they're still trying to climb out of the shitter.

You didn't answer the question I asked. You said that you'd trust Brandon to hire someone, fine. But you didn't say you trust him to make the decision on whether or not someone should need to be hired. The main thrust of your comments in this thread is: Rich Rod should be fired if he doesn't go 8-4 or better in the 2010 regular season; backtrack if you'd like.

So I ask again, when has getting rid of a coach after his third year worked out (i.e. Better than Weis: the next coach lasted into at least his sixth year while fielding a Big-Ten-contender level program)?

Meeechigan Dan

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:27 PM ^

I have another Litmus Test. First, refresh...

2008 Michigan Football Schedule
Sat., Sep. 27 vs. No. 9 Wisconsin *  Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 27-25
Sat., Oct. 4 vs. Illinois *  Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 45-20
Sat., Oct. 18 at No. 3 Penn State *  State College, Pa. L, 46-17
Sat., Oct. 25 vs. Michigan State *  Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 35-21
Sat., Nov. 1 at Purdue *  West Lafayette, Ind. L, 48-42
Sat., Nov. 8 at Minnesota *  Minneapolis, Minn. W, 29-6
Sat., Nov. 15 vs. Northwestern *  Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 21-14
Sat., Nov. 22 at No. 10 Ohio State *  Columbus, Ohio L, 42-7

2009 Michigan Football Schedule
Sat., Sep. 26 vs. Indiana *  Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 36-33
Sat., Oct. 3 at Michigan State *  East Lansing, Mich. L, 26-20
Sat., Oct. 10 at No. 12 Iowa *  Iowa City, Iowa L, 30-28 
Sat., Oct. 24 vs. No. 13 Penn State *  Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 35-10
Sat., Oct. 31 at Illinois *  Champaign, Ill. L, 38-13
Sat., Nov. 7 vs. Purdue *  Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 38-36
Sat., Nov. 14 at No. 21 Wisconsin *  Madison, Wis. L, 45-24
Sat., Nov. 21 vs. Ohio State *  Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 21-10

Record: 3-13
PF/PA: 354-534
Ave Score: 33-22

Here it is: If anything resembling this schedule against our Big 10 opponents exists in December, YES, FIRE THE MAN.  If this is a thing of the past, KEEP THE MAN.

Meeechigan Dan

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:58 PM ^

 

I have no idea. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If we are giving up 40 points routinely to crappy Big10 teams this year, what do we then say? A bad secondary? GERG's 1st year coaching the LB? We give him another year, an unproven coach with a thin resume when it comes to his own work. And if GERG isn't the man, but RR's O is blowing up in year 5? A new DC? Another couple years getting that system in place?

We have a unique problem here, an idiot savant coach who has no aptitude for defense relying on, so far, marginal DCs to get the job done.

We are missing the point. This is not a fire RR post. I am an RR supporter and have the distinct pleasure of defending him in
COLUMBUS
each week. I am celebrating clarity. There are no more excuses. WE GET THE DISTINCT PLEASURE OF NOT HEARING ABOUT THIN SECONDARIES OR MISSED TACKLES OR SUCKY PLAYERS. This is all about coaching now.

I expect to be celebrating on
Ohio State's campus this year (meaning a good year). However, If we come within a 1000 miles of the record posted above and the performance in those late games, I will donate torches and pitchforks to willing peasants.

MCalibur

August 23rd, 2010 at 11:44 PM ^

So, you don't care if we jump into a fire (or worse) as long as we're not in an uncomfortable pot anymore, is that it? If Pitt had gotten rid of Wandstedt after 2007, it would have been a disaster. I think there's a reasonable argument to be made that ND should've held onto Willingham through 1 graduating class. Pitt was rewarded for their patience and ND's hastiness reaped no benefit (except for an albatross of a contract extension to Weis, again a hasty move).

It's not like Michigan is just going to let a coach do whatever the hell he wants; you have to do things the Michigan way. If Rich Rod had been allowed to have Dorsey, Witty, Kinnard, and the other umpteen guys he wanted, then I would agree that he's got no excuse. But that's not the case. So, Michigan wants to put a throttle on what a coach can do AND expect him to compete for Big Ten titles before he can see one single recruiting class play as seniors? Why would a top-notch coach sign up for that? I know, I know, because it's Meeechigan. Last time we were on that merry-go-round people weren't exactly banging down the door to come coach at Meeechigan. You ever think there were some good reasons for that?

