Is Rodriguez failing because the Big Ten is tougher than the Big East?

Submitted by wfzimmerman on November 17th, 2008 at 9:57 AM

One of my fears is that Rodriguez failing because the Big Ten is a lot tougher than the Big East and the ACC. Under this theory, the Big Ten is a lot closer to the SEC than people credit us for, and the Big East is a lot farther away.

I have never been all that impressed by Rodriguez's record at WVU because I don't believe the Big East is anywhere near as tough as the Big Ten. (Same argument applies to his experience at Tulane and Clemson/ACC).

I am wondering if the problem is that he hasn't coached enough against talent at the Big Ten level, both on the field and off.

He and his coordinators have frequently appeared out-coached. His key hire, Scott Shafer, has not impressed many people. Giving up a fake punt with 5 minutes left in the game is being out-coached.

The quick skill players he loves have done a lot of good things, but they have also looked overmatched at times against Big Ten size. Their running game has been best with big, strong Brandon Minor, a prototype Big Ten back, not a speedy WVU back.

Did we just give too much credit to the Big East?


*Note: this theory has the advantage of auto-disrespecting all West Virginia loons.



November 17th, 2008 at 10:12 AM ^

Well I look to his two BCS wins as proof that the Big Ten is not too tough for him. The two wins were not over overrated Kansas St. and Notre Dame teams like OSU's two wins, or over Hawaii like Georgia, their two wins were against a stacked Georgia team playing with home field advantage and they came out spanking them, and the win over Oklahoma where it wasn't even close. So to say he is failing because the Big Ten is tougher I wouldn't think is true, but to say that he needs to adjust his style a little bit because what worked over there may not work over here maybe a little true.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:54 AM ^

the win over Oklahoma, that's THREE BCS bowl games he won. Some people wouldn't include that one over OU because he technically wasn't on the field, but he constructed that team, and almost all the coaches down there calling plays and such are now on the current coaching staff at UM. I think you can chalk that win over OU in the RichRod win-column and not in the Bill Stewart win-column.


November 17th, 2008 at 10:13 AM ^

Rich Rod has 2 BCS wins at WVU. Yes the big east is a terrible conference but he was still winning against the top programs in the nation in those BCS victorys. We DONT have a QB and our tackling(safteys)is very suspect. Once we get our qbs in next year things will take huge strides next year. You cant win games with only passing the ball 75-150 yards per game.Threet and Sheridan are terrible and give rich rod nightmares every night he trys to fall asleep. All in all we will be fine next year. Not to mention our schedule next year should be much easier. GO BLUE!


November 19th, 2008 at 10:27 AM ^

for you RR supporters, here are some stats for you..

in 49 games in the big east, RR went 28-21. Syracuse, Rutgers, Louisville, Miami, USF, Pitt, Connecticut. What team from the Big Ten couldn't play in the Big East and dominate?

Next year, when RR gets "his players", they'll STILL be FRESHMEN.....

RR defense's have NEVER faired well.

-all the way from Charlotte NC.....M GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


November 17th, 2008 at 10:39 AM ^

(right now) because this team he inherited sucks. simple as that, once he has his players we'll roll people. besides which conference strength is relative. it's not like he had USC talent at WVU, he was basically playing with the same chips as everyone else.


November 17th, 2008 at 1:11 PM ^

i read a piece on maizenblog (sp?) and 67 percent of would-be seniors right now have left before this year. That is an outrageous number of attrition. I dare you to find another program that lost 20 of 30 potential seniors. Some of the ones who stayed weren't even good ones. RR entered a class with very very few seniors who can even contribute---NONE of them on offense, by the way.

Yinka Double Dare

November 17th, 2008 at 11:02 AM ^

The Big East in his last two years there was at least as tough a conference as the Big Ten this year (seriously, the Big Ten sucks this year).

We're bad largely because we have minimal to no experience at a ton of positions, and our QBs can't complete passes. Not because the Big Ten is a better conference. Hell, Rodriguez's WVU team blew his first year there too.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:07 AM ^

He is failing because HE IS STARTING A WALK ON! Name me any team in the country that would do well with a non-scholarship qb and I will laugh at you.

As was previously discussed in this thread he has beat some great competition in bowls so even if the Big Least does blow he has shown he can get it done in the bowls. Furthermore it's not like WVU was the UM/OSU of the Big Least...

Pull your head out of your ass.. The sky isn't falling


November 17th, 2008 at 11:07 AM ^

Toledo is in the MAC. They're certainly not tougher than the Big East. Purdue and Northwestern aren't any tougher than the Big East.

