CC: My thoughts on the Gator Bowl, our team and the coaching change issue

Submitted by michgoblue on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:05 AM

 I waited until today to post my thoughts on the whole CC issue. I didn't want to write in the heat of emotion / disappointment. Unfortunately, after a full 2 days of sobering (and sober) reflection, my thoughts didn't change much. Sorry in advance for the length of this. 

1. Our dynamic amazing #6 offense - can this meme finally be put to rest?  Does our offense have potential?  Yes. Is it improved?  Yes. Is it one of the best in the country?  Far from. Every single decent defense that we have faced has stopped us. Against OSU and MSU (not that MSU), after our opening drive scores (here 2 scores), the defense made a few simple adjustments and was able to completely stop us. One of the MSU LBs said after the game that they knew what we were going to do on offense. If that is true, than where is RR's offensive genius?  Top offenses manage to score at least a few points against good defenses.  I know that the excuse given was - again - lack execution. Well, if we are failing to execute against every good defense, then this is not a well coached offense.  If the offense is the reason to keep RR, this is not a strong reason. 

2 Defense - I won't belabor the point.  But what is troubling is that those "15 extra practices" that some said would make a "huge difference" did nothing. We are young, thin, inexperienced, out-matched, etc. But, over 4 months, we haven't improved a lick. To the contrary, we have regressed to the point where we are a national joke. Especially given the youth, I would have expected SOME improvement. This is coaching.  Not necessarily RR, but he hired the D staff and the buck stops with him. 

3. Special Teams - same story as the defense. Zero improvement - instead, regression. And, sorry, some of this - maybe a lot of this - is on the coaching. 

4. Denard - many have speculated that if RR goes, Denard may follow. And he may. But why?  Denard has a great arm (poor vision and ability to make decisions, but a great arm). There is no reason that with good coaching, he could not be an awesome QB in a traditional offense. Look at Vick on the Eagles - he has an almost identical skill set to Denard (strong arm, some accuracy and decision issues, great speed) and he has transformed himself into a true pro-style QB. He still uses his legs, but more so to open up the pass and as a secondary weapon that makes him very difficult to stop. And, having done so, he is having his best pro season. I hope that Denard realizes this and sticks around if RR is fired. 

5. The coaching situation is "toxic" - As Bruce Feldman on ESPN said yesterday, the situation with RR's job status has gotten toxic for Michigan. He is a good guy, a class act and probably still a good coach, but at Michigan he is not working out. There is too much hostility and displeasure in the fan base and this whole 3-year hot seat (which would only continue if he returns) has really hurt recruiting. One of my good friends - a die hard 20 year M fan - said that he and his family do not even look forward to the games anymore.  They watch because they are loyal fans who support the team, but the enjoyment and excitement is gone. I know many who feel the same way. We need a massive shot in the arm to bring back that hope and excitement in the fans. 

Saturday, Michigan was playing in its first bowl game in 3 years. Rather than talking about our storied program, our tradition, the members of the current team (other than Denard) or the great things that we are doing to return to glory, almost all of the coverage of our team focussed on RR's job status. This is not healthy for our players, our team or the Michigan brand.  I wish RR the best, and truly hope that he succeeds at his next destination, but I would be incredibly disappointed in DB if RR is not fired. 

6. DB's time frame - I have been a huge critic of this time frame. To me, if DB does not have enough evidence after 3 years, then he is just indecisive. The time frame largely resulted in the media circus that has negatively surrounded our program. HOWEVA, it is entirely possible (likely?) that DB's time frame really is geared towards obtaining JH. If this works out, than DB really is as good and smart as many think, and deserving of his pimp hand possessing status. But, if we end up keeping RR or getting Hoke, then this whole process was unnecessary, as DB could have accomplished that in November and ended the speculation and recruiting hindrance. 

7. Replacements - I know that the favorite is JH. IMO, he would be an out of the park home run of a hire. But, he may be heading to the 49ers. If he does, to me, that would not mean that we should stick with something that isn't working.  Aside from Hoke, who I know is not popular on this board, there are many good candidates out there, many with ties to Michigan (which I do not think was important in 2007, but which I do think should factor in to this hire). Hopefully, if we can't land JH, DB will find one of them. 

8. Our fans - when RR came to M, he was not treated appropriately by the fans, the media and, to some extent, the former players. It is naive to think that this didn't have a role in undermining RR's tenure. It is in the past and can't be undone, but hopefully the fans and former players (forget the media, they are hopeless), have learned their lesson and will treat our next coach with more respect.

Go Blue.



January 3rd, 2011 at 10:11 AM ^

Michgoblue and I have had our battles and we do not see eye-to-eye, but this is a very well-written and thought-through thread.  As he states, now is the time for thoughts/opinions on a coaching change and this thread is much more valuable (at least to me) than many, many of the threads from the past 5 weeks.  Thanks, michgoblue.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:30 AM ^

Ditto.  I don't know about you, but I be hot if a change is made and we have to go through 2-3 more years of brutal, gut-wrenching pain and suffering like the past 3 years.  Like someone else expressed on another thread, these years have been very painful for me - for example, I even resorted to fast-forwarding through Michigan defensive series to lessen the grief.  I never thought that would happen in my watching career.  It makes me sad.  Here's hoping to a better 2011!


