RRod - Boys to Michigan Men

Submitted by FormerWolv on December 9th, 2010 at 12:35 PM
It always irks me when people yell and scream for a coaches head while only acknowledging what the coach is not doing. Wins and losses are important, but is a piece of a much larger picture. RRod has been through a hell of a time ever since he was introduced as head coach. He hasn't had the best W-L record, and a tussle with the NCAA, which wasn't as "major" as once thought. Also, people may point at his transfers and kicking people off the team, as another negative. There is no doubt in my mind that RRod recruits a different type of student-athlete and at first I was appalled, but after today I completely hold the opposite view.

Today I was told about a class in which students from the Starr Commonwealth (http://www.starr.org/) visited. For those who don't know, Starr is a boarding school for at-risk teens who have been arrested, or violated their parole, for various offenses such as breaking and entering, assault, but most are in for petty drug possession, or dealing. A vast majority of these students are from inner-city Detroit. Now, this program is a real eye-opener after hearing the student talk about the kids who visited, and how they were not un-human (like the common perception is), but actually almost all of them are just "lost." The class they visited had a good number of football players in it, and to my surprise, the football players were described as the most vocal and challenging towards the Starr students. The players were Denard, Vincent Smith, Brandon Herron, Roy Roundtree, Isaiah Bell, Richard Ash, Devin Gardener, and Fitz Toussaint. These players not only relayed their life stories story to the Starr students, but how they came from almost identical circumstances like the students from Starr. The difference was they avoided the gangs, drugs, and bad decisions the students from Starr fell into. This is where I credit RRod with one of his greatest aspects: the willingness to take a chance on someone.

If you knew where Vincent Smith, Denard, or any other of the football players listed above came from, and didn't know they what their star rating was, most of you would run like hell, clumping them in with the stereotypical gang-banger image that has corrupted their community. The difference is that you see them as a running back, quarterback, etc. and welcome them with open arms. This could not of happened without RRod taking a chance on these kids. Not all have worked out (i.e. Austin White), but I'd bet my life on it that them coming to Umich and blooming under RRod has changed their life for the better in ways beyond football. RRod did not treat these kids as "athlete-students" or just another player, he treats them like a father treats his son. His players respect him, love him, and see him as a role model that so many of his players lacked when they were growing up. Eventually as his players graduate, have real jobs and families of their own, they will use what they learned from RRod, and serve as role models back in their hometown, which is a vital piece to breaking the vicious cycle that thrives in too many communities today. These men will have a greater and more important effect on the lives children who idolize them, and their communities, than what they ever could do on the football field. Because all in all football is a GAME, too many people act like its life-or-death and its really just sad. I don't want a coach who puts up 12-0 seasons and doesn't give two shits about his players. I want a coach who outputs Michigan Men who are successful both on and off the field.

RRod has had some bumps in his path, but it takes a special person to recruit boys and output men that symbolize what a Michigan Man embodies. The wins will come. We have improved every year, and soon we will reach our former dominance on the football field. RRod is the right coach for Michigan, and I have no doubt he will one day be crowned a true Michigan Man.



December 9th, 2010 at 12:42 PM ^

Very nice post.  Now go convince Brandon and we would both be happy.  For whatever reason, people are unwilling to consider alot of the off the field stuff.  Then they turn around and say that "we are UM and we are better than that".  Go figure.   What a long strange trip it's been.


December 9th, 2010 at 1:09 PM ^

Yes, the majority of Michigan fans want success both on the field and off.  We have had it that way for nearly 40 years and there is no reason to lower the expectations.  Otherwise why are we playing in a 109,501 seat stadium, paying our football coaches in excess of $4.5M and giving out millions of dollars in scholarships each year.

There is no doubt in my mind that RR is doing a very good job of trying to mold immature young men into mature adults.  I am glad that we are not putting success on the field above all else like some other programs.  But if the sole focus is off the field success, then Michigan Football may as well join the Ivy League or go the way of the University of Chicago.  There needs to be on field success as well. 

Having it both ways is what made Michigan the Leaders and Best.   


December 9th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

Well, they disagree becaue the coach that most want to replace RR has a very checkered "off the field past".  (not going to go into it as he might be my next coach)

This would indicate that while most people including DB want it both ways, the "winning" is more important than "doing it the right way".  Not to mention that DB appears to be going more in the direction of "doing it right" by raising academic standards (or eliminating coaches exceptions), yet going the other way with the personal behavior of the (maybe) next coach.

