If not GERG, then who?

Submitted by ForestCityBlue on November 11th, 2010 at 12:17 PM

With the growing consensus around the Board that GERG is a big part of the problem in terms of our defense getting better and improving within the season--let alone within games, the question I have is this: if GERG gets handed his walking papers, who would be the most likely candidate to replace him?  Across the landscape of college ball are there any defensive co-ordiantors who have successfully built killer defenses who might be available.  This is an honest question on my part.  This gets beyond my level of geek arcane knowledge of the game and I think it might be fun to start wistfully looking for greener pastures...



November 11th, 2010 at 1:11 PM ^

The schedule they've played isn't exatly world-beating. Particularly since they have been soundly defeated by Miami and PSU, I can see why they wouldn't get into shootouts with good teams; the games are over too fast.

Otherwise, their schedule is mostly against not-exactly-offensive-juggernauts like Murray State, Temple, Akron, Toledo, Bowling Green, BoCo.

Mr. McBlue and…

November 11th, 2010 at 1:24 PM ^

If we follow a lot of football, we know that doing more with less is always better.  Kent State hasn't exactly been lighting up the recruiting trail, yet, with the 1-2 star guys he has, he gets results.  From His Bio at Kent State's Website:

In 2007, KSU was second in the MAC in rushing defense (157.3), third in total defense (385.6), first in tackles for loss (7.25 — 19th nationally) and fourth in sacks (1.92).

 In 2006, the Golden Flashes ranked second in the MAC and 25th in the country in total defense (297.9 ypg), while leading the conference in yards allowed per play (4.6, 16th in the nation), pass defense efficiency (99.9, 4th in the nation) and tackles for losses per game (8.0, 4th in the nation).

In 2005 Rekstis led a team that finished third in the MAC and 24th in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 190.5 yards per game while having only 15 touchdowns scored against them. 

 Rekstis led a dramatic and record-setting turnaround in his first season in charge of the Kent State defense. He oversaw a unit that had ranked 12th of 14 teams in total defense in the Mid-American Conference in 2003, then finished first in the league and 15th nationally in total defense in 2004. The team also set a school record for quarterback sacks in a season with 34.

 The Golden Flashes led the MAC in rushing defense that season, allowing just 2.9 yards per carry. Included in that total was a dominating performance at Buffalo when they held the Bulls to a record-low four net rushing yards. The Flashes also finished second in the league in pass defense and intercepted 15 passes.

I don't think competence necessarily means a big name from a big program.  With him having some Tressel experience I bet he could do a lot more than many would give him credit for.  Just look above at his results this year.


November 11th, 2010 at 3:32 PM ^

UFR, to be fair, you certainly have a strong point with regard to the talent differential. And certainly, coaches like Boise's Chris Peterson don't exactly play world-beating schedules either.

His defenses certainly aren't going to be confused with those of LSU or Florida, but then again, that's not a fair comparison. I think you're right that's it's reaonable to project that he has a bright future. A reasonable candiate, to be sure.


November 11th, 2010 at 1:58 PM ^

Most people didn't think Illinois or PSU were offensive jugernauts heading into their games with UM.  Indiana hasn't exactly been carving up big ten defenses either (except of course UM's).  I think I saw someon post that so far this season one of UMass's best days on offense statistically is against UM - even though UMass has been playing 1-AA teams most of the year.

Frank Drebin

November 11th, 2010 at 3:13 PM ^

Tressel's schedule at YSU wasn't very "world-beating" either and I think we know how that has gone. If you can coach football, you can coach football. I don't care what level it is on, or who the competition is. A good coach puts his players in the correct places to make plays and develops them into better players, regardless if they are 5* recruits or 1*. I would gladly welcome this guy into our program if he can coach the defense to respectability.


November 11th, 2010 at 1:03 PM ^

If RR insists on controlling the scheme as it has been reported, then Casteel is the best choice, if available.  If not, back up the $$ truck and convince the defensive staff from TCU to come north.


November 11th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

That's what boards are for, after all.

But I think that Gerg is staying, at least another year, for many and various reasons.

  1. If Gerg is cut by RR, this is ultimately an indictment of RR and his bad skills in choosing a coaching staff.
  2. RR has asked for patience to have his players on board. It would be the height of hypocrisy for him to ask for patience for himself, and then have none for his own coaching staff. If we judged RR in year two of his tenure (i.e., last year,) he would already be gone.
  3. We are going to win two more games. With a record of 8 - 4, you just don't fire the DC.
  4. We don't want a third DC in so few years. Continuity is important.
  5. We have had a ridiculous number of true freshmen playing D. (And for those who point to the offense, and freshmen playing the analogy is FAIL. On offense, when you have a true freshman at QB, and true freshmen on the OL, you lose. The backfield, with the exception of QB, is where freshmen fit in most easily.)

