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 10:33 PM ^

Well, as you anticipated, there have been a rash of "FU you are an idiot for having an opinion that we don't like" posts. 

You are entitled to your opinion.  And, I for one, agree.  WE are 7-3 and have not beaten a single winning team.  We have scraped by terrible teams like Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, ND and UMass, and have been thoroughly outclassed by EVERY good team we have played. 

Yes, our offense can put up points.  However, when we play good teams, those points are traditionally when we are already down by a ton and the other team is going into prevent mode.  Sorry, I don't call losing to every decent team on our schedule progress. 

As for the argument that we have a lot of youth on defense, this is a valid point.  But, what does that have to do with being shut out in the first half on defense, having numerous fumbles on offense or not being able to HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL on special teams?

So, while your opinion will be VERY unpopular, I agree with you.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:40 PM ^

Well, not to add to the misery, but the team is technically 7-4.

I agree that everyone can take his or her own stance on the progress of the team, but I disagree that Wiscy was going prevent to start the second half, or that they did much to stop UM on the drive that ended in the missed FG.  Good defenses can slow down this offense in spurts, but where you say you see defenses easing up at halftime, I see an offense that makes some adjustments and begins to move the ball.  I saw nothing out there in the 3rd quarter that showed Wiscy playing significantly differently on defense.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:41 PM ^

Last year we lost to Purdue at home and got blown out by a terrible Illinois team.  Beating those teams may not impress you, but it is the definition of progress (just like not losing to crappy MAC teams last year was progress after 3-9). 

No one is happy about the results the last few years, but acting like we aren't on an upward trajectory is just an excuse to bellyache.


November 21st, 2010 at 12:03 AM ^

Last year we took MSU to the wire on their field and blew out FCS Delaware St. This year we got trounced by MSU on our field and had to scramble to barely beat FCS UMASS.

Plus we had a chance to beat Iowa on the road last year.  They toyed with us at our place.

The offense is more potent against average and below average teams. No one is disputing that. That is definitely encouraging too.  But our ability to dominate quality opponents with out offense is a future hope, not a present reality.

I agree with you that we are improved and likely on an upward trajectory, but reasonable minds can differ on that point if you look at our play against good Big Ten teams. People who aren't confident about where this ends up are justified.


November 21st, 2010 at 11:02 AM ^

MSU won 6 games last year.  They were not a good team.  This year they are 10-1.  Comparing the outcomes as if we played the same team both seasons is silly.  UMass is a perennial playoff team in FCS.  Delaware St. is one of the very worst HBCU's playing football.  Again, the comparison really doesn't make any sense.

The only good team we played close against last year was Iowa and the game this year would have gone exactly the same if say Stanzi had given us another free 7 points or if Courtney Avery makes that open field tackle late in the game. 

Anyone saying our offense is dominating good teams at the moment is not telling the truth.  Anyone who is excited that we are certainly going to dominate good teams next year is just seeing the reality of the situation when a team this young puts up these kinds of numbers and returns a starting player at 10 of 11 spots on the offense next year.

Webber's Pimp

November 20th, 2010 at 10:39 PM ^

This post is ridiculous. You assume that RRod inheritted the same talent Carr always had at Michigan. You also make no allowances for implementing a completely new offensive system. You ignore the fact that we have improved albeit slightly every single year over the RRod tenure. And you further ignore the record breaking production of your current QB.

The earliest you can judge RRod is at the end of next season. With fans like you I have no doubt RRod will have a very difficult time convincing anybody that he deserves to stay beyond 2011. But you need to take emotion out of the equation and realize where we were and where we were headed had Lloyd Carr stayed an extra year. Nothing against Lloyd (I love him personally) but the record shows the program and the recruiting was clearly on the the decline. Rrod inheritted a crappy hand which was made much worse when Mallet transfered out (Btw if you are looking to blame anybody for Mallet's transfer look no further than Bill Martin - as soon as a spread option system coach was hired Mallet was filling out the paperwork.). Give the man a fair shot before you judge him...


