Performance in the bowl game - a valid input?

Submitted by JTGoBlue on November 29th, 2010 at 5:01 PM

I'm surprised that it seems most agree that the bowl game, which could present a quality opponent comparable to a top-tier Big Ten team, and hence the opportunity for a 'signature win' , is moot.  The bowl game will quite possibly be the first game since the 5-0 start where the team is reasonably healthy, with 15 practices to coach the younger players. Doesn't this last game present a great opportunity to evaluate the state of the program?  Surprised Brandon hasn't mentioned this, although he probably doesn't want to open up a debate over his evaluation policy...thoughts?



November 29th, 2010 at 5:05 PM ^

It could be a factor, but just one of many.  If the performance in the bowl game is the deciding factor then DB is 50 / 50 on whether to keep him.  That, on its own, is saying something.  If you are only 50% confident on your coach, then you aren't confident in him at all.


November 29th, 2010 at 5:26 PM ^

"If you are only 50% confident on your coach, then you aren't confident in him at all."

From what I have read on MGoBlog and my own analysis, I think this should be a close decision.  Sure, today it looks JH is a better choice, but really he is not the perfect candidate (criticizing Michigan in public, DUI, etc).  JH doesn't seem to be as ethical as Lloyd Carr and probably not as much as RR.  But he looks good today.

MI and Stanford bowl games could make a difference.

RR will probably turn everything around if he gives up control of the defense (or gets Casteel here) but its seems like a smaller probability than JH being successful.

So, we are at a tipping point.  btw - that doesn't have mean 50 / 50.  What DB thinks RR is the better choice 60 / 40?

The bowl game COULD tell a lot.  What if Michigan wins in a blowout and Stanford gets crushed?  What if it's the other way around?

And all of the talk about it hurting us in recruting is just plain silly.  It might hurt a little bit (maybe) with some of the players.  Many players have already made up their minds.  Many are going to wait till signing day.  Certainly with those players, a delay won't hurt us.  Cerainly we will be hurt less in recruiting than making the wrong decision on whether or not to keep RR.


November 29th, 2010 at 8:39 PM ^

Those aren't conflicting ideas.  How we do in a bowl would be a small factor.  The decision is made up of hundreds of small factors.  My point is that if that one little factor might make the difference then it is too close to really consider keeping him. 


November 29th, 2010 at 5:08 PM ^

it will be against high quality competition, injuries will have a chance to heal and the team will get a number of uninterrupted practices.  the bowl game will most definitely provide a glimpse of RR's ability to take the team to the next level.

*note, i express no opinion as to whether RR should be coaching the bowl game.  just noting that the bowl game is good evidence.


November 29th, 2010 at 5:15 PM ^

1. It seems DB is currently leaning to fire RR and the game may be his last chance. Better not hold anything back Rich. I am pulling for you.

2. I would be surprised if DB doesn't already have his mind made up and is saving it for after the bowl game so it doesn't affect the play negatively (losing will to win, etc). This doesn't bode well for RR. Dave Brandon says he is unhappy about the season and usually you are unhappy about a program if you don't think it is making progress. It is hard to believe that DB will tell Harbaugh, "Wait until after our bowl, and I'll get back to you about the job." If he is considering Harbaugh, I am sure they have already spoke on the phone.

3. DB has an effective isolation bubble in which he is planning on keeping RR and thinks this is all rediculous.


This is what I am going with from His Dudeness:

This sucks.

Thoughts? Anyone have a time machine?


November 29th, 2010 at 5:16 PM ^

He could have decided that RR deserves another year, but wants to leave his options open if they totally tank in the bowl game..

Just wondering what the prevailing opinion is on whether or not the bowl game performance is a reasonable gage for future performance/state of the program.


November 29th, 2010 at 5:22 PM ^

In fact, it is the only thing he has mentioned. He keeps saying that he will wait until after the bowl game to evaluate the program, which means (if you believe him) that performance in the bowl game matters.

