To Be the Best, You Have to Beat the Best

Submitted by Brady2Terrell on November 20th, 2010 at 9:08 PM

I believe it was Lloyd Carr who said recently that he never coached a game at Michigan in which he felt we were the underdog - and I think we've now all had to cross that threshold as fans.  Even worse, I was reflecting today on what the "signature win" of this program under Rodriguez has been, what game we won that showed that we can be a great team when all the pieces line up.  As WoJo said a bit ago, at some point you have to show you can actually do it once before we can believe you can do it consistently.  With this in mind, I compiled the following list of Rich Rodriguez's wins at Michigan and the final season record of those teams we beat (or current record for this seasons' opponents):

2010 UConn: 5-4
2010 Illinois: 6-5
2010 UMass: 6-5
2008 Wisconsin: 7-6
2008 Minnesota: 7-6
2010 Notre Dame: 5-5
2009 Notre Dame: 6-6
2009 Western Michigan: 5-7
2009 Delaware State: 4-7
2010 Purdue: 4-7
2010 Indiana: 4-7
2009 Indiana: 4-8
2010 Bowling Green: 2-9
2008 Miami (OH): 2-10
2009 Eastern Michigan: 0-12

While this could be slightly modified after the end of the season, through 2.85 seasons at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez has not beaten a single team that's finished more than a game above .500.  I'm pretty sure this wouldn't have been acceptable to his fan base at West Virginia - it's closer to the historical standard at MSU than it is to anything, in my mind.  It's sure not Michigan football.  It's not the resume of a coach who is going to be great at Michigan.  None of these teams has, or will, finish the season ranked, or anywhere close to ranked.

Against the three ranked teams we've played this year, we have been down 31-10, 28-7 and 24-0, and have lost each by double-digits (although RichRod teams seem to excel at scoring just enough late in games to make it feel "interesting" while being out of reach).  For kickers, our fourth loss was by double-digits as well.  As a point of comparison, in our "year of infinite pain" in 2005, we lost by 7, 3, 3, 4 and 4 - 21 points COMBINED.

I think we need a change - the only signature wins RichRod has are against paper tigers, and that doesn't cut it at Michigan.  Unfortunately, you can probably say that RichRod's signature "win" was the 25-23 loss to eventual #2 Utah in his debut in 2008, much like Charlie Weis.  I have hung in there until today as my friends fell left and right, but today was it for me.

Sorry MGoBoard - may the negbanging begin, as it does any time one of us points out the drastic cliff we've fallen off and how far we truly are from re-climbing it.



November 20th, 2010 at 9:16 PM ^

How can you not find something positive? It's simple--you're trying to make an argument while presenting a subjective and inherently flawed case. You're an idiot if you think this will fly on a board of considerable intelligence. What if I listed all of the negative things about living in Ann Arbor, for example, and cited only the winter weather as "cold, harsh, and unforgiving". Would that be a clear assessment? No, and for this reason it represents an accurate analogy for the drivel I have just finished reading. You need to return to composition class and learn to craft an argument.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:35 PM ^

Where did I state that they are wrong? They merely function on selective information and propagate a misguided version of events. Just like winter isn't the only time of the year, Rich Rod's tenure has not been entirely bad. To complete the analogy, after winter comes summer. Please think before you type in my presence or I will decimate you and your E-semen.

NOLA Wolverine

November 20th, 2010 at 9:39 PM ^

"No, and for this reason it represents an accurate analogy for the drivel I have just finished reading. "

Right there actually. Your comparing the selection of a parameter of one situation (Winter) to the state of the other situation (That Rich Rod hasn't been completely terrible, which, not surprisingly, isn't relevant to this conversation), they're not related. Winter isn't the only time of the year, and therefore it's a poor parameter to choose. He however chose every single victory under Rich Rodriguez, and used it to show we're not beating many good teams. Your story is no analogy. Cute tag at the end though.


