The Michigan Clans - Revisited

Submitted by saveferris on October 6th, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Over three years ago, immediately after Dave Brandon announced the hiring of Brady Hoke as the new University of Michigan football coach, MVictors came out with what I consider to be the definitive summary of the Michigan fan culture.  We were divided then, some of us acrimoniously, and with Michigan poised to begin another coaching search, the factions have begun to show their ugly faces again.  There is less division now over whether the coach should go or stay, but who should take over, who is worthy to lead us out of the desert into the Promised Land, that is still very much a point of contention with many in the Michigan family.

For those of you who have been around here for awhile, this will look familiar.  Brian featured it on UV after it came out.  MGoShoe started a thread where you were able to share which faction you best fit into.  If you’re new around here, I encourage you to click over to MVictors and check it out, because it’s really outstanding.

I didn’t bother to reassess the breakdown of each group, but certainly some clans have grown and some have shrunk.  In 2011, here’s how the folks at MVictors saw things:

With Michigan poised on the cusp of what appears to be another change in leadership of the football program and perhaps the Athletic Department as a whole, it seems relevant to have a look another look at our collective culture and what value unite us and what ones separate us and remember that ultimately, we all want the same thing; for Michigan to win and be Michigan again.


Bo Clan

They weren’t really in Hoke’s corner when he was hired, but liked his rhetoric and were impressed with his recruiting.  Things looked encouraging when he went 11-2, but the gradual decline over the next 2.5 years is undeniable.  These are the guys who bristle the most at all the Hoke hand-clapping and talk of toughness that never seems to make it to the field.  They are aghast that Hoke allows David Brandon to micromanage the football program they way he does.  They want Brandon gone yesterday and Hoke let go after this season is over and give Jim Harbaugh whatever he wants to come back to Ann Arbor.


The Rebellion

Still pissed and their ranks are swelling.  Feeling a bit vindicated that Hoke’s version of Manball has fallen flat.  Chafed over watching Denard line up under center as Borges tried to hammer that square peg into that round hole.  Apoplectic that a player of Devin Gardner’s caliber is being wasted doing the same thing.  These guys want Hoke gone NOW!  Want Brandon gone NOW!  You saw a lot of them on the news last week marching around The Diag and the President’s Residence.  These folks are the most annoyed with the Michigan Man meme and while they would accept Jim Harbaugh, believe he’s not coming and think somebody like Dan Mullen is a perfect guy to come in and finally move this program forward.


Corduroy Jacket w/Patch Clan

Feeling uneasy and a little put-out that Hoke hasn’t been successful and that Brandon continues to commit PR gaffe after PR gaffe.  Michigan being dragged through the mud in virtually every national media outlet over Concussiongate is the worst thing ever.  They just want this shit to go away and for everyone to get along again.  Still, our future falls disproportionately in their hands right now, as we’re unsure if the head of this clan, President Schlissel, is up to the task of righting the ship.


In Rod We Trusted

As always, closely allied with The Rebellion, but their ranks have thinned with time.  Also feeling vindicated watching Hoke fall flat while Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats sit atop the Pac-12 undefeated and sporting a sexy upset over Oregon.  Annoyed with being right back we were in 2011 facing another coaching search and talking about viable candidates when they still believe that we could’ve avoided a lot of this if we had just given the man a fair chance to succeed.  The next coach should be the best candidate for the job and anyone talking about Michigan Men should be taken out back and shot.  Oh yeah, and fire Dave Brandon.  Giving the collective finger to….


Lloyd Loyalists

These are the only guys still firmly in Hoke’s corner, stubbornly insisting that he’s a good coach and will succeed at Michigan if just given time.  They’re not happy with Dave Brandon and want to see him gone, but Hoke is their guy.  Their ranks have been dwindling for years now, but unfortunately, since they mostly consist of Lloyd’s ex-players at this point, they have a lot of inside access to the program and are a serious challenge to any kind of wholesale culture change.


