Chris Dufresne picks Michigan 25. And number 2 is...

Submitted by BIGBLUEWORLD on September 1st, 2015 at 1:52 PM

Chris Dufresne is a Los Angeles Times' columnist covering football/basketball since 1995. He was California Sportswriter of the Year in 2011. He's no slouch.

About a month before college football season he writes a daily series of articles with his prediction and reasons why. Here's the complete list: 

25. Michigan. 24. Nebraska. 23. Utah. 22. Missouri. 21. Arkansas. 20. Tennessee. 19. Boise State. 18. Oklahoma. 17. Notre Dame. 16. Wisconsin. 15. Georgia Tech. 14. UCLA. 13. Arizona. 12. Florida State. 11. Arizona State. 10. Georgia. 9. USC. 8. Auburn. 7.Clemson. 6. Baylor. 5. Michigan State. 4. Oregon. 3. Alabama. 2. Ohio State. 1. TCU.

Edit: This information came from reading, not from the internet. There are some bright people on this board, and a lot of bitchy snits. If you want Linc, watch Mod Sqad. 



September 1st, 2015 at 3:19 PM ^

I agree he's a good coach. His offense when clicking has a mechanical beauty that something to behold. However, I question if Michigan would've been elite under him even with "instituional support".  His recruiting decisions seemed questionable at times and, as someone else mentioned on another thread, his offense piled up points against the UMass's and Illinois' of th world but was mostly stopped by elite defenses save for a few Denard highlight plays.  The defense....ugh.


September 1st, 2015 at 4:37 PM ^

RRod was trending up.  If he had $1M to pay a DC I'll bet he would have gotten Casteel. Heck he could have had Casteel for far less.


Would we have been elite?  2011 seems to indicate yes.  I would have loved to see RRod coach that offense in 2011.  I'll go to my death believing that Denard would have won a heisman if he had played out his career under RRod.  As for the defense, yeah ugh. 


If we had to go through football purgatory for 7 years in order to get to football heaven (15+ years of Harbaugh and multiple championships) then it will have been worth it.


September 2nd, 2015 at 10:02 AM ^

That makes me laugh becuase RRod was only getting $2.5M a year.  Hoke comes in and the HC salary was almost double that, plus he got to pay his DC $1M. 


If I recall my 3 and out correctly RRod wanted more money for his assistants at WVU and he was promised it at Michigan.  Yet Casteel didn't come because he wasn't getting a pay bump.  Sure RRod could have given him money out of his own salary but it is absurd that you can't pay an extra $250K for your HC's favorite DC yet when hoke comes in you give him $2M more in salary and $1M for the DC of his choosing. 


RRod did many things that hurt him at Michigan.  His initial press conference was a disaster.  His adherence to his system and justifying it by saying we lose big, lose small, win small, win big hurt him when the program prided itself on a 30+ year bowl run. 


September 1st, 2015 at 5:08 PM ^

To be fair, RichRod had as a starting QB a redshirt freshman/walk on, a true freshman, and a true sophomore in his 3 seasons here. Just because Solomon had an amazing year as a redshirt freshman doesn't mean all QBs will do the same. Give him Denard as a junior and senior with Gardner backing him up and I think we see a different offense than we saw in his first 3 years.


September 1st, 2015 at 4:01 PM ^

But if RichRod had recruited even a half-sane number of offensive lineman, any WR's besides Jeremy Gallon, or any DE's at all, Hoke would still be here.  /shudders 

RR was a great coach everywhere but Michigan.  No matter how many times people re-assert their desire that he could have succeeded here, it will not change that he was awful at Michigan.  Just terrible here.  The list of offenses is too long to post.  And yes he had some opposition, but he failed and it was his fault. 


September 1st, 2015 at 5:03 PM ^

You are choosing to omit the Gator Bowl from your memory.  I don't blame you.  His team gave up on him.  Denard Robinson - if nothing else, he was most certainly the sweetest football human to ever walk this earth - actively screamed back at him after being berated by RR for running his plays which didn't work.  They quit in that game and were trampled.  After weeks of practice.  Outplayed, outcoached, embarassed and giving no fucks about it.  When RR was fired, seemingly none of the players cared.  Roy Roundtree joked about it on twitter.  

It absolutely was not trending up, it was a basket case.  Top in-state recruits like Royce Jenkins-Stone said they wouldn't have come to Michigan if RR was there.  Recruits were bailing on him like lol.  Every "hot seat" conversation began with RR and took up most of the segment.  It was a complete disaster.  You cannot be remembering that time correctly and have any thought that the program was trending in the right direction. 

If Michigan goes 11-2 this year, I will wait for you to complain that Brady Hoke should have been retained.  Because Harbaugh "won with Hoke's players."  


September 2nd, 2015 at 9:55 AM ^

I think you forget all the swirling speculation during bowl prep that RRod was going to be fired no matter the outcome of the game because Brandon wanted save $1M in a buyout by getting past Jan 1.  I remember the Gator Bowl disaster and I think if Brandon had given RRod a show of support and promised to give him $1M for the best DC available then we would have had as good if not better year in 2011 than we had.  Just my opinion.