November 21st, 2010 at 8:25 AM ^

Fine, balance us out.  Let's hear some of those good things that have occurred during RichRod's tenure.  What specifically happened during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons (and off the field as well) that have enhanced the stature of college football's winningest program? 

Kilgore Trout

November 20th, 2010 at 10:12 PM ^

That's a ridiculous argument.  Why would he be compelled to find something positive to say?  If my wife started sleeping with another dude, I would divorce her.  Sure we had lots of good times, but none of that matters if she's cheating on me.  You can certainly debate whether his criteria is sufficient to send Rodriguez on his way, but your douchey attack at his argument style is stupid.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:16 PM ^

We aren't beating good teams because we don't have the horses. Look over our depth chart, especially the defense. Does that look like a team that should be expected to beat good veteran teams?

You have to evaluate a team's progress each year based on realistic expectations for that year, not based on where the program was a few years ago. When Brian did his season preview, he said that he expected continual improvement every year until Michigan is back to being Michigan. If you don't see the improvement, you're blind. The offense is shredding almost everyone we play, and the defense's problems are understandable.


November 21st, 2010 at 12:21 AM ^

with you about most things in your comment, sorry, not on the offense. Not in the least. We haven't "shreded" any ranked team this year. I don't care about yards gained, blah blah. What matters? Points scored. Points scored when you actually have a shot at staying close, not when you're down by 4 scores. The fact of the matter is that the defense is very vulnerable. The offense came out flat, AGAIN. You can't expect to win games against teams like Wisconsin if your supposed "amazing offense" plays like crap. The defense came out alright, actually, and had a few good stops. Then, when we had a chance to set the tone of the game by taking the lead, the offense didn't help them, plain and simple. I mean, how long did you really expect the defense to hold Wisconsin down? Especially given the fact that the offense didn't score a single point in the first half. Yeah, the defense played like crap, but I'm putting at least half of this on the offense.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:17 PM ^

There are multiple threads to put this on, just look at the board. No need to keep posting this type of stuff, they all lead to the same arguements from both the pro and anti-RR camps.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:18 PM ^

Let me get this right. You want to fire RR? Damn. Mind=blown. Where were you three years ago from making such an egregious mistake. You my friend, are a soothsayer. But I do enjoy the shit you unicorn riders spawn in the coming wave of hilarity that is MGoBoard.

For us here on Earth please watch the great philosopher that is Katt Williams:



November 20th, 2010 at 9:19 PM ^

You're the kid in the back seat of a long car ride asking, "are we there yet?" 

How long are we going to hold the 2008 season (a year in which the aforementioned Jesus Tapdancing Christ couldn't have won 6 games) against RichRod?


November 20th, 2010 at 9:26 PM ^

Just looking at the complete and utter lack of quality wins over three years.  Beating UConn was supposed to be a win over a BCS-caliber team; they're not that.  Beating a top-10 Wisconsin turned out to be beating 7-6 Wisconsin.  Beating two over-hyped ND teams turned out to be beating two thoroughly mediocre/bad Notre Dame teams.

I'm not being a hater, and I see the improvement on the offense and the excuses for defense.  I just think we should be honest in recognizing that when RichRod says, "I'm not making excuses, but..." it's just as much excuse-making as when Charlie Weis said "I'm not blaming my kicker, but..." and then blamed the kicker.

When you boil it down, the difference between 2009 and 2010 are this: we didn't collapse against Illinois and we didn't bone ourselves out of the Purdue game.  Everything else is the same (ND, Indiana) or worse (MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin).


November 20th, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

Not winning two more games despite replacing EMU with an above-.500 UConn team?

Not scoring 34.3 ppg in the Big Ten, up from 22.1 ppg last year?

Not averaging 521.8 ypg this year, up from 384.5 ypg last year?

Not having a QB that just broke the all-time NCAA QB rushing record with TWO GAMES REMAINING?