Cotton Pickin’ Blues

The biggest group and the biggest reason why Michigan Stadium looks so empty this year and the resale market for tickets is so poor.  These fans have simply checked out.  Dave Brandon has disenfranchised these folks with neutral site body bag games against Alabama, noodles, RAWK music and the general NFLization of the Michigan football experience.  Done with Hoke as well, as this is not Michigan.  Don’t really have a favorite replacement in mind, because, frankly, at this point, they just don’t care anymore.  These are the folks that successors to Brandon and Hoke will have the work the hardest to get back.


Fierce Pragmatists

They were 100% behind Hoke coming into this season and thought any talk of Hoke’s seat being warm or setting a win threshold on retaining him for his 5thseason was ludicrous.  Have come to the sad conclusion in the past few weeks that things around Hoke have gotten just too toxic and his job is not salvageable.  These guys don’t really have a preferred replacement in mind, they will back him no matter what, but they hope for an inspiring choice.


The Second Estate

These are the guys that are still firmly in Brandon’s corner.  See Stephen Ross.  Keep Hoke, fire Hoke.  Whatever; Brandon knows best.  Just as long as their access to the program is not affected, they will ultimately be satisfied.  These folks would probably be the most wary of a strong coaching hire, like Jim Harbaugh, that might put their access in jeopardy.


The Decatur Clan

These folks are still somewhat in Hoke’s corner if only because what about the kids?  These are the guys who came back to watch the finish of the Utah game who weren’t Utah fans (so yeah, not Ace).  They bristle at pyrrhic talk of boycotts and public protests and want to believe beyond all hope that Hoke is going to right the ship, the light is finally going to come on for this team, and we will have our revenge against MSU and OSU.  They haven’t considered a good replacement for Hoke, because a real Michigan fan wouldn’t have turned their back on this team while there is still season left.  Will get behind whoever is hired once that decision / announcement is made.


Maize and Blue…

October 7th, 2014 at 10:18 PM ^

 I am the Last of the Moeller Clan.

A once proud people, we knew that Bo was too conservative, but was first class in teaching and developing players and getting the most out of them, a master motivator, every Michigan coach should share this attribute.

A.B. (After Bo) we began to recruit the best atheletes in the country, and many came to Michigan to win, for we had opened up the offense, and had a creative diverse attack, all the while, keeping the defense Bo tough, every Michigan coach should do the same.

Lloyd the usurper, had attributes of both, but he was too conservative, like Bo, he could teach and motivate his players, and he kept the program up for a time, for he was able to attract the top talent, like Mo, and beat O.S.U. regularly, but he found the air at the top of the mountain too thin. In his latter years, he built one last great team, and prepared them for battle, the night before the great battle, Bo died, Lloyd went into battle heartbroken and failed to win his biggest game, and darkness has decended upon the program ever since.

I, the Last of the Moeller Clan, proudly believe:

The Regents should be voted out, and replaced by more athletically friendly ones.

The President should be replaced by someone who understands our tradition.

The A.D. should be replaced by a traditionalist that cares about the program.

The entire Coaching Staff, minus Roy Manning, should be fired and replaced by the best posssible candidate that can come in and restore the program, and although I would love Jim Harbaugh, I would accept anyone who could come in and do the job.



October 8th, 2014 at 11:08 AM ^

I really liked Moeller. I got to UM in '91 and he was a great guy.

And he was able to produce.

I wish we could have him come back and do a caretaker job while we make a transition, if it comes to firing Hoke early. I really think he'd be able to reach out to the kids. Maybe I'm being optimistic but I think it would stabilize things in the short term. 

That said:

"A.B. (After Bo) we began to recruit the best atheletes in the country, and many came to Michigan to win"

Maybe I'm misinterpreting this, but we do have to keep his record in perspective. He had 2 8 win seasons, 2 9 win seasons, and a 10 win season. I'd give my eye teeth for that right now but its not like he was a world beater drastically improving UM records. 

"Lloyd the usurper'

I might be misinterpreting what you are saying but that seems a bit harsh. I don't think Lloyd had anything to do with Mo resigning. IIRC they were friends. 