In the past, Rodriguez has beaten teams as good or better than any currently in the Big Ten. He's currently losing to teams as bad or worse than any in the Big East. It's not an issue of conference strength.

If Rodriguez develops a tendency of routinely losing only to the Big Ten heavyweights, then maybe you could chalk it up to not being ready for Big Ten toughness. But right now he's losing to everybody, strong or weak. There are bigger issues at play.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:26 AM ^

but he has put "offensive" players into positions to make plays, but the players are not making them. Dropped passes, over throws(a lot of them), not hitting the right hole ("that's what she said"), or not holding on to the ball.

Yes, the record is not good but everything is not RR fault. The players haven't had their greatest season either.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:34 AM ^

I don't even know where to begin this, but here's a shot:

1. The difference between conferences is largely based on talent, not coaching. Yes, the better coaches are attracted to the bigger money and the higher prestige factors. But Rodriguez's schemes and coaching techniques were obviously superior to his fellow Big East coaches, and therefore they're probably still somewhat superior to Big Ten coaches. He is a good coach. Period. His WVU players were equally as talented as other Big East teams', and he was successful. With equal talent to other Big Ten teams, he will also be successful in the Big Ten.

2. Giving up a fake punt is not a significant sign of being "out-coached." Yes, it was a good playcall on Purdue's part. But you can't say someone was "out-coached" based on one play, especially a trick play. Even the greatest of coaches have breakdowns sometimes. It's not like Vince Lombardi teams never succumbed to a trick play. (I'm not saying Rodriguez is Lombardi-like.) Coaching covers the entire game. Coaching takes time. These players are freshmen and sophomores and first-time starters. These coaches have been working with some of these freshmen for approximately FIVE MONTHS. That's not failure. It's inexperience.

3. Your memory is short if you think WVU's backs were always speedy. Devine and Slaton have only been around for the last four years. Before that, Rodriguez's offense at WVU was successful with Grady-sized backs like Quincy Wilson and Kay-Jay Harris.

4. I might be speaking too soon, but the defense has seemed to gel over the past couple weeks. Perhaps Shafer's teachings have finally started to take hold. He got rid of the 3-man line (for the most part) and he's running more Cover 2 and man coverage than the soft Cover 3 he was running earlier in the season.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:40 AM ^

To simplify Michigan's failings this year to the fact that the Big Ten is a tougher conference to the Big East is awfully short-sighted.

I won't get into the regurgitated facts about replacing almost the entire offense as well as shoddy OL and QB play, but instead direct you to a coach with a similar career path: Urban Meyer.

Meyer was successful at smaller schools Bowling Green and Utah in conferences you would never confuse with the SEC and has been a force as Florida running a spread offense similar to Rodriguez's (of course, having the father of Gary Danielson's children at QB doesn't hurt either).

But, seriously, how many coaches in any major sport leave a highly successful team in a top league to go to another top team in a top league? I can only think of Roy Williams at Kansas/UNC in basketball.

Yeah, the season has sucked, but it's not like Michigan hasn't been in most every game they've played this year. They were up in almost every game they ended up losing. More consistent play by key positions and cutting down on silly turnovers like the muffed punt this weekend is the difference between a relatively successful first season and the one the team is having right now.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:48 AM ^

but that isn't the point. There is simply more talent in the Big Ten than in the Big East. How many players are drafted every year out of the Big Ten than out of the Big East? RichRod did more with what he HAD than other Big East coaches. It's not like Brian Kelly's GVSU days were invalid because it was D-II football, and the competition was different. RichRod has way more talent now than he ever had at WVU.


November 17th, 2008 at 11:53 AM ^

... he's on track to have the worst season of any Michigan coach ever.

I am perfectly willing to believe he has good coaching skills and may produce good teams eventually, but he has dug himself a huge hole in this results-based business.

By all conventional measures of being outcoached, RR and his assistants have performed dismally pretty much wall to wall this season. Their team is losing, their players are making dozens of critical mistakes, and they look bad at it.

And of course giving up a fake punt at a critical moment in a close game is a sign of being out-coached. All it takes to stop one is to tell your team "Watch out for the fake punt, guys!"


November 17th, 2008 at 12:00 PM ^

I never said that it wasn't A (meaning: one) sign of being out-coached. I simply said that you can't break down an entire coach based on one play. Does that mean every time Brandon Minor gains yardage, the other coach has been out-coached? Have we been out-coached when an opponent completes a pass? No and no.

