GERG for the Last Time

Submitted by Ziff72 on March 31st, 2011 at 10:13 AM

This is a bad idea.  I didn't  like the hire.  I thought he did a poor job. I wanted him replaced.  Despite these statements I can't let it go.  I know I won't have any support, but as the saying goes "if I can reach 1 person it was worth it".

On the Mattison presser thread I tried to make a point about GERG and when I saw the responses I was again saddened.   Maybe I'm missing the joke and that will be fine, because as fans we are known to exaggerate and be extreme.   If I'm not and you truly believe what you are saying then I need to get this off my chest for the last time.

GERG knows about fundamentals on defense.  He knows about how defenses work.  Despite all the evidence backing this up people seem to think he was on a solo mission to destroy Michigan.

First the evidence. Gerg won 2 Super Bowls.  Make any excuse you want on how he got them, but he got them.   Does this prove he runs a great defense? No it doesn't.   The fact that he got to that position does.  You can get a job in high school, because you know a buddy.  That can even get you a foot in the door at a college, but you can't work your way up to the Super Bowl and not know  how to tackle, shed a block, contain etc..    These are the coaches that have employed Greg Robinson.....Dick Vermiel, Mike Shanahan, Mack Brown, Pete Carrol and Rich Rodriguez.   Not a complete list but it gets the point across.   Vermiel and Shanahan are known as complete overbearing, controlling lunatics in a win at all costs business.  Do you think they would trust their defenses to a guy that doesn't know how to assemble a defense or know how to tackle?

I really want you to think about that a second.  Imagine Mike Shanahan is sitting at a table looking at film with Greg Robinson  and he asks him about how bad a tackle that was and Greg saying no I thought that was good form.  Or they are going over the tape getting ready for a playoff game and Shanahan asks him his plan and he says well on 3rd and 1 I want to have 5 guys in the box or on 3rd and 18 I want my db to turn his head and jump the 5 yd route.  Do you really believe that?   Really?

It's easier to believe these guys go to clinics, teach at clinics have other coaches on the staff and no one can figure out how to tackle, than it is to believe the kids are young and they need coaching?  Courtney Avery missing tackles was not because he was a high school qb and stepped on campus 3 months ago it was because Robinson doesn't teach fundamentals.  That's what your bet is?

I'm dying to see John Bacon's book because I'm curious if we will get any answers.  As I said at the beginning I don't like the way Robinson called defense for Michigan and I wanted him gone, but I have enough sense to know that there must have been some logic to what they were trying.   I have no idea if Robinson was doing a good job at Michigan, but I'm certain that they worked on fundamentals and he knew what he was talking about. 

He may have been a bad communicator, he may have been terrible at timing blitz calls, he may have picked the wrong defenses to match the personnel, he may have put the players at wrong positions. maybe it was too complicated, maybe it was too simple.   I won't debate you on that because I have no idea what went on behind closed doors, but to say he didn't teach correct fundamentals or set up unsound schemes doomed to fail is just silly.  

There are plenty of coaching examples of people being horrible in one spot and a genius at the next, but one man presonifies my point more than any other...Rod Marinelli.    Has there ever been a defense that looked as overmatched and out of position as Michigan looked the last 2 years?   Yeah the Detroit Lions over Rod's last 2 years.   I would look at my tv and say we have no outside contain they are going to run left for 10 yds and they would.  Despite the fact Marinelli was widely recognized around the league as a great defensive coach we looked like a joke and I started to think maybe he doesn't know how to coach defense.  Week after week he would sit up in those press conferences  and say it's getting there, pad level, my pick is sharp until he was a national joke and canned.   So what did a coach that had his job on the line do.....he hired Rod Marinelli to run his defense.   Rod has Julius Peppers back on his side and all of a sudden he's back to being respected.  Funny how he remembered how to coach fundamentals and set up solid schemes once he had Julius Peppers coming off the edge.

I'm not saying the coaches are always right(they are not) I'm not saying there are not great coaches, good coaches and bad coaches(there are), but they all know the correct way to tackle and they all have similar drills on how to get the kids to have better fundamentals by the time they reach the NFL or major D1 football. You need to really know that.





March 31st, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

Sorry about that I was responding to you and then went "reply all" with my post instead of going individually.

I still take issue with people thinking he forgot how to teach fundamentals.  Game may have passed him by, I thought he sucked.  I'm just fairly certain he knows the fundamentals and he taught them.  I'm not 100% certain, but to think otherwise is really tinfoil hat stuff.


March 31st, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

I understand that we need to temper pie-in-the-sky expectations for defensive improvement, and that Mattison isn't the end all be all...but come on, if you can't be anything but at least cautiously optimistic for advanced improvement in the defense this year, I don't know what to say. 