Maize and Blue…

October 8th, 2014 at 5:03 PM ^

Mo did have some mediocre years, depending on your definition of medocre, but you have to remember that he had to face a top-notch, Lou Holtz coached Note Dame team every year, he generally had a tougher non-conference schedule playing teams like Bowden's Florida St. team, U.C.L.A., and Colorado under McCartney.The Big 10 was also a much stronger conference back then with quality Illinois (Turner), Iowa (Fry), Wisconsin (Alvarez), Northwestern (Barnett), Penn. St. (Paterno) and Ohio State (Cooper)  teams, an always tough in-sate rivalry with M.S.U. and even Purdue (Colletto) was better than it is now. Indiana, and Minnesota rounded out the conference. 

Mo did pull in some of the best talent from around the country once he opened up the Offense. Players like Amani Toomer (California), Will Carr, Mercury Hayes, Jarett Irons (Texas), Brian Greise, Steve Everitt (Florida), Joe Marinaro (Mass), Ty Law (Penn.), Charles Woodson, Tony McGee (Ohio), just to name a few, Mo had it going on, and could coach.

You did misinterpret the Lloyd thing. I grew up on the same street as Lloyd when I was a kid, and was his substitute paper boy, when the regular Detroit News kid couldn't deliver, or just didn't want to collect, he subcontracted the job out to me and a friend of mine, and we did it for a cut of the profits. I have always rooted for Lloyd, McCartney, and Widenhofer because they are from my hometown, and my minimal relationship with Lloyd. Although I thought him too conservative, and in his later years, not passionate enough for the job, I would never disrespect the man, or imply any wrongdoing on his part the Lloyd the Usurper was just a play on the Clan theme, and was only meant to draw a smile.


October 10th, 2014 at 12:08 PM ^

Sorry to misinterpret. FWIW it did bring a smile once I got it. :-)

You make a great point about Mo's record. I had forgotten. I went there from '91 to '96 and going back and looking at our non conference schedule... wow. We had some great teams come in. And yes, the B1G was comparitively very tough. I remember beating some very good OSU teams while there. Then there was the rise of Northwestern under Barnett...

I always liked Mo. What happened was really unfortunate. And the guy could get really fired up. I wonder what might have been had he stayed. 


October 6th, 2014 at 3:36 PM ^

"In Rod We Trusted" are the fans that i just don't understand... i swear they are more concerned with what Arizona does week to week than what Michigan does... i totally get that people have secondary teams that they root for, i root for Florida State and Oregon... but this faction of people would probably root for Arizona instead of Michigan if the 2 every played each other because they would believe that they are proving a point...

An Angelo's Addict

October 6th, 2014 at 3:45 PM ^

not that I think these chracterizations are going to match everyone point for point, but it's not that I'm more concerned with that Arizona is doing week to week, rather that it is sad to think of what could have been if everyone would have been behind RR and had he been given the right DC. 


October 6th, 2014 at 3:54 PM ^

of having the correct DC here, which is completely RR's fault... million dollars for a new locker room or more money for Casteel??? 

i just don't know how people think that if RR would have gotten that extra year or if people would have been behind him that he would have succeeded here... he just had to win!!! a good majority of people gave him a pass in year 1 because he had done the same thing at WVU and then year 2 was a lot better... now year 2 started out better, but then they shit the bed again... year 3 was going down the same road until they beat Illinois in OT...

on top of all of that, was the fact that the kids he recruited and got to commit to michigan decided not to stick around or never made it into school... you're not going to win very many games when close to 50% of the kids that you got to commit to Michigan didn't finish at Michigan, and not one of them left early for the NFL...

death by trident

October 6th, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

I would ask you this question -

If Rich Rodriguez finds success at Arizona (it's looking like he is on the right track) and had success at West Virginia, what exactly about Michigan made it so that he couldn't succeed?

I certainly would put him in the equation for failure, because there were things he could have changed, but the reason that Michigan will be looking for another coach soon is this -

There is a much bigger problem at Michigan than just the head coach.

That wasn't completely evident when Rich Rodriguez was let go, but has become much more glaring over the last couple years.  The incompetent arrogance of the Athletic Department can only leave you shaking your head.  Unless that issue gets fixed, we will be having this conversation in another four years.


bj dickey

October 7th, 2014 at 10:12 AM ^

Rich Rod failed for several reasons.  On the field becuase he failed to adapt to the talent here.  Had he kept the QB who transferred to Arkansas (Mallet) and adapted his system for a few years, he would have been off to the races.  That's not necessarily completely on him, as Martin had an idea of what this involved.  However, the lack of creativity and ability to use the pieces he had was really, really awful. 