PLUS, nobody mentions the off the field stuff about RR, which is strange since it is "just as important" as the on the field. hmmmm... 


December 9th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

The OP never mentioned the coaches off-field behavior, nor did I.  It is about the on and off field development of the 100+ football players at the University of Michigan. 

Now, beacuse another coach (Harbaugh) had an off-field issue, a DUI, he is not able to effectively develop student athletes both on and off the field?  Hiring him would be "winning at all costs?"  I find that to be almost laughable.  If that is the case, then Red Berenson should have been fired years ago after his drinking incident.  You are doing to Jim Harbaugh what you are wish people would not do to Rich Rodriguez.  Taking personal shots to justify your position.

I'll help you define winning at all costs.  Placing Glenn Winston or the WR at Florida back on the team is winning at all costs.  Cutting players on your team to be able to bring in a larger recruiting class. 

Rich Rodriguez has shown himself to not be a win at all costs coach.  We can agree on that.


Happy Jack

December 9th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

He can be a Michigan Man in my eyes without being our coach.  At some point there is a line where you say OK he's a great guy and he's made a positive impact on kids but we do need to win football games.  In some people's eyes, that line has already been crossed.  In others, they would rather give him another year.  Just because you reside on one side of the other doesn't mean you're less of a "fan." In my opinion, we should be able to have it both ways. Michigan is MICHIGAN because we decided that we wouldn't settle for one or the other.  The great men that have come before decided that they could win a shit ton of games and be outstanding people.  The bar is set extremely high at Michigan and that's the way we want it.  That's the only way- because it is Michigan.  I'll always respect Rich Rodriguez and have never questioned his integrity or effort.  Whether or not he's the right coach I'm not completely sold on- leaning towards probably not- but for his integrity, values, and attitude I'll always consider him a Michigan Man.


December 9th, 2010 at 2:54 PM ^

had these aspects of RR's character been made apparent from then beginning, we would not be the state of limbo that we bnow find ourselves in becuase the fanbase would not have demonized him from day one for not being Lloyd Carr had they realized that off the field he was Lloyd's equal in every way in terms of making sure player represent the university well and are developed as people and not just players.

Instead, you would have a fanbase that is more lenient in their expecations and rational in their perceptions as to the state of the W/L record and why it is what it is. RR would be on much firmer ground in looking at next year as a definite make or break season as opposed to wondering if he is going to get the chance.

Happy Jack

December 10th, 2010 at 11:06 AM ^

I respectfully disagree.  All of RR's problem stem from his inability to win.  Yes everyone loved Lloyd Carr as a person, but especially his .752 win percentage. The fact that he can't win is what's compounding his other problems tremendously.  

I guarantee that if RR would have done anything approaching a .752 winning percentage people would not be finding every reason they could to ridicule him.  

A .752 win percentage would have meant BCS bowl games and top 10 finishes in the first 3 years.  That kind of winning has the ability to quell whatever animosity existed in the beginning.

Now of course, a coaching change is never easy.  I don't think anyone expected him to come in and take Michigan back to the rose bowl right away.  But certainly no one expected 3-9, 5-7, and 7-5.  Honestly, that was worst case scenario coming true. Especially after we let Florida have it in the Cap One Bowl.  

Don't forget, RR is 0-6 vs OSU and MSU and 2-7 overall vs our rivals.  Under his watch most of Michigan's impressive and long standing streaks have ended.  I know you all are going to freak out and neg me for writing this but it's fact.  I'm not saying I want RR gone- the point I'm making is that THIS IS WHY PEOPLE WANT HIM FIRED.   It doesn't have to do with the off field stuff nearly as much.  Yes, that's pouring more fuel on the fire and yeah it sucks because he's a good man and doesn't deserve it- but his record is 15-21 for god sakes including 6-18 in the big 10.  If you think it has to do with anything other than that you're making excuses.  

It's always been about winning at Michigan, like it or not.  That doesn't mean he's not a great influence for the kids and a good man.  But Michigan football has, and always will be about winning.  That's just the truth of it.  I don't blame the fan base for being upset and anxious about this.  I don't necessarily think he should be fired- perhaps another year would turn things around for good.  It doesn't make anybody less of a fan to question whether or not someone should be the head coach just like it doesn't make you less of a patriot if you disagree with the president.  


December 10th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

It's a business,Michigan athletics that is and especially Michigan football. Wins and losses is what many fans care about. Michigan could be 12-0 and win every game like 10-9 and as long as they win that would be the main thing. If RR is let go it will be about business that is all.Didn't win enough. It is kind of unfair only because RR is a good person and works hard to get this program successfull and still might not be given enough time (another year) because fans are getting too impatient because of lack of wins and lack of wins of rivalry games. 