Wouldn't a fairer statement be that the difference between this year and last year is the complete, unmitigated implosion of the defensive secondary, only part of which you can blame on RR or GERG (unless they took a baseball bat to JT Floyds ankle, Troy Woolfolk's ankle, and JT Turner's and Boubacar Cissoko's heads)?


November 20th, 2010 at 10:07 PM ^

All UM's defensive problems don't come down to 2 injured players.

Who decided UM was going to run the 3-3-5, because I have never read a quote from robinson saying it was his idea or he wanted to make the switch

Who decided to hire Robinson to begin with? As I recall it was RR seeking robinson out at the coach's conference after he was fired from syracuse.  

You guys all complained and moaned about Schafer(sp?) at the end of RR's first year and were excited at his firing.  Now he is running a top 20ish defense (in the ncaa stats rankings) at syracuse.  A school that doesn't recruit like UM does.  

You can't blame Robinson alone for the defense, if you blame Robinson you blame RR, he made the decisions which got UM to where they are now.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:20 PM ^

Having zero healthy safeties in the junior/senior classes (classes Rodriguez had nothing to do with recruiting).  Having one healthy corner in the junior/senior class (a mediocre player who had bounced around from offense to defense and never came close to seeing the field until this his fifth season on campus).  Having only four scholarship linebackers in the junior/senior class (at least it is enough to field a defense, but your defense isn't going to be any good if Obi Ezeh has to play MLB by default). 

I'll give you a dollar if you can find a more inexperienced defense anywhere in the country.  That is why we aren't good at defense. 

It isn't like these guys have raked in five consecutive top-10 recruiting classes and still can't stop the fucking fullback dive against Navy.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:33 PM ^

I have plenty of problems with what the defense has been doing.  But SO much of the defense's strategy is based on having 4 healthy corners, three of whom were in high school 6 months ago.  When you can't ever leave your corners on an island, and you're starting freshmen at free safety, your options are pretty limited.

Schafer had more talent to work with (Terrance Taylor, Brandon Graham, Tim Jamison, Donovan Warren, Morgan Trent, etc) and gave up nearly as many points per game as the current shell of a defense, despite not facing teams that felt the need to score on every drive because they faced a team with a napalm-rigged offense .


November 20th, 2010 at 9:26 PM ^

wow this is very similar to what drove ND fans to be so vacal about firing Weis.  Those wins really do put it in perspective.  Wish ND wasn't on that list so much, so at least you have that


November 21st, 2010 at 1:09 AM ^

if we have an Irish fan saying that other Irish fans were using a similar rationale for running Weiss out of ND, why would this be something we want to emulate? Do we want to be ND, where the entitled, whiny fan base cuts the legs out from under every coach who comes into town and sends them packing after 4 years, resulting in decades of mediocrity?


November 21st, 2010 at 5:20 AM ^

Weis was given time to turn the program around. He had  5 years. He did not improve consistently as Rich Rod has been doing. Two different situations. Weis inherited a team who was arguably more talented than the teams he later put together.

Unfortunately a large segment of Michigan fans seem to be even worse than Notre Dame fans. RR is still building a team. Even in the Weis era he had 5 years to show what he could do. Now there are crazy Michigan fans wanting a coach fired before he even has a senior class.

Weis, a coach who had zero college coaching experience and teams got worse as he stayed, was given 5 years. Rich Rodriguez, a coach with a very, very successful college coaching background hasn't even had a senior class, has improved every year he has coached at Michigan and fans want to run him out of town.  Do you not see how Michigan fans are actually sounding more ridiculous than Notre Dame fans at this point? Even Notre Dame AD's who make poor decisions realize you have to give coaching hires a chance to show what they can do with a full group of their own players.


November 21st, 2010 at 4:02 PM ^

It wasn't just ND fans, not even close.  It was sports casters, other fan basses, all saying the same thing when it came to bowl games and weis's record.  It is the exact same reason UM posters said weis would be fired, I didn't buy much into it at the time but thats how it worked out in the end.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:27 PM ^

Unfortunately we cannot control what our opponents do and how many games they win. Is it our fault then, that all those wins saw that our oppnents went on to have mediocre seasons?