The trouble is, most people have trouble believing that he does not have enough data upon which to base a decision. People also have trouble believing that he would leave the coaches (and potential recruits) twisting in the wind for a month.

This is what invites the possibility that he is talking to others in the background, but leaving Rodriguez in harness while the details get worked out.


November 29th, 2010 at 5:33 PM ^

"The trouble is, most people have trouble believing that he does not have enough data upon which to base a decision. "

Has anybody mentioned the possibility that Brandon doesn't have enough financial data to make a decision? Canning RR will cost money (how much I don't know and don't care to find details for) as will hiring a hot name in coaching. Sure, he's got reports of the booster situation, but when the rubber meets the road he will have to pass the hat around. 

FWIW, I believe Brandon can only fire RR if the following are true:

-UM stinks it up in the bowl game

-He has the money to cut RR loose and the under-the-table agreement to hire JH on the spot (no sailboat-Bill surprises).

I am expecting a flurry of anxious activity from the day of the Insight Bowl to the day after Stanford finishes its BCS bowl game. It could be this year's version of the Texas Tech 24/7 news cycle. It's going to be a long month on MGoBlog...


November 29th, 2010 at 6:40 PM ^

your criteria for judging performance of any coach is whether your teams are competitive in the Big Ten. Bowls mean very little. Otherwise, Bo, Carr, Tressel and the rest of them would have been fire.

As much as I liked RR and was happy to see him hired, after three years in the Big Ten he is clearly out of his element. His record is his achilles heal. It is what it is.


November 29th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

The question Brandon should be asking is "Will Rodriguez and staff be able to get the team over the hump to 9-10+ wins next year and be able to continue to do so going forward?"  As such, I think bowl game results have historically been a pretty bad indicator of this kind of future success.

USC lost 10-6 to Utah in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.  They then won 11+ games each of the next 7 years.

Lloyd Carr lost the Outback Bowl the year before he won a national championship.  He lost the Alamo Bowl the year before winning 11 straight games to open the season and going to the Rose Bowl.

Rodriguez lost handily to FSU in the Gator Bowl a year before going 11-1 and winning the Sugar Bowl against the SEC Champions.

Saban got blown out in the Cotton Bowl against Texas a year before winning a national title at LSU.  He got smoked by Utah in the Sugar Bowl a year before winning a national title at Alabama.

On the flip side, Charlie Weis won the Hawaii Bowl in one of the most impressive performances of his tenure.  The next year he went 6-6 and got fired.

Bobby Williams and Bill Stewart won important bowl games as interim head coaches but neither came close to equaling the success of their predecessors when they got promoted to head coach.

So yeah, I just don't see one bowl games as a big indicator of success or failure in the immediate future.  Other factors should be far more determinative in deciding what to do about who coaches at Michigan. 




November 29th, 2010 at 5:40 PM ^

I don't think Harbaugh is a questionable candidate.  I just think he has a far inferior resume to the coach we actually have.  That is a fact.

You are also missing the point.  It isn't that bowl games are irrelevant, it is that winning or losing one particular bowl game is a horrible indication of how good a team will be the following season and into the future (for example Harbaugh lost to a 5 loss Oklahoma team in the Sun Bowl last year and his team is still much improved this season). 

Tha Stunna

November 29th, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

You're cherrypicking examples here.  A bowl game is nowhere near the full story, but a win against an actual top 20 opponent would be the best win in RR's tenure and would be a much stronger reason to keep him around.  There are lot of great examples of how a bowl game win led to greater success the next year, or how a loss foreshadowed trouble down the road - too many to bother mentioning here.

If RR had a more positive record, this would be a moot point, but RR needs to show he can come out strong when he has a healthy team.  This was the case in the season openers, but not so much when we played PSU.


November 29th, 2010 at 7:22 PM ^

Oklahoma went 7-5 in 1999 under Stoops and lost the Independence Bowl to Ole Miss.  They won a national title a year later.

Tressel went 7-5 and lost the Outback Bowl to South Carolina a year before winning a national title.

