Blame RR first

Submitted by 909Dewey on November 8th, 2009 at 7:23 PM

It is pathetic but I will admit that I have been back and forth on this blog for the last 24 hours because I really can't wait to see Brian's opinion after Purdue.

I do not want RR gone after this year. Even if he loses out. Barring something coming out of practicegate he should get the third year at least.

I do have some big problems with RR though. I may be branded a heretic but you do not lose to a bad Toledo team by three at home. You do not get owned in the second half against Illinois and Purdue two years in a row on your way to making an elite program.

So much of our current situation is the sole doing of RR. He has coached in a way that prioritizes his system over wins and losses. That is not to say that installing a system is not important, but what coach in his first year at a program used to winning starts McGuffie in game one over Minor, Brown, and Grady? Why did MINOR RAGE happen just as McGuffie's carries dropped off? Did the junior suddenly start looking as good in practice as the freshman? Give me a break. Minor didn't get one carry against Toledo. The next game was PSU and he gained 125 yards. Fault RR.

This is the thing though, regardless of everybody eagerly awaiting the next great post that exposes the secret behind why some facet of the team cannot produce desired results, it doesn't matter. The upside that RR was supposed to bring with him is that he will make this a top ten program. Consistently. That means he has to be an elite coach. Elite coaches win the games they are supposed to win and most of the games that are tossups. He hasn't shown anything remotely close to that here. That is not to say that he won't, but if it going to start it had better start soon.


Hard Gay

November 8th, 2009 at 7:28 PM ^

Of all of the mistakes that Rich Rod has made since he's been here, you chose the worst one to illustrate your point. McGuffie started because Minor and Brown and co were injured. Minor did play against Toledo, he had the lone touchdown and was taken out of the game and to the hosoital afterwards cause he took a really bad shot to the ribs.

If you want to criticize Rich Rod, fine, but at least get your facts straight.


November 8th, 2009 at 8:35 PM ^

Please provide links. I looked at all the pressers from 2008 since Utah and there is no specific mention of a Minor injury other than a preseason camp thing. (Then of course when he missed Northwestern.) Minor touched the ball in every game except NW. Minor and either Brown or Grady or both got carries in every game prior to Toledo. See McGuffie was getting the carries by coaches' choice. Until he wasn't and Minor "came from nowhere" for the rest of the season. You have all officially crossed the line from apologists to fanatics.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:36 PM ^

So you missed him fumbling constantly, and then Minor saying before this season that he could barely hold the ball because he was playing with one arm the entire year last year?



November 8th, 2009 at 8:43 PM ^…

The back has also done a better job of holding onto the football. Minor credits his improvement in ball security to a healthy right wrist. Though he declined to discuss the specifics of the injury, Minor said it forced him to carry the ball in his left hand only earlier in the year. With the wrist and an injured hamstring now healed, Minor said he's fine physically.

We can find others if you insist that Minor was never hurt during 2008 and in particular during the first part of the season.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:28 PM ^

Thank you. You also wrote a diary stating your position on the issue. Thanks for that as well.

RR has not performed as well as expected. Neither have the players. He will get at least one, probably two more years to prove himself.

That's pretty much the whole story.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:32 PM ^

Um, you do know that Minor and Brown were injured and thats why McGuffie played so much at the beginning of last year right? So unless you're saying that RR injured them there is no way that not playing them was his fault.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:32 PM ^

You're asking why he didn't start injured Carlos Brown, injured Brandon Minor, or temporarily suspended Fullback(!) Kevin Grady over Sam McGuffie? Dig deeper and read more here. The adjust the offense to the personnel argument has been roundly debunked.

You're not impressed with the offensive improvement? The previous regime turned Henne, Hart, Long, and Manningham into 3 points versus OSU and couldn't break 40 points versus a FCS team. You can't really say that the Rodriguez isn't making huge progress on the offense.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:33 PM ^

Anyone who wants to fire RR now or after the next two games or even after next year, please humor me and at least put forward a credible strategy to move forward. I work in a corporate environment that encourages constructive criticism. However, it places responsibility on the person raising the issue to prepare a credible solution to the issue. I'd love to see that ethic here before there are any more "FIRE RR!!" posts. Use some of the critical thinking you learned (and paid $$) for at UM.