Now, I do think we need to strengthen a few of the position coaches. And I think there needs to be full agreement between RR & Gerg on what schemes are run. But should Gerg go? No. And will Gerg go? I'll bet money not.


November 11th, 2010 at 1:35 PM ^

We are going to win two more games.

Holy crap, I want to believe that so badly.  Please convince me.  Either that, or pass over some of what you're drinking.  Getting a W at home against Wisconsin would just feel so sweet.  And obviously going into the Shoe and stealing one would be just glorious.


November 11th, 2010 at 2:09 PM ^

Here are a bunch of reasons I'll bet we win two more games.

  1. The monkey is off our back. with the 6 wins, and highly probably 7 wins, the questions about RR's job security are much more muted. RR, and the team, are able to have fun. They are able to roll the dice and play to win, instead of playing not to lose.
  2. Wisconsin and OSU are both overrated, imhe.
  3. Wisconsin always plays crummy in the Big House.
  4. We are way overdue to beat OSU, and if there is a single game that I could see Michigan and RR focusing on, it would be OSU.
  5. Tresselball. Seriously, in talking to a nephew who attends OSU, who played ball and is close to the team, they are NOT confident in Tressell. The argument is made that against a high flying opponent, Tressell will open things up with Pryor. The problem is I don't think you can just turn it on or off.
  6. After Penn State, something snapped for the defense, and we're finally seeing real improvement. Boys are becoming men.
  7. Denard is also getting it, and is getting better on reads, and finding the open receiver.
  8. Denard & Tate are working better as teammates.

Take it for what it's worth. (not much, in other words.) But I really believe we are well set to see two more wins.


November 11th, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

There is always a chance and we will score some, but the game is in Columbus and OSU leads the Big Ten in ppg at 42 (U of M is second at 39) and also leads the Big Ten in points against at like 12. We are not going to win barring a string of lucky events and our best effort of the year with zero mistakes. Since we have been making a ton of unforced errors, it is always possible. But man, its unlikely.


November 11th, 2010 at 2:22 PM ^


If Gerg is cut by RR, this is ultimately an indictment of RR and his bad skills in choosing a coaching staff.

If GERG is a terrible DC and Rodriguez keeps him on, then Rodriguez is indicted for failing to hire decent assistants and failing to fire assistants that deserve it. Also, for the record, Rodriguez has done a terrible job assembling a defensive coaching staff.

RR has asked for patience to have his players on board. It would be the height of hypocrisy for him to ask for patience for himself, and then have none for his own coaching staff. If we judged RR in year two of his tenure (i.e., last year,) he would already be gone.

If Rodriguez produced a worse team in year 2 than year 1, he would have been fired...and banished from Ann Arbor.


We are going to win two more games. With a record of 8 - 4, you just don't fire the DC.

I admire your optimism. I also don't share it. Are we going to beat Wisconsin or Ohio State? And besides, when you go 8-4 with the 114th ranked defense in the country, then your defense probably cost you a BCS bowl and you fire the DC.


We don't want a third DC in so few years. Continuity is important.

Continuity is important, but if continuity involves repeatedly mismanaging position switches, using dysfunctional schemes, and making bad play calls, then its detrimental. And good first year DCs can actually get results. Last week notwithstanding, Illinois is a great example of that.


We have had a ridiculous number of true freshmen playing D. (And for those who point to the offense, and freshmen playing the analogy is FAIL. On offense, when you have a true freshman at QB, and true freshmen on the OL, you lose. The backfield, with the exception of QB, is where freshmen fit in most easily.)

First of all, we had a true freshman playing QB last year and the offense was largely competent. Second of all, roster mismanagement is a major factor in why we have so many freshman playing. We have Vinopal at FS because we moved Gordon there over Emilien and he transferred as a result. And we have Avery at CB because of a combination of injuries (nobody's fault) and Turner leaving. And yes, I do ascribe a fair amount of blame to the coaches for the attrition suffered this year because it was mainly their players leaving in a year where they all had shots at playing time because we have little depth because they couldn't convince guys who had clear shots at playing time to stick around and they made questionable roster decisions like moving Gordon to FS that took away Emilien's shot at starting.

I've drank the koolaid, I'm all in, win or lose, with RR. Even with 4 or 5 straight losses in the Big 10.