December 10th, 2010 at 5:16 PM ^

If all UM means is business and $$, then it is no different than any other program out there.

That is not to say that $$ doesn't matter, of course it does, to think otherwise would be naive in the extreme, however M has always had the luxury of being an extremely profitable program, while at the same time being run with honor and integrity and without putting the almighty $ first and foremost.

I have followed M footbal for all of my 43 years and if it ends up beoming nothing more than a business, it will have lost everything that makes it special.


December 10th, 2010 at 5:10 PM ^

there is, quite simply, much more to it than that, though sadly these days many fans can think of little else.

rebuilding a program doesn't happen overnight and the team that 'gave it to Florida' all but evaporated after that game.

You're missing the point though, had RR's character not been under constant attack by illiterate WVU fans on his way out, detroit area media on his way in and their less-than-informed 'Michigan Man' fans 2 days afterward, he wouldn't be in the situation he is ion and would be looking at another year to turn it around.

For example, if from day one the PR surrounding RR was a different story about a local boy that played at WVU and rose through the ranks, under the tutelage of Don Nehlen (a michigan Man), who created the spread offense, kept his players out of trouble and turned a backwater program into a giant killer in BCS bowls....I don't think you have the elder segment of the fan base purchasing tar & pitchforks, I think they would be frustrated, but talking about having the right kind of character and players and attitude and looking for continued improvement next year before sharpening their axes.


December 9th, 2010 at 12:47 PM ^

I agree completely with your post.  One of the main benefits of college athletics is that it gives kids an opportunity to improve their life outlook.  The head coach makes a big difference as to how effectively the student-athletes use that opportunity (keeping track of grades, behavior, etc..). 


December 9th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

RR hasn't been perfect, but I admire his conviction. He has stuck with his guns on team rules, and shown concern for the health of his players above all else.


December 9th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

at the decisions made by this staff and the punishments they have doled out while trying to set an example of what is and is not acceptable, too often at the cost of results, and you feel a greater pride of precedent and expectations. this is not a team that requires second chances to get the point. this is a team that knows they should have understood the first time and either don't require a second chance or feel exceptionally grateful when they receive it.


December 9th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

This was great, thanks so much for posting. I wish the MSM in Detroit would write about stuff like this. It's sad that we have to read these kinds of stories either on this blog or from media outlets in Chicago, Cleveland, etc. I know the negative stories sell more papers and get more clicks but, after a while, don't they also just turn people off?!?!

I'm all for reading something POSITIVE every once in a while!


December 9th, 2010 at 1:45 PM ^

Coach Rodriguez has always appeared to strive to do a great job of molding the young men he coaches into mature adults.  I have never doubted that from day one.  And that part of his tenure as head football coach at the University of Michigan is many times overlooked by fans and the MSM.  Frankly, it is the one area where people who are uninformed or not paying attention spend the most time trying to soil his image.  He is a good man whose intentions appear in the right place

That said, personal development is only one part of the job description.  There also has to be athletic development which translates into wins and loses.  And there is nothing to say that another coach would not do as good a job in developing the non-athletic part of our student athletes.  


December 9th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

He is just simply a great person. I am convinced of that. For all his off the field contributions to others, he deserves one more year to prove he can do it on the field as well. I don't think he will be given that chance, but I really hope he does.


December 9th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

Best post I have read here for several weeks. I love RR, and passionately want him to stay at Michigan. Given the chance, he is going to be a great coach. I hereby authorize the mods to give you all but five hundred of my points. (All I want or need with points is enough to be able to post and to comment when there is a board meltdown, a la tOSU loss.)

You mentioned that many of the kids in the Starr Academy were not so much bad, as they were "lost." I think this is a perfect way to describe what will happen at Michigan if RR is cut loose. This also, imhe, describes what will happen with many in our current recruiting class. Don't kid yourself:  Denard especially, but many of our current players, have undoubtedly explained the score to potential recruits. This is a big part of why some of them are still willing to come to Michigan. RR, and his coaching staff, including Barwis, provide direction and life lessons for so many of the guys on our team.

The current team desperately want to see RR succeed, but they weren't strong enough and experienced enough to make it happen. . . this year. I truly believe that next year, we turn the corner.

