Does Brandon actually support RR, or is he just being practical?

Submitted by MgoMatt on May 26th, 2010 at 9:26 AM

I was watching ESPN, and one guy suggested that even if Brandon wanted to fire RR, it would be completely impractical, given that the whole mess won't be resolved until a couple weeks before the season starts.  This timeline has been known for quite a while, and Brandon seems like a pretty thorough and smart guy.

Every time I've heard Brandon speak, he's consistently said that RR will coach the 2010 season, but has never provided any outlook beyond that.  Since only an idiot would fire a coach and give themselves only a few weeks to hire a new one, it makes me wonder if Brandon actually supports RR, or if he's just biting his lip for now since he knows it's impossible to fire him, given the timeline.



May 26th, 2010 at 9:36 AM ^

Brandon is practical.

If Rich Rod wins, he stays.

If not, Harbaugh.

Either way, the Michigan coach in 2011 will win the conference title.

Blue in Yarmouth

May 26th, 2010 at 9:57 AM ^

except for the part about "either way, the Michigan coach in 2011 will win the oncference title".

If UM fires RR and hires a more traditional prostyle coach like Harbaugh, I see a similar transition as to what we went through when we converted from the prostyle to the spread.

RR has spent the last two years recruiting guys that fit the spread, but wouldn't necessarily fit so well in a prostyle offense. If we switch to that, I would see it as a foregone conclusion that we win a conference championship in that transition year. Just MHE.

I agree Brandon is practical and if RR wins he stays. I also agree that if he doesn't, we will have a new coach in 2011 (whether or not it is Harbaugh is up for debate IME). We differ, however, in how definitive it is that we take the big 10 title in 2011 if RR is gone.

I think the debate is moot though, because RR IS going to win this year.


May 26th, 2010 at 10:11 AM ^

These are serious questions (and not flames) for the football coaches in the crowd.

* How useless would Jake Long be in a spread offense?  (I realize he's an edge condition among O-linemen.)

* How effective was Alex Mitchell in a pro-style offense?  (Anyone remember that famous pic from the Ohio State game?)

* How useless would Martavious Odoms be in a pro-style offense?

I can see obvious differences between someone like Denard and (say) Tom Brady.  But, I'd like to know where the differences are most important on the offense.


May 26th, 2010 at 10:39 AM ^

I think that way too much has been made of the differences between the players that would play in a pro-style offense and a zone option offense.  For example:

1.  Receivers - no real difference.  The pro-style offense relies on receivers who can get open, catch the ball and create.  How does the zone option offense differ?  While our recent offense has focused on the short stuff more than stretching the field, I think that this is a result of personnel / youth / ability, rather than the scheme.  In an ideal zone offense, you would have Braylon type WRs, as well as some slot guys.  Also, our smaller electron WRs - so long as they can get open, catch the ball and create yargage, would do fine in a traditional offense (see Breaston).

2.  RB - RR has successfully run his offense with quick, shifty RBs alternating with beer truck downhill runners.  Not sure how this differs from a pro-style offense.  Our stable of RBs would be sufficient in either set.

3.  O-Line - this is the one area where there might be a difference between the two styles, with the option offense focused slightly more on speed than size than the traditional Wisconsin man beast type offensive line.  But, with that said, our offensive line is actually made up of some very large men.  A few weeks ago, in one of Brian's posts, I believe that he referenced an average weight that was only a few pounds lighter than some of the traditional big ten heavies.  Plus, the increased focus on speed, in today's game, is a good thing regardless of what style offense we run.

4.  QB - This is the position with the greatest difference, HOWEVA even at this position, I think that the difference only exists at the extremes.  For example, Chad Henne could never effectively run a zone option.  Michael Vick could never run a traditional offense.  But, the QBs on our roster do not fall into either of those extremes.  Denard, for example, is portrayed as a running QB, largely because his speed is so excellent and he has dreads.  But, during his recruitment (and again during his spring surge), reports continually focus on his arm strength.  If he has improved his accuracy and ability to read coverages, then that arm strength should allow him to successfully run either offense scheme.  Similarly, Tate's accuracy has always been touted.  His arm strength, especially since his shoulder injury, may be a bit suspect, but there is no reason to believe that he cannot run a traditional offense as well as Drew Tate (assuming a similar development).