If you want more people to read 100% of your posts then be more consise and less rambling. We are all smart people. So when we read something that isn't convincing in the first 3 paragraphs, we tend to stop. (you lost me at "GERG knows how to coach defense". No duh. That's why he's had success in the past. That doesn't mean he was the best at his job, or that there were other factors contributing to that succes...nor does that mean Mattison will be bad because GERG was bad.)

Have a little optimism, for f%^k's sake. I hate all the GD negativity on this board sometimes.


March 31st, 2011 at 6:19 PM ^

I'm one of the most optimistic people on the board.   I've been saying for 2+ years 2011 will be our year and we will win the Big Ten.   Despite the coaching change and attrition on d I still believe that to be true.  I love Mattison and the D changes, but my point is if you believe we are just starting to teach fundamentals this year you are wrong.    Fundamentals are stresses on every football team at every level.  They will build on the base that RR's staff began. 


March 31st, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

With all of the positive press, positive practice notes, positive recruiting tidbits....why ever bother to delve back into the realm of "if we only..."?  The time for scapegoating has past.  We now move forward to Michigan football.


March 31st, 2011 at 10:38 AM ^

This might be my last chance to ask this question.  Why is Greg Robinson nicknamed GERG?

Ziff I understand your point that GERG knows the game of football but UM fans aren't trying to admit that right now.  We are still licking our wounds from the past two years of horrendous defense.  It's like trying to get Madoff victims to admit that he had a good business sense but his investment ideas just weren't the right fit for them.


March 31st, 2011 at 10:44 AM ^

It's not a coincidence that Michigan's defense sucked over Rich Rodrigez's three years.  And despite having only about 70 scholarship players in 2009, Robinson actually had more defensive players in 2010 and things still got worse...

...but the move to the 3-3-5 was stupid for Michigan's personnel and strengths.

I'm not convinced that Robinson is a horrible, horrible coach, although he's obviously not a great one.

I am convinced, however, that Rodriguez's defensive hires and decisions were bottom of the barrel.


March 31st, 2011 at 11:01 AM ^

It was brutal, that is why I can't read the book.

Despite the numbers between Martin's injury and the defensive backfield blowing up the defensive personnel to work with was worse in 2010.  It should have been better and it was in June, but by October they were not as good as 2009.

Why Cam at FS?   Was it because in spring we had no bodies to put there so you just try to get your best 11 on the field even if it puts 1 guy at out of positions?  It's a reasonable thought.

Why Roh at LB?  Same reason.   Once Herron was out did they think it was better to Roh out of position than to put another terribel LB on the field.They had some reasoning that must have made sense.  Did it turn out? No it was a disaster, but these coaches when you are put in an extreme situation have to try stuff and they know there is no good answer.   A lot of people, like Brian, were buying into Gordon at FS by game 5 so it's easy to look back and say oh he was slow why did they play him for so long.   Well Vinopal wasn't here until August and probably didn't know shit until half way thru the season.

What was the correct call?  We have no Db's so should we blitz more and take our chances or do we stay in a soft zone and hope teams break down.   Do we stay vanilla and let them shred us or do we try to surprise teams to mask our lack of talent or do we risk more screw ups because it is more complicated.  These are very tough calls.   With little chance of success and probably less if you waver on what you want to do.   After the Illinois game do you say just keep with the same stuff the kids are starting to get it or do you say let's try something else it is not working?



March 31st, 2011 at 11:18 AM ^

Whatever the correct answer was, Robinson and Rodriguez didn't find it.  This defense wasn't going to be good considering the injuries, inexperience, etc., but it didn't have to be THAT bad.

The Cam Gordon at FS thing and the Craig Roh at LB thing were horrible ideas from the beginning.  If Vinopal stepped in and was immediately better than Cam Gordon at FS, then Vinopal would have been as good or better than Gordon a week or two or three or four or five or six earlier, too).


March 31st, 2011 at 11:31 AM ^

I was prepared for bad, but it was disgusting at points in the season and didn't need to look that bad so he should have been gone.

Just saying it's easy to pull the wrong lever on your decisions when you have no good options.  Do we win the Indiana game if Vinopal is in for Gordon and he is so unprepared he screws things up even worse?   I don't think so but it is a possibility.


March 31st, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

I am also holding my breath on the defensive recruiting those three years too. I'd like to think there are some impact guys in there. Without condemning, it is arguable that when it came to picking the size and type of athlete we need on defense in this league, Rich didn' t know what he didn't know.

Too early to tell and I love the heart these guys showed last year.


March 31st, 2011 at 11:12 AM ^

I don't know why you are getting fake-negged for this - while I COMPLETELY disagree with you on this (as you know), your post wasn't offensive, nasty, insulting or particularly controversial. 