This last year, my 4th grade son had an awesome experience with Little League baseball, and a crummy experience with tackle football. The difference was almost all about the coaches, the assistant coaches, and the cameraderie (or lack thereof) built on the team. It gave me a great window to see how huge of an influence a good coach like RR can have in the lives of the young men on the team.

Thanks again for sharing this, and I echo those who want you to find a way to see this published in the MSM. Either Angelique or the Daily could do a fine job, without doubt.


December 9th, 2010 at 1:03 PM ^

I have made this point time and again with people I know. It usually ends badly. So many people just see the win/loss aspect. I tell them to go watch the Lions. The fact that Michigan (College) Football is about more than just the games escapes them. The same people generally do not acknowledge the fact that the athletes are student athletes, either. They don't have a problem with booing, calling them names, or speaking ill of their mothers.


December 9th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

I feel that the majority of those fans that boo 19 year olds and scream for RR's head because the team lost to Sparty are fans who's involvement with the team crosses into personal self worth.  It matters little that the coach cares more about sitting a possibly injured player more than his job.  Could care less about how a coach molds players off the feild.  All they care about is that they need a comeback when some drunk Buckeye says at a bar "Michigan sux, ur gay."  Then they look at the W-L record, and feel inferior to the Buckeye fan.  This makes them very sad.  Buckeye fans high-five while the Michigan fan sheds an angry tear into his beer.  Then a Sparty fan pulls the same move and desperation sets in.  "How can my life be like this, RR is ruining my life"  It is a completely emotional response based on a crutch for self esteem.  And all the Mgoblog charts?!?, graphs, logic and what not is pointless because replying in a bar with "Yeah but Denard" and "Our offense's YPG is trending in a way that leads one to the conclusion that we will have a top 5 offense next year" does not stop the Sparty high-fives.  It only increases the "Michigan IS gay cause maths is gay" laughter.  Sparty and Buckeye high-five, Michigan fan looks across bar, sees a Domer who quickly avoids eye contact.  All is lost.


December 9th, 2010 at 3:03 PM ^

especially true of people that don't have a lot of 'W' in their own lives, to the extent that they count on it to come from an external source like M football.

It is really sad to watch our fanbase become like so many others in valuing wins above all else and having such a short fuse when they don't get them. If we fail to give RR a fair shot at rebuilding the program, we can talk all we want about M doing it the right way, but in the end it will ring hollow and Dog help us if the next coach doesn't turn thisngs around in 3 years b/c we will probably be trying to throw enough money at nick Saban to bring him to Ann Arbor just to be sure we get our W's back, players be damned.

Elno Lewis

December 9th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

r u fawking kiddin me?

Starr Commonwealth?  Seriously, dude, do your research--boarding school?  You are only like 100% wrong.

your whole post sounds emo as all get out.

but, you have a right to your opinion, so,yeah, carry on.


December 9th, 2010 at 1:25 PM ^

everything I know about Starr is exactly as he presented it. do enlighten the group on what it is.

Staff at an Albion facility for troubled youth immediately notified police and chased after two teenagers who escaped Saturday evening.

The boys later stole a car and led state troopers near Ypsilanti on a highway chase.

The 16- and 17-year-old boys bolted from the Starr Commonwealth about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, said Jim Longhurst, the facilities senior vice president for clinical and health services.

“Our staff got on it immediately,” Longhurst said. “They saw what was happening and went after the kids.”

The two boys, whose names have not been released, eluded Starr Commonwealth staff by hopping a fence into a restricted area neighboring the facility. Longhurst said his staff, because of safety concerns, did not follow the teens over the fence, which is dotted with “Do Not Enter” signs.

well let's see. there's fences. you're pursued if you try to leave. and it involves teens who commit crimes before entering and after. i'd say that's a boarding house/prison for troubled teens.

god you're a troll sometimes.


December 9th, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

In my time as a psych major at Albion I became very familiar with Starr. Many kids in our department interned there, and what the OP says about the kids there is pretty much spot on. Most of them have gone through some crazy stuff, and it's great to hear that these kids had a different voice telling them to turn their lives around.

Elno Lewis

December 9th, 2010 at 1:21 PM ^

speak out of your ass much? Your exactly the person that I talked about. Stereotypes and prejudice fill your head. Do YOUR research on what Starr is all about and what it does. Hell, I even provided the link for people to read about them.


Yes, I am quite accomplished at speaking out of my ass. Thank you for asking.

Never been to Starr's website--you are right.  My feet have traveled that campus tho,

You should adopt one of those lost children.  Do your family well.