Finally, who would you hire? I'm personally not eager to hire the guy most people throw out as the guy to hire (Harbaugh). He's had one decent season at Stanford and won the Sun Bowl. Woo-hoo! Willingham at least won an outright PAC10 championship and put up a decent fight in a Rose Bowl loss to Ron Dayne. 

Waiting one year (barring a total fucking disaster) would allow more prime coaching talents to emerge AND demonstrate to them that Michigan will give you ample opportunity to make things work, even under fire.

On one face you claim to be a supporter, and on the other you call him a idiot-savant. The tone you're taking is, if Meeechigan Dan isn't satisfied  with this season, then Rich Rodriguez clearly sucks as a head coach because Meeechigan Dan says there are no excuses.  Here's a secret for you, David Brandon doesn't give a damn about what we think.

This may not be a fire RR post, but it is certainly its spineless cousin.

dahblue

August 23rd, 2010 at 11:46 PM ^

Enough of you, Mr. RR's-3d-year-was-amazing.  Your reason to keep RR (even with a poor year 3...which you think has already been played) is that Ty Willingham should have been kept at ND?

Post-ND Willingham (UW) or did you forget:

2005 2-9

2006 5-7

2007 4-9

2008 0-12

then, 2009 at UW (after Ty) = 5-7

Keeping failure does not create success.  Keep swinging for the fences, killer.  

dahblue

August 24th, 2010 at 12:03 AM ^

Really?  I thought you were just high, but maybe you're retarded.

You think RR's unplayed year 3 was a success and point to Ty Willingham (Senor 0-12) as a reason to keep a coach.  Then you say, "answer the question"?  What question?  Why are you retarded?  I don't know.  I do enjoy the banter, but you need to be within the realm of making sense.  

Let's see...it's ok for UW to keep Ty because their program wasn't great before he got there (a la Pitt and your Wannstedt example) but Michigan should keep RR beyond 3 years?  How does it work that a great program should keep a coach that turned it to shit, but a shit program is justified firing a coach that kept it shitty?  Dude, you make zero sense.  

It must suck being you.  Everyone else is really excited for the season to start, but you already know that it was a success.  That must take all the excitement out of it.  Each game must be like a BTN replay for you.  Did we win the conference?  We at least didn't finish last again, did we?  Don't tell me about the State game though.  I'm super psyched for that game and don't want you to ruin it.

dahblue

August 23rd, 2010 at 11:26 PM ^

When has getting rid of a coach after his third year worked out

This is, without doubt, the essential blind optimist statement.  I'm glad his third year worked out in your mind, but in the real world...he hasn't played it yet!!!!  If his third year works out, I'll be as happy as everyone else.  I'll be happy to say that I thought RR wouldn't get his shit together and put together a winning team, but was wrong.  Of course, we have a long way to go between the worst two years in program history and his third year "working out".  

MCalibur

August 23rd, 2010 at 11:41 PM ^

You STILL haven't answer my question and now you're making shit up.  Where did I say it worked this year? I certainly think it can and probably will, but, thanks for pointing out that the season hasn't been played yet. You, sir, are a genius.

The question remains, find me an example where success has been achieved after getting rid of an disappointing coach after three year as you, dahblue, suggest. Let's hear it. One example.

dahblue

August 23rd, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

I just quoted you above.  Are you high?  That's cool...nothing against it, but you just spoke as if RR's year 3 was a success.  Anyway, not that you're going to get it (being super blown out and whatnot) but I'll use your Ty Willingham as the example:

Fired from ND.  Moves on to UW.  Given 4 years at UW where he rewards their patience with a perfect record...0-12.   They fired him and won 5 games the next season.  Maybe they shouldn't have waited for the complete collapse in year 4.  I can't believe he's your example.

mtzlblk

August 25th, 2010 at 6:25 PM ^

then you should trust him in supporting the current coach also, right? At least until a reasonable amount of time passes to, you know, re-construct a major D-1 football program from the ground up.  

Suppose RR is replaced, how long do you give the new coach to produce the results you desire....let me guess, 2 years?

 

dahblue

August 25th, 2010 at 7:41 PM ^

I am a fan/alum.  Dave Brandon is the AD.  I trust his statements about the current coach.  He is doing exactly what he should in protecting the program (not just the current coach) and won't put the program in a bad spot.   Importantly, DB talks about the other factors to consider including "who we recruit" and "how we behave". 

