a non emu

August 7th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

Yup. Exactly what I was thinking. I didn't want this thread to devolve into another RR post-mortem thread, so didn't post. But when Woolfolk comes out and declares that Michigan would have won a NC with Hoke at the helm from 2008, and that people didn't respect RR as much since they didn't think he knew what he was talking about... that's pretty damning.


August 7th, 2012 at 9:31 AM ^

At the same time (and I think this is obvious), people at Michigan - players, administration, and fans - could have been more open-minded to the changes Rodriguez was trying to make.  Rodriguez does know what he's talking about, at least when it comes to offense; and he was able to lead his team to very good things at WVU.  People didn't like him largely because he was an outsider, and that hampered him quite a bit.

There's plenty of blame to be passed around for why the Rich Rodriguez experiment didn't work.


August 7th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

at least some of that lack of buy in came because of the shit storm around the program - both insiders and outsiders.

It will be interesting to see how he does at Arizona with Casteel on staff.

[Side note: Cory Zirbel is on Rich's staff as a Graduate Assistant: which kind of goes to show that Rich is a good guy, just not the right guy.]


August 7th, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

I've always kinda thought that about him. The stars kinda aligned for him in WV between bursting on the scene with a new type of offense, having the right guys to run it, and being in a conference that didn't really expose some of his and his team's deficiencies elsewhere. My impression of him was a high ceiling, low floor guy... his team would hang a ton of points on good teams and then inexplicably lose others. That was really my biggest concern when he got hired, that he wasn't a total package that could not only flash brilliance on offense but be solid in all aspects of the game and running a program. I think that was borne out unfortunately. People will always remember the horrible defense, but we were bad in so many little aspects of the game like kicking, inopportune penalties, ball security, etc. I wish the guy luck and would love to see him prove me wrong, but my guess is he hit his ceiling at WV.


August 7th, 2012 at 10:19 AM ^

I think Rodriguez is a good guy.  I think he has good intentions.

I just don't know if he always goes about it the right way.  He's not the best PR guy, and I think he struggles to connect to certain players/attitudes.  As a coach, you have to use different approaches for different kinds of guys.  It seems to me that he was kind of a hardass and made his players feel like crap sometimes, which you can't do with every guy.  Sometimes his emotions just got the better of him.

Mr. Yost

August 7th, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

In the end, what the majority of Michigan fans wanted was winning. PERIOD.

I'm not talking about your $500,000+ level donor that wanted things "the way they were." I don't care about the "good ol' boys network." Even though I know that circle does influence a lot when it comes to Michigan Football.

I'm talking about the majority. Not the 1%...and the majority didn't care about the Victors Walk or the Hold The Rope or any of the changes, we just wanted W's.

And when you felt like you were smarter than the coaching staff, well then, THAT is where the troubles started. When it was 3rd and 1 and we're lined up in a 3-3-5 the same we were on 1st and 10. When no adjustments were made to opposing offenses.

I don't think anyone thought the players on the team were a top 10-15 defense going into last year...but we knew, at Michigan...we're no worse than a 40th ranked defense. And that's bad. But 117th or whatever it was? Come on. How are you THAT bad at your job?

Then you hear stories about the coaches yelling and embarrassing the kickers, blaming losses on them in front of the whole team. What kind of shit is that? Then the next year, one of those guys is winning the SUGAR BOWL for us. It's not like Hoke got a new player.

Another example of fans feeling like they're smarter...Rich Rod continuously recruiting certain positions and neglecting others. We're at what, ELEVEN offensive lineman in 2 years under Hoke?

....so in the end, Michigan fans could've accepted Rich Rod and his ways more than they did, sure. But he could've been less sensitive to the outside world, and been more focused on winning games. Because if he would've done that, a lot of that noise would've been silenced. As a HC you're judged on wins and losses and he was terrible, especially when it counted. Near losses to UMass and other "meh" teams, 60+ to Illinois, 0 for MSU/OSU, you can't have that at Michigan.