If you think that the coaches are doing a terrible job and have actual arguments behind your reasoning, then you can voice your opinion and still be a true Michigan fan. This "all in" schtick has gotten out of hand. I agree that it's bad form to go off and denigrate the players, but we've gotten to the point where a significant number of people think that it's sacrilege to criticize the coaches because it harms the program. First of all, the coaches are performing badly enough to warrant firing and the team would be better off if they were fired, then arguing for their firing provides pressure to achieve an end that will benefit the program overall. Second of all, IT DOESN'T HARM THE PROGRAM TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE COACHES! EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY KNOWS THAT RODRIGUEZ IS ON THE HOT SEAT BECAUSE HE'S COACHED THE WORST STRETCH OF MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SINCE 1934-36 AND IF SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET SAYS HE SHOULD BE FIRED OR RETAINED, IT WON'T CHANGE ANYTHING. It is amazing how supporting Rodriguez has become a de facto loyalty test when he's clearly and obviously made a ton of mistakes recruiting, managing coaches, managing the defense, and making play calls. For the record, I support keeping him as coach if he wins 1 of the next three because of the potential this team has for next year, but I can see that there are plenty of valid arguments for firing him. This isn't really related to GERG or even necessarily to what you wrote, but to the sentiment of this board in general.


November 11th, 2010 at 3:59 PM ^

That's why they play the games, after all. Truly, it will be good to assess the defense over the next three games. If they are lost, and we're not even in the game because of the defense, that falls on Gerg. Conversely, however, if we play all three games tough, and as I predict, win two of the remaining games, I do think that Gerg stays.

My personal preference is for RR to give Gerg another year. But given the defense this year, I could understand if Gerg, and the rest of the defensive coaches, had to take the fall.

And it is time for me to change my signature.


November 11th, 2010 at 3:05 PM ^

We don't want a third DC in so few years. Continuity is important.

Continuity is important when you have good coaching.  When you have poor coaching, it's pointless.

Our 1997 national championship team was on its third DC in four years.  OSU's 2002 national championship team was on its third DC in four years.  Texas's 2005 national championship team was on its third DC in three years.  Really, it's not a big deal.  If the only argument for keeping GERG around is "continuity," then he's got to go.

The Punisher

November 11th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

...I think GERG goes. (Someone has to play Devils Advocate)

All 5 of your points are true in and of themselves. But none of tham take DB into consideration.

1.  If GERG is cut, it will be an indictment of DB flexing his muscles and showing RR's skill at choosing a D staff is poor.

2.  DB will give RR the patience he asks for as deserved for quality of recruiting (I'm not touching the academic or attrition issue) and quality of offense (last years O was markedly better than the previous).

3.  We could go 12-0, but if you are doing it by the skin of your teeth every week and your offense HAS to make basketball type scores to offset the defensive woes, you could make an argument for a change for the benefit of the team as a whole.

4.  Perception IS reality. Perception that we dont care about the D is getting to the point of being as important as continuity. And DB looks thru "big picture" glasses.

5.  Improvement and fundamentals. If DB sees either of these on the D, GERG may keep his job. I trust DB's judgement more than mine, but I havent seen said necessities.

Go RR!

Go DB!

Go Blue!


November 11th, 2010 at 1:35 PM ^

What about Chuck Heater?  Former Bo player.  There was speculation about him last year, but I believe it wasn't to replace GRob but to replace Hopson.  Not sure that was much of an upgrade.  He's pretty loyal to Meyer, but giving him reigns as the sole DC would be an upgrade to his current position.  IIRC he's also a great recruiter.


November 11th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

I hate to sound cliché, but dammit when the offense is firing on all cylinders we can score on ANYONE at ANYTIME and very very quickly. We will win 2 more games, scratch that, I'm going to stretch it and say 3. Write that down.

The Baughz

November 11th, 2010 at 1:54 PM ^

Dick Bumpas would be my choice. TCU consistently has a top D year in year out. Also, he runs a 4-2-5 which I think would be beneficial given the type of athletes we have. Just my opinion though. Not too many people threw out a name so I figured I would throw someone out there.


November 11th, 2010 at 2:06 PM ^

I don't see him making a move at his age (yeah I know he's the same age as Gerg).  He's kind of intertwined with Patterson (he coached Patterson when Patterson was playing, and then Patterson ocached under Bumpas at Utah State and Navy), and thus seems content to stick with Patterson.  He's also from the South, so not sure what his incentive was to come up here.

For what it's worth, he was the DC at Western Michigan before TCU.  Maybe he enjoyed his experience in MI then?


November 11th, 2010 at 1:57 PM ^

The real key question is what will or should be done with the entire defensive coaching staff?