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

seriously consider the distinct possibility that Harbaugh may reject Michigan's overtures and stay at Stanford.  Everyone to a man believe he's coming to Ann Arbor.

Well, what if that doesn't happen?

It's not like Harbaugh is unhappy where he's at, or that 3 to 4 NFL teams won't be talking a batter ram to his Palo Alto home holding multi-million dollar contracts.

Harbaugh is very, very competitive.  He is outstanding at recruiting, and he just loves to cock off and spit in people's eye (e.g. going for 2 pts at end of 55-24 drubbing of USC).

If scorned, I envision UM fans responding like Pete Carroll: "What's your deal???????????"

Harbaugh: "What's YOUR DEAL?"


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:24 AM ^

No, not LC coming back.  That would be a disaster.  I loved Lloyd.  I still love Lloyd.  I believe that he was one of the most underrated coaches in M history . . . before the last few years.  It was obvious that at the end, LC didn't have the energy to be HC as Michigan.  He had the love and passion for the game and the school, but not the energy. 

But, it is not out of the question to think that LC's "gang" could be re-united in a new regine. 

With reports that JH is not coming, it is conceivable that DB may try to assemble a staff comprised of former LC and Bo staff.  Guys like Heater (played, don't think he coached M), Loeffler and Hoke are all out there and could all be brought in.  Not sure if any of these guys is ready to be the HC (maybe Hoke?), but I could see DB trying to assemble the old guard for part of the staff. 

Huntington Wolverine

January 3rd, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

But the AD doesn't hire the staff. He hires a head coach who is empowered to hire the staff as he sees fit.  "Getting the band back together" by the AD's decision would be horrible micromanagement by DB of someone he obviously doesn't trust with real decision making.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:24 AM ^

I was getting so tired of all the talk and told myself to stay away for a fee days. Obviously I'm to addicted to Michigan Football to do that.

This was worth the read. Thanks michgoblue... Well thought out and well said.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:29 AM ^

I agree completely with this sentiment about Denard.  Regardless of who are coach is, I think Denard has a legitament shot at being our starting QB.  He does have a strong arm, and has shown he can make great throws (I hate to bring up the Gator Bowl, but holy bejezzus, did you see that throw on the TD pass to Odoms?  Beautiful.) 

I agree that he has work, but considering how raw of a thrower he was out of high school, I think he is ahead of the curve for a sophomore and first year starting.  I mean this year he does have a higher passer rating that Chad Henne ever had his four years starting at UM.  Some people have speculated that Forcier would step in if, say, Harbaugh were to make it here.  I disagree.  I think Denard's issues lie more with his mechanics and throwing terrible throws to the correct, and open, receiver, rather than bad decision making.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

Re: #5.

I think that is at the heart of the situation. 

Many here were so excited over the potential of the team prior to the bowl game.  We were talking about the bowl, but we were talking, more so, about the future.  We were talking about this team, with RR as the coach, with improvement will be National Championship contenders in 2 years.

But as you said, the excitement is gone.  People are sad and even numb.  If RR is not fired, would any up and coming DCs even want to come here knowing RR could be gone within a year?  Maybe, but they will also think twice.

Looking at RR's and the players' faces at the post-game press conference, they just looked dejected and worn out.  I feel terrible for all of them, it's been a rough road.  At this point I want something to excite and unite the team and fanbase and because the situation is now toxic, the only way that will be accomplished is through a head coaching change. 

Whatever happens, I will stand behind this team and the coach.  I will be pumped-up come spring practices and go nuts for games in the fall.  If RR is gone, I hope he lands on his feet and excells at his next job, he deserves it.  If he isn't, then he has my full support!

Go Blue!


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:43 AM ^

Whatever happens, I will stand behind this team and the coach.  I will be pumped-up come spring practices and go nuts for games in the fall.  If RR is gone, I hope he lands on his feet and excells at his next job, he deserves it.  If he isn't, then he has my full support!

I'm with you 100%. When I say that something needs to change (in my post under yours), I don't necessarily mean that RR needs to go. But the DC needs to change for sure. No matter what happens in the coming days, I will always be a Michigan fan until the day I die.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:39 AM ^

A very well written post. I will agree with you for the most part. I am not one that is a JH or bust fan, but I do agree that something needs to be done. I do agree that RR was not liked from the beginning, I for one was excited to see what he could bring to Michigan. But I know that something is not working here (mostly defensively and sometimes offensively as michgoblue pointed out). 