I realize we haven't had a "signature" win (barring Wisconsin 2008), but a season nor a team is built upon individual wins. You have to look at the big picture. Right now we are bowl eligible and have won more games than we have lost. We will get better, the sky has yet to fall my friend.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:41 PM ^

But my point is, how can we control that? How can we control that our opponents NOT be "mediocre"?

What do you expect? That we make our schedule on a weekly basis? I realize that we haven't beaten teams with great records at the time of playing them, but many of the teams we played did have decent ones. Even Indiana was 3-0 this year when we played them. How can we control their records to ensure that they win more games? We can't.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:46 PM ^

That end up being good? How do you control that...?  Well, beat more teams is the easiest.  But beat some that are already good, or seem more likely to be good.  Teams in November like Wisconsin and OSU you already know are good.  Teams like Bowling Green, you can pretty much guess even in September aren't going to be good, no matter what you do against them.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:02 PM ^

I get that we have to practically go undefeated to satisfy all your needs as a Michigan fan, but that isn't going to happen every season. God I would love for it to -- don't get me wrong -- but we're not playing NCAA 11 here either.

Yes we have to beat teams that we "percieve" to be good, but wasn't it everyone and their mother who predicted preseason that UConn was going to be a seasoned team that won the Big East outright? Now they're middling at 5-4 and it's considered a weak victory.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have high expectations for this team, we wouldn't be true fans if we didn't, but we also need to have realistic expectations and everyone knew that going in this defense would be terrible and the weak link on this team, hence why many predicted this team to go 7-5.

We got the required number of wins needed for RichRod to keep his job, we shall live to fight another day. We will take some "good" teams down soon enough, or else there will be changes. Don't be afraid, they will be made if deemed necessary. As for now just remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, we will see the light again.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:48 PM ^

No, I never expected this team to be "practically undefeated". But you and your ilk keep throwing out these straw men that no one has even said.  But yes, in an ideal world, a Great Michigan season means one or two losses, a good one is 3, maybe 4 depending on who you beat, and anything less is bad. 4 is bad if you lose to all your rivals. And undefeated is  a dream season.  (Though to hear people talk, we brought in Rich so we could do away with those awful 9-3 seasons).

And it has nothing to do with "perceive" to be good. We perceive in September. In November or later, you can make pretty logically assessments on who's good or not. What was done was see who is a good team or not, at the end, when we can really judge. I can say if we beat OSU next week, we beat a good team. It's not going to change in a bowl.

I don't know if we've hit the required number of wins or not. We've been told time and time again, there is no number.  Frankly, if we end up 7-6 with two embarrassments to end the season, I'm not so sure. If we end up 8-5, I'd feel a lot surer.

But I'm not worried. I'm not going to get fired. I don't have to fire anyone. And anything I say isn't going to make any difference. I think it's the people who are a 100% sure he's back, and invested in being right one way or another that are whistling past the graveyard.


November 20th, 2010 at 11:09 PM ^

Well I understand what you are saying and I agree to a point -- by this time in the year, we should know who is good and who isn't. However, to penalize the team for a previous win just because the team they played ended up having a poor season is a metric that should not be used. Like I said, we have no control over how their season plays out, only our own.

We have to win the games that are on our plate, regardless of the opponent's record. I would love for all of Michigan's opponents to have 11-1 records so long as that one loss came against Michigan, but that is out of our scope of control. You're going to play teams that suck and play teams that are good. Should we win the ones against teams that are good? Yes of course. But if we lose the ones against the teams that suck, we would already have another head ball coach by now.

