Today, we fire up the MGoBlog Wayback Machine and return to December 17th, 2007: a day that will live in MGoBlog infamy. Specifically, Brian's Profiles in Heroism for RichRod. I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the last coaching change and compare the attitude and opinion around the previous coach to the current one, in the hopes of calming down the "Brian Hates Hoke" meme that's sprung up.
Remember that the situation was completely opposite last time: Michigan was striking out with big names, and we were preparing for Mike Debord-equivalent promotion from within the program. For what it's worth, the history starts around page 423, with the actual news happening on p. 422.The brief overview of the situation before the RichRod news was summed up in Adrift - basically internal guys or someone totally bonkers. Even at the time Brian was railing against the status quo from the AD, and that is what's being reflected in the current Hoke posts. Then RichRod blew up from out of nowhere.
Hindsight being 20/20 and all, Brian made this prescient comment:
RichRod was preceded by a coach somewhere between very good and excellent, though by the time Rodriguez arrived West Virginia was in a bit of a rut, coming off 7-5 and 4-7 seasons.
Rodriguez did not immediately fix said rut -- West Virginia bombed its way to an ugly 3-8 year in 2001 -- but after an initial adjustment period the program ignited in two phases. Phase 1: West Virginia ... hovers at the edges of the top 25 from 2002 to 2004, winning eight or nine games and losing four or five. Phase II: The White-Slaton rocket fuel era that features 10 and 11 win seasons, BCS berths and bowl victories, and one really ill-timed thumb dislocation.
and then added the following caveat:
the Big East got a lot easier in 2004 when Miami, BC, and Virginia Tech took off for the ACC. As far as back-to-back-to-back ten win seasons go, WVU's are somewhere between LSU's and Boise's in terms of impressiveness.
But it wasn't all roses, sunshine and puppies. Brian pointed out well-known issues with recruiting:
Maybe it's unfair to tar the coach when a couple of guys he got through school turn out to be world-class knuckleheads, but the idea of a Pacman Jones or a Chris Henry at Michigan is unsettling. ... Rodriguez also availed himself of JUCOs and academic risks that might not fly at Michigan. ...Michigan likes its high graduation rates and excellent APR numbers. If those start to come down he'll catch heat.
The conclusion wrapped up thusly:
the man does not have anything approximating the current Michigan staff's outdated philosophy. ...Rodriguez is everything a Michigan fan could want in a hire; to get him after the month-long disappointment train that was the coaching search is manna from heaven.
Better that Debord? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES
It certainly bears mentioning that at the time, Mallett was still on the roster, Pryor was still considering Michigan, and the QB rotation was not WalkOn/Death.
So we come here today not to bury RichRod, but to remember him. He struggled to meet the lofty expectations placed upon him by the fans, the media, and the Athletic Department. May he have future success at a program not encumbered by ghosts of the past, a rabid and bored press core, and a fanbase able to accept change (all of which snowball around each other).
If anything, the "outdated philosophy" comment is the source of whatever animosity is directed at Hoke - not at the man specifically, but what he represents. We must temper our opinions until we see the product on the field, and hopefully we can minimize the roster attrition that was a major source of our struggles for the last three years.