Poor Rodriguez...

Submitted by BlueBarron on January 3rd, 2011 at 6:10 PM

When Lloyd Carr retired, we wanted change in Ann Arbor. We wanted a system that would win us championships again. We hired the pioneer of the spread offense. We hired Rich Rodriguez.

His first year didn't go too well. People already wanted his head. Others argued to give him time. Say whatever you want about the "bare cupboard" that Carr left, it would be tough for ANY coach with the sudden absence of Chad Henne, Mario Manningham, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Adrian Arrington, Ryan Mallet, Shawn Crable, Mike Massey, Tim Jamison, Chris Graham, Jamar Adams, Brandon Engleman, Justin Boren, and K.C. Lapota. Still, there was hope for a bright future.

His second year, Tate was initially seen as the savior of Michigan football, even a Heisman hopeful at one point. At the end of the Western Michigan game, the student section was heard chanting "Rich Rodriguez!" over and over again. It turned into a losing season and another loss to the buckeyes.

Then the arrival of Denard Robinson came to free us from Oblivion. They were making room in the trophey cabinets for his Heisman. Then MSU happened, Iowa happened, *shudder* Penn State happened, Wisconsin happened, osu happened again, and the MSUntmsu debacle happened. As a result, Rodriguez will probably be gone.

Now, if we had brought in a pro-style coach, Mallet probably wouldn't have left, but regardless, that doesn't necessarily solve the defensive woes. Maybe Warren comes back, probably not. In my opinion, any coach that came in at the time Rodriguez did would have had a terrible tenure.

Now this is the part where I feel bad for the guy. There's, what, 20 starters returning? With a [finally] relatively easy schedule involving Minny and Northy. Let's say Rodriguez is gone and Harbaugh comes in. Chances are, Harbaugh will have success. Maybe a shaky start, as is natural with coaching changes. But if Harbaugh even has a 6-6 starting season with all the young talent Rodriguez recruited, he will be seen as a hero compared to Rodriguez. Again, this would have been done with all the talent that Rodriguez had recruited. Look at how much young talent there is right now on defense (and offense for that matter). Any coach coming in now will have some decent level of success. Right now, the cupboard is not so bare.

The short Rodriguez era will be seen as a failed experiment. People will look back and say that Rodriguez put a black stain on the Michigan football program. But I see most of his misfortunes as bad luck, not as his fault. The "empty cupboad," angry-michigan-secondary-hating-god, the NCAA violations and the misunderstanding of 20 minutes of stretching, etc. I really don't blame Rodriguez in whole for these events. But the general fan who looks back will see him as a terrible coach, simply because he came in at quite possibly the worst possible time to com in as a new coach. Truth is, he put his heart and soul into this program, and people see him as a bad man. Harbaugh might come in, take all the young talent he has, and be viewed as the savior. That's not really fair, but that's how it is. I feel bad for the guy, because he's really a nice guy. I'll still have a slight gut feeling to root for him wherever he goes.



January 3rd, 2011 at 6:14 PM ^

... will not be defined by his time at Michigan if he is let go this year.  It will be defined by how well he rebounds.  If he struggles, it will say more of his coaching talents than the rotten situation in which he entered. If he rebounds well, we won't be saying "Poor RR", we'll be saying "Poor Michigan". 


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

I think Rodriguez is a good man and a good coach gravely mistreated by the media, and a section of the fanbase.

That said, I think his failing has been his own creating - poor hiring decisions on the defensive staff, failing to re-stock the secondary, and some bizarre scheme choices, given who the coaches have been.

I like him, and I wish him well, and I think that the unfair media treatment made his leash shorter than it maybe should have been. But he's 15-23 in 3 years. I'm not going to cry about his ouster.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

At this point, I think all parties would benefit from a separation.

+1 for hitting the nail on the head. It seems like this just isn't right for whatever reason, and nobody gains from dragging it on. Let Michigan get back to Rose Bowls and being an NFL factory, and let RR go someplace where he isn't hated before he even steps off the plane.

Section 1

January 3rd, 2011 at 6:24 PM ^

that he is rightly owed.

And, with every prospect of another good coaching job, and rightfully so.

