If I were David Brandon

Submitted by Wolverine90 on October 11th, 2010 at 7:49 PM

Endless data points factor into his deliberations about the direction of our football program.  The vast majority, especially after a solid 5-1 start, point to retaining RR for a good number of years, especially with what an upheaval of a new hire would do, having to rebuild again from scratch. 

I continue to support RR, but with the nature of the offense’s performance in this loss to MSU, it is now clear to me the single most important metric by which Brandon should review the remainder of this season in deliberating RR’s future.

 Hearken back to  2007 when Bill Martin bore witness to what Armanti Edwards and Dennis Dixon did to our defense.  On the day I learned of RR’s hire, my first thought was it was borne from what those two spread attacks did to our team that year.  Of Oregon’s spread attack that won 39-7, I remember USA Today writing:

“Oregon seemed to do whatever it wanted against Michigan.  The Ducks led 32-7 at halftime and coasted to the victory against little resistance.”

Watch that game again and you know the score could have easily been 55 -7, but Oregon literally eased up on us. 

 So Martin hires RR – the father of the spread – and he and all of us instantly began dreaming of days to come when our own Dennis Dixon, clad in a winged helmet, would toy with Ohio State’s and MSU’s traditional defenses much as we had been toyed with at the start of 2007.

 Flash to today and it’s a different reality.  The reality is that while RR’s spread attack has shown the explosiveness we anticipated, it has yet to do so once against a top tier Big 10 defense.  Not once in 2.5 seasons.  Yes personnel, yes youth, yes occasional signs, yes Denard for the Heisman, yes re-writing the record books, but anything even remotely akin to Dennis Dixon toying with UM?  No. 

 Perhaps Bill Martin thought more of Ron English than he should have.  Perhaps Martin’s greatest mistake was assuming that the Michigan defensive product vs App State and Oregon was indicative of how your typical top tier Big 10 defense would do against a top tier spread attack.  I mean, we did end up beating Tebow and Florida that year, albeit after RR had been hired.

If I am David Brandon I would look for one very important sign this year – evidence that RichRod’s offense can truly work against top flight Big 10 defenses. 

The UM defense will improve with recruiting and maturity.  The offense will as well given this was only Denard’s 6thstart.  But if I am Brandon and I don’t see at least one offensive breakthrough against a top tier Big 10 D, and by that I mean at least 5 offensive touchdowns against either PSU, Iowa, Wisconsin or OSU, then I really have to begin to question this hire.

On the other hand, even if the team loses the remainder of it’s games, but the offense actually breaks through and demonstrates the explosiveness we all hope for against one or two of those four remaining top flight Big 10 D teams, then to me, RR’s job remains safe for the immediate future.


His Dudeness

October 11th, 2010 at 7:59 PM ^

I would look for one very important sign this year – evidence that RichRod’s offense can truly work against top flight Big 10 defenses.

You're in luck then. You only have to wait 5 days. We will dominate Iowa. We will beat them and you will see that Michigan isn't dead despite it having one bad game against MSU. That game was much closer than the final score makes it seem. As I sit here watching 30 for 30 about those Boston fans that went decades for their team to win and went out there and cheered through all the pain and all the heartache I think to myself we are fucking spoiled little bitches. Cheer on the team you love year in and year out because you know you would never cheer against them. Go fucking Blue.


October 12th, 2010 at 7:23 AM ^

Also, we left 2-3 td's on the field with the two endzone int's and the blocked field goal that could/should have been another shot at the endzone. We're gonna be ok. The d shows flashes of brilliance here and there that will become more consistent with experience and a little more talent. We have a very good chance at going 11-1/10-2 which is far better than i though we could be before the season started.


October 12th, 2010 at 8:40 AM ^

People are whistling past the graveyard this week.

It's great to love rah rah, but anyone who thinks we're going to dominate anybody not named Bowling Green, no more Iowa, has started tailgating way too early.  Win? Certainly possible. But if you think we're going to dominate anyone with that defense, you're hoping more than thinking.


