Things That Don't Make Sense About RR's Firing

Submitted by mGrowOld on January 9th, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Let me begin this post by stating I am 51 years old and have been in management for the past 25 years.  I have hired and fired people for the bulk of my adult life and currently have direct and indirect supervision over 120 people.  And I am well aware of Dave Brandon's professional accomplishments in the business world and have met him and heard him speak several times prior to his appointment as AD.

I am baffled, therefore, at his breaking of one of the oldest rules in management with his dismissal of RR last week.  And that is you NEVER terminate an employee (unless terminating for cause) unless you have a superior replacement selected and ready to go when you do.  To take out a person in a critical functioning capacity as well as his entire support staff without having the new HC ready to step in immediately is very dangerous and will make the subsequent transition period ripe with potential problems.  For example my company recently completed an acquisition of a competing firm and and we wanted to take out their existing executive team but we didn't do it until we had recruited the replacements!  Firing them before hand would've put every employee at flight-risk as they would have nowhere to turn for guidance and each of them would ask themselves "am I next?"   This is such a basic and fundamental rule of management I cannot believe it was broken.

Which leads me to my original question.   What exactly happened last Wednesday?  How is it possible that RR wasn't fired, then he was the next day.  This too is something you learn in management early on - never drag out the termination process.  Fire them quickly, let them vent and then answer questions.  You don't conduct a "Chinese water torture" on the person being let go.   This rule seems to have been broken as well and I can't help but wonder why given Brandon's obvious experience in these matters.

I wonder if Rich did, in fact, get the ultimatum "fire all your defensive assistants and you can stay" and he refused.  Many of us (myself included) theorized that DB would have such a conversation with RR at the end of the season and perhaps he did.  And if he did and RR refused EVERYTHING that happened afterwards makes sense.  DB would have to fire RR because he would be in defiance of his directive.  The firing would be delayed a day as RR decided what to do.  And DB might not have a "plan B" because he never imagined Rich wouldn't acquiesce to his demands for a new defensive staff.

What do you guys think?



January 9th, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

RichRod is a smart man, but I believe he is also very headstrong.  It is hard to believe that he didn't understand how terrible the defense and special teams were.  It might have just been a case of misplaced loyalty.  Still, to think that DB didn't have a plan in place is disconcerting.


January 9th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

I'm sure that he saw how bad the defense and spec teams were. However, he probably believed that those coaches needed to be given a chance with upper classmen. He said it during the year that it was tough to succeed with Frosh and Sophs. He probably lobbbied, to no avail, to give those coaches one more year.


January 9th, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

I have defended DB quite a bit, but you bring up some interesting points.
<br>I guess the difference is that it's hard to line up a replacement in such a high profile job without the world finding out about it. Them he'd be criticized for pulling a Sporano type situation. Buy fair points made by you for sure.
<br>As for the ultimatum - perhaps RR had enough by this point and it was a graceful parting of the ways for both sides. Because of the perception that some of his failure was driven by Michigan specific problems, it seems he'll have nonproblem getting another shot sonewhere else


January 9th, 2011 at 10:37 AM ^

I thought the way Brandon handled the situation left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, but I have a sense that be thought Harbaugh was on-board and was a little blind-sided by him backing out.  That probably still falls on Brandon, but I am not privvy to what happened during those meetings so it is hard to speculate too much.

I do have a sense that RR turning down the job because he wouldn't fire his defensive staff is unlikely - RR is definitely set in his ways, but I doubt he is that inflexible that he would not stick around because of loyalty to a woefully underperforming unit UNLESS he didn't want to be at UM anymore and figured this was the easiest way to extricate himself from the job.  Honestly, given all the crap the guy has received over the years, I wouldn't blame him for wanting to leave.  I have been embarrassed by the behavior of this fanbase since RR showed up, and honestly I probably would have sworn us off if I wasn't a lifetime fan.

It now falls on Brandon to make gold out of lead, and while I have my doubts, I'll give him a chance.


January 9th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

that MSC did not want JH as HC.  So if JH was not on the short list, then Les Miles is the guy.  In 2008, UM DID NOT go after LM.  LC would not approve after the "thing" with Moeller's wife.  Bo was heard saying that LM will NEVER coach UM while he was alive.

So now we are 3 years removed from 2008, LC would have to be consulted and "talked into" LM being the HC.  Maybe there has been enough time to allow old wounds to heal.

And if the other rumors are true that LM is a horn-dog, then hide yo kids, hide yo wives.  This is a very close family.  That is why Brady Hoke is the fall back plan.