He will leave behind a still-divided Michigan community, with a completely new  and ugly reputation for a despicable local press corps, infantile former letterwinners (I propose a new word:  LETTERWHINERS), and a general fan base prone to total freakouts.  WE will have more problems than Rich Rodriguez, and that too, sadly, is probably as it should be.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:48 PM ^

For the most part I agree with what Chitown and yourself have said here. I will feel a little more sadness for RR than Chitown will (judging from what he wrote), but maybe not quite as much as you do. I think Rodriguez has been railroaded from day one, and he's created a lot of problems for himself as well. I'd love to give him another year, but I'm starting to come to the realization that there are too many irreconcilable differences to be overcome.

It's great that you stick to your principles in this whole thing, so keep reminding people, take the time to explain things to those who only read Freep articles, et cetera.

Here's hoping that whatever happens, we don't become Notre Dame. *shudders* Go Blue.


January 3rd, 2011 at 7:16 PM ^

infantile former letterwinners (I propose a new word:  LETTERWHINERS),

Why are you so hard on the former players?  Don't they, of all people, have the most right to bitch?  They shed their blood, sweat and tears to keep this program running.  Can you imagine how they must have felt to have seen all of the old coaching staff (save Jackson) fired - and then the program collapse without them?  

Section 1

January 4th, 2011 at 1:16 AM ^

coaching is a rough, cruel, intensely competitive, highly remunerative profession.  Where no one's job is safe, and almost none are permanent.

Bo Schembechler was asked by Don Canham to retain Bump Eilliott's staff.  Bo insisted, and finally won out, the right to bring in, I believe, all but two of his own, new, guys.  It's what happens.

But Bo got the unconditional support of Bump Eliott.  So much so that Bump was the man who was awarded the iconic 1969 game-ball.  Bump helped Bo and the legendary '69 team pull together.

The former letterwinners who supported Rich Rodriguez should be proud to have done so.  They are not whiners.  And, they know who they are.


January 4th, 2011 at 11:15 AM ^

Bo was right to do so.  If you're going to run the ship, you want to choose your crew.

What was RR supposed to do?  Retain the guys he beat out for the job (Debord and English)?  You can't build a cohesive organization when your lieutenants are angling for your job and hoping for your failure.  Can you imagine how much worse it would've been in the football program if you'd coupled RR with Debord, English and the guys in the AD who wanted RR to fail?  

I've never been at an organization where keeping people you beat out for the job has worked well.  Conversely, I've seen plenty of situations where the winner terminated the competition and restaffed key positions with people of his choosing and the group flourished. 


January 3rd, 2011 at 7:32 PM ^

While name calling with things like 'letterwhiners". Yeah, that's real adult. Particularly when your opinion is based on guys who have given their all and made the program what it is, and all you are is the dude who whines about newspapers on the Internet. Your opinion is obviously more valuable.
<br>And do we get to contest and try and negotiate the buy out he's owed? I wouldn't, but you pointed out how it was no big deal for Rich and the University to do it to WV, so it should be ok to do it with Rich, right?


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:43 PM ^

I agree with all of the positive things you said about RR but not that his failing has been his own creating.  Someone said on another post that his worst decision may well have been to fire Scott Shafer, and 20/20 hindsight would certainly tend to confirm that, given Shafer's subsequent success at the same school where his replacement had failed dismally.  But, he really wanted Casteel and could not get him - not his fault.  And, he has restocked the secondary pretty quickly.  In the 2008 class, Cissoko was a very highly rated recruit who bombed in every sense of the word, but if he had lived up to his hype, we would have had one position covered this year.  If you add Warren and Woolfolk, we would have been pretty solid.  In 2009 and 2010, he brought in DBs.  It was really only in 2008 that he did not recruit DBs, and he had very little opportunity to get anyone not already recruited when he arrived.  It was not so surprising that he focused on getting people who could run his offense in the month he had to recruit, particularly after Mallett left pretty quickly after he was hired.  Lke you, I wish him well and very much admire him as a human being.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:53 PM ^

 But, he really wanted Casteel and could not get him - not his fault. 

It's normal for coaches not to get every assistant they want.  In fact, RR was fortunate that so many of his WVU assistants were willing to make the move to Ann Arbor.  Sometimes only a couple are willing to follow their HC.  At any rate, a lot of this frustration could have been avoided if RR would have just let Shafer do his job.  It might have also behooved him to not have an offensive coordinator (given that he is the de facto OC) and then use that spot for another defensive - or special teams - coach.