Finally, again, who said we needed to "reconstruct from the ground up"?   That is a choice RichRod made.  The other coaches interviewed would likely not have done the same (but they also turned down the job).  Alas, I supported RR early on, but believe that everyone must live with the results of their choices.  RR felt that his first D coordinator deserved firing after year 1.  Apparently, he feels that one year is enough time to know when someone needs to go.  As we enter year 3, I'm fine to see how the year plays out, but don't assume he gets year 4.

By the way...I thought you were done trolling to argue to with me?

mtzlblk

August 26th, 2010 at 1:51 PM ^

You can't teach, install and field two divergent offensive schemes, ask any of the football coaches or people that are on here. You can't recruit for that effectively either.

If you try to field a hybrid of a traditional pro-style and spread-style offense, you are going to need to teach two entirely different sets of skills, reads, assigments, signals, so you would double the amount of information that players need to learn, unless you essentially cut the playbook for each scheme in half, which would severaly hamper the effectiveness of either approach. Not to mention you then lower the humber of reps that each scheme gets in practice, so the number of mistakes would increase exponentially. Not to mention you train VERY differently to play in a spread than you do in in a pro-style set and focus on VERY different aspects of conditioning, how can you train for  both?

Now consider that you want to extend that process over what, 5, 6, 7 years to transition to a completely spread offense rather than 3-4 and you are looking for a much longer period of sub-par results than you are looking at right now.

Recruiting...so how do you recruit players for both systems? Do you tell a taller, pro-style QB to come to M to play the next 1-2 years until he reps start getting taken away by a spread style QB as the transition continues, and tell a highly rated spread QB to come to UM and wait? Do you have any idea what kind of recruiting wasteland that would create and what other coaches would tell recruits that were considering M? And that would go on for as long time. not good.

Not to mention, I don't really think either Threet or Sheridan were QBs/players that you really want to dictate your scheme. Rich DID definitely try to make adjustments to accomodate their limitations and focus on the things they could do effectively (which weren't very many), but to mold your long term plans to a walk-on and a QB from GT that didn't win the starting job there would be a poor coaching decision.

RR was hired to bring the spread to Michigan, not to pick up where the previous coaches left off. There is no doubt that the University in hiring him intended to make a changes, or they would never have agreed to let him clean house and bring in his own staff the way they did....that was the plan, change and lots of it. Bringing in his own staff and shaking things up is what he was hired to do and was absolutely a part of the hiring process. He is doing his job in that respect.

When Bo came to M, the only scheme change he made to a very limited overall set of offensive and defensive schemes to begin with, was to switch to a 5-man, angled defensifve front, which he predicted would take 5 years to get working correctly. Compare that to the changes currently underway in a 3-4 year timeframe and that is pretty impressive (should RR pull it off, I will state again that while think he can, the jury is still out for me on RR, no guarantees on anything).

Couldn't resist, it is sort of like seeing a crabby old lady about to cross the street in traffic and helping her across. Even though she is going to hit you with her purse and curse you for helping her, in the end you will prevent her from being hit by a car and it is worth it.

dahblue

August 26th, 2010 at 5:26 PM ^

Oh boy...here it is again...the myth that there is either "the spread" or "the pro style" offense.  Instead, the truth is that there are many styles of offense.  Each coach chooses his offense.  It is not forced upon him.

Further, you state:

Recruiting...so how do you recruit players for both systems? 

Easily, but instead you talk about the sky falling.  Let's just look at one oft-mentioned coach who employs a sort of "pro style" - Jim Harbaugh.   How could a player possibly fit both systems????  I don't know.  Maybe you should ask RR and JH as they both recruited and offered Tate Forcier.  Stanford has offered roughly half of our current commits.  It seems that a "pro style" coach and the coach of "the spread" disagree with your analysis.

Lastly, RR was not "hired to bring the spread to Michigan"; he was hired to coach Michigan.  Bill Martin didn't target an offensive style.  He targeted various coaches and, after failing to lure one of his top options, he landed RichRod.  I was pretty pleased with the hire at the time, but now need to see results and not just crossed fingers.