"Fire RR" is not a solution
"Fire RR and hire Pete Carroll" is not a credible solution

And before you propose some other big name coach who of course wants to come here "because we're Michigan", consider that 1) they'll have seen us can a successful BCS coach after only two years and 2) Michigan fans are the only ones who have been buying into the Michigan brand the last few years. It's not as plum of a job as we would like to think.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:05 PM ^

I don't think it is that crazy to think that Rich Rodriguez is not going to be the guy to get it done at Michigan. I may be wrong in thinking this and if I am I will the first to admit it when the day comes. And I am going to continue to support Michigan whenever they play and hope that Rich Rodriguez ends up being the right guy at U of M.

With that said, I do not think you can keep him around for the sole reason that you are worried about the next guy that you bring in. Would you even want to hire a coach who has the mindset that he is afraid of getting fired from the day that he is hired. You are right that if we get rid of Rich Rodriguez, there is a good chance that we will not be able to get a big name.

But were Pete Carroll, Bob Stoops, or Jim Tressel big names when they were hired by their respective schools? Michigan wouldn't be able to get anyone on the level of Carroll, Tressel, Meyer, etc. But guys on that level probably never leave the place where they are at. But there are plenty of good coaches/coordinators out there who would be willing to come to a school like Michigan. None of those guys would be a sure thing and I would be placing a lot of faith in the athletic director to pick the right guy. But if you think that Rich Rodriguez is not the guy at Michigan (a assertion that is subject to doubt and by no means certain), then that is a risk that you are willing to take.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:38 PM ^

I didn't say there weren't alternatives, I said I hadn't heard any good and plausible alternatives. At this point hiring a coordinator or non-bigname HC with potential is a substantially greater risk than letting RR have a few more years. And I'm not advocating merely keeping him on the basis of less risk either. Many factors have all culminated against him - some perhaps his fault, no coach is perfect, but most of them not (see Misopogon's defensive recruiting analysis, for example) - and as someone who has proven to be a winner every where else he has been I think he should be given more time in order to have a fair shot. But that's just me, I tend to be a reasonable and patient person.

Like you, I would probably say "You know, RR just isn't working out and we need to look for someone else" if after the 2011 season if the team is struggling to reach .500 and a bowl game and is continually getting their butts handed to them by inferior opponents. At this point, though I'm less certain than I was before, I'm willing to wager that we'll be just fine by then. We'll see.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:45 PM ^

Yeah, I'm with you. The D is my big concern unless they increase their scoring average by another 12 pts again next year. RR will be successful at UM or if we fire him prematurely, he'll be successful at his next gig while we're breaking in the next guy.

Magnum P.I.

November 8th, 2009 at 7:49 PM ^

First, I'm ambivalent about RR at this point; I wouldn't be surprised/hurt/giddy if he was canned or kept on during this offseason.

That said, for pure speculation's sake, what are the chances that we could get Brian Kelly here during the offseason? Or another good coach. There are a lot of guys out there who run systems that wouldn't require "getting all their guys" in to be effective, and thus a change wouldn't necessarily mean another two years of misery. Your point about the institutional reputation that comes with firing a coach after two seasons is valid, I think, but I would also think that most college football coaches are egocentric enough (the profession selects for that) to think that they could do a lot better than two losing seasons in a row (if that comes to pass). And, really, I think had we hired a different good coach who didn't need to blow everything up to fit his system, we wouldn't have had losing records last year and this year.

RR is clearly a good coach, but the biggest problem at this point is culture. A losing culture takes on a life of its own, and sometimes the only antidote is a major change, often at head coach. You saw the culture change with Carroll, Saban, Tressel, Stoops, and Meyer. The guys who preceded them weren't bad football coaches, per se, but things were stale, and a shake-up was needed. This happens in pro sports all the time. Guys who have histories of success get canned after a couple years because they lose their players or because the culture turns sour. I don't know if we're at that point, culturally, after this season if we drop these last two games, but it's a real concern.