September 2nd, 2015 at 11:48 AM ^

I respect that it's your opinion, it just seems incredulous to me.  At some point you have to stop making excuses and perform.  For football head coaches, that's from day 1.  It's all on him, it's all his fault.  That should be his view. 

It's not Brandon's fault, it was RR's.  You don't have any idea if the $1M had anything to do with the decision.  RR didn't deserve a show of support at that point, and if he needed that in order to not get his ass kicked in the bowl game, it just further proves my point that he was terrible here. 

We were better in 2011 because Hoke and Mattison engineered a confidence and defensive makeover.  There's little evidence to believe RR could have managed the former, and abundant and certain information that he wouldn't have completed the latter.  There were lots of DC's available all over college football that would have been better than the nightmares he put on the field, at whatever cost he was limited to (if he was even limited at all). 

You're holding on because you invested and you probably had friends or relatives who hated him all the way through.  You defended RR for a long time and were never able to concede.  This is stubborn.  I did the same thing as you, but I attended that disaster of a Gator Bowl and knew at that point he had to go. 

He was an awful football coach at Michigan, it's OK to admit that.  No you can't project some fantastical improvement - you can only project off what he did while at Michigan.  It was terrible. 

Above and Beyond

September 1st, 2015 at 2:14 PM ^

I'm happy for RR. That guy went through so much stress as soon as it was announced he was coming to Michigan. Sure, he doesn't know shit about defense, but the guy is still a really good coach. He can relate well to players and is a charismatic guy. I think he is a great coach, but a bad fit for Michigan.


September 1st, 2015 at 2:30 PM ^

Why?  Could it be because Rodriguez taking a perenially lower tier Power 5 conference  team and making them relevant in a conference that is a arguably better than the B1G blows a hole through your narrative that he was a bad head coach?

I won't argue that Michigan is in the best possible position today with Jim Harbaugh as coach, but it's still disappointing to see a small faction of the fanbase so entrenched in their position that Rodriguez is a bad football coach that they want to see him fail at Arizona just to validate their belief.  People like you represent the worst of our fanbase.


September 1st, 2015 at 4:06 PM ^

First of all, hyperbole train running off the tracks at the end of your post there. 

Second, see my post above.  It's entirely possible that RR was a great coach everywhere before coming to Michigan, and a great coach after Michigan, but terrible at Michigan.  It's possible and it was in fact exactly what happened. 


September 1st, 2015 at 4:30 PM ^

Only if you are conciously omitting all of RR's football-only decisions.  Forgetting about all of the softer issues (#1 jersey, swearing at practice, dismissal of traditions, etc), his football decisions were atrocious.  

You are focusing on all of those softer issues and thinking to yourself, "that was really unfair, he could have succeeded without that."  Not with Greg Robinson as his DC, forcing him to run a 3-3-5 when it was clear even to Brian that Gerg didn't even know where to place his MLB.  Think about that alone: RR hired a coach that didn't know where to locate his MLB in a 3-3-5, and did nothing to change this fact.  Even sticking with this one issue, the essence of the 3-3-5 is sending one or more of the LB's on blitzes on any given play, confusing the defense.  There was none of this in Michigan's defense.  How is this possible?  RR was awful here. 


September 1st, 2015 at 5:14 PM ^

The fact that swearing at practice was even a softer issue is exactly what the poster you were responding to is talking about. How much bad press did RichRod get because we made him pay his own buyout and because of his failed real estate endeavor? Both these things have nothing to do with coaching and shouldn't even have been a softer issue and yet, there they were, making headlines with no one in the athletic department talking about how ridiculous those stories were.


September 1st, 2015 at 5:59 PM ^

I'm omitting all soft issues.  None of those would have mattered if he didn't fail completely on the football field. 

You want to talk about the soft issues because many of those were unfair.  I won't even debate you because it doesn't matter.  I'll grant all of those. 

Will you grant me that GERG beaver was a disaster that had nothing to do with his treatment by a faction of the Michigan fanbase?  That he changed both his defensive scheme and the positions of 3-4 players during a bye week before the Penn State game, and got obliterated by a walk-on ginger?  That he played a clearly not-ready-for-B1G football McGuffie as a true freshman over Brandon Minor, who when healthy was not only leagues (light years) ahead of McGuffie, but one of the best in the B1G?  Minor started 4 games and McGuffie started 6!  Getting his head pounded and being in effective in all of them.  Remember when Forcier hit Roundtree against Illinois and he got down to the 1 yard line.  RR hands off 3 times to somebody little, on the goal line.  I believe it was Vincent Smith.  You figure, well, Minor's hurt and unavailable, he has no choice.  Then in runs Brandon Minor on 4th down!  Stuffed because now the defense is charged.  Illinois, who had been actively warming up the second string QB and were to concede the game, rally and win the game.  Give the ball to Minor if he's available, on 1st down and the remaining downs as needed, like any monkey would have, and Michigan wins that game.  Who knows, maybe that win has the players buying in more and builds an energy his program was never able to muster.  But at the least, he goes 6-6 in his second season, making a bowl.  He could have changed things on his own, but he was incometent here.  

