Rational Venting

Submitted by jsquigg on October 31st, 2010 at 2:50 AM

It's days like this that I envy Brian.  He, as a blogger, has a great way of venting that is a great balance of emotions and statistical data.  I don't have the time at this point in my life to give priority to writing a blog devoted to Michigan football, and the market on that topic has been very well cornered anyway.  But after another game slips through the cracks, I have to offer my take on the situation just to get past it.  My reaction to Michigan football has always been almost strictly emotional (as opposed to statistical or charting), so I will post my reflections in that vein.

As the game ended against Penn State and I drove home from BW3 where I was watching the game, I felt surprisingly unemotional.  Usually I feel strongly one way or the other, but tonight it was like I knew what was going to happen even though it seems like Michigan should have an advantage on the field given the circumstances going into the game (Penn State injuries, walk on QB, etc.).  I feel like I've seen this movie played out for the last 2.5 years.  This loss is extremely frustrating because I've supported Rodriguez from day one, arguing with my father from almost the end of the year one about how Michigan would improve and that the valuable development earned in year one would eventually justify the rapid improvement that would happen in year one.

Even in my full support of Rodriguez, he has fallen below even my already shrunken expectations every year, including the first.  I seem to find myself stuck between the two loudest group of commenters on mgoblog.  The first group is the commenters who don't like Rodriguez, haven't from day one, but hide behind irrational logic like "this offense doesn't work in the Big 10," when they should just admit they don't like Rodriguez.  To this group I would say that if you only offer criticism that is valid when Michigan wins as well as when it loses, you probably don't deserve the benefit of sharing those opinions/critiques. 

Then, there is the overly optimistic group.  I have no problem with being optimistic or supporting Rodriguez and the team.  The problem I have is with the similarly irrational logic and constant dismissal of valid concern as well as repeatedly blaming problems on anyone but the coach, unless it's the last coach....

I find myself strangely in the middle.  I came into this season cautiously optimistic and not liking the fact that I had no clue what team I would see or what results to expect.  I guess I should have known in hindsight, but I fell for it again and got excited.  I was almost done in last year after Illinois and Purdue.  I'm afraid Penn State has done me in this year, because I don't see a likely win the rest of the way.

Even with my negative outlook on the rest of the season, I still maintain that the best case scenario is to win two more and bring Rodriguez back, but some of the things that are happening are his fault.  Whether Rodriguez supporters like it or not, he made choices that impacted every issue this team has today.  I can no longer simply excuse continual failure and blame it on someone or something else.

Furthermore, it is ridiculous to say that no one else could do better given the situation.  That is insane.  Good coaches build their success by getting results with subpar talent.  Good coaches adapt to their situation and their personnel.  Good coaches take responsibility and don't make excuses for what goes wrong in the program.  You can make a strong case that Rodriguez has been weak in all of those areas.  I choose to measure by results and if Michigan doesn't finish 7-5 I hope they decide to go a different direction, which pains me to say because with all the ridiculous criticism that has gone on, the spoiled part of the fanbase whining incessantly, the douschiness of opposing coaches and programs becoming what they have always accused M of, I really wanted to see Rodriguez have a long career here filled with success.  Sadly what stands out in my head is the look of frustration displayed above, as well as similar looks of frustration, and I hate that that is how Rod may be remembered.  Most of all I hate how losing makes idiots think they're right when they're just idiots.

Sorry if this was a waste.  I think I feel a little better.



October 31st, 2010 at 3:13 AM ^

I understand completely.  As I drove to work (ugh, night shift) and listened to the game I found my oddly calm.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  Gone was the fire I felt when we made a poor play in games/years past.  Gone was my celebrating when we scored or the defense stepped up (the one frigging time it did).  It was almost...disinterest.  Which of course isn't entirely true, but I just can't bring myself to get too attached to this team anymore.  Maybe it's a defense mechanism after last year, but I find myself waiting for the fall after offensive/defensive success rather than enjoying the moment. 


Watching and listening to this game was like watching the scene in Empire Strikes Back when Han gets frozen in carbonite - there are some bad ass moments ("I love you.", "I know") but overall it's just sad.


October 31st, 2010 at 3:22 AM ^

Though I don't think I have quite made my mind up exactly how I feel yet or made a complete judgment about our hiring of Rich, I do have one thing that I am clear on - we are going to have a very hard time getting a decent coach to come here if they were to fire him. The way this fanbase as well as the media has treated him since before he ever stepped onto the Michigan campus is going to make our pickings slim. That really scares me. And though this has been talked about a million times, I really don't want to become the next Notre Dame. 

I know that this will be debated because a lot of folks in the fanbase will say "Hell no! We are Michigan!" But it wasn't looking to hot before Rich came, how is it going to be better now? Jesus are we ever at the edge. 


