We are at a critical juncture in the RichRod era

Submitted by KyleMac on October 14th, 2010 at 11:27 AM

With all the media (and booster) scrutiny Michigan is receiving in the wake of the MSU game, winning this game may prove to be the turning point of RichRod's tenure. Before the State game, I would have traded a loss v. Iowa if that meant a guaranteed win over MSU.

Now, although certain people are going to clutch to the MSU loss, the game against Iowa could be the biggest game of RichRod's tenure. The team just inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that will make or break RichRod's legacy. Everyone expects him to fail. Last year some excused his 1st year and blamed it on a bare cupboard. When we started rolling in the beginning of year 2, people got excited and thought we were back. Now, no one thinks we're back - everyone expects us to fail, including many of our own "fans" and boosters.

If Michigan beats Iowa, there is a good chance we go 4-2 the rest of the way.  More specifically, with a win this week over Iowa the haters will be proven wrong, the negativity will start to die down, fans will get excited for a bowl game, we will travel well for the bowl game. If we win the bowl game, we will be a consensus top 20 team going into the offseason/preseason. Michigan will be back, and the only thing people will have against RichRod is the past.

If Michigan loses the game this weekend, there is still hope to silence the haters, but it won't come until the end of the season. Not to say that RichRod will be gone if he loses to Iowa/Wisconsin/OSU, but we will be arguing all these same issues on this date in 2011 if that's the case.

If the team can take care of business this weekend, it provides hope and ammunition against the persistent pessimists.

Go Blue!

Edit: It seems I did not make my position clear in this post.  I am a huge RichRod supporter and even if he goes 6-6 this year, I still want him here because I think he deserves to finish what he started and I have confidence he will.  A loss to Iowa is not an end of the world situation for this team, and I never said it was (in fact I said "if we lose to Iowa, there is still hope").  A loss to Iowa is simply a loss to Iowa.  However, if we win this game, I think we will look back on it in a few years as the game where we turned the corner.  Certainly we can't just go out and beat Iowa and call this season a success - we've gotta finish strong.  I'm just trying to play Nostradamus a bit.



October 14th, 2010 at 9:15 PM ^

Brandon spoke to the recruits this past weekend.  He didn't have to do that.

Unprompted, Brandon unequivocally stated that RichRod's going to be here for a long time.  He didn't have to do that.

Oh, and this wasn't in public.

I really don't get how Dave Brandon going out of his way to tell recruits that RichRod is safe can somehow be interpreted as him being "forced" to do this, and it's kind of weird that you're asserting Michigan's AD is lying.

He didn't have to do any of this, but he did.  It seems like the only people who are interpreting this as nothing are people who want it to mean nothing.  Good luck with that.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

I wouldn't put too much stock into this one game.  If we lose a close one like we did last year, then that would make people feel a little better going into the bye week.  I just want us to win so I don't have to go two more weeks waiting for another shot at a win and bowl eligibility.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

In a nutshell, I suppose you're right.  But the bigger picture is that the majority of Michigan followers are expecting failure.  This week, we are playing a very good team, and a loss to a very good team is just that.  But, to put it as simply as I can, I think a win over Iowa means +10000, where a loss only means -1000.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:08 PM ^

Interesting line about Michigan followers expecting failure.  I think many in the college football world expect failure.  I am worried that many Michigan followers want failure and that first loss was perfect for them.  You can call me stupid or eternal optomist, but I thought we would lose 2 games this year.  I thought we would lose to OSU and one to (Iowa/Wisky/PSU).  Even with a bad defense, I think we can win.  I hated losing to MSU, but I still see some great things.  I dont expect failure, although, I have to be alone when watching the games, because I can get really upset.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:50 AM ^

This game is the least important of the season so far.