May 26th, 2010 at 9:37 AM ^

I think for now, he supports him.  The Athletic Department has known for a while, more or less, what transpired to put us in this mess and what the punishiments should be.   If he really wanted to, I think Brandon could fire RR and throw $$$ at Harbaugh to get him to jump ships.  However, I know that Bo had a mentality that you need to give a coach 4 or 5 years before you can truly say he is a failure, and I believe Brandon has a similar philosophy.  But, he knows that another bowl season will probably force him to let RR go regardless of his beliefs, so he is only committing to this season for the time being.


May 26th, 2010 at 11:34 PM ^

I really don't think that Bo had a mentality that you needed to give a coach 4-5 years, especially during his AD years.  As a coach he might have thought a little differently. 

Remember, Bo beat OSU and went to the Rose Bowl in his first year.  He went back again in his third year.  He didn't need any time to get his players or system in place, he just coached football and used his natural advantages (Michigan's stadium, uniforms and tradition) for his benefit.


May 26th, 2010 at 9:38 AM ^

"Rich Rodriguez will be our coach for the next two years?" Then, heaven forbid, we go 3-9 or 4-8, or something similar, and I think everyone knows that is probably the end of the line anyway. Then, everyone can go back at DB and day, "but you said he had two more years." Brandon can only go one year at a time, because that is the nature of the business. If he fires Coach Rod after 2010, it will be for obvious reasons (losing record, no bowl, no improvement, etc.), and not because of this investigation and sanctions. That is what he is trying to make clear. That is why I laugh at all the columnists who say, "Well, Brandon said he would be the coach ONLY this fall. Uh, oh." 


May 26th, 2010 at 9:45 AM ^

Somebody please explain to me how David Brandon, who has made his respect and admiration for both Bo Schembechler and the University of Michigan absolutely clear over his entire adult life, would hire a guy who directly impugned the integrity of both Bo Schembechler and the institution that Brandon now works for.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^


oops Harbaugh, those were a poor choice of words.... wow....  I didn't know Harbaugh was so much like Bo.....    remember the causticness Bo displayed when with the Tigers...    true greatness often has this unpopular bluntness characteristic.

anyway, its disappointing that the trio Harbaugh, Carr, Hart, didn't truly reflect on the real issue.....       the inherent challenge of having achieving a standard of excellence on the academic side AND the football side, and the difficulties of getting top talent who won't cut it on the academic side at a very challenging academic school...

this truly makes our University great, by the way, and Stanford's too...     this challenge is the real catalyst between Harbaugh and Carr and Hart.


May 26th, 2010 at 10:14 AM ^

For all of Jimmy H's impressive accomplishments, he's still displayed a lack of maturity on a few occasions.  You could do a lot worse, sure (English/Hoke), but I agree that he'd be far from a slam-dunk choice.


May 26th, 2010 at 11:45 AM ^

Brandon would need to find a donor to fund the new $50,000 bathroom they'd have to build in Schembechler Hall for Jimmy.

I suppose they could approach UM grad Michael Rosenberg, who undoubtedly has gotten a nice fat pay raise recently. They could put a plastic name plate on the wall over the commode reading "The Michael Rosenberg/Detroit Free Press Memorial Crapper"


May 26th, 2010 at 11:50 AM ^


1.  (Now, he's certainly not alone on that.  The U.S.A. is humorously non-serious about alcohol and plenty of people get DUIs.  Still, in a high-profile position like that you need to be careful.  Gary Moeller could speak on that topic.)

2.… (Jim may have made some good points.  I'll leave that judgment to others.  But, to air it in that fashion struck me as immature.  Someone like, say, Dave Brandon could have achieved the same result far more elegantly.)

3. (I was personally amused at this.  Pete C. has always been way too schmoozy for my taste.  But, I still wondered about Harbaugh's impulsiveness.  It's hard to imagine Lloyd, Todd Harris incident aside, doing something like that.)

Anyway, he seems inclined to shoot from the hip.  You can't always do that.  In the big picture, it may turn out to be a minor complaint.