November 8th, 2009 at 8:11 PM ^

"And, really, I think had we hired a different good coach who didn't need to blow everything up to fit his system, we wouldn't have had losing records last year and this year."

This is exactly my point. Schiano, Ferentz and Miles all turned us down last time. You think the job looks more attractive now? What other different good coach are you getting?

You're an executive with two job offers...

1) A smaller company that hasn't had a lot of success but wants to get better. Exists in a small-ish media market and kinda flies below the radar. Pay is $300k/yr. If you make the company bigger and better, you're a legend in the business world.

2) A larger company that has had a long history of success but has been losing market share for 10 years. Exists near a Top10 media market that compares all teams and coaches to a ghost that existed almost 30 years ago in a different business climate. Pay is $300k/yr. If you make the company bigger and better again, the best you can expect is a marginally favorable but never equal comparison to said ghost.

Seriously, which one would you choose? Job1 is a lot of other schools. Job2 is UM. No matter how egocentric you are, Job2 doesn't look so hot.

Magnum P.I.

November 8th, 2009 at 8:18 PM ^

I think you could add location to the equation, too. Brady Hoke split to SDSU for reasons other than the depth chart, I'm sure. I'm just speculating, but it seems like there a lot of coaches--and I would include Brian Kelly here--who have almost reached their ceilings at their current positions and may want to see just how high they can go (and not live in Cincinnati). But, sure I see your point that it's not the most attractive position.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:37 PM ^

Get your shit straight before you vomit out this trash.

Brian: Why no chaos mitigation this week? I generally just don't go online after games like this one, I should probably stick to that.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:39 PM ^

You're not a heretic. However, since it seems that your entire argument is based on the McGuffie/Minor issue you're clearly misinformed. So, since that theory has clearly hit the crapper, what else is the "sole doing" of RR that has lead us to a 5-5 record so far?


November 8th, 2009 at 7:47 PM ^

It certainly hasn't been the 1 and 1/4 recruiting class he has to work with, and inheriting the most sieve-like defense in the modern era.

I love how people eschew the facts right in front of them; offer us something tangible, please.


November 8th, 2009 at 8:19 PM ^

You do if your team isn't any good. Bad talent/depth/experience on the roster equals bad team no matter who the freaking coach is.

Add this to the list of dumbass grievances spouted off by Rodriguez's critics who ignore the actual make-up of the team (by far the most important factor in determining on-field success in football) and instead just bitch about losses that they deem "unacceptable."


November 8th, 2009 at 8:41 PM ^

Lloyd Carr got us into this mess by not recruiting well as he prepared for retirement. A team with the following characteristics:

FIVE walk-ons on the 2-deep on defense;
a qb depth chart of freshman, freshman, noodle-armed walk-on, Coner;
a conversation about the teams best player includes the punter;
only 11 players with expiring eligibility after this season.

For comparison, all eleven starters at OSU are juniors and seniors.

We have some talented freshmen and sophomores, all over the offensive skill positions, plus a few here and there on the defense. Those are the players that Rodriguez brought in. What we don't have are the solid role-player seniors to fill in the gaps. Those are the players that LC brought (or didn't bring) in. If you want to blame RR, do it in 2011.


November 8th, 2009 at 8:54 PM ^

At the same time you can look at other coaches who inherited much worse situations that Rich Rodriguez and have managed to do much better by their second year. No one is asking Rich Rodriguez to take Michigan to the national championship or anything but there is at least the expectation that there be some signs of improvement.

As for the young team argument, a young team should be improving as the season goes on. Young players are supposed to get better and all I have seen from this team is massive regression.

You can also look at the players we currently have on defense and look at recruiting rankings and I'm pretty sure that Michigan would be higher than any team in the big ten not named Ohio state or Penn State. I am not looking for the 85 Bears defense out there, but I would like to see be able to slow down teams like Purdue or Illinois.