November 20th, 2010 at 10:50 PM ^

Fans must give the man a fair shot before he is judged. A fair shot is not picking apart every loss as if assuming we have equal talent and experience to the teams that have beaten us. A fair shot is not nitpicking at the wins and claiming that they are not good wins simply because they did not come against the good teams. Realistically speaking, given the state of the program at the end of Carr's tenure, I would have expected only slightly more wins than what RR was able to accomplish even if Carr had stayed or the new coach put in a more adaptable offense to the personnel.

If the improvement isn't there next year, then I'd say RR has had his fair shot. But then again, I expect next year to be a better offense and avg. defense which should translate into 10 or so wins.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:53 PM ^

but have to be honest with myself in saying that those wins are pretty hollow.  I didn't expect to beat the better teams in the Big Ten this year, but being more competitive would be nice.


November 20th, 2010 at 11:27 PM ^

This is the fundamental point.  I have written off the defense for the year.  We've learned it's futile to hope they'll be anything other than horrible.

But Rodriguez is supposedly an excellent offensive coach and many claim that this offense is great.  But this purportedly great offense has been shut down in the first half of every game against teams in the top half of the Big Ten.  I didn't expect them to beat many of these teams but in games against MSU, Iowa, PSU, and Wisconsin, one good, competitive first half from the offense would be heartening.  But we haven't seen that.  This is what really worries me.  Even if the offense improves they will, at best, be able to compete with top half teams in the Big Ten.

And returning to the defense, the best we can hope for is mediocrity next year.


November 21st, 2010 at 12:48 AM ^

I really don't get this line of reasoning. So our offense doesn't do good against better B10 teams in the first half but comes out and makes it a game in the second half. Then we say "RichRod stinks and is a bad coach because the offense sputters in the first half" without giving him any credit at all for making adjustments and getting the offense up and running and back in the game. I guess we are doing well in the second half of games because the coaches don't make adjustments and suck, right?


November 21st, 2010 at 1:29 AM ^

When we beat Ball State 34-26 in 2006, did we give them credit for great halftime adjustments?  Not so much.  The consensus was that we built a big lead, took our eyes off the ball a bit, and let them back in it.  Fans of Iowa, PSU and Wisconsin could argue much the same.  In all four of our losses, we've trailed by 20+ points in the second half.  They haven't been very competitive games.  That's the problem.  When the score has actually been close (like in the first half), we've struggled to score.  And even with our second-half comebacks, all four losses have been by 10 points or more. 


November 20th, 2010 at 11:10 PM ^

The poster isn't saying, "There hasn't been a single good thing about RR's time here." He's saying the sum result has been failure. He offers empirical evidence.

Others see mitigating factors. Fine. It's really unbelievable how few people here tolerate contrarian arguments and go with the our-country-right-or-wrong bs. Okay, now cue up the "We don't hate contrarian arguments; we hate idiotic arguments, you asshole." That's called ducking the subject.


November 21st, 2010 at 12:03 AM ^

This board is still miles better than some others where if you aren't on the "FireRR" bandwagon you are in a very small minority. This board, more than any others I read, is the most realistic in expectations and temperment which is why I joined it instead of the others.

Out of the teams we have lost to this year so far, 3 of them are ranked, all four have been ranked at one time, 2 are one-loss teams and likely to end up that way, and if, please god forbid it, we lose to tOSU, 2 of the 5 teams will have made BCS games.

The OP only looked at the wins to determine, in his mind, that RR is a failure.

If one was to look at the losses, it tells a different story altogether.

In 2008, UM had 9 losses. Out of those, 4 were to teams without a winning record. The other losses were to an unbeaten, a one-loss, a two-loss and two that ended the regular season with 9-3 records.

In 2009, UM had 7 losses. Out of those, 3 were to teams without a winning record. The others were 3 10-2 teams and one 9-3 team.

This year, UM has 4 losses to date. Out of those, 0, thats right, I SAID ZERO, were to teams without winning records. Out of the losses, two are against teams that will most likely end the regular season at 11-1, another at 8-4, and one probably at 7-5.