Ernis

August 23rd, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

Each year, more accountability has fallen onto the coaching staff. I think this year will be the first when the majority of credit can be placed on them -- though it won't reach 100% until next year.

briangoblue

August 23rd, 2010 at 4:19 PM ^

Takes time. I remember reading about Mundy getting broken down by Barwis over there and how he couldn't do the whole program in only one season like their veterans. Now the team will be filled with guys in year 2 and 3 of the program. Look no further than the "good weight" gains of Roh, Lewan, and Omameh and the rampaging beast he turned BG into. I am excited for this upcoming season for this reason more than any other- the offensive line and defensive front are typical Michigan (and Big 10) size for the first time since Rodriguez took over. I'm eager to see them pushing teams around in the trenches again. That's where the Barwis dividend is going to pay off. Injuries are part of football and no matter how hard you train, sometimes you just get snake bit with bad luck.

Meeechigan Dan

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:40 PM ^

Close, very, very close. The circumstances must be so overwhelming that the following things are certain...

  • GERG clearly knows what he is doing.
  • Horrid breakdowns in scheme on defense are no longer evident.
  • The players that RR has brought in to the system are thriving in the system.
  • We do not lose to the following teams: UMass, BG, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, MSU, against whom we have ONE WIN in seven game during the RR era (Big 10 teams).
  • Reasonable turnovers.
  • Attrition is under control.

Lordfoul

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:53 PM ^

"The circumstances must be so overwhelming that the following things are certain..."

 GERG clearly knows what he is doing.  Horrid breakdowns in scheme on  defense are no longer evident.

Maybe his past coaching experience was all riding on having a great mane.  If RR's offense still leads us to a bowl game then I would think we could roll the dice on another DC rather than scrap the whole project.

The players that RR has brought in to the system are thriving in the system.

RR's system is arguably all offense.  If the offense does not meet the requirement here, then fine, maybe RR's time is up.  Last year's offense definitely showed signs that this will come true though.  

I do wish RR would give the defense more personal attention however.

We do not lose to the following teams: UMass, BG, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, MSU, against whom we have ONE WIN in seven game during the RR era (Big 10 teams).

Come on, a bad loss to another B10 team can't be balanced by a more impressive win elsewhere?  Michigan has just about always coughed one up against a much lesser opponent for the past two decades.

Reasonable turnovers.

Hard to argue this without at least a ballpark figure, but would being negative in the single digits be enough improvement?  While this is an area that desperately needs improvement, it certainly isn't something to can a coach over.  If it leads to another losing record, that is another kettle of fish.

Attrition is under control.

It will not be possible to demonstrate this by the end of the season.  While we are unlikely to lose many transfers during the season, the recent attrition problems will still be glaring and nothing can change that.  

 

Come down off the ledge already.  Or jump.  

BraveWolverine730

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:45 PM ^

I really couldn't agree more with this sentiment.  At a certain point results are all that matters. I understand that RR is an extremely good coach. However if he can't show more improvement this year(which at this point I put at 7 wins), then it may be time to move in another direction and see if another coach can win more than 14 games in 3 years

JT4104

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:48 PM ^

You cant take what you hear from the scrimmage and set it as stone. Coaches and guys in the know said this was the first time since pads that the tackling was sub-par. That means previously the tackling has been soliid.

I for one do not think that Rich Rod hasn't been paying attention to the D, he has recruited well actually and if not for a rash of attrition and such would probably have the bext secondary in the conference. The fact of the matter is a few guys who were expected to contribute either just couldn't get it done or were overhyped from the day they got on campus.

The LB play at Michigan save 05 and 06 has mainly not been good this decade if you want to be honest with yourself. The days of slow plodding run stuffers is not more and yet this program was still bringing in that same type of LB. I feel that we have got alot faster in this aspect and it's gonna take a little more time for some of the young guys to come along.

I agree with both the OP and the guys who argue other points. I feel that there doesn't need to be a line in the sand and that the program needs to show consistency from week to week.

bklein09

August 23rd, 2010 at 6:39 PM ^

Bottom line is that none of our opinions matter in regards to RR's future. And that until the season is over, there is no point in talking about this number of wins or this much progress. 

Dave Brandon and the rest of the higher ups at Michigan will have a decision on their hands at the end of the season regardless of our final record.

Let's leave it at that. 

Personally, I would much rather you brought all this up in January.

I don't want or need to hear it now because the season is still over a week away. 

I refuse to watch every Michigan game this fall and say "RR is a bad coach" every time something goes wrong. 

Will you give RR credit every time something goes right? When someone makes a great tackle or a nice interception, will you give GERG props?