January 9th, 2011 at 10:39 AM ^

I think the plan all along was for RR to win the bowl game and get a 2 year extension to help recruiting.  I then think the plan was to change the defense and offer up a sacrifice to the fans.

RR said to DB that he was not going to sacrifice anyone and DB had to then sacrifice all of them.


January 9th, 2011 at 7:57 PM ^

Then why the delay in firing? If DB said you fire them or I fire you and RR says no, why the need to "sleep on it" for DB. I don't buy the ultimatum. RR may be headstrong but I believe he REALLY wanted to be the coach here.

King Douche Ornery

January 9th, 2011 at 10:40 AM ^

Gonna realize that sports is not run like a business? You guys are want to waggle your management boners to fluff yourselves, and this is nothing like any real world application!

Sports is different. Always has been, alwasy will be. The anlaogies or comparisons or "Look a me, I runned big bidness before I have UM degree I are smart" DON'T APPLY.


January 9th, 2011 at 10:47 AM ^

Actually Sean not a "wannabe CEO"....I'm an actual CEO and you are wrong when you say the rules of mangement don't apply here.  They apply everywhere and I would argue they are even more dramatically needed here given that you are dealing with impressionable 18-21 year olds kids versus actual adult employees.

I'm curious though, based on what real world experience do you draw the conclusions that the rules don't apply here?


January 9th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

What is valid, is that it becomes much more difficult to operate under "accepteed" business practices when every single move you make (or don't make) is completely public.

I took a class at Ross from the COO of the Pistons entitled something along the lines of "How to manage a professional sports franchise". It's a different world man. You have to do your best to operate under the same principals, but I think DB is learning the hard way that he is in a different world now...


January 9th, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

Your arguement that companies in the media spotlight operate under different rules I think actually supports rather than refutes my arguements.  Ross is correct in that things are different....they different IMO because they have to be even BETTER than guys like me because their every move is under a spotlight.   If i F up a managerial transition the only people that know about are my employees and probably my wife.  In the sports world, however, EVERYBODY gets to watch you work so to speak.


January 9th, 2011 at 11:09 AM ^

I think your point is valid, just offering a different perspective.

My point wasn't about he needs to be "better", it's that there are different rules. I think it's quite likely that DB didn't fully grasp these new rules. I'm sure he had a plan, but clearly that plan didn't work out.

If we agree that the first rule of management is to have a replacement lined up if before you make a change, my point is that's not possible in the big time sports world unless you have an internal replacement. Heck, there have been some equally messy high profile changes of management in the corporate big time world as well in the recent past (think HP).

Interesting post, I think it's just very possible that DB is finding out the hard way that things don't work quite the same way in his new role...


January 9th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

Good points BUT isn't that what God made search firms for?  We frequently employ companies that seek out and gauge interest of potential  outside candidates prior to making changes.  Heck, in many cases their interest (or lack thereof) is the driving factor in our ultimate employee decision internally.

Shouldnt' we have done something like this?

Search Firm: "So if a certain college up north that wears unique helmets and has a long tradition of winning in football had a coaching vacancy next year for some reason would you, by any chance be interested in the job"?

Hire Profile Coaching Candidate: "Yes and how much will you pay or no thank you"

Either way you get the deal done (so to speak) through back channels and you literally announce the firing and the subsequent hiring almost immediately.  Or YOU KEEP THE GUY YOU'VE GOT ON THE JOB NOW.

Nice non-douche debate though.......


January 9th, 2011 at 11:51 AM ^

you can't hire a search firm to replace a coach until he is fired.  otherwise you end up like the dolphins now.  i take brandon at his word that his decision wasn't made until after the bowl game.

the other plausible scenario is that he had discussions with harbaugh in Dec and thought he was on board.  however, harbaughs status blew up after his bowl win.  Plan A (harbaugh gone); Plan B (RR) gone.

and here we are...


January 9th, 2011 at 11:59 AM ^

Either way you get the deal done (so to speak) through back channels and you literally announce the firing and the subsequent hiring almost immediately.

Can someone provide an example of when such an "almost immediate" hiring has ever taken place at a major college? What I mean is the firing of the head coach and the "almost immediate" hiring of a new head coach currently employed as a head coach somewhere else. I just don't think this is a very common occurrence at all.

I could see such a quick hiring if you decide to replace your current head coach with one of your assistant coaches, or if you hire someone who is temporarily out of the coaching ranks. But not when you're trying to poach the head coach at another school.

I was rather astounded last Wednesday by the number of people who were expecting Brandon to announce both a firing and a hiring at the same press conference.