Improvement? I say it is. I also say RR is on the right track and that at least one more year is required before making a judgement.


November 21st, 2010 at 1:17 AM ^

Is it improvement, or just good fortune?  This year, we're 4-0 in games decided by single-digit margins.  Phil Steele considers that a sign of being lucky, since those games are theoretically tossups.  When Iowa won a ton of close games last year, many of us assumed that they couldn't keep it up this year (and they haven't), and likewise, many of us assume that MSU won't be as fortunate in 2011.  So it is wise to assume that  we'll be just as fortunate in close games next year?   If not, how will we improve our record?  This year all our Big Ten games have been either tight wins or lopsided losses.

Brown and Blue

November 20th, 2010 at 11:44 PM ^

I don't agree with your conclusion, because I think the team is improving and that the ability to create an offense like this one comes very rarely.  Which leads me to think that RR can potentially be the kind of coach that delivers championships.  I mean, I know that it's easier said than done, and it's stupid to play "what if" games, but "what if" we can get a defense together that is the 50th best defense in the nation>  Combined with this offense?  How about the 75th best defense?  (I'll bet someone has already memorized the stats that would predict our record with this offense and the 75th best defense...)

That said, I hate to say it because I disagree with you, but you make a good point here.  Still doesn't make me agree with your conclusion for the reasons stated above, but this is a good point.  I hope the coaches are thinking about how to change these results about 20 hours every day.  Assuming the NCAA allows that kind of thinking, that is.  


November 21st, 2010 at 1:13 AM ^

You raise an important point, and no mature poster should shoot it down.  Why haven't we recorded any signature wins?  The 2008 team played over its head to win those Wisconsin and Minnesota games.  Those games gave us hope for the future.  But what since then?   Even with two more years of games, those are still probably our two best wins of RR's tenure.  This year we've had four opportunities to record a better win than those, and we've lost by 17, 10, 10 and 20 points.  It's sobering.  How much progress have we really made if we still can't compete with good teams three years in, and how realistic is it to expect that we'll be able to do so next year?


November 21st, 2010 at 1:43 AM ^

Even RR seems to acknowledge that we should be farther along than we are. His claims about us getting better every week just don't ring anywhere near as frequent or heartfelt as they once did. He seems increasingly deflated, rather than defiant. And he does indeed keep making excuses. The coach most people here have deified (Bo) would never do that. He'd say, "you wanna blame someone, blame me. We don't make excuses at Michigan. We win or we get someone who can, period."


November 21st, 2010 at 5:56 AM ^

Michigan has not beaten a single ranked opponent under RichRod.  But as someone famous once said: "It's in the past". 

What it's all about now is trajectory.  What direction are we heading?

Finally having a winning season and going to a bowl game is a very positive thing . . . but only as a means to an ends.  It's only a milestone on the way to becoming a championship calibre team. 

If we are still struggling to merely have winning seasons and make December bowl games when RichRod's recruits are seniors, then it's time to close the operation down.  That's not why RichRod was brought here.

So what is our trajectory?  Are we headed toward championship calibre teams?

We're clearly headed in the right direction on the O.  Even when it plays poorly, it scores enough points to compete. 

The big concern is on D and on kicking.  Without major changes, I don't see a line of sight where they are ever championship calibre.




November 21st, 2010 at 8:07 AM ^

UM isn't that good yet.

We had 2 losing seasons so wow - shocker - we didn't beat anyone good.

I expected 7-5 and it looks like that is where we're headed.

Next season - 7-5 would be a huge disappointment.

Michigan Arrogance

November 21st, 2010 at 8:51 AM ^


only 5-6 contributing Srs

The offense ...

...with Denard.

17-19 returning starters next year

Decimated Defense is not all on RR

3-9, 5-7, to 7-6 or 8-5

there probably isn't a better offensive coach


there probably isn't a worse defensive coach

Decimated Defense is partially on RR

We never beat good teams

the D will still be very bad next year

the Defense...

... w/o Mike Martin

Special Teams are "special"

How much defensive talent do we really have? By 2012 we lose every current DL contributor except Roh



did i miss anything?