This is like 5 seconds of stuff.  RR was a terrible footbal coach here.  I wish that wasn't the case, I was on board and committed.  But he was just awful and you can't change that by invoking blue hairs.  

Sac Fly

September 1st, 2015 at 8:43 PM ^

People love to bring up what RR did before he got here and after he left, but forget what he did while he was here.

Fact of the matter, RR was an awful game manager at Michigan. His personnel decisions were terrible. His offensive gameplan for most of his tenure was Denard Robinson running QB draw 30 times a game.

His DB's were coached by a guy who said technique didn't matter, his linebackers lined up in the wrong places. He set up his defensive to be so exotic with hybrid pash rushes coming from all angles, but they never blitzed.

It's convenient to blame it all on someone else, but the product on the field was a joke for three years. It was never going to get better.


September 1st, 2015 at 10:34 PM ^

My personal opinion then and now is that it was going to get better . . . but never better enough to consistently go toe to toe with Ohio State. 

Fortunately for us and where we eventually (and painfully) would up, with Jim Harbaugh, you just know that he'll be going go toe to toe with Ohio State on a regular basis.


September 2nd, 2015 at 8:39 AM ^

You are focusing on all of those softer issues and thinking to yourself, "that was really unfair, he could have succeeded without that."

I'm not suggesting that it was a slam dunk that Rodriguez would've been successful absent any of the soft issues you mention, but pretending like those issues had no impact on his overall performance as head coach is disingenuous.

How much preparation time was Rich Rodriguez denied because he had to attend press conferences to address Stretchgate or his buyout or shredded documents at WVU? How much of these stupid distractions affected his attention and focus to his team and recruiting? It's certainly nothing that could ever be quantified or proven, but it probably matters. If you have distractions in your personal life are you at your best at your job everyday?

Rich Rodriguez may never have built Michigan back into the program we expect and it eventually may have been necessary to show him the door, but I don't think we had enough evidence to say that definitively after just 3 seasons when the team was getting progressively better. You can cite numerous bad coaching decisions that he made as justification and I can cite dozens more bad coaching decisions by Lloyd Carr, or Gary Moeller, or even Bo Schembechler that cost Michigan games. Still those coaches won more games than Rodriguez, so they get more leeway.

Now there will be those who want us to stop beating this dead horse because, you know, Harbaugh and this is the past now and moot. But we need to remind ourselves how completely fucking fortunate we are to have a coach the caliber of Jim Harbaugh with ties to our school to come riding in on a white horse to save the day. There's probably no other college program in the country that could've lured Harbaugh away from the pro coaching ranks except us.

If we didn't have Harbaugh in the wings available to woo, we could've been in for a rough ride in the last coaching search, and that is completely an indictment of the culture we've fostered in recent years and could potentially be a problem for us in the future post-Harbaugh.

This is the big issue I have with those who shrug off Rodriguez's lack of success here while succeeding everywhere else as just, "well Rich Rod was a bad fit at Michigan". We shouldn't be a bad "fit" for any coach who is willing to come here and run a clean and ethical program. Michigan as a culture should be willing to bend a little too, and we clearly weren't when it came to Rich Rodriguez and that has tarnished us a bit in the ranks of job attractiveness.


September 2nd, 2015 at 10:23 AM ^

He's an offensive genius right?  You still haven't explain why his offense - which was run by an all time great running QB recruited by RR - couldnt do jack shit against good defenses like OSU, MSU, Miss st. This is true even in latter years you describe as "trending up", during which RR had all players he recruited.


September 2nd, 2015 at 12:58 PM ^

But he's been a pretty good to excellent coach at every other program he's worked for.  It was just the 3 years he was here at Michigan where he forgot how to coach and teach football.  Got it.

Sorry, that explanation is a little too succinct and doesn''t work for me.  We'll have to agree to disagree.


September 2nd, 2015 at 10:32 PM ^

You're confusing an aberration with an argument.  Yes he was good at other places before, and has been good at Arizona after coaching at Michigan.  The fact that his football decisions were awful here is confusing, and at variance with his history.  But that does not change the abundant evidence that he was a complete failure here.  Because something is an outlier does not mean it's not true.  It just means it's an outlier. 


September 1st, 2015 at 2:15 PM ^

Okay. Still, for someone with the experience and apparent accolades that Dufresne has, that was some weak rehashing of things that've been said hundreds of times since the winter. Plus, some of it is still dumb and unfounded, like the "Yea, but how long will it take for Harbaugh to wear out his welcome?" meme.

2 Days.


September 1st, 2015 at 2:34 PM ^

Dufrense is pretty good, as is the LAT sports staff generally. Left LA over eight years ago but still read LAT daily. Not sure about his ultimate conclusions here (this could be the one year the Pac-12 has no playoff teams).