As for the DB recruiting, a lot of the guys he landed aren't here anymore.  It's hard to restock your secondary when you target a bunch of guys that don't qualify, and then have some of the others transfer.


January 3rd, 2011 at 7:47 PM ^

Weren't brought in by Rich, right? I'm just curious, if the next guy doesn't win right away, will you be willing to blame Rich's recruiting, since you're so willing to give him the credit for any success? Is it possible part of the problem is we don't have a lot of talent (young or otherwise) stockpiled, and it's going to take recruiting, not just aging, to get better?

Maize and Blue…

January 3rd, 2011 at 9:12 PM ^

but they would have given RR's recruits a chance to sit and learn instead of getting thrown into the fire.  RR did have to keep BooBoo.  He also recruited JT Turner who we were all excited about.  Vlad who RR seemed to steal from the Buckeyes and we were all happy.  The No Fly Zone who didn't make it in and was vouched for by Vance Bedford who is highly respected.  We still hold out high hope for Buck Nasty.  Throw in Dallas and Blake and RR has recruited the secondary much better than LC did toward the end. Unfortunately, some of them didn't work out and others are to young to make a judgement on. 


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:51 PM ^

I agree with you completely.  I think when RR is let go, DB should put out a statement that says:

"We would like to thank Rich Rodriguez for his time here as the head coach of the University of Michigan.  Rich is a terrific coach, and while he was here, no one brought the same passion and energy that Rich brought every day to Schembechler Hall.  While we believe a change at this time is neccessary going forward, we undoubtedly believe that Rich will be a success in his future football endeavors and wish him well.  Rich will forever be a "Michigan man".



January 3rd, 2011 at 7:55 PM ^

"We also recognize that the local, and a great extent, national media have, along with some elements of the MIchigan fan base, acted in a biased, uninformed, and often hostile manner, which made Rich's tenure a much more difficult one than it should have been, and that, no doubt impinged on the team's ability to focus and compete as they might otherwise have been able to."


January 3rd, 2011 at 9:33 PM ^

While we all know about the attrition, there's no way that on Jan 2, 2008, it was a foregone conclusion that the Michigan defense would sink to an FBS Bottom 10 level.

I also think that RichRod will learn from the lost opportunity, and will be much more judicious with the defensive side of the ball next time.  Hire a quality DC (like Scott Shafer), and let him coach. 

I am saddened by the way it played out, and feel badly for RIchRod.  My comments are just my attempt at attribution, no more, no less.


January 3rd, 2011 at 9:56 PM ^

Is what I've been trying to say for a couple months. I think he's a stand up guy put in a bad situation and showed good character and actually cars able his players as people, not just wining.
His mismanagement of the defensive staff has been his downfall. He didn't inherit any defensive players from lloyd and mallett was gone no mater what, but he drive the defense into the ground by forcing his staff and system on dc's who were not familiar with it and couldn't run it effectively.
This is all on him. Again, there was that wvu board rumor posted that he was cleared up to $1m to his a dc and everyone turned him down because of his history of interference and the fact he is viewed as a lame duck coach.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:27 PM ^

It's poor RR cause he never got a fair chance.  The media tried running him out of town since day 1.  Even last year after 5-0 they just kept trying to pile it on.  The guy improves his record every year and gets run out of town.  To me, that's pretty foolish.  In 2008, it was either remain in what was becoming a conistantly average team by hiring another "Michigan man", or take the gamble with the Rod hire.  I am assuming Martin knew the risk with transfers and depth issues in the first couple years.  Theo ffense got the talent it needed, and it showed, and the talent is coming in on defnse (injuries killed it last year).  But no, it's all completely Rod's fault.

And then next year when a new coach comes in, and wins with mostly Rod's players, he will get all of the credit.  That, my friend, is the saddest part of all.

Tha Stunna

January 3rd, 2011 at 6:38 PM ^

Improving your record from 3-9 is pretty easy.  Trends are stupid when you overinterpret them; Iowa would have had an undefeated season this year based on previous trends.

It's false to say that a non-RR hire would have kept us as an average team (which looks pretty good, by the way).  Every other candidate (unless you count Ron English, which I don't) has done better than RR has over the past three years, even the stupid non-candidate Brady Hoke.