January 9th, 2011 at 1:45 PM ^

Florida. Muschamp. The announcement wasn't immediate. But the deal was within a couple days. Nobody else was interviewed. So we might reasonably assume that the deal was virtually immediate. I can see why you wouldn't give goodbye/hello announcements simultaneously. That comes off as uncool. ND waited till New Year's. But did it "interview" anyone other than Kelly? They had a "mutual interest" from the beginning. Maybe DB had the same with Jim and Jim reneged. I don't know. But was there a clear Plan B?


January 9th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

Neither of your examples comes close to being the same as what I was talking about: firing your current head coach and "almost immediately" hiring the head coach of another school.

  • Florida: Urban Meyer resigned--he wasn't fired--and Muschamp was not a head coach. It's a lot easier to quickly hire an assistant at another school than a head coach.
  • Notre Dame: Weis was fired on November 30; Kelly was hired on December 10. That doesn't fit my definition of "almost immediately." (And by the way, ten days from Rodriguez's firing would be January 15.)


January 9th, 2011 at 11:23 AM ^

What he did this week smelled of someone who's rich, knows they're rich and can just pay somebody extra money to smooth things over.  "Nothing personal, just business."  That's not the type of reputation you want to get with possible future coaches, especially since most people in Miami want Sparano gone this year or next.

Maize and Blue…

January 9th, 2011 at 12:15 PM ^

this morning on WTKA with John U. Bacon.  You fire the head coach, but not the staff.  By doing what DB did he left no authority figure for the players to talk to.  I realize Barwis is still there and that leaves a little continuity but he is not a coach.  I still can't believe he fired Fred Jackson who has been here for years and wasn't brought in by RR.


January 9th, 2011 at 10:58 AM ^

Anyway, one of the reasons he was hired is because of the way he ran his business.  You don't hire a guy and say, "Look, we think you've done a great job running your business, but this is sports.  We want you to do things different from what landed you at such high places."

I have had to fire people for two reasons: Performance or budget cuts.  And when it was performance, I always had a replacement lined up to come in right away unless I could afford to have the position unfilled for a few weeks until I found the perfect fit.

Sports or not, this process was messed up and DB is the man behind it.

King Douche Ornery

January 9th, 2011 at 11:23 AM ^

You have no PROOF, as a message board sports guy fan, of how, who or what went down. It's all speculation from our standpoints.


That's the problem I have: guys who know nothing about how this particular process played out telling the world that the guy in charge of it did it "wrong"

And all because he hasn't delivered a coach to us in our new and improved internets granted timeline of about 14 minutes BECAUE DAMMIT I READ MGOBLOG and I WANT IT NOW. How do we know Brandon didn't have "His Guy" and "His Guy" backed out?

And how do so many, um ,er, CEO's (LOL) not understand that Rodriguez had to go, like, YESTERDAY?


January 9th, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

I wonder if Rich did, in fact, get the ultimatum "fire all your defensive assistants and you can stay" and he refused.

I thought that when I prefaced my sentence with the two words "I wonder" I was making it clear to the reader I was, in fact, speculating.

Perhaps next year one of your class will cover such topics.  You must be so looking forward to High School.


January 9th, 2011 at 11:51 AM ^

What makes this blog awesome is that we have alumni, "walmart wolverines", CEOs and douchebags.  So we're supposed to speculate and give our opinion based on our expectations from the school and our experiences in the workplace or on campus.

If everyone is sitting up here saying DB got it wrong, including me, give an alternative viewpoint. 

And don't knock us as being just message board people.  Some of us, including possibly myself, have been a part of these things before and know what SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is.


January 9th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

Rodriguez did not have to "go yesterday".  He should only be gone if (and it's looking like a big IF right now), DB had a better choice in place.  Keeping RR and changing the defensive staff was always a viable option.  Releasing RR and replacing him with JH or another solid choice ("solid" as determined by DB, not us) was also a perfectly fine option.

However, it's beginning to look like DB not only didn't have a replacement lined-up, he didn't even have a fully-vetted list.  Why do I say this?  Because if he did, he would have pulled the trigger by now (unless his choice is working for one of the 6 teams still playing as of Friday night).  DB can't sell Hoke as his #2 choice (assuming JH was #1) any longer, because Hoke would have taken the job last Wednesday.  Similarly, DB can't sell guys like Wittingham (Utah) or most of the coordinators tossed around as his #2 choice because they were all available on Wed.

UNLESS he signs someone with a post-Jan 4 bowl game, this doesn't look good for DB.  It looks like he went into this situation - perhaps the most important decision he will make as AD - unprepared, without a plan, and having to settle for leftovers.  And if he does sign someone with a post-Jan 4 bowl game, one has to wonder why he didn't wait to dismiss RR until he was ready to name a new coach.  Waiting would have helped on so many levels.  This is not good brand management.