October 11th, 2010 at 7:59 PM ^

Brandon will take a look at the entire program as a whole, not just 5 touchdowns in a game vs. a Big Ten team.  He's running this athletic department like a CEO would run a major corporation.  You have to look at graduation rates, improvement in all phases, how the coach is with the players and the families, are the Michigan values present, etc. 

The worst thing that we can do is go through another 3 year transition.  I trust Brandon to take a step back and look at everything from a very objective point of view.  As long as we are improving, which we are, I don't see how you can justify questioning the employment of the head coach.  After a few years remaining stagnant, or even regressing, sure.  But right now, we keep getting better, and I say there no reason not to ride it out to see where the crest of this program really is under Rich Rodriguez.  I would imagine, with patience, 10+ wins regularly is where this program is headed.

yossarians tree

October 11th, 2010 at 10:56 PM ^

I believe Brandon is a smart guy who will not make any rash decisions based on the emotional response to an admittedly painful loss. True, State has got three straight on us, and, worse to the RR haters, they did it by running the "old time Big Ten power football" that the haters would like us to return to. The trouble State will eventually discover, as has OSU, Wisky, Iowa, etc. is that old time Big Ten power football nearly always loses when matched against elite SEC/PAC Ten teams in bowl games. The game has changed, and Rodriguez brings that change.

Exhibit A for Michigan can be: Nebraska. A team that went through a similarly painful identity overhaul about 5 years ahead of us, and is now knocking on the door of a major BCS game this year with a powerful speed/spread offense and a typically hard-hitting defense from Nebraska days of old.

RR needs to get that kind of D on the field. If he can, he will produce teams that can compete with anybody every year.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:00 PM ^

You're saying the same thing that a lot of people have said: If we go bowling at 7-5 or 6-6 because we feasted on bad teams and got punked by good teams, then RichRod should go.

Also, if Ron English was that highly thought of by Bill Martin, then he would've been a serious head coaching candidate.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:00 PM ^

You do realize that you are comparing us to a team with a senior QB, 2 jr RBs, a 12th year coach, 2senior WRs, an oline with jrs and seniors across the board, And a defense who was starting all of 3 underclassmen (all sophomores) right?


October 11th, 2010 at 8:13 PM ^

Yes, and I'm also factoring in what Ohio State's D did vs a seasoned Oregon Pac 10 champ spread attack last year.  To put it succinctly, RR's bread and butter is his offense.  He finally has the parts on this year.  His offense failed test #1 Saturday.  His offense has four more tests against top Big 10 defenses this year.  In my opinion his offense needs to pass at least one, if not two or three of those tests, simply by scoring a good 4 or 5 touchdowns.  For me personally, that is all I am looking for this year - that his offense can work in top tier Big 10.  The D gets a pass this year given it's state.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:22 PM ^

If you are somehow suggesting that Oregon's offense is less than optimal because they lost one bowl game, that is ridiculous.  They won the Pac-10 last year and are the clear favorite to do it again this year (not to mention that they're ranked #2 in the country). 


October 12th, 2010 at 11:05 AM ^

Brother, re-read.  Really.  I was suggesting the exact opposite about Oregon last year.  I was saying that BECAUSE they were Pac 10 champs, and thus had a powerful spread attack, that it made the fact that Ohio State shut them down more resonant and meaningful to the analysis of whether the spread can be as effective against top flight Big 10 defenses as we'd all like.  You completely misinterpreted what I wrote and still got plenty of points for it from your fans.  Congratz.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:32 PM ^

if you will forgive my saying so. And--yes--we have to start showing some success against B10 teams. I hope the offense retains its poise because--absent such a loss of confidence--there's every reason to believe they'll do just that. 

If this challenge were put to RichRod himself, and if he were being very honest, I think he might tell you he has most of the pieces on offense minus one really good complementary back.