Rich Rodriguez is constantly talking about the situation that he inherited and nothing angers me more than to hear him say this. He inherited one of the best programs in college football which was coming off a victory against Florida in a bowl game. And maybe there was a lack of depth, but there have been plenty of coaches who have faced similar problems and still figured out a way to get it done.

It would be foolish to not have expected some growing pains. And I think that by growing pains people were thinking like 7-5 or something like that.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:02 PM ^

Point out one situation where a coach inherited a worse situation than Rodriguez and did more with it. We're talking about the actual team he inherited, not the results on the field in the Capital One Bowl with all the players that left immediately after that game. Show me a more depleted roster that a coach inherited or a younger team that won more games and I will believe you. Until then all you are doing is uttering platitudes about how "teams should improve" and "mistakes fall on the coaches."

Also, look at the actual depth chart on defense that Misopogon again put up in a diary, and tell me with a straight face that this defense is talented (instead of citing recruiting rankings that don't take attrition or actual roster construction into account).


November 8th, 2009 at 9:12 PM ^

How about Jeff Tedford. In the three previous year prior to his arrival Cal won a combined 4 games. In year one he won 7 games and in year two he won 8 games. Or how about Bob Stoops in the previous 5 years his arrival Oklahoma won 6, 5, 3, 4, and 5 games. In year one he won 7 games and in year two he won 13 games. Or how about Pete Carroll. In the previous 5 years before he came to to USC, they won 6, 6, 8, 6, and 5 games. In year two they went 11-2 and did not look back. Or even Mark Dantonio. John L Smith left no defense at State and the previous 5 years to Dantonio they won 4, 8, 5, 5, and 4 games. In year two they won 9 games. The list goes on and on. The only kind of places where a coach has failed to get in done by year 2 (but does so later) are schools like Rutgers and Kansas.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:21 PM ^

I said the actual roster that they inherited. Not how many games the team won the year before.

Pete Carroll inherited Carson Palmer, Troy Polamalu, and tons of other guys playing in the NFL right now. Everyone agrees that John Blake did an excellent job recruiting at OU before he got fired (and Stoops' only national title came with Blake's players). State is still mediocre under Dantonio (they had a blip because they eeked out wins against bad teams in a year where they still got destroyed by any team with a pulse). I don't know enough about Cal's roster to comment on the Tedford transition, but my guess is he had more than one scholarship safety on the roster (Mike Williams is the extent of the safety depth chart inherited by Rodriguez).

Try again, with actual facts this time about the roster that these imaginary coaches who succeed with no depth/talent/experience inherited.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:37 PM ^

I think that is the point that he is trying to make is that one of the qualities of good coaches is that develop the people they have on the roster. Troy P. wasn't an NFL all-pro on day one when he got to USC. Pete Carroll and his staff made him the player he was if I remember my USC history correctly. Christ - Lloyd Carr won the Big Ten title with John Navarre at Quarterback as a senior. Bob Stoops developed the players which were gotten by previous coaches.

It isn't like Lloyd took kids off the fuckin street for a team. They showed something to get a scholarship to Michigan and had other offers. I want to see Rich Rod develop players on defense. I don't think that I am being unrealistic about this expectation.


November 8th, 2009 at 9:39 PM ^

Maybe alot of those USC guys are playing in the NFL because of what a great coach Pete Carroll (and Norm Chow) is. Before Pete Carroll came to USC Carson Palmer was a not a good quarterback and was not going anywhere. The talk in Southern California at the time Pete Carroll took over was that USC had lost it and all the good players were going to places like Oregon and Washington. It it easy to say that a guy like Pete Carroll inherited a better situation but he had something to do with those players thriving and going to the NFL. As for Stoops, while Blake had recruited alright its hard to go back at this point and find levels of attrition on a lot of those recruiting classes. And that national championship team was probably one of Stoops least talented teams.

I don't disagree that Dantonio was lucky to be 9-4 in his second year. But you cannot seriously argue that he had way more defensive depth that Rich Rodriguez did coming in. John L Smith did not really leave much on the defensive side of the ball and both State and Michigan play pretty similar schedules. Michigan manages to lose to both teams with a pulse and teams that also

As for Cal there is no argument to be made that Rodriguez walked into a worse situation then Tedford. When you are winning 1 game a year, there is a serious lack of talent on your team.