That aside, I disagree.  Some points:

1.  GERG's skill set may be such that he is a decent to good NFL coach but a piss poor college coach.  NFL coaches are fortunate in that they get to work with the best man-beast talent there is.  The players that make the NFL are studs.  There is less of an emphasis on development.  So, while GERG may be ok at coaching man beast talent, he is no so good at developing.

2.  As a related point to #1, NFL players generally have the fundamentals down, and to the extent that tweeks are necessary, this is certainly done by the position coaches, not the DC.  In college, especially with young talent, there needs to be much more emphasis on developing fundamentals.  It don't believe that GERG doesn't care about fundamentals, but perhaps he is simply not good at teaching them from the ground up to 18 year old kids.

3.  Talent identification - in the NFL, your entire roster is full of talented players.  Obviously, not every player is Tom Brady or Charles Woodson, but they are all damn good at their respective positions.  As such, position switches are rare in the NFL as compared to college.  Again, perhaps GERG is not so good at the whole identification of talent or finding the best use for his available talent thing?  This wouldn't hurt him in the NFL, but would very much hurt him in college, especially with a young, somewhat talent deficient defense.

4.  There are also some coaches that can be wildly successful when they have tons of talent, but who are not very good at making the most out of less talented squads.  While the point seems almost too obvious, there are plenty of coaches that are lucky enough to have awesome rosters, but who do not maximize the potential.  GERG may be great at getting a lot out of talented guys (like his super bowl teams), but not as good at maximizing less talented guys.

Sadly (or perhaps fortunately) we will never know the true story on GERG.  He was definitely hamstrung by RR's craptastic D staff, and forced by that staff to run a D that was not only insanely stupid, but which he was not comfortable with.  He also presided over the period with the least D talent and experience on the roster in Michigan history.   These are all legit mitigating factors, but at the end of the day, even with those issues, the D was worse than it should have been.  The fundamentals - tackling, pursuit angles, pad level, etc., were terrible, even to my untrained eye.  While GERG likely is not as bad as his performance here would indicate, he clearly is not a good college D coach.


March 31st, 2011 at 11:23 AM ^

I agree with most of your post.  If you read thru my post I don't like Greg Robinson as our coach.  I don't think Greg was a good coordinator.  I don't think he was in the NFL really either and he proved terrible in college by the numbers.

The point I will disagree with you on is you state that in the pros most have the fundamentals down.  While pros are naturally better than college.  Pro coaches preach fundamentals all the time.  It's taught  at every level.   Watch the NFL combine or Senior Bowl practices.  They talk about technique issues all the time.   Just as Mattison said he always works on it all the time.   I'm sure Ray Lewis still works on his fundamentals.   They need to do this to stay sharp and get better.  Fundamentals never stop being taught.   Listen to any coach during the preseason and I guarantee if they talk for more than 5 minutes about practice they will say fundamentals.

The other thing is that for Greg to get to that point to be in a pro locker room leading a unit he has to know his shit.  Those locker rooms will eat you up if they don't respect you and if he didn't have better than a high school understanding of fundamentals or schemes he would be broomed asap.

He may not have related to college kids or wasn't good at communicating his point I don't know, but it was being taught and taught correctly.  That I can be certain of.


March 31st, 2011 at 12:21 PM ^

Your inability to be mature when replying to snark is puerile. You've been a member long enough to know how the board will respond to topics such as this. With every insult your point loses more validity.

angry byrne

March 31st, 2011 at 3:58 PM ^

You're probably right... Ziffs argument is relively well thought out and written.  To my knowledge -- and someone correct me if I'm wrong -- it isn't even proven that GERG can write at all.  Judging from the product on the field, he especially has difficulty with the  x's and o's.


March 31st, 2011 at 11:29 AM ^

Ziff, I've come around to seeing things your way: It was really all Rodriguez's fault, along with the rest of his WVU defensive staff. Thanks for trying to enlighten all of us again (and again and again and again).


March 31st, 2011 at 11:32 AM ^

1. PSU debacle - moved players to new positions when nobody knew their current ones.

2. Free Safety: SS is Kovacs, Furman, MRob; FS is Carvin, T. Gordon, Hawthorne.  I don't think Vinopal was ever going to see the field again.  Granted Furman, MRob, and Carvin were true freshmen, but so was Vinopal.  T. Gordon was an option at FS (hell, GMAT is putting him at nickel corner), and so was Hawthorne.  Was RV really better than them?  I'll guess no, but we'll see.

4. GERG never looked like he fit in.  Never comfortable, and players notice that.

Blame is shared among DC and HC.  All of it was poor, and it's all better today.  But no, I don't think GERG is the complete idiot everyone now deems him to be. 


March 31st, 2011 at 11:36 AM ^

Good man. 