Who stays, who goes, and how does the staff work with each other and the head coach?

Changing coordinators while not letting him have his own guys underneath him is how we got here in the first place (read:  departure of Shafer,  hiring of GR, etc).  Our head coach, like most human beings, has his strengths and weaknesses.  Many of his traits cut both ways.  His loyalty to the assistant coaches who came with him from WVU is admirable, but it is also a weakness in that it has hampered his ability to have a clear leader on the defensive side of the ball judged as being in charge.

Anyone who has taken a postion at a new place of employment can relate to what Shafer and Gerg are/were/have been going through in terms of having a bunch of assistants who work for you who constantly go to your boss.....thus, the 3-4, 4-3, 3-3-5, whatever and whom to play where confusion that appears to reign on the defense. 


November 11th, 2010 at 2:26 PM ^

I see the logic of getting Jeff Casteel on board, but my question is, if he didn't come over with the rest of the troupe in '08, what makes anyone think he wants to come over now presuming he still has a job at WVU?  He said no to Michigan already, didn't he?


November 11th, 2010 at 3:09 PM ^

He was offered the job in 2008 and said no.  He was offered it again a year later and again said no.  I doubt he'd accept it again.  And I think that's fine.  I originally wanted us to make another run at him, but now that I think about it, if RR's going to be a championship coach, he's got to get over the Casteel security blanket.  Coordinators come and go.  He needs to display the flexibility to allow a different guy to come in and run what he wants.


November 11th, 2010 at 2:53 PM ^

GERG yet.  Year two, he is strapped with incredibly inexperienced personnel, there has been some fairly rational speculation that he is/was resistant to running a scheme against his preference, and I just think that firing a coach because "somebody has to be to blame" and introducing young players to another voice spouting different principles can hinder development.  Neither Rich nor Greg have ever coached in this conference, and while football is football, I think that growing pains in new territory are to be expected.  I think the case for firing Coach Rod as the head coach is actually stronger than firing GERG at this point, not to say that parting ways with either would be wise.  I think these coaches are learning, Coach Rod is running into bumps in the road as to how to pick up 3rd and 2 against monster Big Ten defensive lines with a (strategically) undersized O-line, GERG is having trouble turning boys into men on the other side of the ball.

The wheel of death, yes troubling, but all it takes in one player in that defensive secondary to say "hey I have seen this before" and make a play.  A defensive coordinator can scheme as well as he wants but he simply can't hold hands with his players on the field and take them where they need to go.  The guys on D will get it, don't look now(Blaha tribute) but it looks like Demens, Cam Gord, and Avery already are.  Lets see how our embroiled defensive coordinator does in the next three weeks before crowning him the sacrificial lamb.


November 11th, 2010 at 3:12 PM ^

GERG is not the sole problem on D.  No reasonable person would argue that.  However, his horrendous track record over the past decade strongly suggests that he is unlikely to be the solution to our defensive problems.  You just don't field six terrible defenses in a row (four at Syracuse, two at Michigan) because of bad luck. 

Our solution is most likely a two-part process:

1.  RR's got to get over his 3-3-5 obsession.

2.  RR's got to let GERG go and hire a new guy, who can run whatever he wants. 

Indiana Blue

November 11th, 2010 at 3:55 PM ^

in the long and storied history of Michigan football.  This defense team (statistically) would need to give up ...  ready for this .... a total of 25 points (8.3 ppg) in the last 3 games and less than 637 yards (212.3 ypg) to simply equal the worst Michigan defense ever ... LAST YEAR'S GERG coached defense.

I don't think GERG is a bad guy ... but the job isn't getting done.  I cannot see any reason whatsoever to think next year would be diferent. I see our defense playing extremely hard but getting little to no results.  The defense has 2 turnovers in 5 B10 games .. this has to be a record in futility. 

I saw improvement last week with Roh on the line ... but really, we still gave up 500 yards and 45 points in regulation.   Illinois changed DC last year and their defense was in the top 20 in the country ... until they met RR's offense.  Michigan's players deserve more from coaches charged with those responsibilites.

Go Blue !


November 11th, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

Gerg with just for men established brown hair color? He gets a new look, new feel. I think that's the answer.

Seriously, he's not going anywhere right now. Who knows, maybe he wins two of the next three and becomes loved.

Old School Wolverine

November 11th, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

I'd really like to see a defensive coordinator coach come from the Old School Michigan Family coaching tree, to join Rodriguez. And I can assure you this alone would relieve and appease many of the alumni who want our old ways to return. Not only would it be symbolic but it would continue our roots in the finest college program in the land.