Second, there has not been a worse result in recruiting at Michigan than under Rodriguez in my memory.  Even worse, it was not a one-off, it was year after year after year.  He dessimated the lines and we're still recovering from that in 2014.

Third, the guy just had no tact whatsoever, and pissed off a lot of people by failing to realize the long tradition he was given stewardship of.  Is that his fault.  Mostly.  Could Martin et al, briefed him a little better, coached him up a bit better, probably. 

Fourth, his favorite book was the Lion King.  This after a professorial, legendary head coach who won a national championship based on Into Thin Air.

Fifth, Josh Groban.  Really? 

Sixth, the records of his teams were, in a word, abysmal. 




October 8th, 2014 at 9:39 AM ^

Rich Rodriguez did indeed fail here at Michigan, but because of almost none of the reasons you cited.

1.  Rodriguez didn't "chase" Mallett out of Michigan.  This has been debunked numerous times in the past.  Even if Rodriguez hadn't been hired and brought an offensive system that was a poor fit to Mallet's skill set, he was probably on his way out because he was unpopular with his teammates and Bobby Petrino had just gotten hired at Arkansas, which was his first choice of a school coming out of HS.  Once you had a team missing Mallet, Arrington, and Manningham, it was probably going to look pretty awful no matter what.

2.  Rodriguez's recruiting rankings according to Rivals during his tenure:

  • 2008 - 10th
  • 2009 - 8th
  • 2010 - 20th
  • 2011 - 21st* (* hybrid Hoke/Rodriguez class)

Rodriguez certainly left some holes in some position areas, offensive line, specifically, and retention was a problem, but his recruiting was fairly good until the sharks started circling, and even with the shark's recruiting didn't drop off a cliff.

3.  This is our failing, not his, and is just an excuse for all those who didn't like Rodriguez because he was an outsider and not MIchigan Man enough for some people.  This is a toxic aspect of our culture that needs to be changed from within.

4.  The Lion King is a movie, not a book and this comment is beyond stupid.

5.  I didn't think you could make a stupider comment than number 4, but I was wrong.

6.  The records for Hoke are also pretty abyssmal and trending in the opposite direction than under Rodriguez.  There's no way to predict that if Rodriguez had been given a fairer shot that he ultimately would've succeeded, but you can definitely argue that we could have given Rich a fourth year and if things didn't work out to everyone's satisfaction, Hoke would've still been available to hire from SDSU.


October 7th, 2014 at 10:15 AM ^

correct there is a bigger problem at michigan now than there was when RR was here... I do believe that DB gets in the way of progress and meddles in every aspect of the football program instead of just letting it do what it does like every AD before him did... 

To your question of why RR is having and had success at Arizona and WVU is because he could get the players he wanted into those schools... lets be perfectly honest here, RR wasn't going after the smartest of kids, model citizens and kids with a great work ethic when he was recruiting...

I don't know if he thought that he would be able to get the same type of kids that he got at WVU and is probably getting at Arizona into Michigan but he couldn't and it started with his first recruiting class (the one he split with Lloyd) and it continued from there...  his other problem was his when he took the michigan job that he put all of his eggs on QB recruit and that was it, he did have a backup plan in feagin and we know how well that worked out...

Then there were the kids that he didn't get to commit to Michigan and the kids that wanted to go to Michigan and he didn't even bother recruiting that went on to have fantastic college careers... There was the butt load of kids that transferred out for whatever reason and then there are the kids that people that were so happy that we got that just never pannned out at all (it happens at every program but it felt like it happened a lot with RR recruits)... 

His other issue at Michigan is if he would have just let Scott Shafer run his defense the way he wanted to things could have been a lot different, but no he forced the 3-3-5 on him, it didn't work, Shafer gets canned and then we end up with Gerg... Now he has his boy Casteel with him at Zona and the D looks the same as it did at WVU...



October 6th, 2014 at 3:50 PM ^

I consider myself in the same boat. I looked at Hoke's credentials when he was hired and said, "Why did we get this guy?" But, I came away from his first press conference thoroughly impressed as I'm sure most M fans were. 