October 31st, 2010 at 3:35 AM ^

But I don't think that will happen.  After watching this game I have become somewhat numb as well thinking the only team we have a chance to beat now is Purdue on the road but that could end up as a close loss. I guess my concern is projecting this team into future years. The offense should improve but their remains questions about DROB's passing and Tate's running. We really have not developed that go to RB.  Gardner did not look too fast when he played and may be suited more as a pro set QB instead of a spread QB. The defense will be very slow to improve.  I'm worried about some good talent  on defense that has failed to develop.  The coaching on the defensive side of the ball looks atrocious and the upperclassmen LB who have not improved over the last two years go right back to poor coaching.

May be the team will bounce back and we will get wins over IL, WI and Purdue?  I hope so but if they played like they did earlier tonight this team will finish 5-7.  If we finish 6-6 I think RR will hold his job for one more season...though it could be close.  I guess I'm just frustrated not seeing improvement in the team as the season progresses. This loss was a big step back.


October 31st, 2010 at 8:39 AM ^

This diary, thread, whatever encapsulates my feelings.  I was euphoric when he was hired.  Disappointed with the way things went in year one -- on and off the field.  Mildly disappointed last year, but willing to push on -- and push awy the RR detractors.  Right now, I'm more disappointed than the first year.  I know folks are going to say things would have been different if Martin hadn't gotten hurt, but PSU had probably more injuries going into the game.  I know the defense is terrible, but I'm not sure I'm willing to give the coaches a pass; e.g., why did it take five games to get Demens playing time; why aren't some of these guys getting better.  Isn't that coaching?  I just dont know what to say.  I'm tired of looking forward to next year half way through this year.  Sigh.


October 31st, 2010 at 8:39 AM ^

     Prior to the Connecticut game, Brian predicted 7-5 with maybe a lean toward 8-4.  When Woolfolk went down, he said 7-5 with maybe a lean to 6-6.  It appears he was very prescient.  Obviously there has been improvement on offense but the rest of the team is in decline. 

     Even (?especially) freshmen should be demonstrating improvement after two thirds of a season but I don't see it. I don't believe it takes five star recruits or multiple years of experience to have good special teams play.  I think it's a combination of quality coaching and effort.  The defense plays as though they're shellshocked.  There is no aggression or fire.  Something needs to change. 

     I was led to believe this years d would confuse the opponents by blitzing from a varity of angles and by taking advantage of their quickness and athleticism.  Did I miss something?  This is the most passive defense in a fairly long history of passive M defenses.  Thirty on points should win most games.  One can argue they're actually getting worse.


October 31st, 2010 at 9:21 AM ^

"Most of all I hate how losing makes idiots think they're right when they're just idiots."

Spot-on.  If this staff fails, the battle between rationals and the I-told-you-so crowd will be frustrating and infinite.

Hoken's Heroes

October 31st, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

As I typed last year about this team, I will type again. The wheels are off of the team. The D is just sputtering in the wind. An opposing school's scout team probably does a better job in defending than U of M's starting rotation does. PSU, with a walk on QB, tore through UM's D like a hot knife through butter. I have no idea how McGlovin will fare when faced with a real D, but the kid played like a seasoned starter. My U of M hat is off to him.

I defend Rich Rod because I believe his woes are not 100% his fault and he deserves 5 years to build his vision.

But, RR needs to re-evaluate those coaches on the D side of the ball. Replacing the DC won't matter if he stays loyal to the D assistant coaches. The DC needs to bring in his OWN guys. The one constant is the same D assistants. Heck, maybe RR should hand over the Offense to Magee and RR take over the D.


October 31st, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

The defense is completely awful.  They're playing scared, and it shows.  I know there is a ton of youth and inexperience, especially in the secondary, but good coaching would at least make up for some of that.  I definitely think that, barring a miraculous turnaround on defense over the last few games, EVERYONE on the defensive side of the ball should be fired after this season.  Get a respected DC and let him bring his own staff.  Let him run his defense, whether it be a 3-3-5, 4-2-5, 4-3, or 3-4.  I really don't care what sceme is run.  Just get somebody who knows what the hell they are doing as far as coaching a defense, and I think this becomes a pretty good team.  If it can work for Illinois, there is no reason it can't work at Michigan.

Dallas Wolverine

October 31st, 2010 at 9:34 AM ^

I turned the channel because I could not take it anymore. I have had time to sleep on it now and all that comes to mind is swing passes, counters and screens. It may be time for a change, that really burns my ass because I like the guy and I had faith in him. Rational Venting was very well written and I think we all need to take a step back and reflect on what could have been.


October 31st, 2010 at 9:59 AM ^

I supported the RRod hire, I like the man, I can take the losses, I won't like it but I can take it.What I can't take is not being well coached, D not being competitive, same mistakes over and over,so when the half came I said this is over, I wish I was only talking of the game.


October 31st, 2010 at 10:07 AM ^

our defense is not good. I feel bad for the guys, they try hard but ...surely they are lacking confidence after yet another beating. It is too much to expect the offense to overcome the defensive deficiencies. I hate to look at it a a perfect storm, but Penn State had things set up for them: Royster was looking to break the rushing record, McGloin really had nothing to lose and did a great job out there with our 'bend don't break' defense. Happy Valley is a difficult place to play and when it gets rocking like it did last night, look out.