I ask you to find me an example of coach who had a similar start to Rich Rodriguez and eventually managed to get the job done. The four examples that I could think of were Ferentz, Mangino, Schiano, and Gary Pinkel. And of those three only Ferentz has had the kind of success that would be acceptable at a place like Michigan. I am truly not familar with Ferentz's situation when he took over Iowa except that their record was not very good to talk about the attrition and its effect on his team.


November 8th, 2009 at 10:13 PM ^

5 wins his first two seasons, never won more than six games until year seven.

There, that is one more example than you could give me. I might mention Bear Bryant's one win team in his first year at Texas A&M (which more closely parallels the Rodriguez situation because Bryant already had a track record of unprecedented program success at Kentucky), but that would just be showing off.


November 9th, 2009 at 12:39 AM ^

I disagree with you on both USC and Oklahoma. All those players from USC are in the NFL because of Pete Carroll. Prior to him the general talk around the USC program was about their general lack of talent. But how can you deny that Cal and Michigan State were both trainwrecks that got completely turned around. Michigan State had one of the worst secondaries I have ever seen with John L Smith. I seem to remember a number of midget corners hopelessly trying to cover Braylon Edwards. Cal was a team that could barely win one game a year, you cannot argue that they had more talent than U of M.

As for the examples of Bear Bryant and Frank Beamer neither of those is very relevant as Beamer took over his program 22 years ago and Bear Bryant even longer than that. Both in times that were different eras for college football. And Beamer was at a school in Virginia Tech which is nowhere near the stature of Michigan. Bryant even won 7 games in his second year at Texas A&M

Hard Gay

November 8th, 2009 at 10:30 PM ^

Ara Parseghian went .500 his first year and then won no games his second year at Northwestern, as soon as he was able to coach some talent at Notre Dame, he won some National Championships.

Some dude named Schembechler was on his staff at Northwestern, too.


November 8th, 2009 at 10:33 PM ^

i would say graham, warren, brown, van bergen, roh and woolfolk have all improved since RR's arrival.

now the sieves that are at inside LB and safety have yet to show similar improvement; but the talent isn't there at those spots either.


November 8th, 2009 at 10:03 PM ^

inherited 7 starters on offense: ); 9 of the projected starters were upper classmen (2 soph); including SR Kyle Boller at QB (an NFL starter) vs a walk-on QB and a redshirt tranfer frosh.

inherited 9 starters on defense: 10 of the projected starters were upper classmen (one soph). UM has 3 walk ons getting starts or significant playing time on D.

i think tedford landed in a perfect job opportunity. he inherited decent talent; especially on offense, on a team that underachieved.


November 9th, 2009 at 12:36 AM ^

Tedford took over a team that in their previous 5 years won 3, 5, 3, 0, and 1 game. Returning starters for a team that in their previous two years had won one game does not count for much. Being a starter on a bad team counts for nothing. Even someone like Kyle Boller, it is a testment to Tedford that he was able to get drafted in the first round. He is a bad NFL qb who has done nothing in the league


November 8th, 2009 at 9:23 PM ^

I think RR has done a good job this year with the O. When was the last time this team could score this many points consistently during the season. Not only is this team scoring tons of points, but they're doing it with a FRESHMAN qb. And the supporting cast around him is very young too.

The problem isn't the O its the D. Some of it may have to do with the coaching, but a lot of it is the talent. Brian or Tim posted a chart about the D recruiting since 2005 I believe and you can see it right there. Most of those recruits have been busts even after they transferred. The ones that have stayed haven't been good either. Stevie Brown only became good after being moved from his saftey position. Even look at some that graduated. Morgan Trent was pretty bad most of the time. The recruiting from LC was pretty atrocious in his last few years, and I liked LC.

You gotta give the man some time to recruit his guys, get some better recruits on D, and I can see this thing being a well oiled machine.