Being a recent graduate though, I do have ties to those in the rebellion and agree with some of their grievances. 


October 6th, 2014 at 3:47 PM ^

it does come down the Prez - funny but his legacy to me will be decided by what happens to our football team, regardless of how many jobs he creates / buildings he builds / patents / nobel prizes etc he brings to the University


October 6th, 2014 at 3:49 PM ^

Revisiting the "clan" idea, they seem to be split between people who think that there is one best approach for us (Bo, Lloyd, Rod, rebellion) and those who don't much care about the approach as long as it works (all the others). The original piece says that most cottons "just want to see M win without any scandals or embarrassments" but I think this would apply to the small groups too: the pragmatists are just more vocal, the Decaturs are always more willing to stick with the current guy, and the corduroys put more emphasis on avoiding scandal and less on winning.

I think there are some tendencies in the fan base that weren't covered in the original article: an "anti-Decatur" tendency that thinks M should always be dominant and is very quick to turn on the head coach, and an "anti-corduroy" tendency that wants to win at all costs even if we have to break some rules, because "everyone else does it". 


October 6th, 2014 at 3:58 PM ^

There is literally no way these factions have NOT completely shifted in light of Hoke's tenure.

Probably a few new ones out there, probably a few of them that died off.  If I had to venture a guess you could probably fit 95% of the fan base into one of three groups:

1) I don't care what it takes, hire the right guy - win now, and turn this program around NOW (The Brian Kelly / Jimbo Fisher corollary).

2) I do care what it takes, and also want the program to turn around (however, not at all costs - our tradition / not paying players is key).  

3) Just fire Dave Brandon, hire whatever coach you want.  Anything is better under this scenario.  


October 6th, 2014 at 4:22 PM ^

I went back after the Utah intermission and I'm certainly not Decatur. Maybe I'm a mixture of some of these groups.

I've been thinking about making this a thread but why not ask Hoke if he wants to be our DLine coach? I realize there are some issues with this the main one being shouldn't the next HC be able to make that decision. I agree that he should make that decision but if he is amenable it could at least partly unite these fan base factions. I happen to think Hoke's main problem is that he can't focus on details. The common denominator between Saban and Beilein is that they pay attention to all details of their programs. If Hoke can just focus on one thing, DLine, I think he could do well.

I've seen head coaches take demotions to other programs both in the NFL and college but I'm not sure it has happened right away and with the same team. Also not sure if they have been demoted two levels. I think Hoke's problem is he never was a coordinator because it's very hard for him to focus on all the details and how position groups work together to form offensive and defensive units.

Anyway, it's pretty out of the box but I have seen posters, mostly as a joke probably, suggest Hoke go back to coaching DLine. I'm wondering if this could be part of the solution to transitioning to a new staff.


October 6th, 2014 at 5:34 PM ^

is Luke Fickell. But that doesn't really work because Fickell was really an interim coach, and there was probably an understanding that he would go back to assistant status once a permanent head coach was hired.

I think the concern is not so much that Hoke would be dropping down two levels but that he could potentially undermine the head coach, especially since almost all of the players would have been his recruits.



October 6th, 2014 at 4:28 PM ^

I have no allegiance to a particular brand of winning football, but I'm not so stupid I can't figure out what can't win.

And I cannot stand "Michigan Man" anything.  People do realize that the first "Michigan Man" while personally not found directly cuplable presided over the program during the Ed Martin years.  Who wants to relive that?


October 6th, 2014 at 7:59 PM ^

and I think the description is off this time - thought I was about 80% behind Hoke at the beginning of the season (a pragmatist accepts this as a growing year to a degree, but is wary  the results from last season may foretell a change is ultimately necessary). Then was willing to watch and see (based on Mattison and player comments) but doubtful after ND. Then Utah happened, the pragmatic accepts that this isn't going to work out, and Minny confirms it. The Shane Morris PR debacle pushed the pragmatic over the edge to rebellion.

User -not THAT user

October 6th, 2014 at 11:56 PM ^

Bo if only because we need the coach to be in full control of the program, preferably with an iron fist.
Revolutionary because come on, nothing about the current situation is any kind of damned thing you want to hold onto if we're going to be good the way we used to be.
And In Rod We Trusted because GODDAMMIT, WHY CAN'T WE HAVE NICE THINGS, TOO? Why does OSU dominate for a decade w/ Tressel, take a year off and get Meyer? Why does ND get Kelly? We had our chance to hang with that crowd and blew it.