In truth, I think we get one-two more wins and RichRod has his chance next year with a really fine O. I just wish I felt more optimistic that the defense will be seriously improved. Because the more likely scenario, in my book, is he gets through this year but doesn't have enough to show for next year. At which point I would still find the whole thing tragic and want to rip my hair out. 


October 11th, 2010 at 10:04 PM ^

"RR might tell you he has most of the pieces on offense minus one really good complementary back."

Well, IMHO that isn't true.  First of all, not having a "really good" running back is a pretty significant missing piece.  And secondly, although Denard is a terriffic talent, with only 6 starts under his belt, he is still pretty green and will be subject to bad games (like against MSU).  The QB spot is pivotal to the whole offense working to perfection and requires an experienced player.  Once Denard reaches that point (and has his complementary running back) I think that you will see the Michigan offense running up big victories over the best that the Big Ten has to offer.

Side note:  Having a good to top notch defense makes the offense even better.  If we had been able to stop MSU, our offense would have been able to stick to the game plan and not have to play catch up. 


October 11th, 2010 at 8:02 PM ^

I agree that this offense needs to break through against a good Big10 defense.  But I'm really not too worried about it.  The coaches put the players in the position to make the plays last week and they didn't execute.  This has been reflected by fans, observers and most importantly the players themselves.

I'm also unsure that we need a performance such as Oregon's against UM in 2007.  Please remember that that Dennis Dixon (he was a senior) led offense was unstoppable against every team they played until he got injured.  And after the horror what do you expect our team to come out playing with flying colors?  We were destined to get our asses handed to us.  MSU's 2010 defense is also probly a bit better than our 2007 defense.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:07 PM ^

I disagree.  It's a much more simple metric than that.  In order of importance:

1.  Improvement on last year's win total?
2.  Final result of NCAA investigation.


In fact, if he does both, he probably gets an extension. 


October 11th, 2010 at 8:09 PM ^

What the OP is saying here, is what MANY fans are feeling.  However, to the point regarding RR needing to prove his offense works against good Big 10 D's... I think you need to be careful here.  Michigan underperformed, plain and simple.  The schemes would have worked, and if we had a strong D, this game would have been close.  The schemes were there, the execution was not.  This offense is for real. 

In all reality, I think there are many huge misconceptions about RR and his offense. These same people seem to think that M's OLine is smaller, and the offense is a gimmicky.  The personnel is the best it's been (offensively) in RR's tenure, and we have a heisman candidate at QB (who is also a true sophomore).  Please everyone, take a deep breath.  I knew that a loss to MSU would make this week long.  And, of course, M faces Iowa of all teams next.


October 11th, 2010 at 9:39 PM ^

Actually, I think the OP is on the right point - Rich has had enough time to build the offense to where it should come together for one in-conference signature success against a "real" Big Ten D. The success doesn't even have to be a win, it just has to be a lot of points on the board.

To speak in MBA terms, that gives us "reason to believe" that when the defense matures, the wins are there for us.

I think the team can do it as well. Maybe this week, maybe against Wisconsin or Penn State (after the bye), maybe even against the Buckeyes.

Jeffy Fresh

October 11th, 2010 at 8:12 PM ^

Everyone that is coming out of the woodwork to start this crap again needs to go away.  We lost one game.  D-rob threw 3 interceptions.  If we scored on those 3 possessions we win the game.  Even still, we lost 1 game.  I guess Nick Saban should start looking for a new job too, because he obviously gets owned when he plays good teams.  You people really suck hard.

Super J

October 11th, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

I agree.  It is one loss.  How soon people forget we all agree that next year will be our year.  So a loss or two not that big of a deal.  Rich will be our coach for a quite a while so get used to it.  The only thing Brandon needs to do is give RR an extention after we beat Iowa so we don't have dumbass threads like this one turned into.