Good coach.

Good opportunity at Michigan gone horribly wrong thanks to RR meddling.

The defense will improve dramatically in 2011 and that will not be an indictment of Gerg so much as confirmation that no one bought into the flipping 3-3-5 to begin with. Mattisons's defense will be better because everyone - coaches and players alike - buy into it, believe in it and have confidence in it.



March 31st, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

Hey Ziff.... Since uh, you know, no one on here wants to talk about gerg.. Maybe you could have saved yourself sometime by not typing all this out.


Just do what the rest of the pro-rr people do....  Talk it over to yourself so many times until you start believing it.. But the trick is to do it quietly, preferrably in your head and not on a long drawn out rant ...


March 31st, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

might not be a good choice for DC.

From 1982 through 1988, (according to his Wikipedia bio) Robinson was DL for UCLA under Terry Donahue. During this span, UCLA was the dominant PAC10 program, going 53-15-8, winning seven bowl games in a row, including 4 Rose Bowls.

In 1989, Donahue elevated Robinson to DC. UCLA promptly went 3-7-1, by far the worst year in Donahue's tenure there, and finished 9th in the conference. Robinson was gone to the NFL by 1990.

No, I don't know what the change in defensive personnel for UCLA was from 1988 to 1989, but given that they were one of the premier programs in the country during that era, it's hard to believe that all of their talent suddenly disappeared. It's hardly a ringing endorsement for Robinson's ability as a college coordinator.

For as many positives on Robinson's resume, we can point to a solid negative, or two.

My next-door neighbor is from Missouri and is a huge KC Chiefs fan, and was very familiar with the horrible defenses that the Chiefs had during Robinson's time there, especially the last season before Vermeil—a close friend of Robinson—was forced to fire him. Apparently the last straw was an epic playoff loss to the Colts, during which KC did not manage to force even one punt by the Colts. Manning and the Colts simply ran up and down the field on the hapless KC defense all game long. Sound familiar? Sure, Manning is a great QB, but justifying the Chief's defensive performance on that basis isn't going to cut it.

I will maintain until I'm dead that RR's hire of Robinson was the single worst hire at the coordinator position on either side of the ball by any BCS-level program in the last two decades. Why a head coach getting roasted by alumni and fans for the first losing season in 41 years hired a guy who was himself just fired after coming off the worst 4-year record in history at another long-time program—where he was DC—will always boggle me.

Whether GERG did, or did not, stress the "fundamentals" is beside the point—expertise is not the same thing as sound judgement and canny leadership. Those exhibiting the latter two qualities don't allow the bad personnel decisions that others have pointed out, nor do they expose themselves to ridicule with bizarre sideline behavior.

I agree that M-Live-quality comments of a personal nature about Robinson are lame, but you'll go crazy if you try to respond to idiots on the internet.


March 31st, 2011 at 1:37 PM ^

Nice job on gathering data Don.   Like I've been saying I concur with basically all your thoughts there.  I remember the KC game and it was a disaster.  

My only point that has gotten lost like most threads on the internet is that I am excited about Mattison and as I've said on several posts I think our defense is going to be in the top half of the Big Ten this year.   All of it will be credited to Mattison and Hoke and teaching the fundamentals.  The truth will be less than that.


March 31st, 2011 at 4:43 PM ^

Here's what's going to happen:

Scenario A: Michigan has winning record, beats MSU, OSU, goes to nice bowl game

Result: Every Michigan fan and sports "journalist" in known universe develops shoulder problems from patting Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison on back, and pronounce RR is a complete idiot, again.

Scenario B: Michigan has disappointing record, losing to MSU and OSU

Result: Every Michigan fan and sports "journalist" in known universe lay entire blame for season on RR, giving Brady Hoke a pass for having to "clean up the mess."


March 31st, 2011 at 6:25 PM ^

DEAD FREAKIN NUTS.    You have called it perfectly.   I have a post ready for August 15th calling for all of the fans of RR to STFU for 4 months and just enjoy the games, because the press will be insulting to our intelligence.   I really think this will be agreat year and I'm just going to block out the in your face posters and idiotic media and just love this team.


March 31st, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

I'm not sure how you could watch our tackling and obvious cluelessness of how to even line up for a snap and argue that these kids were properly taught anything.


March 31st, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

and required to be part of a union.

At the union meetings everyone got pissed drunk.

At the end of the boring meeting, some union sub-lieutenant would inevitably go up the podium, grab the microphone and start off slurring away: "Well, in closing, about the questioned break periods, I just wanna say that....."

And the raucous crowd of drunk union workers would yell, laugh and shout him down from the stage "Shut up!", "Sit the *bleep* down!" and "Nobody cares!".

Funny as hell to complain about GERG now that he's so left town.