August 7th, 2012 at 12:35 PM ^

was the best "put" interpretation of RR. The guy couldn't get the job done here, inide or outsider sources...doesn't matter, a lot of grown men acted like babies during his tenure, but the bottomline is he couldn't get it done, I mean for christ sake, our annual Indiana battle was the game of the year...fricken Indiana! A year later with the same players, Hoke has us winning the Sugar Bowl.


August 7th, 2012 at 9:57 AM ^

scheme that will always put his QB in danger of injury and ultimately the success of his programs will depend on his QB's avoiding injury.  Just as they did at WVU.


Honestly though, he's just not a good football coach.  Good to great scheme, Yes definately.  A good football coach who knows how to use personnel, no absolutely not.




August 7th, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^

"he's just not a good football coach."

I guess my definition of a "good football coach" is different than yours.  He worked wonders at WVU and did a great job with offenses elsewhere.  The only place he wasn't successful was at Michigan, a very insular program where his offense worked but his defense didn't.

He's a good football coach.  He might even be very good.  If building that program at WVU doesn't qualify you as a good football coach, then your expectations are way too high.


August 7th, 2012 at 10:25 AM ^

I agree, he's a good football coach. I would even say excellent. But he did a terrible job here. Yes, there were things stacked against him, and there were factors out of his control. There always are. But he did a terrible job of dealing with the factors that were out of his control. He did a terrible job of dealing with at least half his players (the defense). He did a terrible job of dealing with at least half his fan base. Does that make him a bad football coach? No. Not at all. He's proven that he's a superb coach. But he wasn't superb here. He was terrible here. Terriblest in 2008 when he didn't even try to win games, not really, just wrote the season off while adapting to his system; terrible in 2009 when he didn't even try to help the defense, not really; terriblesterifficer in 2010 when it became clear that he wasn't able to help the defense either directly or indirectly. Terrible!


August 7th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

I'm sure he wanted to win every game in 2008. But he didn't try to, not really. Really trying means you make winning your #1 professional priority. It's obvious that installnig and running his system was his priority, not trying to win games that year. He admitted as much in his interview with Wojo the next August, I think it was, when he said that he was surprised that at Michigan you couldn't just roll out your team and win your fair share. Should have been fired the day he said that.

If you seriously think RR tried his hardest to win every game in 2008, then you either think he's a bad coach or you just aren't thinking.


August 7th, 2012 at 11:09 AM ^

Ugh.  Delaying the installation of your own offense only prolongs the transition period.

Michigan started off running a bunch of I-formation, pro-set stuff early last year.  It didn't go well.  Denard sucked.

So what did Hoke/Borges do?  They went back to the spread, but they went back to it because they had run it before (at SDSU, Ball State, etc.) and were comfortable.

Expecting Rich Rodriguez and Calvin Magee to run anything but spread is asinine.  They were brought here to run THEIR offense, not a continuation of Mike DeBord's.

Honestly, this is one of the lamest arguments.  "Rich Rod should have run an offense that he didn't have any clue about!!!  That would have helped us win more!"  Yeesh.

We sucked in 2008 because we sucked.  Running a pro-style offense with crappy players wasn't going to do any good, either.


August 7th, 2012 at 11:34 AM ^

No, they weren't brought here to run their offense. They were brought here to win games.

Or, maybe you're right. Maybe they were brought here to run the spread. But that is an indictment of the decision-making process. The goal should be to win; not to run a certain offense.

Your tautological argument about sucking in 2008 because we sucked is not helpful. Putting everything on the players is unfair, inaccurate, and misleading. Implying that a coach should not adapt his system to the talent on the team is just silly. This is when you lose people's hearts: when your scheme is more important than the people.

Prolonging the transition period is just fine as long as you're winning during that period.