I guess I also have to agree with you in that we don't know whether the wins are enough. I misspoke and realize that like Dave Brandon said himself, we have to wait till the end of the season. I support RichRod only in the hopes that I want him to return Michigan football back to prominence. If he is not doing that, then he needs to go. If we don't see continued improvement next season, then he will be gone. That I am sure of.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:29 PM ^

You may be totally right, but you set yourself up by being too nice.  Ended up being a easy target for all the young 20's dildos that think Madden football equals real life.


November 20th, 2010 at 9:37 PM ^

Just because you have numbers, doesn't make your argument sound.  Leave the statistics analysis to those who don't start with an agenda -- like Mathlete -- and stick to calling into 97.1 to voice your frustration. 

All indicators on offense point to improvement -- against good teams and against bad teams.  On Defense, our team simply is poor.  Average to good teams can take advantage of that.  It's not rocket science.  If we can solve the defense thing in the next couple years -- and by solve I mean be middle of the road -- we will be a contender year in and year out, for the big ten title always and occasionally for the national title. 


November 20th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

When your reason for "contending year in and year out" is "If we can solve the defense thing in the next couple of years...".  I mean, we could solve it.  Though it is a pretty big thing to's not some tiny little problem. But if your argument is based on a mighty big IF, maybe you shouldn't be telling people to go call talk radio....


November 20th, 2010 at 9:44 PM ^

UM held the ball for 9 mins in the first half and scored no points, how is that improvement over last week or any other game this season?  From the UM games I have seen, that is the worst first half for UM's offense this year.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:24 PM ^

I guess I haven't seen enough UM football this year then to agree.  The offense is better than last years but I haven't seen improvement through the year.  Denard didn't get the respect from opponents till the later half of the year, or me for that matter, but teams are/have adjusted to the new personnel and are keeping UM out of the endzone.  

The QBs, RBs and WRs seem to be getting the crap beat out of them in the 2nd half of the year.  Not sure if its conditioning or just because they're relatively smaller than the opponents but UM isn't putting the same offense on the field that came to ND stadium in week 2


November 21st, 2010 at 12:45 AM ^

Your point about the offense is taken.  The truth is, for all the yardage it puts up, it's very inconsistent when it comes to scoring.  In fact, in all four games we've lost, our offense has struggled to score in the first half.  Here are our first-half scoring totals:

MSU - 10 points

Íowa - 7 points

PSU - 10 points

Wisc - 0 points

In the latter three games we ended up scoring 28, 31 and 28 points, which is respectable, but every time we were playing from way behind in the second half.  Why we can't seem to score against good teams when the game is close is hard to figure out. 


November 21st, 2010 at 3:00 AM ^

We're better in all phases of the offense now than we were against ND except one that is pretty important:


I can't wait for this kid to get better and better and he will, but right now, the biggest thing that's slowing down our offense is the nerves jangling around inside of him.

Clearly opposing D's are better prepared to face him than they were when we played ND, but that doesn't change the fact that he regularly overthrows WR's who are wide open for TD's that he would have hit in stride earlier in the year. Missing Stonum on the 2nd drive is an example.

Denard has a ridiculous amount of talent... the only thing standing in his way is himself.

And finally, Irish and jmblue, in spite of the fact that he's a sophomore who makes a lot of mistakes while playing with a defense that loves to stay on the field, we're still not far from being the highest scoring UM offense of the last 100 years.

Magnum P.I.

November 20th, 2010 at 9:40 PM ^

Nice analysis. Thanks.  I'm in the give-RR-one-more-year camp right now (with an overhauled defensive staff), but I appreciate the post regardless. Interesting claim that a signature win offers evidence of what a system can do, if everything goes right. Despite the team's problems with youth, you would hope that everything would come together at least once and we would beat a good team. People on this site say it all the time, that we have a chance against good teams. A lot of the types who are harassing you for this post suggested that we had a good chance against UW, that we had a good chance, and that we were favorites against MSU. At some point, it'd be nice to make good on one of these chances. I'm hopeful before every game we play that we'll win; part of me really believes that we will. But it's just never the case that everything comes together for RR. I don't know why that is.