It has to go both ways IMO. 

mgofan

August 23rd, 2010 at 6:49 PM ^

This post is a year or two too early.  2011 and 2012 will be determinative.  2010 is not.  Just look at the youth in the 1 and 2 deep.

bklein09

August 23rd, 2010 at 6:45 PM ^

And another question I would like to ask everyone is this:

If RR doesn't win your magic number of games this year or beat your list of "must beat" opponents, would you honestly be able to tell me that you would be happy if we fired him and brought in Kirk Ferentz, Bret Bielema, Dantonio, or a similar level coach?

According to you they are better coaches than RR. So I hope you are rooting for them next fall if things dont go well. 

I personally would rather stick with Rich Rod. 

Don

August 23rd, 2010 at 8:10 PM ^

There's no doubt that Ferentz and Alvarez are/were outstanding coaches, especially in light of the recruiting classes they're able to get in. They're two of the more notable counter-arguments to the idea that you have to have 4- and 5-stars across the board to be competitive within your conference, and outside of it.

However, it is valuable to keep these things in mind:

Ferentz's first three years: 1-10, 3-9, 7-5; his fourth year was 11-2

Alvarez's first three years: 1-10, 5-6, 5-6; his fourth year was 10-1-1

In Ferentz's case, Ken O'Keefe is entering his 13th year as OC, and Norm Parker is entering his 13th year as DC. That's a level of continuity that Michigan fans can only dream of.

There's no arguing the fact that Alvarez inherited a program that was completely in the dumper, while RR did not; Wisconsin had fallen down into the depths under Don Morton, who had taken over after Dave McClain died.

Ferentz seems to be regarded by many as the guy who built Iowa into the power it is, but that completely ignores the fact that Hayden Fry built Iowa first. Fry had a tremendous career at Iowa, and it was only his last season that was really bad at the end; his last three seasons were 9-3, 7-5, and 3-8. Clearly going in the wrong direction, but it's not as though Ferentz took over a program with no history of success.

Having said all that, I basically agree with the OP—we're at the point where we should expect significant improvements in the quality of play in all phases of the game. Those improvements may not get us more than 7-5, but we have to play better. We can't be blown out by Illinois for the third year in a row. We shouldn't be beating Indiana barely by the skin of our ass. We have to beat MSU at home. We can't lose to Purdue for the third year in a row. We have to win freaking road games. I don't think that there are too many likely scenarios that should result in RR's departure after this season, but if we can't do those things this year and in 2011, then I could hardly quibble if Brandon decided that a change was warranted for 2012. Four years should be long enough to show that you can build a program that is competitive with the best in the conference.

HHW

August 23rd, 2010 at 8:33 PM ^

Word.  I'm ALL IN for Coach, but at some point it's time to pull your money out of the market before you become a MAC team.  .500 or below in 2010 will likely make me hoard my assets in my matress and hope the AD makes a good hire or RR has an incredible improvement in 2011.

OSUMC Wolverine

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:22 PM ^

I agree that this is the year that the metal of this team and coaching staff will come to bare.  I for one don't feel the need to be thinking about what if we don't do well.  I feel confident that we will come out strong and roll through the first 5-6 weeks of our schedule.  The question will be whether this team will handle the adversity of their first close game and/or loss.  Last year a few crippling injuries basically pulled the rug out from under the team.  This cannot happen again.  The coaches and players have to believe in themselves and block out the naysayers.  The bar is set at a New Year's Day or later bowl, and anything less is simply not an acceptable goal.  I am certain that we will achieve this year far more that most outsiders felt possible and more than the pessimistic portion of the fanbase is willing to hope for.  A leap of faith in something that has no impact on our lives isn't too much to ask...

InterWebZ-Troll

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:45 PM ^

 

It started for me at the end of last season and the start of this season. I was impressed that any person would take on that shit storm of fury and still stay loyal to coaching. It cant be an easy road to travel when you win 3 games in your conference in 2 years. When you finish dead last in the conference your second year. When you have the press writing stories about you non stop. When even sports TV is saying he better win X amount of games and still have that passion to coach.
 
The spring practice wasn't anything special. It just made me look at RR in a new light. I know he could have left Michigan and took a new job. He stayed true to the program as well as his recruits. He actually looks like he has a fire under his ass. He also said some key things. I think he has finally come to understand his O has a little to much hump for most talented quarterbacks to get even in there second year. I like when he said he would keep it simple. There are only so many Pat Whites and as of right now we dont have one performing at that level each and every game. 
 