August 7th, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

If we had 5 Wisconsin sized lineman, 2-3 stable workhorse RB's, and some possession WR's, then yes, we should have delayed the transition. But we didn't. Here's what we had in 2008.

Out of all our Lineman, we had 4 juniors and 0 seniors. WR's was 2 juniors, 0 seniors. QB's, I shouldn't have to, but we had Steven Threet, a guy who had transferred in from Georgia Tech, and Nick Sheridan, someone who walked-on to the team solely to get a look at the coaching aspect of it. RB we had 3 juniors, 0 seniors. TE we had 1 senior, 1 junior. And those upperclassmen I mentioned? Here's their names: Greg Matthews, LaTerryal Savoy, Tim McAvoy, Cory Zirbel, David Moosman, Mark Ortmann, Mike Milano, Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, Mike Massey, and Carson Butler.

Do you see a pattern there? It's that we had a very young offense, and very little talent. Those upperclassmen are hardly on the level of Junior Hemingway, Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, etc. etc. Why should RR have tried to teach the old system, when the majority of the players had never learned the old system themselves?  Running the pro-style offense wasn't magically going to win us more games


August 7th, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

Threet wasn't a good quarterback as a junior in a pro-set offense, so maybe, just maybe, he couldn't run any offense very well because he wasn't a good quarterback. Him being a redshirt freshman in a completely new offense just multiplied his bad quarterbacking skills.


August 7th, 2012 at 8:02 PM ^

So you're saying Hoke has experiece coaching both? What a concept! RR could've and should've been using Threet better. Period. That offense didn't have crappy players. Inexperienced maybe, but not crappy. They could've put up more than 10 against Toledo for christ's sake.


August 7th, 2012 at 11:05 PM ^

I agree they could have put up more than 10.

But seriously?  They were crappy players.  Threet, Sheridan, McAvoy, Ferrara, Mathews, Massey, etc.  Hell, even most of the decent players (Stonum, Molk, maybe including McGuffie) were freshmen.

That offense wasn't good, whether it was pro-style, spread, triple option, run-n-shoot, whatever.


August 7th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

We had 1 returning offensive starter in 2008, and that was Steven Schilling. The guys left on the roster, were a bunch of underclassmen who had made few, if any contributions the year before.. There was no reason to delay the transition. Why bother trying to run something you're uncomfortable with (a pro-style offense with Steven Threet as QB), when you don't have the talent to do it? That's what he was saying with Wojo, that he was surprised the lack of talent that Lloyd had left behind.


August 7th, 2012 at 11:52 AM ^

Here's the full quote: "Yeah ... and not only in the NCAA stuff, but I made assumptions before I took this job. Hey, this is Michigan. We just roll 'em out there we're gonna win eight, nine games ... you just assume you go in there, even with a new system, and you're gonna have enough talent ..."

The part about the talent is the reason he assumed he could go in there and win eight, nine games without trying. It's not the point of his argument. It's the evidence for it (at least in his opinion). As I said, he should have been fired the day he said this.

I don't care if you call it a transition or a belly-scratcher. The point is the guy lost 9 games. There's always a reason to delay that. Like, forever.


August 7th, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

I'm not sure what your point is here. The quote indicates that he assumed, at the time of his whirlwind hiring process, that the all-time winningest team in college football history would have a talent base that would put it in the upper echelon of the Big 10. Then, when he arrived, he found a team without much experience and deficient in talent at several positions. Are you contending that he continued to believe that he had superior talent all through his first year?

I think there are a bunch of valid criticisms of RichRod. I think he was willfully blind about what it took to succeed at Michigan off the field. He either wasn't briefed about important traditions and components of the program or chose to ignore those briefs. He didn't manage people (players, assistants and support staff) particularly well. The defensive issues go without saying. But criticizing his decision to implement the offense he had developed with a team that had virtually no playing experience seems off base.


August 7th, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

My point is that he assumed he could just roll a team out there and win eight or nine games.