May 26th, 2010 at 1:13 PM ^

I think Jim is 100% right about directing athletes towards general studies.  Most of the team is not headed to the NFL, and it does a huge disservice to the players by having them graduate with a BGS degree.  Jim said that he believes we can hold players to a higher standard, and have them succede in the classroom and on the field.  I agree with him.

Why is it such a sin to say something negative about the program?  He was just trying to help.  And as the very article you linked to shows, the numbers support Harbaugh's position.

And as much as I hate to quote Woody, you go for two against a rival "Because I couldn't go for three."

Section 1

May 26th, 2010 at 2:08 PM ^

Matt, you seem like a nice person, who means well.  But when you say something like, "Why is it such a sin to say something negative about the program?  He [Harbaugh] was just trying to help," well, you just look silly.  This is for your own good.  Someday you'll thank me.  Wait, no you won't.  But I'll still be right.

Jim. Harbaugh. Was. Not. Trying. To. "Help."



May 26th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

I believe that Brian Cook had a long post here on the topic of BGS-type degrees at UM and at Stanford. I don't have time to unearth it, though. Anybody else? Brian?

Even if you assume Harbaugh's argument has some merit—something I'm not willing to do at this point—what was so galling to me is that he was allegedly being denied the opportunity to be a History major at Michigan in the mid-'80s (seriously, that's one of his allegations) but NEVER breathed a public word about his great disappointment at this until AFTER Bo Schembechler died in 2006. During that whole time, Harbaugh had virtually unlimited opportunities to air his grievances against UM, since he was a fairly high-profile NFL QB. You can be assured that during many interviews when he was with Indianapolis, he referred to his great experience at UM under Bo.

Oddly enough, it wasn't until after Bo was dead and he was HC at Stanford and hitting the recruiting trail against a variety of schools, including that horrible institution the University of Michigan, that he decided to speak out.

IMHO, it's the very definition of self-serving hypocrisy.


May 26th, 2010 at 2:57 PM ^

I graduated from M with a B.G.S. degree and it has served me extremely well, affording me the flexibility take more upper level 200+ courses in many different departments without being tied to a specific progression in say L.S.A. or Engineering and also allowed me to attend courses in both the graduate law and business schools, which I did. I was able to combine coursework in computer science, marketing, film/visual arts, communication, economics, chemistry and a whole host of other stuff at the 300 and 400 level that never would have been possible in any preset progression. The main benefit to athletes was that because of the increased upper level workload, the program allowed a student to forego the language requirement, which was very time intensive and difficult for full-time athletes to manage successfully (I took Italian anyway, FWIW).

It is not a blow off degree with no value, I arrived in Silicon Valley with the ability to speak and write effectively with both engineers and marketing folks, as well as to work with designers in user interface aspects, etc., etc.

No one was done a disservice by getting this degree, school is whatever a student wants to make of it and this would open more doors for a football player than it closed. Harbaugh was wholly ignorant of the specifics of the degree when he spouted off. 


oh, and it is succeed, not succede


May 26th, 2010 at 4:02 PM ^

And it most be noted that part of the reason why so many football players major in BGS is because they simply don't have the time in their schedule to take afternoon classes (IIRC, practice is typically from 2-6 p.m.).  Many upperclass courses are offered during that time, which means that a football player won't be able to take them during the season  - and thus would have a very difficult time graduating on time (which is no small consideration given that a lot of them couldn't afford to pay tuition after their scholarships run out).  At any rate, everyone I knew at U-M who was in BGS had a de facto "concentration;" they weren't just taking a random assortment of classes. 


May 26th, 2010 at 3:52 PM ^

I've heard from a couple of people that are pretty connected that Harbaugh may have a bit of a drinking problem - or at least, he apparently doesn't hold his liquor well. 


May 26th, 2010 at 10:26 AM ^

I think Brandon supports RR and is being practical; they are not mutually exclusive.  Also, I really don't think there is any way that RR loses enough games to get fired this year.  QB is the most important position, and right now the third-string QB is better than either QB was in 2008, and better than Denard was as a true, standard-entry freshman.  Denard, of course, is greatly improved, and Forcier should improve if he stays healthy. 