Iowa is one of the two best teams on the schedule and is not a traditional rival. When the season started, this game was an expected loss.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:26 PM ^

And it is because it is an expected loss that makes it so important.  We lose, no one cares, that's what was supposed to happen.  We win, we do something unexpected and that's what really needs to happen for the positive momentum train to get going.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

Just as I thought MSU wasn't a make or break game, I don't think Iowa is a make or break game. We want to win every game. I think MSU was winnable. I also think Iowa is winnable.

However, I still see Michigan ending up somewhere between 7 - 5 and 9 -3. It depends on both luck and execution by our offense.

The thing is, haters are gonna hate, whether we win the rest or only win two more. I like RR a ton, but much more importantly, DB is going to give RR time. I also think that BOTH RR & DB understand the peril in pulling the plug on Gerg. Even if someone else out there is better, we simply CAN'T have a 4th DC since 1997. We have to give the current players time to mature physically, and time to know exactly what to do immediately, without thinking about it.

You have to use Denard as an example. With all his talent, it took him time to get to where he is now. And he is still going to improve. It takes time, which we see with Campbell, with Demens, with Christian, with the redshirts. Very few guys are ready to step on the field immediately as a freshman and make an impact.

It is huge for us to go to a bowl this year (with the resultant extra practice,) and with a record of 7 - 5 or better, RR has time.

The one wildcard is OSU. That is the one game that both nationally and for the fanbase makes a huge difference. Iowa, MSU, Wisconsin, are all games in a different category.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

Its not a make or break game for our season.  I see it more as an opportunity to quiet the negativity.  It will always be there, but im not sure wins over PSU/Illinois/Purdue really help with the anti-RR crowd - that is expected (even though those will be tough games).  At this point, Michigan has to do something unexpected to silence the critics a bit.  Iowa/Wisconsin/OSU are the only remaining chances on this schedule.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:59 AM ^

That's a real tough one -- I can why but I can also see why not.  As much as it would suck to lose 6 in a row, I still think he's the answer -- especially with how many guys he has coming back.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:55 AM ^

It's hard to say whether Iowa will have more, or less, success against our D than State did. Our O will determine whether we end up in the game til the end, or if we are playing catchup in the second half, like we did against State.

I personally believe that the MSU game was an outlier for Denard, and that he will play much better against Iowa. Good enough to win? Hopefully, and if he does, and we do end up winning, at least one segment of haters can then shut the hell up, and that would be the ones saying RR's offense won't work against the bigger, better B10 defenses.

I saw enough in the MSU game that I know RR's offense can work in the B10. We have seen enough over the years with WVU beating UGA and Okie that it will work against everyone, given the personnel, and I think we have better personnel overall than RR's WVU teams did on O.


October 14th, 2010 at 11:56 AM ^

i love how people are ok with us losing to the top 4 teams in the conference.  being #5 is great!!!  when lloyd was here, anything less than first place was unacceptable.  there were fire lloyd chants when we finished 2nd.  now we are happy with our season if we beat the bottom dwellers in the conference.  haha.  wow.  we really are a second tier program now. 

El Jeffe

October 14th, 2010 at 11:59 AM ^

Arguments is complex:

  • Given the total transformation of our team over the past few years, and given the horrific attrition on the defensive side of the ball, finishing in the top half of the conference would not be UNACCEPTABLE11!!!1!!
  • If/when RichRod is here for 10 years, 4-loss seasons will be bad. But for now, yearly improvement and a generally upward trajectory is acceptable.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:15 PM ^

in the end it comes down to winning football games.  i dont care if we look pretty on offense, if we keep losing.  and people need to stop calling it a success because we go from 5 wins to 6.  who we beat matters.  last year we did not beat one good team.  and so far this year we are on the same path. why not just schedule 4 games against delaware state every year.  thats a guarantee of 4 wins.  than beat the worse 3 teams in the conference, and you go 7-5.  is that success?  

just wait and see.  michigan state will end up 5-3 or 4 -4 in the conference.  and yet we got destroyed by them at home.  indiana might win 1 game in the conference this year.  and we barely beat them.  i am sorry, but i dont see progress.  i see a stud of a qb running out of his mind.  but he goes down or has an off day (like we saw against msu), and forget it.  we wont beat anyone. 