Oregon went 7-6 and lost 38-8 to BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2006.  A year later they had the best team in the country until Dennis Dixon got hurt and they've had three straight 10+ win seasons since.

That is basically every major program of the last ten years to make the jump from 6-7 wins to perennial national powerhouse (which is what our goal should be).  In none of those cases did losing a bowl game foreshadow anything.  Saban's 30-24 win over a 6-6 Colorado team in the Independence Bowl is the only example I can find of a bowl win by a team trying to make the jump back up from mediocre to elite (and that game hardly foreshadowed their 12-0 start a season later).

CRISPed in the DIAG

November 29th, 2010 at 5:37 PM ^

It's interesting that DB hasn't, at minimum, provided the ol' Vote of Confidence.  I'm now thinking the decision has been made to let RR go after the bowl.  Couple reasons - the availability desirable replacements (ie, trying to avoid the Les Miles shitstorm), as well as dealing with the logistics of managing and coaching the team through the bowl timeline.  These are real exectutive-type problems, you know?  Really hope I'm wrong - I'd like to see RR unleash furious vengance upon the B10 in 2012.  (someone pls post a Jules pic...)

Communist Football

November 29th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

Especially on the health part.  The quality of opponent will make it non-straightforward to look at the bowl purely from a W-L standpoint, though inevitably that's how the fan base will view it.  For example, if we end up playing South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, we probably have a tougher time than playing the B12 #6 team in the Insight Bowl.


November 29th, 2010 at 6:15 PM ^

They still have a chance to pull off a monumental upset this weekend.  "The Ol' Ball Coach" is pretty good at coaching in big games when he has enough talent to execute his plan.  His team might not have quite as much talent as Auburn, but I'm guessing he still has a few surprises up his sleeve.

As for whoever Michigan plays, I don't really know what we will see that we don't already know.  Michigan has beaten all of the teams they "should" and lost to all the teams they "should" this year.  I don't gamble, but I would say the odds of an upset either way are pretty slim.

Consequently, I hope they get a less-talented opponent.  An eighth win would be a nice end to the season. 


November 29th, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

How certain are we that JH wants to come to Ann Arbor? He publicly criticized UM and it seems he always has his eyes on the NFL (partly the media's problem). I dont want DB to hire Harbaugh and then he bolts to the NFL in three years leaving us fucked.

Also, if DB chooses retain RR, how will this affect the DC search (assuming GERG is fired and thats part of the decision RR stays)? A new DC introduced in January will have to assemble a staff (possibly) and hit the ground running recruiting. A long decision for a DC can hurt the program in the long run and eventually prove to RRs demise (my personal choice is Mike Trgovac).

Im 50/50 on whether to keep RR or cut him loose. I see the potential but I also expected to see more tangible results. Either way, I hope the head coach and the TEAM beat Ohio State and little brother next season.


November 29th, 2010 at 6:59 PM ^

This team will definitely be better next year under RR...look at who is returning on both sides of the ball. We barely have any seniors playing at all.  You need experience and that will get RR over the hump.


November 29th, 2010 at 7:45 PM ^

I hope that Mr. Brandon  is not waiting to judge our 7-5 team by their perforance against these superior Big 12 teams above in the Insight Bowl.  Pesonally, I think his mind is made up and he will make a change after the bowl games, however, you will hear nothing until then because Harbaugh will not leave his 11-1 team before their BCS Bowl game.  Within days after Stanford's bowl game, is when I would expect to hear something in my opinon.


November 29th, 2010 at 7:45 PM ^

I hope that Mr. Brandon  is not waiting to judge our 7-5 team by their perforance against these superior Big 12 teams above in the Insight Bowl.  Pesonally, I think his mind is made up and he will make a change after the bowl games, however, you will hear nothing until then because Harbaugh will not leave his 11-1 team before their BCS Bowl game.  Within days after Stanford's bowl game, is when I would expect to hear something in my opinon.