As for the rest of the team, the players are a year older and a year bigger, especially on the OL.  They have the same DC two years in a row, and RR has most of his offense installed now.  The last two years of losing and attacks from much of the media, especially the freep, has given this team a "bunker mentality."  They will not lose to third-tier teams such as MSU, Illinois, or Purdue this year, especially in revenge games.  That alone will get them to eight wins.

Jon Benke

May 26th, 2010 at 2:49 PM ^

We keep hearing words like redemption and payback, but to who does that really translate to, because I don't think it refers to Ohio State.  I admit, I think we have to beat Michigan State at home, though let me say on where I think the redemption will come from...  It's teams like Purdue.  I often think about how Purdue walked into Ann Arbor last season and punk'd us in the Big House, of how their coach rubbed it into Rich Rodriguez's face after the game...  You don't do that.  Purdue does not do that against Michigan.  So for me, on Novemner 13th, we head to Purdue, and we don't head there to play a football game, we go there to remind them exactly who we are.  Oh, and for the record, I fully expect RR, who has been known to do it in the past, at West Virginia, to run up the score in this game...  But then after, after we destroy them, on their field...we'll say nothing.  Roy Roundtree will be humble, our coaches, our players, and in that moment, an hour or so after that game, Purdue will know.  They'll know.

They'll know that Michigan is back.

Six Zero

May 26th, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

It's that Brandon will say the right things and handle the media in a safe and professional way that best serves the interests of the university.  It's early in his tenure but his damage control on the mess he inherited has been commendable.

If and when it's time for him to pull any triggers, I am confident he'll be in control of how the situation is revealed.  That's not easy in the media age, and I like the idea that we have a guy who is familiar and even comfortable with being under the scope of the media.


May 26th, 2010 at 10:58 AM ^

There are some fantastic responses, and articles on rivals right now about the whole violations case.  They absolutely rip freep to shreds. (no paywall)  It's just the football front page and Borton's blog.  Here's a quote,

"This is the equivalent of being accused of massive tax fraud, bringing in the IRS for a thorough audit, and then admitting you mistakenly expensed a cup of coffee at starbucks."


May 26th, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

Matt,  I believe that Brandon supports Rodriguez 100%... and I also believe anything to the contrary is an unfortunate perception in many M fans minds, manifested by drinking the spiked Kool-Aid that the motherless infidel armies of MSU, OSU, WVA scattered in the populace and media have offered. The Freep head is an MSU alum, the new MSU AD Hollis is slick and a decent foe, D'Antonio formerly of OSU, colludes with Tressel since they have a common enemy,  the entire fricking state of West Virginia is still behaving like a bitter divorcee.

And what is so fricking disappointing is that many M fans are still drinking the concoction... the infidels are trying to suppress greatness, and quite frankly, they got to a few of us..... and perhaps yours truly right now by typing this, is attempting to make a request to ALL Michigan Men to stop drinking what the enemy has been serving, because it truly is the road to Jonestown. Even guys like Rick Leach, have got to stop.

...but I think it is all about to change anyway....

Consider this....      Carr's few final recruiting years would have been fine if we relatively kept the same pro-style system, and the transition would have been much smoother... but since Rodriguez' spread system was so esoteric, the fit with the inherited talent was not a good fit, at all... this is not an excuse.. it is a fact...  So Rodriguez had to make do with a guy like Threet who is not a spread QB in year one...  year two, with a true freshman QB, he nearly beat Iowa in Iowa, took MSU to overtime... again with a true freshman QB !!!   And on this current trajectory, it is quite easy to see where we'll be for the upcoming season....

... we are easily ahead of Iowa now, not even considering they lost half their team to the NFL .... we are ahead of MSU now, which also means were ahead of Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota...    we are in the company of PSU, and by the end of the season, we will be close enough to OSU because Robinson (and Forcier) will be quite seasoned.

This upcoming season, we will see Denard Robinson become a national household name in college sports, akin to Tebow in his early years... We'll also see some high scoring games, and will see us go 9-3, and actually give OSU some nice competition. But most of all, we will see your question whether Brandon supports Rodriguez, answered, as self-evident (Yes).


May 26th, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^

Who would you rather believe?

Dave Brandon: Left his job as CEO of a worldwide corporation and took an extreme pay cut to become Athletic Director of his alma mater. He recently accused one of the largest newspapers in America of  printing untrue information in an effort to support Rich Rodriguez.