The reason doesn't matter. Whether it's talent, divine intervention, scheme, tradition, everybody else is on scholarship reduction, whatever the reason is, it doesn't matter. It is a heinous mistake to assume that you can win games. Always.

It doesn't matter if it's a coach thinking about games or a CEO thinking about profits or a kid thinking about grades. You can never assume that 'rolling it out there' will get it done. Everything takes hard work. To see a big-time coach saying that he thought he could just roll a team out there, for whatever reason, is a telling statement about his thought process.

And I'm not the one saying that he shouldn't have run the spread offense. I'm saying he shouldn't have lost nine games, and that he didn't try his hardest in 2008 to win all the games that he could have. Whether that means not using the spread or adapting the spread better to the people he had or working more to retain the people who left even though they didn't fit his system - I don't know. But he should have done something different, and it was obvious that taking a year to install his system, rather than winning games, was his priority in 2008.


August 7th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

I think it's pretty clear that the "roll them out and win 8 or 9 games" was his expectation of Michigan's talent level before taking the job. And history gave him some good reasons to hold such beliefs at that time. And maybe had the hiring process not been rushed, he would have looked at the roster and turned us down. But I don't see or remember how his initial expectations about Michigan football's historical success shaped how he coached.

As for the "didn't try to win" argument, don't you think he believed the offense he developed and that had brought him acclaim as an innovative football mind gave the team the best chance to win?  If anything, the attempt to "do something different" cost the team a chance to win at least one game that year (the switch to the 3-3-5 against Purdue).



August 7th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

Just because he assumed that Michigan level talent was capable of winning 8 or 9 games every year doesn't mean that he didn't try or didn't coach them. You think RR just sat around and called off practices because he thought he'd get his 9 wins without working? That's not how football works, and to say that RichRod wasn't aware of this is just ignorant.


August 7th, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

Threet couldn't hit the broad side of a barn and Sheridan mixed his time with flashes of being passable and the rest being terrible. Why delay installing your offense if you're going to suck no matter what? May as well get the linemen, WR's, etc the experience they need in the new system.


August 7th, 2012 at 10:26 AM ^

I think we can all agree that he wasn't a good football coach for Michigan.  While he is most definitely a good coach, I would argue that he's more of an offensive coordinator than a head coach.  He lacked the coaching staff that he so obviously needed on the defensive side, and it showed.  I think the fact that he need a good defensive coordinator to take care of that side of the ball as much as he did detracts from his status as a head coach.  

It's becoming clear that RR was not a motivator, and did not know how to keep a good staff around to iron out the areas that he wasn't so good at.  These are both things that I think every good head coach should be good at.


August 7th, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

Without going into the whole "RR was not given a fair chance..." vs "RR didn't bother to learn Michigan traditions and endear himself to the fan base..." debate, from a football perspective his offense at Michigan could not move the ball consistently against good defenses without turning it over, while his defenses could not get off the field against anyone. 

snarling wolverine

August 7th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

Why is it necessary to badmouth Hoke in order to talk Rodriguez up?  Hoke led BSU to their best season in school history and won MAC Coach of the Year.  Then he led SDSU to their best season in about 15 years and MWC Coach of the Year.   And now he's added a third CoY award.  I think that's pretty impressive.  




August 7th, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

...but RR has I think 5 COY awards (2 in the BE, which is > MAC & MWC).  I don't think that you can reasonably deny that RR is still a more decorated coach than Hoke at this point.  And that's no knock on Hoke, I think he will surpass RR in due time. 

My reply was to the poster who said, "Honestly though, he's just not a good football coach.  Good to great scheme, Yes definately.  A good football coach who knows how to use personnel, no absolutely not"  If he thinks that, then I want to know what he thinks of Hoke because his tangibles are not quite to the level of RR.