I don't know if JH can give us the boost that we need, and who knows if Hoke would be able to or not. But either way something needs to happen.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

2 Defense - I won't belabor the point.  But what is troubling is that those "15 extra practices" that some said would make a "huge difference" did nothing. We are young, thin, inexperienced, out-matched, etc. But, over 4 months, we haven't improved a lick. To the contrary, we have regressed to the point where we are a national joke. Especially given the youth, I would have expected SOME improvement. This is coaching.  Not necessarily RR, but he hired the D staff and the buck stops with him.

A recap of the season events as it relates to our secondary.

  • Prior to start of season, Woolfolk sustains season ending injury and Turner decides to transfer.
  • In first game, Carvin Johnson is injured and misses the next three games. Returns in game 5.
  • Prior to second game, Emilien decides to transfer.
  • In second game, Williams sustains season ending injury.
  • Prior to 8th game, Floyd sustains season ending injury
  • By the end of the season 7 freshmen (6 true) are seeing significant time on the field. and the only players with prior season experience are James Rogers and Walk On Jordan Kovacs.

Factor that in with the fact that our schedule got harder as the season progressed and I'm surprised that your are surprised that you saw regression over the course of the season.

This isn't some plea to save RR's job.  He will never get full support at Michigan, so it's probably best for everyone if we part ways.  With that said I, personally, would have liked to see him coach next year to see what would happen when lack of experience and depth is no longer a valid excuse on either side of the ball.


January 3rd, 2011 at 12:38 PM ^

killed them to at least "TRY" a 4-2-5 or 4-3-4 defensive scheme for this game?  Nope, stick with the 3-3-5 and wham-o, you get 52 hung on you.  It's not the scheme, we just need to "execute" better, right?  You know, IF I catch him by suprise and IF I get the right angle and IF I apply the right amount of leverage, and IF his shoes are untied and IF he is drunker then a skunk and IF he is wearing a blindfold, I probably could wrestle Mike Martin to the ground.  The other 99 times out of 100 when all of these IF do not happen,  he kicks the living shit out of me..... Must be my lack of execution that causes this.....


January 3rd, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

Most of the players you mention were/are not difference-makers, I'm afraid. They may become ones, with age and experience. But the D was getting torched before they went out.


January 3rd, 2011 at 9:29 PM ^

that Woolfolk was out prior to the season starting and Williams got injured Against Notre Dame, and also considering that Michigan held UConn to 10 points and ND to 7 in the first half, I don't really think that it's accurate to say that they were getting torched before they went out.

Our returning players may not have been difference makers, but they would have provided experience, leadership, and depth.  Contrary to what you might think, that means something.

Edit:  As an aside, thanks to Touch the Banner for providing the second photo that pops up on google search when you plug in "Troy Woolfolk."


January 3rd, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

The youth really is to blame a lot.  You can't put together fancy blitz packages when you're consistently playing 6 or 7 true freshman.  You can barely even change coverage.

The defense may have regressed statistically, but as the season wore on, we were facing better teams with the same defense -- it's not only possible, but probably that this is why we saw what we saw.

We need some positions coach changes, probably a DC change, but retaining RR isn't the worst thing in the world.


January 3rd, 2011 at 5:17 PM ^

I really feel sorry for DB. This guy was hired in the worst of circumstances.
Option 1:
To keep RR and have another year of MSM, fans, and alumni at his throat. Then if he doesn't produce then we are right back to this situation again. That isn't healthy at all for the team, school, or even DB. The only way this would work out is if RR put fourth Michigan as a contender for the Big Ten Title and we beat OSU and MSU. I said in a post that RR wouldn't be going anywhere at the start of the season. I also said that DB would give him 1 more year no matter what his record. I now admit I could be wrong. The last few games and the bowl game our Offense stopped scoring and our Defense didn't do so well.  That brings us to not bringing in JH. If JH is then picked up by someone else and RR has a bad year. There will be a committee of zombies at the end of the year wanting his head on a platter. 

Option 2: 
 Well the JH chants have been out in droves. If he does decide to Fire RR and manages to make this work. He then has the same problem if JH has a terrible year and goes 4 -8. Those who wanted RR for another year. They will be screaming it wasn't time and RR should have been given 4 years. 

Option 3:
He would hire another HC and have the same problems at option #2.

Option 4:
He retains RR and RR is forced to fire all his staff. This then puts RR is a slimy bucket of WTF kind of person does that to his own staff and how he left WVU then followed by the Sanctions by the NCAA. This making some people happy by keeping RR for another year but also paints RR as a true "snake oil salesman". Then if he has another bad season. That leaves RR on a boat all his own as he burnt his own bridges with former staff. Then we are back to where we are right now.

I am sure there are more options, but I can honestly say there is no amount of money that I would take to be in that position. He is in a no win situation. The fan base, MSM, and the alumni are split and the rift continues to grow. 

I see it on the boards here. The negging back and fourth between pro and con RR supporters. The person that is the most fucked in all this is DB. What ever choice he makes may make his tenure here the greatest call in history or the worst hire for AD in the history of Michigan. 

Happy New Year to all 

Go Blue