I for the first time see a team. The pictures and interviews where you see the team. They look happy playful and interactive with each other on the feild. We may not go undefeated but after 2 years of wanting RR's head on a platter. I am finally all in as a RR supporter. I believe we will see massive improvements all the way around. RR is coming back in 2011 no matter what and the 2011-2012 team will not only be bad ass. We will make a run at the Big Ten Championship and possible a shot at the Crystal.

Blue boy johnson

August 23rd, 2010 at 10:26 PM ^

RR said the defense is going to be good this season and I am taking him at his word.

I have no issue in giving RR a 4th year, however, if we do not see drastic improvement this season, I am of the belief that it ain't  happening with RR.

Posters are quick to lavish praise on RR and Barwis, and many of the players. We have great coaches, great players, the greatest at S&C, so what's the problem with expecting a great season.

RR runs a great Offense

RR is a great recruiter, can really find those diamonds in the rough.

Barwis is the best in the business, he can develop players better than anyone.

Probably 50% of our players are certified "Beasts"

Meeechigan Dan ain't asking for much, considering all the greatness we have in this program, it is time for some positive results.

MgoBLUEfromDC

August 23rd, 2010 at 11:00 PM ^

Who knows how this season will end.  But for the first time since RR came aboard I am really thinking that the team fielded on Sept. 4 is really ALL IN FOR RR and what this coaching staff is trying to put together.  Some spots look thin but when the players believe anything can happen.  I'm not predicting how the season will end up but I believe that this team can compete every game.  I can see big wins this year against: UConn, Sparty, PSU (in happy valley and perhaps a home victory against Iowa or Wiscy.  Enough to keep the faithful happy and a spring board for big years in '11 and '12. 

ALL IN FOR MICHIGAN

Njia

August 24th, 2010 at 3:03 AM ^

Just how the fuck did we get back here to this same, sorry state of affairs on this thread, again? I am seriously having a bad case of deja vu all over again. It's like I'm reading a rehash of last season's board melt downs. Yuck. Now I've got this shit on my clothes.

Have none of the analyses that MCalibur, Misopogon, Mathlete, Brian and others done for the past two seasons meant anything to some of you? The shit storm that hit our defense has been brewing since at least mid-decade. The chickens, which have included an appalling number of five-star and high four-star washouts, the lack of a meaningful number of solid upperclassmen on which a program rests its laurels and some, (particularly DBs and LBs) who have looked just plain awful, and the cancerous attitude that led to a defeat to a I-AA school, started showing up on the program's doorstep in 2007 and finally came home to roost in 2008. None of those things are RR's fault.

Make no mistake. I am not an apologist for Rich Rodriguez. But, some of these criticisms, (I won't dignify them by suggesting they're "critiques") of him and the program he is trying to build are just bush league and more appropriate for MLive. Making statements such as, "But we almost lost to ND and IU, therefore, RR is a lousy coach!" is just plain idiotic. Those were "Ws" and they all count the same. Of course, so do the "Ls".

Some of you have apparently sold the team and its coach up river, and are ready to form the search committee for a new coach, and they haven't even played the first game yet. That's pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. There's no other word for it.

Having said all that, if this team can't get to at least a winning record and a bowl game this year, then questioning whether progress is being made is perfectly legitimate. We are still the same twelve games from that point as we were late last November.

Meeechigan Dan

August 24th, 2010 at 7:38 AM ^

Well, my apologies. I will pay for your dry cleaning, if you like. I did not realize that this was MGoPravda, and that I had strayed from doctrine. Please don’t report me. Don’t cut my ration of potatoes!

I do admit that somehow the cart got unhitched from the horse and moved out front; much of the tone of these comments would be appropriate only if we are witness to troubles this season. 

Actually, it is precisely because of the fine efforts of the people you cite that I posted this, because…wait for it…I disagree. Of course, I don’t disagree that some tragic things have happened to the defense. Sad, that is. But my post very clearly argues that there are independent data points that offer the unindoctrinated observer clues as to an important question: can comrade Lenin really pull this collective farming thing off—I mean, can this coaching staff really coach, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Things like whether or not an individual player can tackle another human being. We happen to be blessed by examples all around us with players just removed from flag football games in the rain who can tackle like mad bulls. Things like what schemes can be used to camouflage weak corners. Let me suggest you rewatch the Appy State game, if you’ve the stomach for it. Watch the schemes that coach used to protect walk-ons from Manningham, Arrington et al. More data points.