Ron Utah

October 6th, 2014 at 4:45 PM ^

I'm a mix of these two.  Hoke said all the right things, but hasn't delivered any of them.  I'm not comitted to MANBALL tradition, but want to see Michigan win the right way--with frequency and integrity.

Brandon needs to go.

I will NOT back whoever is hired by the university, and I'm not "Harbaugh or bust."  I'm open to possibilities, but obviously would love Jim or John (not Les).


October 6th, 2014 at 5:53 PM ^

Didn't realize it the first time around, but I am definitely a member of the Bo Clan as described here (and in the past).  I thought I was more progressive than that.

Go Blue.


October 6th, 2014 at 7:16 PM ^

There are a lot of ways to win with integrity. I'm OK with any of them. I'm not OK with ethically challenged coaches (have you people actually read the SI piece on how Miles ran OSU?!)
I like both Rich Rod and Brady as people. But, they both had to go for the same reason, an abject failure to field remotely competitive teams against good teams (or any team this season). I applaud Rich Rod's success at Zona and wish him the best. He was still a complete dumpster fire in just about every way imaginable at Michigan, and NO, the traditionalists undercutting him is not a comprehensive explanation.
Dave Brandon is Satan and he's turning something I love into a smorgasbord of all the reasons I can't stand the Cubs.
Thanks everyone for listening. Now that I got that out of my system, I feel better after visiting MGoBlog, for the first time in weeks.


October 6th, 2014 at 8:42 PM ^

Part Bo Clan, Part Rich Rod Clan, Part Cotton Pickin Blues.....


I claim cotton pickin blues because I dont even watch the games anymore. I claim Rich Rod because I watch Arizona instead (and I think Rich Rod wouldve taken us to the promised land), and I claim Bo Clan because I want Harbaugh.

snarling wolverine

October 6th, 2014 at 9:14 PM ^

I have some of the Decatur mentality - my instinct is to cheer for whomever we have as our coach and give him the benefit of the doubt - but I don't really know how you can be convinced Hoke is the guy at this point.  I guess I could be a Fierce Pragmatist then, but I didn't think Hoke's job was 100% safe coming into the year either.  Maybe I'm actually Cotton Pickin' Blue?  I don't know.  I haven't quite checked out, but I'm definitely less motivated to go to games than I normally would be.







October 7th, 2014 at 2:07 PM ^

I suppose I disagree with the OP that the pragmatists would have viewed Hoke as 100% safe a few months ago. To me the pragmatist approach means that you always look at the evidence and weigh the probabilities, so you wouldn't be 100% sure about anything in the future. 90%, maybe.

Myself, I like to think I'm a pragmatist, but I also have the corduroy attitude that avoiding scandal/embarrassment is more important than winning and some of the Decatur attitude. I never wanted Carr fired athough I was a bit relieved when he stepped down, I thought RR deserved another year, and I supported Hoke until the Minnesota game.


October 6th, 2014 at 10:24 PM ^

I am a Revisionist RichRodian.  I thought RR's offense was sweet (yes I know we didn't do much against good teams), I appreciate that he recruited the most exciting player in Michigan history (in my lifetime), and it makes me sad that he didn't prioritize or recruit defense AT ALL which was his undoing.  Some say "if we could just have had Casteel..."  I don't really subscribe to that, as RR should have been able to find a decent DC Casteel or no.  NOT GERG.  So he deserved to be fired, but I loved the hire and hoped he could make it work.  And yes, I do enjoy watching Arizona play, especially when they are dominating Oregon.  My ideal candidate moving forward would be a defensive minded guy who would take a risk in hiring an innovative OC.  Not really sure who's out there like that.  This post got real snowflakey.  Sorry.


October 7th, 2014 at 12:19 AM ^

Bo Clan for sure. Brandon must be fired and the new AD(hopefully Brad Bates) does everything he can to hire Jim Harbaugh. I will not be happy until we offer him the job. If he rejects us, we can finally move on.