Rodriguez said in his press conference that he told the guys to watch for the fake punt. They didn't stop it.

Is that being out-coached or is that a lack of execution on the players' part? If "all it takes" is him telling the guys to stop the punt, then by your definition, he WASN'T out-coached on that play.


November 17th, 2008 at 1:43 PM ^

I never said that just one play is all it takes to be outcoached. We could all come up with a long list of plays from this season where our coaches were arguably outfoxed.

But I stand by the comment that giving up a 61-yard run off a fake punt, at that point in that game, was just a dismal coaching failure. Not that one failure ruins a year or makes a guy a bad coach, but that one really galled me.


November 17th, 2008 at 2:56 PM ^

If you believe Rodriguez was telling the truth in his press conference (and it would be a very bad thing if he lied, since the players would obviously know better)...


Ergo, that was not a coaching failure BY YOUR OWN STANDARD.


November 17th, 2008 at 3:10 PM ^

Obviously, I HAD MY TONGUE IN CHEEK a little bit when I fliply said "all you have to do is say WATCH FOR THE FAKE," but regardless of what Rodriguez said, I put it on the coaches. The coach (WARNING: NEW STANDARD) also has responsibility for getting his message through.

So, BY YOUR OWN STANDARD, that was a coaching success, and it was all the players' fault? Hm.


November 17th, 2008 at 3:17 PM ^

Seriously? You say "all it takes is telling them to watch for the fake".

I say, "If that's all it takes, then he did that."

And now MY standard is "all it takes is telling them to watch for the fake"?

I'm guessing you got out of the law profession when judges and your peers realized you're shitty at it.


November 17th, 2008 at 12:04 PM ^

I'd say the worst coaching jobs ever at Michigan would be reserved for those coaches who had insanely talented Michigan teams and settled for 4th-place bowl games - not the guy who walked into a talent pool that was a lot shallower than you nimrods would care to admit.

Suggesting the coaches have performed dismally is to suggest you know something about coaching - so by all means, enlighten us and let RichRod know what he's done wrong. You're off to a rousing start already by suggesting giving up a fake punt is an example of being outcoached. I mean, all you have to do is say "Watch out for the fake punt, guys!" and all the players on the other team will be like HOLY SHIT! THEY KNOW THE PLAY! RETREAT! RETREEEAAATT!!!


November 17th, 2008 at 1:47 PM ^

So, by your logic, a coach who goes 3-9 with bad talent can have a better year than one who goes 9-4 with good talent?

Sorry, no sale. This hasn't been a better year than anything except going 2-10.

Blue at SLU

November 17th, 2008 at 1:02 PM ^

people can point to fake punts, hook and ladders, etc as signs of bad game day coaching. however, there is only so much the coaches can coach at a time.
in other words, Rodriguez is trying to install a new offense, new techniques, fundamentals for younger players, and the list goes on. These are things that coaches who have their system in place with experienced players don't exactly have to worry about as much on gameday. The rick leaches of this world can worry about the chess match a little more than the blocking technique of an inexperienced lineman. (b/f someone roasts me about assistant coaches, i'm lumping them all in here as all having a big job ahead of um...)
While I'm not giving this staff a pass for some game day coaching errors cause its their job. lets just judge the coaching quality in context with the enormous amount of things they are trying to teach these players rather than basing that judgment on a fake punt that someone ran on their own 30 in a tie game.


November 17th, 2008 at 1:51 PM ^

Look, this blog is full of people explaining why Rodriguez has done an okay job all things considered, why next year will be better, why it may take until 2010 or 2011 for his system to catch on, etc.

I can make all those arguments, too, but what's the point? It's all denial.

This has been a horrible year, and the head coach is responsible. For a variety of reasons, he hasn't been up to the job.


November 17th, 2008 at 2:14 PM ^

So, let's say, hypothetically, you're a publisher. And you take a job with a historically top notch publishing firm as the head of their most important book line. Let's say the books have been consistently good, but only 1 NYT Bestseller in the past 12 years.

Now, you know you have 9 months until you have to release the next book in the series. You did a brief overview of what was being left for you before you took the job. However, upon taking the job, you realize the pages you have to work with are poorly edited, horribly spell checked, and aren't cohesive or useful to your goals. To top things off, the theme you were hoping to use for the book is no longer available. You have 3 choices for a theme, but they all have flaws, and 2 were NEVER supposed to be even considered. In addition, half the plot elements left behind suck, and you don't get to use any of the new plot elements until a week before first run.

Now, hypothetically, what the fuck do you do?