El Jeffe

October 14th, 2010 at 12:39 PM ^

Your argument above is different from the one I responded to. In your first post you said "i love how people are ok with us losing to the top 4 teams in the conference" and suggested that people who think that a top-5 finish in the B10 this year would be a good finish are also saying that a top-5 finish will always be acceptable. I was pointing out that the latter does not necessarily follow from the former.

In the post I am reponding to now, you said that winning more games isn't a sign of improvement; rather, it's who we beat that will show improvement. There is nothing particularly objectionable to me about this, but notice that you're no longer arguing about the extent to which posters on this board are happy with a 4- or 5-loss season. In addition,

  • We've lost one game this year. And on the basis of this the sky is falling for you. Okay, but don't act like if people don't share your gloomy outlook they are somehow being Pollyanna and you're keeping it real.
  • Recall that in 2008 we lost to Toledo (3-9), Purdue (4-8), Illinois (5-7), and Notre Dame (7-6). This year we beat everyone except State. I think we will beat Purdue and Illinois. This means that in two years we have gone from losing to bad teams to beating them. The final step is to shore up our defense and compete with the big boys. I see that as progress. You see it as UNACCEPTABLE. Agree to disagree, I guess.
  • If you think MSU will lose 3 or 4 games, you're either high or they will turn into a terrible football team, which I don't think they are now. They finish with Iowa and the pu pu platter of Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, and (apparently) PSU. They also play Northwestern, who might be pretty good. I see two losses max, for a 10-2 finish. I don't think there's any shame in losing to a team like that, given where we are on defense and the fact that our nuclear ninja dilithium QB has started all of 6 games.


October 14th, 2010 at 7:21 PM ^


  • We've lost one game this year. And on the basis of this the sky is falling for you. Okay, but don't act like if people don't share your gloomy outlook they are somehow being Pollyanna and you're keeping it real.<<

Unfortunately it was our first game against a genuinely good defense.  And the public perception is that Michigan got completely owned ( the majority is sane on sports issues like this, and every non-UM Blue site is playing this same song).  Michigan has the reputation as a finesse team that can't get it done in the Big 10.  A win against Iowa quiets this forever, a loss that song just gets louder.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

This is the kind of person I'm talking about.  A win over Iowa will go a long way to eradicating this line of thought.  MSU is a good team this year, face it.  They beat the #11 and #18 teams in the nation already.  "Last year we did not beat one good team. and so far this year we are on the same path."  This is the line of thinking that a win over Iowa will help eliminate.  We're going into a bye week and a loss to Iowa, although expected to some degree (read: by Vegas), will further this negative line of thinking and extrapolate upon it for 2 weeks.  We can't let that happen, gotta go out and win this one.


October 14th, 2010 at 2:33 PM ^

One, instead of Delaware St., we chose a really good FCS team this year. The rest of the competition has been decent, certainly better than last year, and we won all of the OOC games.

Two, If you think MSU will end up 5-3 or 4-4 in the conference, your delusional. They beat one of the teams considered near the top in Wisky. They don't have OSU, and the hardest game left on their schedule is a game at Iowa. I think they lose maybe one game, possibly two if they take Illinois lightly. A better bet is for them to go unbeaten this year, considering Iowa's offense will be more or less one dimensional without a good running game.

Three, Indiana is good enough to beat Northwestern, Purdue, Penn St. and possibly Wisky(if at full strength). They could very well be a bowl team this year with at least 6 but possibly 7 or 8 wins. Their game against OSU was played without their starting RB and LT, and no depth on the line. Their offense at full strength would have shown up much better against OSU.

As for Denard going down, it seems to me that he missed most of a game and our offense shifted just fine to the strengths of the other two QB's we used. Granted, Denard has made our offense spectacular at times, but the offense runs quite well with Tate at the helm too.