ESPN: A highly editorialized "Sports News Network" that is facing the loss of an ongoing story about a team with one of the largest fanbases of any sports organization in America.

Section 1

May 26th, 2010 at 11:11 AM ^

Except for the bunny with a pancake on its head, which is more informative than anything on ESPN.

Yes, yesterday's events are a huge, massive, powerful vote of confidence in Rich Rodriguez (although Brandon might be wondering, "Yeah, what's new about that?").

And no, yesterday's events are not first and foremost David Brandon "playing to the media."  I almost wish that David Brandon were not such a soothing presence.  Because the real content, and the real news of yesterday was the blowback against the the inacccurate Free Press report that got all of this started.  We knew what the allegations were.  We knew that the lawyers would craft a careful response that put things in proper perspective.  We knew that Michigan would self-impose sanctions.  We knew the general procedural layout, and the schedule of future events, in "Case Number M324."

What we didn't know (and what I frankly did not expect!) was a report that went after "the media", in clear language, in the first couple of paragraphs.

And that is why today, David Brandon is my hero.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:12 PM ^

some carefully placed words from Brandon to the effect that there has been some unfair treatment of RR by some portion of the fanbase due to the 'complexities' of the coaching search, as well as some internal strife. Quite frankly, I never expected any public acknowledgement of any of that sort of information and thought we would have to just wonder at what was transpiring behind closed doors as to its existence.

Kudos to Brandon for taking a bold step and attempting to send a message to the 'detractors', get on board while we decide if RR can deliver more W's. Be part of the solution.

lexus larry

May 26th, 2010 at 12:17 PM ^

is what I was trying to point out yesterday in another thread, in response to another person. DB has been behind RR for months, and the 70+ pages of documents support that fact.
Also, Brian presented a nice analysis and review of some of the other players in this drama within the AD (as these posts were being fired up over thet past couple hours this morning), and showed that RR wasn't alone in the CARA debacle or the QC Job Description fiasco.
Dave Brandon knows what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and how we're going to proceed.
Fall in line behind the leadership...

Maize and Blue…

May 26th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

In 2011 we only lose one starter on O (Schilling) and three starters on D (Ezeh, Mouton, and Woolfolk) so unless this year absolutely blows up in RR's face how can you not bring him back.  2012 will also have a ton of starters returning.

Scholarship count going by eligibility has only 28 juniors and seniors for 2010 that's just over one recruiting class. That leaves 57 scholarship freshmen and sophomores.  The future is looking bright.  In other words- get behind your team, cheer hard and get ready for what I believe is going to be a wild ride with revenge coming in the form of putting up some big numbers on the scoreboard against those that deserve it.

Blue Ninja

May 26th, 2010 at 12:08 PM ^

I take what Brandon is saying at face value because to me he seems to be a man who says what he believes. I believe that he totally supports RR and that he believes in what he is trying to do with the football program. That being said if the desired results are not achieved (ones that only Brandon and perhaps RR actually know) then he will fire RR if it is necessary for the health of the program. But I don't believe he is even close to that point.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

Brandon would have to be a fool if he didn't have some doubts about Rodriguez. But no A.D. publicly admits lack of confidence in the coach, whatever he may think privately, unless he is actually ready to fire said coach. Since coaches don't get fired at this time of year, Brandon is saying all the right things. If you read between the lines, it's very clear that Rodriguez needs to field a winning team this year.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

I'm convinced of it.  M will be better this year, but an honest appraisal of the schedule offers little assurance we win more than seven games, and it could be six. Lots of good recent signs, but I still think the D is extremely vulnerable, and that the O will blow minds one minute and look young at others. Brandon is no idiot. This is an 'in for a penny, in for a pound' deal, and another huge transition to another coach and style brings no guarantees.

True, a conference win in 2011 could be stretching it, but in 2011 this is a really good team. I think that Brandon is quietly assuming that RichRod has two more years. As long as the win chart describes some kind of upward arc, he is here despite the alumni/fan base grousing. And Brandon has the chutzpah and clout to make them wait.

This debacle has also helped make clear that RichRod is on the up-and-up. That's an important insight for the doubters, everyone. I have come to admire the guy more through all of this.