What all your fine math-oriented party members fail to realize is that while the data do indeed say: “devastated defense,” other data say, “so what?” I happen to be in the “So what?” column. And, while this side of the debate annoys you and makes you think of soiled clothes, I conversely enjoy your almost-clever condescending post and am the better for it. I think.

MCalibur

August 24th, 2010 at 9:06 AM ^

platitude - a flat style, or trite statement uttered as though it were fresh and original

Disagreement is fine Meeech. It really is. But, it's not enough to say "I disagree and this is what I think and that's the way it is because I say so". You're free to do it, but that doesn't make it a good argument. Then you have guys like your buddy dahblue who devolve into a two year old when their opinion receives return fire. His style is shining on you, and it reflects poorly on you. You couldn't even answer a simple question with supporting evidence; only platitudes and ALL CAPS just like dahblue.

You rightfully complain about poor tackling, but you act as if that is something Rich Rodriguez brought to town. Michigan has sucked at tackling for most of the last decade. Do you think Lloyd Carr is a shitty coach, too? Has Michgan's ability to tackle deteriorated somehow from bad under Carr to worse under Rodriguez? Give us something. Anything.

You seem to think that my aim (I'll let the others speak for themselves though I think their's is the same) is to defend Rich Rodriguez; it's not. My goal is to understand, even if just a little, what the fuck is going on. Most of my work is divergent (broad look) which I then bring back to Michigan because that's my team. He doesn't need me to defend him and I'm not foolish enough to think that I can convince butthurt people like dahblue; that back and forth up there is sport, nothing more.

Meeechigan Dan

August 24th, 2010 at 10:05 AM ^

I can't see the thread layout on my Blackberry, so I will answer here.

To the guy who said I would be an idiot to say RR can't coach, you are correct. Hyperbole sometimes gets the best of us. He clearly can coach and is even a genius at parts of coaching. The statement should have had the clause "at Michigan" as suggested. It is not his coaching that is in doubt, but his decisions and to whom he has delegated coaching authority (on D).

To the guy who says I haven't offered an argument because I dared express my frustration with CAPS: I have given a most complete argument. I have written of others more successful with less, even did, in the past, recruiting analysis to support this. You may not like the argument, but don't pretend it's not there: other teams have prospered with less than we have and the only rebuttal put forth was "time in the system." My post was to say - you would say unnecessarily - that now we have had enough time and we will either see the results of how this staff is going to do more with less or we won't. If you want to preload your argument that more time is needed, I disagree.

dahblue

August 24th, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

I think what we should consider is that folks like MCalibur cannot stand the notion that someone would disagree with them,  that their "points" are logically flawed or that RichRod isn't magic.  They complain that someone used ALL CAPS (even though that person never did), yearn for "good argument" (while calling someone a "two year old" and "butthurt").  You, MCalibur, are the opposite of what you preach.

You are so terribly upset because you received a direct answer to your shockingly flawed question.  You asked, at first, when has it been a good idea to get rid of a coach after his third year worked out.  I pointed out that RR has yet to play his third year...so it's impossible to know that it "worked out".  You adjusted your question to ask "when has success been achieved by firing a disappointing coach after year 3".  I used your example of Ty Willingham in reply.  He was a complete disaster at UW.  They should have fired him after year 3, but kept him on for an 0-12 year four.  That's as direct as it gets.  Your response was, again, "answer the question".   So, once again, UW has already improved after firing Ty W.  They should have done it after year 3 to avoid the 0-12 season.

Look...You can disagree with me all day long, but don't run and complain, in response to someone else, about your frustration with me.  Further, don't make shit up to bolster an argument.  That's sad.

You began an argument, got a direct reply and ignored it.  That's exactly the problem with so many RR defenders here.  They ignore any fact which might reflect poorly on the coach and insult those who dare to question King Richard.  Defense?  Not his fault.  Offense?  Not his fault.  NCAA sanctions?  Not his fault.  Worst two years in program history?  Not his fault.  I think coach Rod would be embarrassed by some of his defenders here.  He is the coach and is responsible for what happens with the team.  We all have hope that this season turns out well, but some of us refuse to acknowledge the historical basis for great concern.