August 7th, 2012 at 2:25 PM ^

That's because all we have on Rich Rod is his time in the Big East and here at Michigan. And for his time in the Big East, people are substituting the current version of the Big East, not the pre-ACC raided Big East, which wasn't the raging tire-fire it is today. Pre-raid, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College were all competing against Rich Rod. Maybe not exactly Alabama/LSU, but not cannon-fodder only. And since his big success came after they left, and since it sucks today, people can get away "Well he was good in the Big East, and we all know that doesn't count".


August 7th, 2012 at 10:10 AM ^

Please explain further how the fans hampered Michigan winning games under RR. The stadium was full with RR running the show. The Big East not playing defense made RR look better than he really was. Bill Martin wasn't going to pay assistants SEC money. Michigan won a lot of games in the past with the same administration. I'm just glad that Dave Brandon gets it.


August 7th, 2012 at 10:16 AM ^

Do I really have to explain this?  Lots of fans didn't welcome Rodriguez.  And as soon as things started to go awry, people were complaining about every little thing he did.  He tried to give the #1 jersey to J.T. Floyd and fans didn't give him a break, even though somebody around Rodriguez (Jon Falk, Fred Jackson, the AD, someone should have informed him about some of the traditions).  It was all over talk radio, the blogs, etc.  

There was a somewhat negative atmosphere when he arrived.  Not 100% negative, but people didn't like that Michigan hired a West Virginian with a fancy spread offense.

Good grief, I can't believe I'm explaining this.


August 7th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

You have to remember the courtship was like 2 drunk teens having their first midnight meeting.  We needed someone, he needed someone, a contract was set up with a handshake and bam he's now at the presser in front of 100+ cameras/reporters. 

Even from the get go he had that "aw shucks" personality that made it appear he knew nothing about Michigan and I dont think he understand just how large/vocal the fanbase was during his 1st year.  By all accounts (3 and Out) he eventually realized his mistake and tried to rectify it by seeking out the history/traditions of the program but then everything else went to hell so it was a moot point.   



August 7th, 2012 at 10:47 AM ^

So you're defending RR by saying he was like a drunk teen at midnight? I'll agree with that assessment, at least at Michigan, where he didn't try as hard as he should have. Overall, when he works hard, I think he's a super coach. But he was just lazy coming in to Michigan. He's way too smart to not know to research traditions and culture of a new job. Heck, any teacher going into a new school knows to do that, and we don't get paid gazillions of dollars a year. He didn't 'realize his mistake' so much as realized he needed to get off his behind and do some work.


August 7th, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

Before he coached a game, he played score-o at a hockey game and was seen as a ego-maniac. Then Hoke came in, did the exact opposite, and was praised for it because it wasn't what RichRod did. If you can't realize the difference in how they were welcomed, or you think fan and faculty support means nothing, then I don't know what to tell you. I will say that I didn't hear a single player on Monday night football last year announce they were from "Rich Rodriguez's university of Michigan" though.


August 7th, 2012 at 11:12 AM ^

I totally agree.  RR had his flaws, but these stories always drive me a little crazy because kids/"insiders" take shots at a guy who won 100+ games in college football and was an innovator everywhere he went.  Sure, it didn't work out here, but to take parting shots a bit at guys for crap like "toughness" when, frankly, Troy had a hard time staying on the field throughout his tenure at UM feels hollow.  And yes, I know he was injured and that robbed him of his speed to a great extent, but when you struggle to produce on the field you should probably be careful about calling out a coaching staff about its coaching protocols.

snarling wolverine

August 7th, 2012 at 12:37 PM ^

He's won 75 games at this level - 60 at WVU and 15 at Michigan.   He's over 100 wins if you count Glenville State, but that's D-II.

I don't know why everyone here seems to be at one or the other extreme with this guy.  I don't think he's horrible, but I don't think he's a future Hall of Famer either.  He has some clear strengths and weaknesses.  WVU was the perfect situation for him and he shouldn't have left it.  I don't think he'll find that kind of situation again.