It's not completely RR's fault, but by now it's a disaster that he aggravated with a poor hire, dubious recruiting, and questionable decisions.  He may yet coach at Michigan for another year, but it would be for lack of a better option.  Maybe he could make it all work with a running back, an improved Denard Robinson, and a hotshot defensive coordinator, but I rather doubt it.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

You're getting way too worked up about a coach getting fired.  When he's let go, this man will have received $10 million from us, not counting whatever it was we paid to settle his WVU buyout.  There are a whole lot of people in this economy who wish they were so unlucky.

The tradeoff for that incredible salary is high expectations.  RR didn't meet them and will be let go.  That's the deal.  He knew that coming in, when he decided to leave his alma mater to come here.  In hindsight, he probably should have better appreciated what he had going at WVU.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:35 PM ^

While I understand and agree with you about how we shouln't feel bad about him getting fired as a result of how much money he makes, you should maybe take into consideration feeling bad for all of the people that will get fired with him, that don't make nearly as much, such as all of the small time assistants and strength coaches. Granted, it is coaching and they do go into understanding its a tough profession where job security is fluid, but the whole argument of them getting paid so much you don't feel bad for them doesn't fly there, and they got just as little of a chance to show what they could do as Rich Rod.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:41 PM ^

Should I feel worse for them than for the many people in the program who were fired after RR took over?  Erik Campbell, for instance, was a former player and longtime WR coach - and he seemed to do a fine job, given the long list of NFL WRs he produced.  Was it fair for him to be axed in favor of Tony Dews?  This business can be harsh.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:53 PM ^

RR said as much in the interview that was televised at half-time of the Gator Bowl. He basically said that the window for success has closed in proportion to the crazy amounts that coaches are now paid. RR understands the game he is a part of, and has been rewarded handsomely by it.


January 3rd, 2011 at 7:43 PM ^

that Pastilong was jerking RR around at WVU? Why else would he turn down Alabama to sign a $4 million buy-out and THEN make a move? Something funny was going on at WVU, and RR was caught between a bad situation and the uncertain future in the land of FREEP. I hope he gets back to winning ways. I hope we don't turn into ND.


January 3rd, 2011 at 10:45 PM ^

It obviously was worth moving to Rodriguez and his assistants at the time, or he/they wouldn't have done it. The chance to coach at Michigan outweighed his rock-star status and coaching at his alma mater. And despite the deck stacked against him on so many sides, he and his staff know that they will never work with another athletic department as good as ours.


January 3rd, 2011 at 9:43 PM ^

with rage

Boosters furious over Rodriguez loss say WVU dropped ball

But several football boosters told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that WVU mishandled its dealings with Rodriguez and now stands to lose millions in bowl revenues and donations.

"I've been in business 36 years, and it's the worst business decision I've ever seen," Bob Reynolds, former chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments, told the newspaper.

Earl G. "Ken" Kendrick Jr., a part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a stakeholder in the Phoenix Suns and a longtime benefactor to the WVU College of Business and Economics, told the Post-Gazette he was disappointed in the lack of judgment and respect for a key employee.

"It's compelling to me as somebody who's given emotional and financial support to the university," he said. "And it makes it questionable to me as I go forward."

The boosters say they should have been brought in to help broker a last-minute deal and bridge what they called an obvious gap between Rodriguez and the new administration.


January 3rd, 2011 at 6:31 PM ^

I agree with Chitownblue2 that his failing has been of his own creating. 

One of the best assessments of RR's tenure remains the November 29 (re)post of an article on Genuinely Sarcastic:  http://genuinelysarcastic.blogspot.com/   It reviews in detail almost all of the major problems that have plagued RR's tenure.  It is remarkably prescient --I reread it today and found it as on target as it was just over a month ago. 

This is the second time in the last ten minutes I've referenced the article on MGoblog & promise I'll leave it there. 



January 3rd, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

Fair or not, in the coaching world today the bottom line is people expect instant results, in part because of the massive amounts of money coaches are being paid today.

He had the potential for a decent defensive to work with his first year here, but the team was bogged down by the first year of the spread offense.  Now he has the offense playing well, but the team is left out to dry by the defense.  I'm convinced that having Woolfolk and Floyd healthy the entire year wouldn't have made an ounce of difference because every facet of this team lacks basic fundamentals. I know we play in a major conference and therefore tougher teams, but to say that almost every team in college football can play better defense than is a tough pill to swallow.

I supported RRod until the last game (GERG...never), but it's time to bring in Harbo.  Get er done Brandon.