There is one possible exception to this and that's the scenario Mgrowold described.  I've speculated on this scenario with other old, blue-haired, alum, contributor friends - RR had to go only if he balked at the removal of all of his defensive staff (including, and perhaps especially, his best friend T Gibson).  In that case, RR certainly had to go.  But DB should have been able to refer to his long list of well-vetted candidates in that case - most of which he was confident would be interested and all of which he knew how much he'd need to spend to get them.  Any thing else is not a good job by DB, regardless of how it turns out.


January 9th, 2011 at 11:21 AM ^


Here are your last dozen posts, since most of them were posted during the lock-down, most people didn't have a chance to neg you for being such complete classless dick.

You RR guys are unbelievable. RR  turned UM football into a joke. Go back and look at the wins from, say, 1969 to the years BR(Before Rich Rod), Still Top ten, if not top five.


Michigan football had NOT fallen off into some netherland so you guys could justify the rape and pillage of UM football by RR. He simply was a terrible hire who was in WAY over his head.

He sucked, sucks, and will suck, and hopefully we'll do a Stalin on him and wipe his memory from UM football forever.And I'd like for you RR guys stop relegating Michigan football to near-Michigan State status so you can continue to blame everyone BUT Dick Rod for the state of the program. IfRodriguez was HALF the coach his leg-humpers here wish he was, he'd still have a job here.

- Sean Onery

pure class


Dick Rod supporters just spent three years blaming players for everything that went wrong with this dope's coaching tenure here.

Now we're back to wanting what's best for "the kids" all the sudden?

-Sean ornery

faux santimonious?

But I'll NEVER miss seeing the word, "SIAP"--which, of course, roughly translated means: Fark it, I'ma start the same thread 12 other guys did!"

- Sean ornery

but your posts are gods gift?


Exactly Three "spread" type players on this team: Denard Robinson, Vincent Smith and Martavious Odoms. The rest? Stonum and Hemmingway? Koger? The offensive line, all of whom are big (except Molk) frames who can add 40 lbs by breakfast tomorrow morning?

The argument that this roster needs to be completely retooled or rebuilt or un-spreadendized is patently false, stupid, ignorant, asinine, stupid, worthless and means whomever says it doesn't know anything about football or anything else.

- Sean Ornery

you're a golden-tongued genius.


You obviously don't know another way to criticize anyone ecept to call them "douche" I mean, that's OK, that's all Michigan posters know. One syllable, easy enough.

But the Big 10's "Offensive Player of the Year" looked like dookie against Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Purdue. He wasn't around when UM rallied to beat Illinois or made the game against Iowa somewhat respectable.

So yeah, he looked GREAT against...INDIANA! YAHOO!  Oh, sorry, he led Michigan to an embarrassing loss to Penn State as well.

Yes, it was a joke to give him that award. I guess Bowling Green would agree with it, though.

- Sean Ornery

more class.


If DB has it locked up and has to wait seven days, reading reactions like the ones on this blog will give him fits of laughter. What "pressure" is he under if he has Harbaugh (or anyone else) locked up?

I don't think pressure from enraged keyboard warriors demanding an answer NOW really is something Brandon is going to worry about. Ever.

- Sean Ornery

and you deserve to be taken seriously why?


"I thought WE HAD ALL AGREED" Does that mean Brandon agreed with "us"? I didn't know he had to!

Oh man--Why didn't David Brandon call the geniuses at MGOBlog FIRST?

- Sean Ornery

You made a lot more sense four days ago.  Before you started posting.



King Douche Ornery

January 9th, 2011 at 12:47 PM ^

Down 24-0 at halftime. Pure DOOKIE. Garbage time points and yards--the specialty of this offense under Rodriguez. Not impressed.

Don't really care that everyone here loves them some Denard. But UM wasn't any more impressive with him at the helm than they were Forcier. OOPS Forcier led the Illlinois comeback; led the Iowa comeback.

This offense was over rated crap that the good teams stomped.


January 9th, 2011 at 2:35 PM ^

Ha! Yes, the guy that just set NCAA records for QBs was not impressive and our offense was just as good with Tate, who had as many interceptions as touchdowns on the year and a lower passer efficiency rating for someone who is supposedly a better passer. You are dumb. Really really dumb. Fo real.


January 9th, 2011 at 10:40 AM ^

Curse you MGroWorld for planting more thoughts in my head!  You are absolutely right; but would RR really not concede the Defensive Staff?

Maybe DB is too cocky in his leadership abilities, I mean he seems to really think this has no impact on recruiting; I really hope he was watching the AAA game yesterday.