You have too much negativity towards the team this year. I, and others, on the other hand, see the improvements and know we are starting to see the beginning of something special at UM for football. No reason to believe we can't get to where OSU has been, or beyond, and be a perennial top-ten team again.

M_Born M_Believer

October 14th, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

You are exactly the type of fan (yes I know that you love Michigan just as much as the next guy) that is driving many other completely batty.

Not a single person has stated...."being #5 is great!!!"

You are looking at people's statement of "7-5...8-4....was the expectation this year" and concluding that is the end all mean all.  That is simply not true.  A vast majority of the fans will expect better numbers / record next year (ahhhhh, there's that improvement thingy again) and so on until championship are achieved.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

But one must temper that expectation with the reality of where we were, and where we are heading. This offense is miles ahead of even last year's O. Our defense is a little worse, but that is expected if one looks realistically at the devastating losses of Warren and Woolfolk in our secondary. After Woolfolk went down, and we were looking at starting freshmen and first year position players in the secondary, the realistic expectations should have dropped as well. Could Carr have fielded a better D? Maybe. I don't think it would have been good enough to win games for us, like you seem to think, particularly with the losses and lack of recruits we had near the end of Carr's tenure.

Our O, while we lost to State, has played a decent D in ND. I wouldn't say that our O is worldbeaters, but to look at the MSU game and say that they haven't proven anything is asinine. Most people would say that Stanford's O is pretty good, yet ND held them to under their season average. We put up more yards, and nearly as many points as Stanford's did, with more TD's and 2 missed FG's. Our O is fine, even for B10 games. Denard made mistakes, of which none were attributable to MSU's D, that cost us a ton of points. That can be expected considering his youth.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

I think those people have realistic expectations given the circumstances surrounding the program the last few years. Our offense is better than most in D1, just young and still succeptable to mistakes due to immaturity, as seen by Denard against State.

Our D has been decimated in the secondary, and had weak recruiting for a few years other than a couple of good DL players. Even OSU, which typically fields very strong defenses, would be hurting if they were starting what we are in the secondary. Their LB's would look lost at times and teams would gash them for mega yards through the air.

I don't think many people realize just how much the losses of Woolfolk and Warren have hurt the entire D, forcing our LB's to take on more responsibility in the passing defense, which hurts the running defense.

There are many reasons as to why the D is in the situation it is in now, with fault lying in many people, including Carr(whom I liked as a UM coach). To say people are happy, or OK with being a middle of the road B10 team is asinine. Just because we can be satisfied at this point with being there, doesn't mean that we think that is all we can expect from RR. I fully expect this team to be a top-ten team next year, and vying for the MNC in 12'. Carr could not have had much more success, given the defensive personnel makeup, than RR has had. The only difference would have been the O would not have missed much of a beat. 08' would have been better, and 09' maybe by a couple games, but our run of dissappointment against OSU would have continued, with no hope of being good enough. Now, our Offense is easily good enough to contend, and the future for the defense will be the telling factor on whether we can beat them, or not.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:36 PM ^

lloyd carr would have recruited better defensive players.  i dont expect our defense to be top 10.  i dont even expect it to be top 50.  but we are one of the ten worse defenses in the country.  and lets not pretend that the players we do have are worse than a lot of the teams that are ahead of us in defense.  


October 14th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

.....that have no basis. For the last few years of Carr's teams, we have had to place younger and younger guys in the secondary, along with the LB corps. Given your statements, our D right now, near the end of Carr's recruits, should be filled with upperclassmen who are starting, particularly in the secondary. We would have had that, except for the Warren and Woolfolk situations. He still hadn't recruited a top-flite LB near the end of his tenure as coach, and as such, we field two LB's who switched positions. Carr hadn't shown near the end, any more desire or ability to recruit the top defensive players in the country than RR has, and RR was focused on the offense and getting his type players in as soon as possible.

My point was, that even if Carr had stayed, and even if our DC was consistent, we couldn't have expected much better out of his teams on the D side of the ball.