October 12th, 2010 at 12:28 AM ^

Exactly.  The difference in this game was turnovers, plain and simple.  

2 were in the redzone, 1 led directly to an MSU TD.  That is - literally - the difference in the score.  

At the beginning of the year when we were all doing our prognosticating, nearly everyone counted MSU among the "tossup" games, that could have gone either way.  Yet many are absolutely freaking out about it.  What gives?


October 12th, 2010 at 2:35 AM ^

Lest we all forget:

Bo had not suffered a defeat against the Jolly Green Giants since his first year in 1969. Maybe Michigan took MSU lightly, or maybe Michigan State just played an excellent game.

The Spartan offense exposed a weak Wolverine secondary as they rolled up 496 yards of offense -- at that time, it was the most yardage amassed against a Schembechler defense. Leach's Heisman chances were dashed with each interception he threw in the 24-15 loss. Leach only had 6 INT's for the season, but three of them came against the Spartans.

That was 1978, at the Big House in Ann Arbor and Leach was a SENIOR - and not starting his 6th game as a Sophomore. Bo most assuredly did not have the worst Defense in the country that year either. All things to consider.

I had been faithfully following Michigan football since 1976 and at the ripe old age of 10, was in attendance at this 1978 debacle against MSU. I was a budding young QB myself and wore my #7 jersey with Michigan Pride on a weekly basis to school. Not only did I like Rick Leach, I wanted to BE Rick Leach, and was destined to play QB for the Wolverines in eight short years - as did half of the other young 5th grade QBs across the state of Michigan who were destined to play for the Wolverines as well. Everyone else in my 5th grade class was a Lil' Sparty and those rotten #$%^& were merciless to me after that unforgettable loss that year.

It took me a full year to forgive Leach in my 10 year-old heart for those three picks and that loss to MSU. It took me all of 10 seconds, after I watched Denard light up a smile in the presser after the game, to get down on my knees and thank God above that he is playing for Michigan and not any other university in the country.

The kid is a winner, a quiet and unpretentious leader and a damn fine quarterback. If you harbor any unforgiveness towards the young man for his sub-par performance last Saturday -- and you're older than 10 years of age -- you should be ashamed of yourself and really ought to consider finding another team to support.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:12 PM ^


Way too early in the season for anything like this.

Not saying that OSU did not dominate Oregon last year in the Rose Bowl, but Oregon has had a nasty habit over the last few years of not being very prepared for games.  I live only an hour or so from Eugene so I get a chance to watch them play on TV every week, and Oregon has been good over the last few years.  They have had that offense in place for more than 3 years and the hiring of Chip Kelly was an internal hire, and one that did not drastically change the program.  Oregon has games where they come out very flat, over confident, and under prepared.  I personally did not see the same Oregon team in the Rose Bowl that I saw all last year.


October 11th, 2010 at 8:15 PM ^

anything even remotely akin to Dennis Dixon toying with UM?  No. 

I would say that running up 502 yards of total offense at Notre Dame is quite comparable.  ND may well match our 2007 team's final record. 


October 11th, 2010 at 8:16 PM ^

He will establish metrics and assess progress.

And his resources for doing so will dwarf anything we could come up with here.

So I state for the record:

Rich Rodriguez will be here for one more season - minimally.

2010 season = 7 - 5 with a third tier bowl, which we will win.

2011 season = 8 - 4 with another bowl win.

2012 season we do not have to worry about as the Mayan calendar has predicted the end of              the world...


October 11th, 2010 at 8:18 PM ^

380 yards against Michigan State this week, and the OP is whining that this offense doesn't "work" in the Big Ten.

If Denard hit Roundtree in the 1st Q, if Tree caught the ball in the 2nd, if Stonum had been hit in the end zone - 21 points right there.

Yep, this offense doesn't work.

What a stupid premise. Anyone who claims this offense doesn't work in the Big Ten, or cannot work, needs to be called stupid each and every time.