Is there no light at the end of the tunnel for this defense's future? Penn State played lights out football. Iowa played lights out football. Michigan State played lights out football. That is how it is when your opponent is Michigan, you get your opponents best game. Same problem Notre Dame has. I hate to sound like I feel sorry for myself/team, but when do we get to play someone who doesn't have their 'A' game going?


October 31st, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

You articulated where I am at right now.  Deeply disappointed and frustrated.  Hope is fading but not wanting to start over again.  I am going to let the season play out.


October 31st, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

if we don't finish 7-5 (which looks unlikely at this point).  Our O looks like it is a one trick pony....same plays over and over again that only work because Denard is otherworldly.  And our D went from decent in 2008 and having to pull more than its fair share because of a lousy offense to the worst of 120 D-I teams.  How does that happen on your watch?  How? 


November 2nd, 2010 at 11:04 AM ^

Yes, it applies in discrete systems. BUT - what I was referring to is the ability to make adjustments.

In your batter's box example, staying in the batter's box is not the same thing. Consistently staying forward in the box on fastball counts and swinging late WOULD be.

Being in the batter's box is a constant in this equation. The point of the quote is exactly that. If you don't change your approach or your methods, you are going to get the same result every time. If you expect something different, you're crazy.


October 31st, 2010 at 11:08 AM ^

"everything stacked in their favor" or "they played lights out"  or "we got their best game" when they play Michigan.  You don't think OSU, Alabama, Oregon or many others get everyone's "best"  OSU has been the best team in the BIg Ten for at least 5 years if not close to 10.  When any talking head mentions the Big Ten, OSU is the team they mention, it's not Michigan.  As much as I hate to admit it, we are not the Michigan we all remember. 

In the past, teams believed they had to play their best and get a little lucky to have a chance.  Now they know all they have to do is stay within their gameplan and we'll give them the game.  I grew up in the Bo era and I have followed this program with my heart since I can remember even knowing what football was, but this is not Michigan football.

The kids try hard and they NEVER seem to quit, I applaud them and the coaches for that.  The problem is they don't seem to be prepared for the games.  How in the world does this offense start the game with a 3-and-out?  How does an offense that barely beat Temple and is avg 128ypg gain over 100 by one guy in the first half?  How does a walk-on QB who has never started before look all-world in his first game?

Our offense has grossly under-performed in the first half of each of the last three games.  The defense seems clueless and lost once the opposition gets it's first first down.  We can barely return a kickoff past the 20 yard line. The point is, all three phases of this team are struggling.  You can point to youth, inexperience and injuries all you want, but after the dust settles, the results come back to being prepared to play the game and this staff is failing completely in that area on all three phases.


October 31st, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

You never seen Greg Robinson get any of the Defensive players fired up..  It took RR yelling his fuckin balls off at the D last night to get them to make a stop..


Then the very next drive they fold like a bunch of quitters..

They fuckin scored on every drive but what 2?  That is fucking pathetic..


Our bowl game is against Purdue..  If they can't beat purdue with the sheer advantage of talent in that game, then im completely done..


I don't want fucking harbaugh at michigan..  he hasn't proven he can beat a good spread team, and he hasn't proven he can beat any great teams either..


What is he gonna do here?  Get us 8 or 9 wins so everyone shuts up..  Big deal, until he wins a BCS game no one should be talking about him as a fuckin head coach


RR was one of the hottest coaches in america when he came here..  I for one am fuckin glad we don't have Les Miles after the coaching blunders he has fucked up over the past couple years..  Who is to say he would even have a offense fielded that could beat anyone?


If we would end up having to change coaches id rather it be a spread minded coach so we don't have to go through such a transition again.


October 31st, 2010 at 5:02 PM ^

I'd have to say I'm indifferent regarding RichRod's future here now.  I'd prefer him to get to 6-6 this year, hopefully 7-5, and come back next year with an improved team.  6-6 would be disappointing honestly, but I really don't want to have to go through another transition period.  

But at some point, you have to ask if this is really working, and I can't find much evidence that things are "working" for this team.  If I woke up tomorrow and saw a headline stating Rodriguez had been fired I couldn't muster up too much indignation.  

I like RichRod but I like winning more.


October 31st, 2010 at 5:52 PM ^

Assuming the season doesn't surprisingly turn around on D (Ha!), I'm sure the requests for keeping Coach Rod and firing GERG will become louder and louder.  That won't change the nature of the real issue: expereince and quality (see here: http://mgoblog.com/content/you-might-remember-depth-chart-such-former-players).

I will leave the full analysis to the likes of Brian and others, but changing the D coordinator is a far easier thing to do than firing an O coordinator.  There are plenty of examples of defensive coordinators who have come in and had success in year 1 (assuming they have some talent to work with). 

Anyone who argues it's all the coach: see Will Muschamp at U of Texas.  I'm waiting for when he has to break out the "I didn't take a stupid pill" quote this year.  Limited talent on D = doom regardless of who the coach is.