Given time, and you will see this next year, IMO, our defense will be competitive enough to win us games when our O isn't hitting on all cylinders.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:03 PM ^

You can live in reality or you can live in Fairy Tale Land. I can't help but notice that your choice to live in Fairy Tale Land doesn't appear to make you very happy.

Here's some data. Carr coached for 13 seasons. In only 2 of those seasons he was better than 5-1 (Michigan's present record) after 6 games. In 6 of those seasons he was 5-1. In 5 of those seasons he was worse than 5-1.

5-1 looks like a pretty normal Michigan record.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:00 PM ^

I actually told you to stop rooting for Michigan because it seemed to cause you so much pain and you had no hope for the future.

I was really thinking about the you and your feelings.

And what is the dude's point? That we're 5-1 and now we're totally screwed because once Michigan was 4-2 and ended up 5-7? That just doesn't make any sense.

Michigan is 5-1 and just lost to a good team because they played like shit. That's it.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:02 PM ^

If people can't root for progress and improvement, then I think they're going to be very unhappy with M for awhile.  If he can't accept that 7-5 or 8-4 would be a tremendous success, then yeah he absolutely should go root for somebody else.  He's not just being critical, he's being unrealistic and unfairly negative.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

"If Michigan beats Iowa, there is a good chance we go 4-2 the rest of the way.  More specifically, with a win this week over Iowa the haters will be proven wrong, the negativity will start to die down, fans will get excited for a bowl game, we will travel well for the bowl game. If we win the bowl game, we will be a consensus top 20 team going into the offseason/preseason. Michigan will be back, and the only thing people will have against RichRod is the past."

Michigan could beat Iowa and lose the rest of its games.  Michigan could lose to Iowa and stun OSU.  Michigan could lose to Iowa, lose to OSU, win the Alamo Bowl, and not be a top-20 team going into next year...I think you're putting way too much stock into this game. 



October 14th, 2010 at 12:36 PM ^

Which is why I dont like threads like this

Let's just enjoy it. We have 12-13 weeks of college football out fot he whole year.

Have some fun. We'll pick up the pieces later.

Sometimes I swear I am the only one who fun last weekend? Did others not? It was a great day to tailgate, chicks were still showing skin, etc.

Saturday, win or lose, will be fun as well.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:41 PM ^

I just think if we win, it will be a bigger win than people realize right away.  If we win does it mean that we will go 4-2?  No, but it makes 4-2 looks pretty manageable (considering we would only need to win 3/5).  If we lose is the season over?  No, we move on to the next game.  But make no bones about it, this would be a big win going into the bye week and going on the road to PSU at night.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:05 PM ^

Couldn't disagree with you more, here. 

Rodriguez is with us for the long haul. To abort now or at end of season will set program back even more.  Brandon knows this.  In 2012 you will see a perennial top 5 team.

Kilgore Trout

October 14th, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

I see this argument all the time and I think it's seriously flawed.  Rodriguez should be kept if Brandon deems him capable of running a clean program that wins at UM's historic rate.  If the answer to that is no, he should be fired.  Keeping him just so a few seasons wouldn't theoretically be worse is the exact type of short sighted thing this board always rails against.  Should Nebraska have kept Calihan so they wouldn't have had to start over again?  After three years, the answer is obviously no.  He was wrong for the job, so they cut their losses and moved on.  I don't necessarily think that is the case here, but the logic of not firing Rodriguez because it will set back the program is just wrong in my opinion. 


October 14th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

Kilgore, you're right in that sense, since I did not elaborate.... what I should have also said that Rodriguez is BEST IN CLASS and was the top target of the current top program in the country (Alabama), among many other things, and that anyone we were to get save perhaps Harbaugh, would be a step down.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:46 PM ^

"To abort now or at end of season will set program back even more." I always love this reasoning. Why? Why is this the case? Are you saying there has never been a coach that came into a situation with a group of players he didn't recruit - and maybe that don't even fit his "style" - and have nearly immediate success? I can think of a few examples off the top of my head...